98257 - HISTORY OF RUSSIA

Course Unit Page

SDGs

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

During classes students are expected to acquire a basic knowledge of the most relevant phases of the Russian history from the sharp decline of the Tsarist Empire, at the beginning of the 20th century, to nowadays. Students are particularly expected to grasp the dynamics of continuity and discontinuity in State changes, national identities, economic and social developments, with a particular in-depth comparative analysis of the impact of the 1917-1920, 1941-1943 and 1989-1999 crisis.

Course contents

The course ‘History of Russia’ aims at offering a challenging approach to the major forces instrumental in the shaping of politics, society and culture in late imperial, Soviet and post-Soviet Russia.

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • identify and distinguish the main stages of historical evolution of the Russian state;
  • critically present major scholarly debates around the social and political nature of the Russian state;
  • analyze the contemporary evolution of post-Soviet Russia through the lenses of its political relations with the former Soviet republics and the European Union.

Throughout the course we will investigate three main historical periods of Russian domestic cultural and political history through the lenses of its international projection in the European scene: a) the late Russian Empire in the broader context of East-Central Europe in the early XX century; b) the Soviet Union and the dynamics of the ethnofederal structure until 1991; c) the Russian Federation, the EU and the new configuration of the European space today.

Among the main historical events that will be discussed during the course, we may mention: the 1905 Revolution; the end of Tsarism; the Bolshevik Revolution (1917); Stalin and the era of the Great purge; the II World War; De-Stalinization and the Cold War; Gorbachev’s Perestroika; The Collapse of the Soviet Union; The Russian Federation in Boris Eltsin’s Era (1990s); The Russian Federation in Vladimir Putin’s Era (2000s); The Ukraine Crisis (2014).

Among the main conceptual issues around the nature of the Russian state that will be under scrutiny during the course, we may mention: the tradition of the ‘strong state’ in Russia and its relations with the idea of European democracy; the idea of Eurasia in the Russian political and intellectual history; the practice of ‘modernization’ and its different forms in imperial, Soviet and post-Soviet history.

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Methodologically, the course is structured following a chronological approach, and will be developed around three major modules:

 

  1. Introductory Module (Class 1-7)

Imperial Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia

The introductory module will introduce students to the historical background and heterogeneous composition of the Russian state, with a particular attention to the origins of Russian Imperial and Soviet experience up to 1917, and some relevant theoretical issues, such as: modernization and State building processes; cultural identity, national question and self-determination.

 

2) Thematic Module I (Class 8-15)

Soviet Russia: from the age of anti-imperial revolutions to an empire of nations

The thematic module will introduce students to the Soviet experience, from its origins to its demise. Greater focus will be devoted to broader political, cultural and social dynamics of domestic change, and both Russian and non-Russian nationalities experience in the Soviet Union

 

3) Thematic Module II (Class 16-25)

Post-Soviet Russia, the 'Near Abroad' and the EU

In the final module, we will investigate the recent political and cultural developments in the Russian Federation, with a specific focus on its relations with the former Soviet Republics and the EU. Greater focus will be devoted to: the legacy of contested borders in the former Soviet state and the emergence of new territorial disputes and de facto states in the post-Soviet region; Russia and the 'Near Abroad'; Colour Revolutions; EU's Eastern Partnership and the Eurasian Economic Union.

 

Readings/Bibliography

Compulsory Readings/Bibliography:

 

1) Introductory module:

 

  • Paul Bushkovitch, A Concise History of Russia, New York (NY): Cambridge University Press, 2012 (Selected chapters: Prologue; Chapters 1, 3, 5, 11, 12, 14, 15).
  • Andrei P. Tsygankov, The Strong State in Russia: Development and Crisis, New York (NY): Oxford University Press, 2014 (Selected chapters: Preface; Chapters 3, 4).
  • R. G. Suny, The Soviet Experiment: Russia, The USSR, and the Successor States, New York-Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011 (Selected chapters: Introduction; Chapters 1, 2).

 

2) Thematic module I:

 

  • Andrei P. Tsygankov, The Strong State in Russia: Development and Crisis, New York (NY): Oxford University Press, 2014 (Selected chapter: 5).
  • R. G. Suny, The Soviet Experiment: Russia, The USSR, and the Successor States, New York-Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011 (Selected chapters: 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11).
  • Paul Bushkovitch, A Concise History of Russia, New York (NY): Cambridge University Press, 2012 (Selected chapters: 20, 21, 23)

 

3) Thematic module II:

 

  • R. G. Suny, The Soviet Experiment: Russia, The USSR, and the Successor States, New York-Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011 (Selected chapters: 20, 21, 22).
  • Andrei P. Tsygankov, The Strong State in Russia: Development and Crisis, New York (NY): Oxford University Press, 2014 (Selected chapters: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15).
  • Jeremy Smith, Red Nations: The Nationalities Experience in and after the USSR, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013 (Selected Chapters: 11, 12, 13).

 

 

During the course students will be provided with additional readings that will be presented on the occasion of selected classes. Please, check the readings available on VIRTUALE after the start of the course.

 

NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS

The students are expected to fully handle the contents published on VIRTUALE and also to have read the references indicated above. Additional reading for students who cannot attend regular classes:

  • Ronald Grigory Suny, “The Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union”, Stanford University Press, Stanford 1993.

Teaching methods

Each class will be opened by the professor and/or by students’ presentation based on introductory/suggested readings per class. Selected introductory/suggested readings will be uploaded by the professor on Virtuale.

Potential documents scheduled for presentation must be read by all the attending students, in order to guarantee a fruitful discussion after the presentation.

At the end of each week of the course, the attending students will be provided with the power point presentations, short videos and additional material analyzed during the classes.

Assessment methods

Assessment is based on two different tests - the first one for the introductory module and the second one for the thematic module I - and a final oral exam, revolving around thematic module II and the teaching materials shared during the classes.

The oral exam's weight is about the 50% of the final evaluation, which includes the tests' evaluations too (25% each).

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Each test consists in a written examination based on the readings provided for each of the modules.

The fist test is based on 3 questions/free answers. The second one is based on a specific topic referring to the second module. Each test will last 120 minutes.

In case, students could not attend one of the tests, they will be required to be assessed for the specific module at the oral exam. The same, in case of a possible failure of the test (less than 18/30).

In case of double failure or double missing of the test, the whole readings will be assessed during the oral exam.

Oral exam will consist in two/three questions regarding the thematic module II and a topic selected by the students among those in the syllabus.

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The Syllabus will be published during the fall semester.

 

Teaching tools

The attending students will be provided with power point presentations and additional material (e.g. videos, music, photos) analysed during the classes.

Office hours

See the website of Marco Puleri