Russia: Empires and Enduring Legacies Winter Quarter, 2015 Essay#2 Topics

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Russia: Empires and Enduring Legacies

Winter Quarter, 2015

Essay#2 Topics
Please write a four-to-five-page (4-5 pp.) analytical essay on one of the following topics. Be certain to bolster the major points of your argument with specific references to program texts, and, if desired, lectures or additional resources. Also be certain to cite your sources in the proper Chicago Style as detailed on our program website (look for Mandatory Essay Format) here:

as well as in the assigned text, A Pocket Guide to Writing History. Essays lacking proper citation will be considered incomplete.
Please NUMBER YOUR PAGES and give your essay a formal TITLE PAGE. For Rob, staple your essay and submit a hardcopy to Pat. For Pat, please send a Word doc or docx to her email ( Due Date: Friday, Feb. 20, 9:00 a.m. BEFORE start of lecture.
1. Two of the important concerns for many of the members of the 19th-century Russian intelligentsia were the role of the individual in society and the place of Russia in the historical process. They discussed these concerns with reference to Russian realities such as serfdom and its legacy and autocracy vs. democratic representation in an effort to resolve some of the problems created by those realities. But did the ideas of the intelligentsia have a solid relationship to reality? Were the Slavophiles, for instance, really looking to a genuine Slavic past for their inspiration? Were the Westernizers looking only to the West? Was either group convincing in its argument toward a solution for Russia? Was the peasantry truly revolutionary, as many of the radical intelligentsia insisted? Formulate a thesis using these elements.

2. Analyze the causes and political, economic, social, and cultural consequences of the so-called "Great Reforms" of Alexander II. Be certain to address at least two of the major reforms (e.g., emancipation, zemstvo, legal, military). What influence, if any, did the reforms have on the development of an intelligentsia opposed to the regime? To what extent does Alexander II deserve the title "Tsar-Liberator," and how "great" were the reforms in a historical perspective?
3. Choose a topic of your own as long as it explores themes from early 19th century Russian imperial culture, and develop an argument or core idea for which you provide evidence. Literature, history, art, and culture are all fair game. Make certain to get approval first from your seminar faculty. You may choose a narrow topic about which you can write in depth, for example: If Russian writers express ideas through their characters, what do you think Raskol'nikov, Razumikhin, Sonya, and Dunya represent?

Formulate a stance/thesis/core idea around this or around some other topic in literature or bringing together literature and history. (Choose one or more of our works for this.) Narrow is fineā€”as long as there is depth in your treatment of your thesis. Absolutely check with your seminar faculty about your argument or core idea.

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