REE 325 • Russia and its World--History and Culture-W
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Over the past thousand years, Russia evolved from a cluster of tribes north of the Black Sea to a provincial state in the backwaters of the Byzantine empire to a colonial conqueror of its continent to the messianic pseudo-Utopia of the Soviet Union to being the Anti- (Bizarro?) America of unbridled commercial capitalism, all the while trying to relate itself to its past, to Europe, and to history in general. Now more than ever it is essential to understand who the Russians are. This course will survey the political and cultural history of Russia, from its prehistoric origins to the installation of communist rule in 1917, covering its history, culture, arts, and faith. Special emphasis will be placed on enduring themes of cultural identity, imagination, and conflict, with neighboring peoples and within. Class work will consist of lectures, reading, and discussion in English. The backbone of the course is a history of political and social history. From this structure we will make forays to sample the best and most significant products of the cultural world at each period. Several short literary masterpieces will be read because of their accessibility and popularity with students. Class presentations will highlight creative work especially in art, architecture, folklore, and music. Included will be tours of Russia's capitals Moscow and St. Petersburg as fascinating preserves of historical and cultural values, alongside the delights of modern urban life. And what lies ahead for the new Russia? As Winston Churchill said, `I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
Three in-class exams: 40% Four writing assignments: 50% Class participation: 10%
Nicholas V. Riasanovsky and Mark Steinberg. A history of Russia. Combined volume, 7th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Additional readings will be made available in a course packet.