History 224: Russia Since 1861

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History 224: Russia Since 1861

M, W, F, 11-11:50, Wyatt Hall 204
Benjamin Tromly

Department of History

Office: Wyatt 128

Email (preferred method of contact): btromly@pugetsound.edu

Telephone: X 3391

Office Hours: MWF 12-1 or by appointment

Class web resources:

-Course Moodle page: access through moodle.pugetsound.edu

-At some point in the semester a course library page will appear (with links to sources and other information). It will be accessible through the library website subject guide at http://alacarte.pugetsound.edu/subject-guide/91-History-Subject-Guide
This course provides a wide-ranging examination of modern Russian history starting with the liberation of the serfs in 1861 and ending with the Yeltsin period in the 1990s. It focuses on core themes that confronted states and societies in the entire period, from the Tsarist Empire to the Soviet regime and beyond. The main themes to be discussed can be roughly defined as the problems of industrialization, state-society relations, and empire. First, how did Russia grapple with its perceived economic and social backwardness vis-à-vis other states in the European state system of which it was a member? Second, how did political leaders and elites interact with their subject populations, and particularly the educated stratum that often questioned authoritarian rule? And finally, how did the Tsarist and Soviet states attempt to rule over a multi-ethnic empire and what was the role of ethnic Russians in imperial rule? All of these problems relate to the question of continuity and change in modern Russian history—namely, how did the Soviet state address problems inherited from the imperial past?
As a lower-division course, History 224 is designed to introduce students to the historian’s craft. Examination and discussion of primary sources—such as letters, archival documents, memoirs, political pamphlets, and newspaper reports—will shed light on the process by which historians select their facts and make sense of them. Writing assignments allow you to hone your skills of historical interpretation and create your own account of the past.


Participation (including attendance and passage analysis assignment), 15%:

Discussion will play a large part in most of our class meetings. You are expected to come to class having done the readings for that day and be prepared to share your questions and thoughts about them. Full participation in class discussions—not merely being present—is necessary for a successful grade in the course.

As part of your participation grade, you will complete a passage analysis assignment. Each student will be assigned a class date (see schedule attached). On this day, bring a 1 page (single-spaced) paper to class that isolates a passage in the PRIMARY SOURCE readings for that day (we will discuss what constitutes a primary source early in the course). Type one or two sentences from the passage at the top of the page (this is to jog my memory of the reading). In the paper, do the following:

-explain what you think the author is trying to convey in the passage. Then ponder what unintended messages or assumptions might be conveyed.

-explain why you find the passage significant. This might mean different things. The passage might hint at an important aspect of the day’s readings, or raise a question that strikes you as important, or connect to previous discussions in the class, or contradict some part of the readings or class discussions.

-you will be asked to identify your passage and explain its significance in class.

Four quizzes, 20% (Feb 2, Feb. 21, March 25, April 25) Three in-class quizzes will be given on dates indicated in the schedule below. The quizzes include multiple choice and short answer questions. They are designed to encourage reading and note taking. They do not require preparation beyond what is already expected of you: diligent reading, reflection on readings, and active participation in class. You may use your own notes on the readings during the exam but NOT the readings themselves, even if you have taken notes in the margins. You may not use a classmate’s notes during a quiz. Quizzes will not be offered multiple times, but if you have a valid reason for missing class that day we will decide on an alternative assignment.
Paper on imperial Russia, 15% (due Feb. 9, at least 4 pages). Select one of the following primary sources from the first weeks of class: Shulgin, Aleichem, Pavlov, Wallace, Figner. In a close analysis of the source, consider how the source depicts political or social tensions of the last decades of the Russian empire. In other words, what does the source say about one or more major problems that confronted the Russian Empire? “Problem” can be interpreted in many ways: you might focus on mass discontent, or ethnic hostility, or political misrule. Why had this tension emerged? Drawing on the source, consider whether the problem was potentially crippling to the old regime or not.
NOTE: As we will discuss in the first sessions of class, ANY effective reading of a primary source will reflect consideration of the following issues:

A) genre of the document: What type of document is it (public, private, letter, sermon, etc.)? Who was the intended audience, and what was the intended effect on that audience? Do certain phrases or passages appear to be standard to its genre?

B) authorship: What do you know about the author (e.g., gender, age, social class, profession, etc.)? Why do you think the author or authors write this document at this time? Does the source explain the author’s or authors’ motivation in producing it? What might be the unstated, implicit assumptions and values that the author takes for granted? Are the assertions or claims in the document consistent with each other?

C) context of document: what issues from the period are being discussed? Does what you read here correspond to what you know about the period as a whole? What did the author leave out and why? As an historian, what additional kinds of sources might you want to read together with this one in order to balance the account given here? What parts of the document might have held the most interest or been provocative to its readers at the time?
Paper on continuities across 1917, 20% (due March 11, minimum of 5 full pages): This paper will ask you to analyze ways that the early Soviet regime sought to grapple with historical problems inherited from the old regime. Details will follow. The paper will not require outside reading.
Final paper--memoir analysis, 30% (due during exam period, minimum of 7 full pages): This paper asks you to select a personal source (memoir, autobiography or diary) of a figure in modern Russian history dealing with any of the periods we have examined. You will also select at least two additional scholarly articles to provide context for the source you have selected. The goal of the paper is to put a primary source in historical contexts. Details instructions will follow in due course.

  • Attendance at all class meetings is expected. Each unexplained absence is viewed with irritation and dismay; after three absences, your final grade in the course will be directly influenced by each absence. I will distribute an attendance sheet at each class. You are responsible for putting a check next to your name at the beginning of each class. If medical or family emergencies prevent you from coming to class, please let me know before or soon after the class.

  • I strongly encourage you to visit me in office hours. There is no need to schedule an appointment during scheduled office hours. If you are unavailable during these times, please contact me in advance by email to schedule a meeting.

  • The best way to reach outside of class is via email. Please check your UPS email account—or a different account you give me—regularly. On occasion, I will send emails to the class to provide you with reading questions and important contextual information. I try to respond to email as quickly as possible, but I cannot promise that I will respond promptly to messages sent on weekends or holidays.

  • Claims for academic accommodation for an individual’s learning disabilities must be directed at the beginning of the semester to Ivey West, Associate Director/Disabilities Services at the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching at 253.879.2692.

  • Late work will be penalized at the rate of ½ a letter grade per day late (a ‘B’ paper handed in two days late becomes a ‘B-‘) and will not be accepted more than five calendar days following the due date. Please notify me before the paper is due if health or family emergencies prevent you from submitting work.

  • You are strongly encouraged to review UPS’s policies on academic honesty and plagiarism as detailed in the Academic Handbook. Plagiarism will result in a 0 on the assignment in question, with greater penalties possible. You are responsible for being familiar with the university’s policies and seeking my guidance if you have any questions.

  • Students who want to withdraw from the course should read the rules governing withdrawal grades, which can be found at http://www.pugetsound.edu/student-life/student-resources/student-handbook/academic-handbook/grade-information-and-policy/#withdrawal


  • All assignments must be submitted at the start of class on the due date or as otherwise instructed.

  • No need for a works cited list or a bibliography as you will be using course materials in your papers. Please submit papers in hard copy only. Late papers can be sent by email (be sure that you have attached the file).

  • All written work should be double-spaced, 12 point font, preferably Times New Roman or something like it. Please put your name on the first page only (this allows me to grade “blindly”)

  • On citations for written works: For all written works in the course, please use footnotes according to the Chicago Notes and Bibliography System (detailed in the library page for the course). You may cite course readings in an abbreviated way, for example: Wallace, History 224 course reader, 24 (using the course reader page number); all literature cited from outside the course readings should receive full footnotes. A bibliography is required for the final paper (not annotated), but not for the response papers or the midterm.


An “A” paper contains a perceptive, original, and compelling central argument which reflects an original perspective. It is clearly written, well-organized into sub-arguments, and supported by a variety of specific examples drawn from the readings.
A “B” paper is a solid academic paper which demonstrates a good grasp on the course materials. But a “B” paper might have one or more shortcomings. It might provide a summary of ideas and information drawn directly from readings and discussions without independent thought or synthesis. Or it might give evidence of independent thought yet suffer from unclear and/or unconvincing presentation of an argument, a lack of textual evidence, or be sloppily written.
A “C” paper shows a decent grasp on the course material but lacks a thorough or accurately defended argument. A paper receiving a grade lower than “C” suffers from more serious shortcomings, such as not responding adequately to the assignment, frequent factual errors, the lack of a cohesive thesis, poor organization, unclear writing, or a combination of these problems.
NOTE: We will discuss paper assignments in class in advance of due dates. I am happy to discuss writing assignments before or after you have written them. Although I do not usually read full drafts of papers, I am happy to look at a thesis statement or a section of a paper.
GETTING HELP WITH WRITING: Anyone can become a better writer. The UPS Center for Writing and Learning is has a mission to help all students, at whatever level of ability, become better writers. I strongly urge you to take advantage of its services. To make an appointment, call 879-3404, email writing@ups.edu, or drop by Howarth 109.
The following titles are available for purchase at the Campus Bookstore and through online services. They are also available on two-hour in-library reserve at Collins Memorial Library.
Peter Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union from the beginning to the end (Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999)

Ronald Grigor Suny, The Structure of Soviet History (New York : Oxford University Press, 2003)

Lydia Chukovskaia, Sofia Petrovna, trans. Aline Werth (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1994).

Vladimir Voinovich, The Fur Hat (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989).

Course reader
notes on using this schedule:

-All reading assignments are to be completed before the class meeting for which they are listed (for example, come to class on Jan 21 having read Freeze and Gogol). Please bring to class the syllabus and the assigned readings for the day (and/or reading notes).

Wed., Jan 19: Introduction to the course
Part One: The old regime and its tensions
Friday, Jan 21: Pre-reform Russia
The syllabus (please come with questions if anything is unclear)

Excerpt from Gregory Freeze, ed., Russia: a History, chapter 6 (on moodle page)

Nikolai Gogol, The Inspector General, excerpt (on moodle page)
Monday, Jan 24: The Emancipation of the serfs and its aftermath
Gregory Freeze, ed., Russia: a History, chapter 7 (“Reform and counter-reform, 1855-1890”), 171-185 (CR)

Donald Mackenzie Wallace Explains the Mir and the Zemstvo, 1877,” in Cracraft, ed., Major Problems in the History of Imperial Russia, 344-358 (CR)

Wednesday, Jan 26: Educated Society and the Revolutionary Movement

Freeze, ed., Russia: a History, chapter 7, 185-199 (CR)

Excerpt from memoirs of Vera Figner in Five Sisters: Women against the Tsar (CR)
Friday, Jan 28: no class: read for Monday and extended office hours
Monday, Jan 31: The Western Periphery: Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, Jews
Geoffrey Hosking, “Russification,” in Russia: People and Empire, 367-385, 390-7 (CR)

Sholem Aleichem, “The Happiest Man in All Kodny,” “Baranovich Station,” “Eighteen from Pereshchepena,” from Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories, 143-166 (CR)

Wednesday, Feb 2: the Russian East: Expansion into Central Asia
Hosking, “Russification,” 385-390 (CR)

David Brower, “Islam and Ethnicity: Russian Colonial Policy in Turkestan,” in Russia’s Orient: Imperial Borderlands and Peoples, 1700-1917, 115-135 (CR)

Quiz 1
Friday, Feb 4: Modernization and unrest: Russian society before the revolutionary period
Freeze, ed., Russia: a History, chapter 8 (“Revolutionary Russia, 1890-1914”), 200-219 (CR)

“F. P. Pavlov depicts life in a textile mill,” in Cracraft, ed., Major Problems in the History of Imperial Russia, 479-489 (CR)

Monday, Feb 7: 1905 and the constitutional experiment
Freeze, ed., Russia: a History, chapter 8, 219-230 (CR)

V. V. Shulgin, The Years: Memoirs of a Member of the Russian Duma, 1906-1917, 3-16 (CR)

Wednesday, Feb 9: No class meeting—paper due

no additional reading

paper one due in folder outside my office, 5 PM

Part Two: Collapse and revolution
Friday, Feb 11: The Great War and the crisis of the Old Regime
Freeze, ed., Russia: a History, chapter 9 (“Russia in War and Revolution, 1914-1921”), 231-237 (CR)

Excerpts from Maurice Paléologue, An Ambassador’s Memoirs (CR)

Monday, Feb 14: The Beginning of a Terrible Adventure: The Revolutions of 1917

Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 15-33

Suny, The Structure of Soviet History, 36-46
Wednesday, Feb 16: Civil War
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 33-40

Suny, The Structure of Soviet History, 62-67, 82-86

Friday, Feb 18: The New Economic Policy
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 41-53, 58-64

Suny, The Structure of Soviet History, 103-117

Monday, Feb 21: Making a revolutionary society?
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 65-75

Short stories by Mikhail Zoschenko (CR)

Quiz 2
Wednesday, Feb 23: Ethnic and national diversity in the Soviet state
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 53-59

Adrienne Edgar, “Geneology, Class and ‘Tribal Policy’ in Soviet Turkmenistan, 1924-1934,” Slavic Review 60, 2 (2001): 266-288 (CR)

Mykola Skrypnyk, “Speeches” (CR)
Part three: Stalinism
Friday, Feb 25: The Great Break and collectivization/famine
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 75-93

Suny, The Structure of Soviet History, chapter three, pages 212-222, 209-212

Monday, Feb 28: The Stalinist order: Social structures
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 93-102

“Young Leningrad Worker, Personal letter from Magnitogorsk. June 1931” (CR)

Excerpt of memoir of Leonid Alekseyevich Potyomkin in Véronique Garros et al., eds., Intimacy and Terror: Soviet Diaries of the 1930s (New York: New Press, 1995) (CR)
Wednesday, March 2: No class: read for Friday and extended office hours
Friday, March 4: The Stalinist order: Politics and culture
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 103-126

Liudmila Chukovskaia, Sofia Petrovna, 1-37

Monday, March 7: The Great terror


Liudmila Chukovskaia, Sofia Petrovna, 38-120

Wednesday, March 9: Film screening and discussion: Burnt by the Sun (1994)
Russia, 1936: revolutionary hero Colonel Kotov is spending an idyllic summer in his dacha with his young wife and six-year-old daughter Nadia and other assorted family and friends. Things change dramatically with the unheralded arrival of Cousin Dmitri from Moscow, who charms the women and little Nadia with his games and pianistic bravura. But Kotov isn't fooled: this is the time of Stalin's repression, with telephone calls in the middle of the night spelling doom - and he knows that Dmitri isn't paying a social call... From the Internet Movie database
Friday, March 11: Burnt by the Sun

Second paper due in class
Note: if you miss either day of discussion of Burnt by the Sun, you will need to watch the film on your own time and submit a 2 page paper discussing how the film depicts Stalinist terror.
Monday, March 14-18: Spring break
Part four: The Great Patriotic War and the postwar order, 1941-1964
Monday, March 21: The Soviet Union at War
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 126-144

Suny, The Structure of Soviet History, 298-303, 307-313

Wednesday, March 23: The Soviet peoples at war
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 144-154

Iosif Stalin, Radio Address to the Soviet People. July 3, 1941” and “Petr Kotelnikov, Diary. 1941-1943”(CR)

Serhy Yekelchyk, “Nazi Occupation and the Soviet Victory,” in Ukraine: Birth of a Modern Nation, 135-152 (CR)
Friday, March 25: The onset of the Cold War

Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 154-166

Suny, The Structure of Soviet History, 273-285

Quiz 3
Monday, March 28: The Dictator’s last years
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 166-183

Suny, The Structure of Soviet History, pages 251-262

“Anecdotes,” in James von Geldern and Richard Stites, eds., Mass Culture in Soviet Russia: tales, poems, songs, movies, plays, and folklore, 1917-1953 (CR)
Wednesday, March 30: Khrushchev
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 184-203

Suny, The Structure of Soviet History, pages 340-356 (Khrushchev, Starobin)

Friday, April 1: The return from the camps in the Khrushchev Years
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 203-214 (reference)

Eugenia Ginzburg, Within the Whirlwind, trans. Ian Boland, 357-423 (CR)

Part five: Decline and collapse, 1965-1999

NOTE: the schedule for April will be modified when the visit from exchange students from the former Soviet Union is scheduled (as mentioned in class)
Monday, April 4: Brezhnevism and the loss of revolutionary momentum
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 214-222

Suny, The Structure of Soviet History, 379-385 (Burlatskii), 370-379 (Millar)

Wednesday, April 6: Nationalisms and religions in the 1970s
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 233-242

Hendrick Smith, The Russians, 417-438 (CR)

Eren Murat Tasar, “Soviet policies toward Islam: Domestic and International Considerations” (CR)
Friday, April 8: presentation by exchange students at Pierce College from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan
Monday, April 11: individual consultations on final project (handout sheet to be distributed)
Wednesday, April 13: individual consultations on final project
Friday, April 15: Intellectual dissent under Brezhnev

Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 223-233

Sakharov, Medvedev, and Turchin, “A reformist program for democratization” (CR)

Suny, The Structure of Soviet History, 393-399

Monday, April 18: A literary source on state and society during Developed Socialism
Vladimir Voinovich, The Fur Hat, entire
Wednesday, April 20: The Gorbachev Reforms
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 243-261

Suny, The Structure of Soviet History, pages 423-433 (Gorbachev)

Dasmakova, “For whom were the cooperatives created?” (CR)
Friday, April 22: The Collapse
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 261-277

Suny, The Structure of Soviet History, 452-467

Monday, April 25: Russia and the former Soviet Union after communism
Kenez, A History of the Soviet Union, 278-283

Suny, The Structure of Soviet History, 478-492 (Shevtsova), 516-521 (Popov, Yeltsin dissolves parliament), 525-526 (Yeltsin)

Quiz 4
Wednesday, April 27: Film viewing and discussion: “Brother“ (1998)
Danila goes to his older brother to start a new life in Petersburg. His brother is a gangster andd a killer, and he puts Danila into this criminal world asking him to kill someone. . . . Now he is a killer, and killing is easier than living for him. From Internet Movie Database
Friday, April 29: film continued
Monday, May 2: film continued
Wednesday, May 4: Drawing conclusions about modern Russia
Final paper due during exam period (TBD)
Note: this syllabus is subject to changes of which you will be promptly informed

Passage analysis schedule

Jan 26 Z Benton

Jan 31 Berkelhammer, Samuel E.

Feb 7 Buendia, Janet B.

Feb 11 Chirinos, Isabel

Feb 14 Colgan, Eimile A.

Feb 16 Cook, Miriam A.

Feb 18 Dassenko, Alexander M.

Feb 23 Dieckmann, Garrett J.

Feb 25 Herzen, Juliana E.

Feb 28 McGuire, Casey J.

March 4 Robbe, Gordon A.

March 7 Ross, Elana M.

March 21 Sharoff, Mark E.

March 23 Shearer, James M.

March 28 Smith, William M.

April 4 Thornton, Chloe F.

April 6 Wadnizak, Spencer P.

April 15 Wheeler, Katie M.

April 18 Wheeler, Ryan T.

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