[A] = Antonova, Katherine Pickering. An Ordinary Marriage: The World of a Gentry Family in Provincial Russia. Oxford University Press, 2017. ISBN: 9780190616748. [Preview with Google Books]

[C] = Cracraft, James, ed. Major Problems in the History of Imperial Russia. D.C. Heath and Company, 1993. ISBN: 9780669214970.

[D] = Daly, Jonathan, and Leonid Trofimov, eds. Russia in War and Revolution, 1914–1922: A Documentary History. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009. ISBN: 9780872209879.

[DM] = Dmytryshyn, Basil, ed. Imperial Russia: A Source Book, 1700–1767. 2nd ed. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt School, 1990. ISBN: 9780030334191.

[G] = Gogol, Nikolai. The Overcoat & Other Short Stories (Dover Thrift Editions). Dover Publications,1992. ISBN: 9780486270579. [Preview with Google Books]

[K] = Kivelson, Valerie A., and Ronald Grigor Suny. Russia’s Empires. Oxford University Press, 2016. ISBN: 9780199924394. 

Note: Readings from [C], [D], and [DM] are not required. These are provided for those who would like more information on the topic listed.

1 Introduction to the Course No readings assigned
2 Visualizing Russia and Thinking about Empire

[K] “Introduction: Thinking about Empire.”

[K] Map 1.1. “Early Rus.”

[K] Map 1.2. “Rus Principalities.”

[K] Map 1.3. “The Mongol Empire.”

The Prokudin-Gorskii Photographic Record Recreated: The Empire That Was Russia.” Library of Congress.

Brumfield, William. “Solovetsky Transfiguration Monastery: From Prokudin-Gorsky to the Present.” Russia Beyond, March 17, 2017. (skim)

Be sure you understand the four characteristics of empire that Kivelson & Suny discuss and their periodization of the key periods in Russian and Soviet history. What do they mean by imperial practices? Make a list of the key practices you see in this article.

Nicks, Denver. “Crimea Signs Treaty To Join Russia.” Time, March 18, 2014.

Ragozin, Leonid. “Annexation of Crimea: A Masterclass in Political Manipulation.” Aljazeera. March 16, 2019.

Discussion five years after the annexation of Crimea.

Blanding, Michael. “Mapping Crimea.” Slate, March 20, 2014.

Robinson, Adam. “Putin Cast as National Saviour Ahead of Russia Election.” BBC. January 21, 2018.

Notice references to Valaam monastery in Putin election videos.

3 Geography and Historical Background

Bassin, Mark. “Russia between Europe and Asia: The Ideological Construction of Geographical Space.” Slavic Review 50, no. 1 (1991): 1–17.

Current news:

Kramer, Sarah. “Scientists Finally Know What Stopped Mongol Hordes from Conquering Europe.” Business Insider, May 27, 2016.

Discussion of climate change and movement of nomadic peoples.

Chu, Jennifer. “Siberian Traps Likely Culprit for End-Permian Extinction.” MIT News, September 16, 2015.

Also good for understanding Siberia.

4 Muscovy

[K] Chapter 2: Imperial Beginnings: Muscovy.

What are the big ideas in this chapter? What do you find surprising about medieval practices? Muscovy was the name derived from Mosocw which became the new center of Russia in the 14th century.

Hellie, Richard. “Law Code of 1649 (from the Encyclopedia of Russian History, Vol. 2).”

Key Terms in Russian History-The Longue Duree (PDF)

A glossary of key concepts for the early part of the course.

Current news:

Reuters. “‘Ivan the Terrible’ Painting Damaged in Russia in Vodka-Fueled Attack,” New York Times, May 27, 2018.

MacFarquhar, Neil, and Sophia Kishkovsky.“Russian History Receives a Makeover That Starts With Ivan the Terrible,” New York Times, March 30, 2015.

Oliphant, Roland. “Controversy as Russian Town Unveils First Statue of Ivan the Terrible,” The Telegraph, October 14, 2016.

5 Peter the Great and the Petrine Reforms

[C] “Petrine Reform Legislation,” pp. 110–15.

[C] “Feofan Prokopovich Eulogizes Peter the Great, 1725,” pp. 123–25.

[K] Chapter 4: Responsive Rule and Its Limits-Force and Sentiment in the Eighteenth Century, pp. 89–98.

6 From Peter the Great to Catherine the Great

[C] “Peter III’s Manifesto Emancipating the Nobility, 1762,” pp. 150–53.

[C] “M.M. Shcherbatov Laments Corruption at Court, 1730–1762,” pp. 153–65.

[K] Chapter 4: Responsive Rule and Its Limits: Force and Sentiment in the Eighteenth Century, pp. 98–105.  

Martin, Russell E. “Law, Succession, and the 18th Century Refounding of the Romanov Dynasty.” The Russian Legitimist.

For reference: Figure 1 in this article shows the genealogy of the 18th century heirs of Aleski (Peter’s father). The individuals who actually ruled are listed in bold. The key ones are Anna (daughter of Ivan V, ruled 1730–1740 after Peter II died); Elizabeth (daughter of Peter I, ruled 1741–1762); Peter III (nephew of Elizabeth; ruled for 6 months in 1762); Catherine II (wife of Peter III who overthrew him and ruled 1762–1796.)

7 Catherine the Great as Woman and Ruler

[C] “Alexander Radishchev Excoriates Russia’s Social System, 1790,” pp. 212–20.

[DM] Chapter 11: The Nakaz, or Instruction, of Catherine II to the Legislative Commission of 1767–1768.

[K] Chapter 4: Responsive Rule and Its Limits-Force and Sentiment in the Eighteenth Century, pp. 106–14.

8 18th Century Identities and Conflicts

[DM] Chapter 14: The Pugachev Rebellion.

[K] Chapter 5: Russians’ Identities in the Eighteenth Century: A Multitude of Possibilities, pp. 116–39.

9 Bureaucratic Monarchy, 1796–1825: Tsars Paul and Alexander

[C] “N.M. Karamzin Defends the Established Order, 1811,” pp. 282–91.

[K] Chapter 6: Imperial Russia in the Moment of the Nation, 1801–1855, pp. 140–57.

10 Nicholas I and the Birth of the Intelligentsia

[DM] Chapter 32: Reactionary & Repressive Policies of Nicholas I.

[K] Chapter 6: Imperial Russia in the Moment of the Nation, 1801–1855, pp. 157–81. 



Cannady, Sean, and Paul Kubicek. “Nationalism and Legitimation for Authoritarianism: A Comparison of Nicholas I and Vladimir Putin.” Journal of Eurasian Studies 5, no. 1 (2014): 1–9.


“Putin’s Family Values.” Dateline. SBS. May 9, 2017.

11 Bureaucracy in Literature [G] Chapter 4: The Overcoat. [Preview with Google Books
12 Estate Life, Part I

[A] “Introduction.” [Preview with Google Books]

[A] Chapter 1: A Provincial World. [Preview with Google Books]

[A] Chapter 2: Society. [Preview with Google Books]

[A] Chapter 3: The Village.

[A] Chapter 4: Estate Management. 

Pay particular attention to Antonova’s sources and her methods.

13 Estate Life, Part II

[A] Chapter 7: Domesticity and Motherhood.

[A] Chapter 8: The Education of Aleksei.

Note: Russian has two words that are closely related but distinct. One is education, meaning book learning and schooling (obrazovanie) and the other means upbringing (vospitanie). Pay close attention to how Aleksei’s vospitanie or upbringing is conducted.

[A] Chapter 9: Education for All.

[A] Chapter 10: The Landscape of Ideas.

[A] “Conclusion.”

14 Alexander II and the Great Reforms

[DM] Chapter 42: Russian Serfs and Their Emancipation in 1861.

[K] Chapter 7: War, Reforms, Revolt, and Reaction, pp. 183–203; skim 203–15.

Znamenski, Andre. “Patriot Games: Alaska in Russian National Geopolitical Rhetoric.” Slideshare.

This is an excellent slide show by a geographer on the ways in which Russia’s sale of Alaska to the U.S. in 1867 has been used as propaganda by Russian “patriots” in the last hundred years and especially today. Slides 1–6 are good historical background; compare to slide 23 on the current politicized history.

15 Alexander III and the Counter Reforms

[DM] Chapter 48: The Catechism of a Revolutionary, 1868.

[DM] Chapter 49: Demands of the Narodnaia Volia (People’s Will), 1879.

[K] Chapter 7: War, Reforms, Revolt, and Reaction, pp. 215–26.

16 Late 19th Century Tensions

[C] “Constantine Pobedonostsev Attacks Democracy, 1896.”

[K] Chapter 8: Imperial Anxieties: 1905–1914, pp. 227–40.

Pobedonostsev, Konstantin Petrovich. In Reflections of a Russian Statesman. Translated from the Russian by Robert Crozier Long. Grant Richards, 1898, pp. 26–44.

17 Anti-Semitism and Pogroms

[C] “S.D. Urusov Explains Russian Antisemitism, 1907.”

Kishinev Pogroms: ‘1903 Easter Week: A Proclamation Inciting a Pogrom of the Jews’ and ‘Vladimir Korolenko Description of Kishinev Pogrom Aftermath’.” Kimball Files, University of Oregon.

Christian incitement to the 1903 Kishinev pogrom & Korolenko describes House no. 13.

18 Nicholas II, Industrialization, and Radicalization

[C] “V.I. Gurko Recalls Sergei Witte’s Years in Power, 1892–1906.”

Gurko (b. 1862) hailed from a hereditary nobility family from Tver; served in the Imperial Council; harshly criticised Witte.

[C] Hamburg, Gary. “The Nobility in Crisis.”

[C] Rieber, Alfred. “The Fragmented ‘Middle Ranks’.”

Two articles about the crisis of the social estates at the end of the 19th century.

[C] “S.I. Kanatchikov Recounts His Adventures as a Peasant-Worker-Activist, 1879–1896.”

Kanatchikov describes his journey from peasant childhood to becoming increasingly radicalized as a worker. Pay particular attention to the factors that contribute to his radicalization.

Marx-Zasulich Correspondence.” 1881. Marxists Internet Archive.

Vera Zasulich wrote to Marx asking his views on the Russian peasant commune, and he replied. What do you think of the possibilities for a peasant revolution based on the commune judging from their correspondence?

Lenin, V.I. “The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats.” 1897. Marxists Internet Archive.

Don’t worry about the 1st paragraph. What practical tasks is Lenin talking about?

Von Laue, Theodore H. “First Crisis, 1900-1905.” Chapter 3 in Why Lenin? Why Stalin? A Reappraisal of the Russian Revolution, 1900–1930. 2nd ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1971. ISBN: 9780397472000.

Stolypin, Peter. “We Need a Great Russia.” Chapter 41 in Readings in Russian Civilization, Vol. II: Imperial Russia, 1700–1917. Revised edition. Edited by Thomas Riha. University of Chicago Press, 1969. ISBN: 9780226718552. [Preview with Google Books]

Stolypin gave this speech to the state Duma (Parliament) on May 10, 1907.

19 The 1905 Revolution

[DM] Chapter 56: Father Gapon’s Petition to Nicholas II, January 22, 1905.

[DM] Chapter 57: Concessions of Nicholas II in the Revolution of 1905.

[DM] Chapter 58: The Fundamental Laws of Imperial Russia, 1906.

[DM] Chapter 59: Programs of Russian Political Parties.

[K] Chapter 8: Imperial Anxieties: 1905–1914, pp. 240–54.

Lenin, V.I. “Lecture on the 1905 Revolution.” Marxists Internet Archive.

This is an excellent overview of the events and significance of 1905.

Russian Revolution Documents.” Alpha History.

Especially recommended: Milyukov on the need for political reform; Nicholas II’s October Manifesto. But the various accounts of 1905 present a range of different views of the revolution.

October Manifesto.” October 17, 1905. Wikisource.

This was written by Sergei Witte and issued by Tsar Nicholas II.


Steinberg, Mark D., and Vladimir M. Khrustalev, eds. “Introduction: Nicholas and Alexandra: An Intellectual Portrait.” In The Fall of the Romanovs. Yale University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780300070675. 

20 The Constitutional Monarchy and World War I

[D] Chapter 1.7: Notes from Meetings of the Council of Ministers.

[D] Chapter 1.8: Description of General Headquarters, March 1916.

[D] Chapter 1.9: Selections from the Correspondence of Nicholas and Alexandra.

[DM] Chapter 64: Durnovo’s Memorandum, February 1914.

[K] Chapter Nine: Clash and Collapse of Empires: 1914–1921, pp. 255–66.

1914fe: Peter Durnovo Memorandum to Emperor Nicholas II of Russia.” Kimball Files, University of Oregon.

This on-line version, while not the whole text, has some useful hyperlinks to explain particular items.


Karlin, Anatoly. “Prophets of the Great War: Friedrich Engels, Ivan Bloch, and Pyotr Durnovo.” May 5, 2010. 

Anatoly Karlin, the author, is not a professional historian but he’s done a nice job giving some quotes from three famous prophets of World War I.

Lieven, Dominic. “Russia, Europe and World War I.” In Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution, 1914–1921. Edited by Edward Acton, Vladimir Cherniaev, and William G. Rosenberg.  Bloomsbury Academy, 2001. ISBN: 9780340763650. [Preview with Google Books]

Twilight of the Empire: 10 facts about Russia in WWI.” August 2, 2014. RT Question More.

This might be useful as an overview of the developments and casualties of the war.

21 The February Revolution of 1917

[K] Chapter Nine: Clash and Collapse of Empires: 1914–1921, pp. 266–75.

Kolonitskii, Boris. “The ‘Russian Idea’ and Ideology in the February Revolution.” (PDF)

I recommend you start on the last paragraph of p. 43 where Kolonitskii talks about the “complex” phenomenon of the February Revolution. You don’t need his initial thoughts on “The Russian Idea.”

View the website:

The Deepening of the Russian Revolution, 1917.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This is a reference website showing the changes in popular attitudes between February and October 1917.

Siegelbaum, Lewis. “February Revolution.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, Michigan State University.

———. “Formation of the Soviets.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, Michigan State University.

Formation Revolution Texts: Abdication Manifesto; Formation of the Provisional Government; Formation of the Soviets.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, Michigan State University.

Click on each link to see these three primary texts. Pay close attention to the language of each.


[D] Chapter 2.14: International Women’s Day: The Revolution Begins, February 23–24. 1917

[DM] Chapter 66:  Abdication of the Romanovs, March 1917.

22 The October Revolution

Wildman, Allan. “The Breakdown of the Imperial Army in 1917.” In Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution, 1914–1921. Edited by Edward Acton, Vladimir Cherniaev, and William G. Rosenberg. Bloomsbury Academy, 2001. ISBN: 9780340763650. [Preview with Google Books]

Lenin, V.I. “Letter To Central Committee Members.” 1917. Marxists Internet Archive.

Suny, Ronald Grigor, ed. “Order No. 1.” In The Structure of Soviet History: Essays and Documents. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780195340549.

 ———. “V.I. Lenin,‘The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution (‘April Theses’)’.” In The Structure of Soviet History: Essays and Documents. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780195340549. 


Kolonitskii, Boris. “Kerensky.” In Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution, 1914–1921. Edited by Edward Acton, Vladimir Cherniaev, and William G. Rosenberg. Bloomsbury Academy, 2001. ISBN: 9780340763650. [Preview with Google Books] 

23 The Age of Questions: How Do We Think About What We Have Learned and What Are Our Questions Going Forward? Case, Holly. “The Progressive Argument: The Age of Emancipation.” Chapter 2 in The Age of Questions: Or, A First Attempt at an Aggregate History of the Eastern, Social, Woman, American, Jewish, Polish, Bullion, Tuberculosis, and Many Other Questions over the Nineteenth Century, and Beyond. Princeton University Press, 2020. ISBN: 9780691210377. [Preview with Google Books]
24 Wrap Up and Review No readings assigned

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2019
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments