MO4932 Russians Making History, 1755-2000
Lecturer Dr Frances Nethercott (St Katharine’s Lodge, room 0.05)
Credits 60
Availability Semesters 1 and 2, 2018-19
Class Hour TBC
Description This course will examine a number of leading Russian historians active in the late eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. While, to a certain extent, their work and careers (whether as amateurs or professionals) mirrored changes and trends that we have witnessed in West European historical scholarship over the past two centuries, in many ways they differed. In both Tsarist and Stalinist Russia, the conceptual tools a historian worked with, or choice of subject matter were affected by a persistent absence of university autonomy, censorship, and ideology. And if, in the decade since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the historical profession has begun to recover from its onerous legacy, this has not altogether entailed a growing interdependence with Western scholarship, either thematically or from a methodological point of view. More often than not, attempts to come to grips with the past are governed by an agenda of contemporary socio-political concerns, such as ethnic tensions, religion, statehood, and civil rights.
Basic Reading Sanders, T. (ed), Historiography of Imperial Russia. The Profession and Writing of History in a Multinational State (London, 2000)
Mazour, Anatole, The Writing of History in the Soviet Union (London, 1971)
Davies. R., Soviet History in the Gorbachev Revolution (London, 1989)

Course Structure

Semester 1

  1. Introduction
  2. Origins of modern Russian historiography: The Germans
  3. Origins of modern Russian historiography: The First Russian Historian – Nicholas Karamzin
  4. History at the University I
  5. History at the University II
  6. History in the Salon
  7. Writing History in the Age of Reform (1861-1917) I
  8. Writing History in the Age of Reform (1861-1917) II
  9. Topics (I): Interpreting Pre-Petrine Russia
  10. Topics (II) Assessing Peter the Great
  11. Topics (III) Visions of History

Semester 2

  1. Bolsheviks Making History: October and After
  2. Stalin – Coryphaeus of all Knowledge
  3. The Thaw: Historical Debates
  4. The Stagnant Years: Official Doctrine and Writing ‘for the drawer’
  5. The Gorbachev Era: Glasnost’ and the Recovery of the Past I
  6. The Gorbachev Era II
  7. ‘The Unpredictable Past’: Writing History in Post-Soviet Russia
  8. Student Presentations
  9. Conclusions/Revision
Assessment 60% examination - two 3-hour papers
40% coursework - 2 short essays, 1 long essay (+ presentation), 2 marks for gobbets

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop skills in working with primary sources.
  • Appreciation of the historiographical and ideological components.
  • Greater understanding of the status of history as a discipline
  • Insight into aspects of Russian culture
Restrictions Available only to students in the second year of the Honours programme
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