Reading Russia’s Past

Course Title: Reading Russia’s Past


This class is full and we will only be accepting registration for a future class.  If you are interested please complete a registration form and send it to us without the fee.

Dates: Tuesdays, Jan 9, 16, 23, 30,  2018

Time: 9:30-12:00 Noon

Location: Mercer Public Library, 2648W Margaret St.

Fee: $35 with $5 discount if registration is received by Dec. 26th.

Through an examination of select historical moments, this course will identify and assess some of the main themes of Russia’s history.  These themes will include: the impact of geography; the diversity of population; an authoritarian political tradition; an hierarchical social order; challenges to economic development; and a long-established cultural tradition that centers on tension between Russia and western Europe.  Along the way we will encounter such figures as Vladimir the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Nicholas II, Lenin, Stalin, and Vladimir Putin; and we will look at such watershed events as the Christianization of the country, expansion to the Pacific Ocean, the emancipation of the serfs, and the revolutions of the 20th century, and Russia in World War II.

Objectives:  This course will provide students with a broad framework for understanding Russia’s historical development and will introduce them to some major—and often conflicting—interpretations of significant events and trends. Students will also have some practice interpreting primary documents.

Course Structure:  The course will be given in four sessions, each 150 minutes long.

Week One:  Geography of Russia; Kievan Rus; Rise of Moscow; Expansion East and West; Emergence of Serfdom.

Week Two:  Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Russia.  Reforms of Peter I, Territorial Expansion; Reform and Reaction; Emergence of Opposition to the State.

Week Three: Revolutions of 1905 and 1917; Civil War; New Economic Policy.

Week Four:  The Stalin Revolution; Purges; World War II; Dismantling the Stalinist Regime

Requirements:  Students should acquire and read a one-volume history of Russia.  For the purposes of this course, Russian History, A Very Short Introduction by Geoffrey Hosking would be a good choice. This book is available on Amazon, new or used. Fe U will purchase a new book for you for $9.00.  For those students who want a fuller treatment of the subject, I would recommend either A History of Russia, the Soviet Union and Beyond by David MacKenzie and Michael Curran or A History of Russia by Nicholas Riasanovsky and Mark Steinberg.  A desktop-sized physical map of Eurasia will be provided at the first class.  The instructor will provide readings to be done between class sessions.  Most of these readings will be excerpts from primary sources.  The number of pages will not be great, but the materials will require close and critical reading.

Instructor:  Michael Hittle grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he attended Shortridge High School and fished in White River.  He received his B.A. degree in Russian Studies from Brown University and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University.  He taught Russian history, global history, and advanced historical methods at Lawrence University from 1966 to 2001.  He also served for eight years as Dean of the Faculty.  Currently he is putting the finishing touches on a comprehensive history of the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage.