Geraci, Robert P.

Age of Reform and Revolution in Russia, 1855-1917

HIEU
3612
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

This course explores political, social, and economic upheaval in Russia from the end of the Crimean War to World War I and the revolutions of 1917.  Special focus will be on the "Great Reforms" beginning with the emancipation of the serfs; industrialization, urbanization, and labor; the fate of the agricultural economy and peasantry; the question of social identities, bourgeois culture, and Russia’s "missing middle class"; revolutionary terrorism; the impact of ethnic diversity and empire on opposition to the tsarist government; and the 1905 revolution and the experiment in liberal politics.  Throughout, we will engage the issue of Russia's increasing surface resemblance to Western, industrialized societies during the late 19th century, and ask at what points it became unlikely and then impossible for it to evolve into a liberal democracy. 

 

The first half of the course, after presenting the era of Great Reforms in a more or less narrative format, will take different social groups in turn, investigating the experiences and attitudes of each in the aftermath of the reforms and leading up to the revolutionary upheaval of 1905.  Beginning with 1905, we will turn to a more chronological approach, using Orlando Figes's A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924 (excluding the last third of the book), to explore the complex chain of events leading to the breakdown of the tsarist system in February 1917 and the takeover by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Party in October 1917.

 

The syllabus will include a number of primary sources (memoirs, ethnographies, letters, literary works), secondary scholarly literature, and films set during the era.  Classes will be a combination of lecture and discussion of readings.  Graded work will include a take-home midterm, two short papers, and a comprehensive final exam.  There is no prerequisite for the course, though a basic knowledge of European and/or Russian history is helpful.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
30
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in Post-1700 European History

Russian History through Film
HIEU
1502
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

In this introductory seminar, first- and second-year students will become familiar with some of the major events, eras, and personalities in the history of Russia and its empire through detailed analysis of some of the most important films produced in and about Russia in the past century.  Besides being an introduction to Russian history and culture, the seminar aims to get students thinking about the fundamental problems historians grapple with as they reconstruct and represent the past.   

We will be asking two different sets of questions about the interaction between history and film in Russia.  1) First, how can films serve as secondary historical sources, i.e. to portray historical reality and disseminate it to a broad public (not only within Russia but internationally)?  What are the principal challenges of making and interpreting films about past eras and major historical events?  Is there a discernible line between the educational and propagandistic uses of historical films?  2) Second, how can films (not only “historical” films but more broadly) be used as primary sources for understanding Russia’s 20th- and 21st-century history?  What exactly can they tell us about Russian/Soviet society that other sources cannot, or not as effectively?  

The films we focus most closely on will include several of the following titles, many of which are considered masterpieces of world cinema:  Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovskii, 1966); Ivan the Terrible (Sergei Eisenstein, 1944-1945); Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass (Dziga Vertov, 1930); War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1967); The Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925); Agony/Rasputin (Aleksey Petrenko, 1975); Bed and Sofa (Abram Room, 1927); Circus (Grigorii Aleksandrov, 1936); Chapaev (The Vasiliev Brothers, 1934); The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kolotozov, 1957); Ivan’s Childhood (Tarkovskii, 1962); Burnt by the Sun (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1994); Siberiade (Andrei Konchalovskii, 1979); Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Vladimir Menshov, 1979); Repentance (Tengiz Abuladze, 1987); Taxi Blues  (Pavel Lungin, 1987); Brother (Aleksei Balabanov, 1997); and Leviathan (Andrei Zviagintsev, 2014); A Rider Called Death (Karen Shakhnazarov, 2008); Unfinished Piece for the Player Piano (Mikhalkov, 1977).

For historical context, we will be using Gregory L. Freeze, ed., A History of Russia (Oxford). 

The class fulfills the Second Writing Requirement.  Students will write graded essays both on assigned films and films of their own choice, and will be expected to engage in seminar discussion.  No exams will be given.  No previous knowledge of Russian history, culture, or language is required.  

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Major Seminar

Scandals in History
HIST
4501
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

What is it that makes us regard certain public events and revelations as "scandals"?  What makes some scandals historically significant, and others little more than contemporary diversions? Why do some "stick" for centuries in collective memory while others fade away rather quickly? This research seminar for history majors explores incidents of public wrongdoing and mass outrage both as shapers and catalysts of history and as windows through which we can view past societies and eras.

For the first few weeks we will read conceptual material on scandals, as well as some books and book excerpts on events such as the Salem witchcraft trials, the South Sea Bubble, the Dreyfus Affair, the Tuskegee experiments, and/or Watergate. We will watch and discuss at least one historical film about a scandal.  Using these sources we'll develop a list of questions, issues, and methodological approaches for studying scandals that will guide you as you produce your own original research paper of 25 pages or more on a topic of your choice (from any place and any period up to the 1980s).

The instructor will guide students through various stages of the work:  framing a research question; compiling a bibliography; surveying available secondary literature; interpreting a key primary source; drafting the paper.  You will be expected to engage in constructive critique of your classmates' papers-in-progress. Your grade will take into account not only the quality of your final product but  your progress at various intermediate stages, as well as discussion participation.

Because writing an original research paper in History is not a small or simple task,

you will be strongly encouraged to spend some time during the summer identifying a topic area and beginning exploratory research so that you'll get a running start when the semester begins.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

History of the Russian Empire 1700-1917

HIEU
2152
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

            Are you curious about the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine? . . . or why Vladimir Putin meddled in last year's U.S. presidential election?  Many explanations of contemporary events lie in Russia's imperial past, when it ruled over not only Ukraine but also Poland, Finland, Georgia, Armenia, and Central Asia (a sixth of the earth's land area, all told), yet still harbored an enormous inferiority complex vis-à-vis the countries of Western Europe. 

            We will begin with the reign of Peter the Great, and cover two centuries in which the Romanov dynasty struggled to bring Russia into the ranks of European and world powers by pursuing its economic, social, and cultural transformation, and by conquering ever more territories and populations.  At the same time the tsars insisted on preserving many of Russia's traditional and distinctive features, including autocratic rule itself.  This precarious situation ultimately led to social and political revolution, but almost as soon as tsarist rule ended in 1917, Russia and much of the empire were taken over by a new dictatorship, that of the Bolsheviks (Communists) under Vladimir I. Lenin.  (This year of course marks the centennial of Russia's 1917 revolutions.)

            About half the course is devoted to the last sixty years of the imperial (tsarist) period, from defeat in the Crimean War and implementation of the so-called Great Reforms (beginning with the abolition of serfdom), concluding with close analysis of the revolutions of 1905, February 1917, and October 1917.  Special attention will be paid to the tsarist social hierarchy and the governance of diverse ethno-national populations.

You will be expected to read between 100 and 200 pages per week.  The overview text is A History of Russia (vol. 1: to 1917) by Walter MossBeing at the introductory level, the course is intended to teach you to think as historians do, and to consider the various types of sources that can be brought to bear on historical analysis.  We'll be doing our own interpretation of a wide range of textual primary sources on tsarist Russia:  literary classics such as the theatrical farce The Government Inspector (Nikolai Gogol), the novels Fathers and Children (Ivan Turgenev) and Hadji Murad (Leo Tolstoy), as well as shorter selections such as government documents and memoir excerpts by revolutionary activists, factory workers, and peasants.  Graded work will include a map quiz, two take-home midterms, one 5-6 pp. paper, and a comprehensive final exam.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
40
Course Type: 

Russia as Multi-Ethnic Empire

HIEU
3702
Undergraduate
Spring
2017

The Russian/Soviet empire  -- or “Eurasia” as it has often been called -- at the height of its power occupied one-sixth of the world’s land mass and contained a stunning variety of ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups.  Until recently, however, this diversity was largely overlooked in the study and teaching of Russian history in the U.S.  This survey of the multi-cultural complexion of Russia from the 16th century to the present will provide students with both an understanding of the many peoples of Eurasia and the history of relations among these peoples.  We will begin with the history of Russian imperial conquests and the development of the Russians as an ethno-national entity, and then proceed by particular regions and minority communities, describing the experiences and evolving consciousness of each in the tsarist period.  When we get to the 20th century we will shift to a wider lens in discussing fluctuations in official administrative approaches to empire, the role of ethnic diversity in the dissolution of the USSR, and emergent identity issues both within the present-day Russian Federation and the broader former empire.  The course will have an interdisciplinary flavor, reflecting recent schoarship not only of historians but also of literary scholars, anthropologists, political scientists, journalists, and others. 

 

Topics of lecture and readings will include:   the Polish independence movement; Russian orientalism and policies toward Muslims; anti-Semitism, the Pale of Jewish Settlement, and pogroms; the question of Ukrainian distinctiveness; the role of Germans in Russia and the backlash against them during World War I; the “civilizing mission” and unveiling of Muslim women in Central Asia; Soviet “affirmative action” policies; the ethnic Russian diaspora in the “near abroad”; wars in the Caucasus (Chechnya and Georgia-Ossetia) in both the 19th century and the present; and racial attitudes in present-day Russia.  An array of primary sources -- memoirs, government documents, poetry, stories, films, and ethnographies – will give students access to the voices and experiences of Russians as well as minority groups.

 

There will be two 75-minute classes per week, combining lecture and discussion.  A few weeks into the semester, each student will be assigned a particular ethnic group or region to research and represent in greater depth.  This will generate three graded exercises:  an in-class roll-playing exercise; an ethnographic report; and a portfolio of recommended resources on the group that will take the place of a final exam.  Grades will also include two non-cumulative take-home midterms. 

 

Assigned secondary readings will include Andreas Kappeler, The Russian Empire: A Multi-Ethnic History; Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, The Golden Age Shtetl:  A New History of Jewish Life in Eastern Europe; and Francine Hirsch, Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union.  Basic knowledge of European, Russian, or Asian history is helpful but by no means required.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
25
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in Post-1700 European History

Russian History through Film
HIEU
1502
Undergraduate
Spring
2017

In this introductory seminar, students will become familiar with the major events and eras in the history of Russia and its empire through detailed analysis of some of the most important films produced in and about Russia in the past century.  Besides being an introduction to Russian history and culture, the seminar aims to get students thinking about the fundamental problems historians grapple with as they reconstruct and represent the past.  

 

We will be asking two kinds of questions about the interaction between history and film in Russia.  1) How have films acted as secondary historical sources, i.e. to portray historical reality and disseminate it to a broad public (not only within Russia but internationally)?  What are the principal challenges of making and interpreting films about past eras and major historical events?  Is there a discernible line between the educational and propagandistic uses of historical films?  2) Second, how can films (not only “historical” films but more broadly) be used as primary sources for understanding Russia’s 20th- and 21st-century history?  What exactly can they tell us about Russian/Soviet society that other sources cannot, or not as effectively? 

 

The class meets once per week for 2.5 hours.  Students will view films outside of class.  In some weeks the assignment will be two standard-length films; in others it will be one longer or multi-part film. 

 

The films we focus most closely on will include several of the following, many of which are considered masterpieces of world cinema:  Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovskii, 1966); Ivan the Terrible (Sergei Eisenstein, 1944-1945); War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1967); The Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925); Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass (Dziga Vertov, 1930); Chapaev (Vasiliev Bros., 1934); The Circus (Grigorii Aleksandrov, 1936); The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kolotozov, 1957); Burnt by the Sun (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1994); Hipsters (Valerii Todorovskii, 2008); Siberiade (Andrei Konchalovskii, 1979); Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Vladimir Menshov, 1979); Repentance (Tengiz Abuladze, 1987); Brother (Aleksei Balabanov, 1997); and Leviathan (Andrei Zviagintsev, 2014).  Alongside we will read other sources such as critics' reviews, directors' commentaries, and accounts of the film-making process.  For historical context, we will be using Gregory L. Freeze, ed., Russia: A History, and essays on specialized topics. 

 

Students will write graded essays both on assigned films and on films of their own choice, and will be expected to engage in seminar discussion and to submit blog posts each week.  No exams will be given.  No previous knowledge of Russian history, culture, or language is required. 

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in Post-1700 European History

Russian History through Film
HIEU
1502
Undergraduate
Fall
2016

In this introductory seminar, first and second-year students will become familiar with some of the major events and eras in history of Russia and its empire through detailed analysis of some of the most important films produced in and about Russia in the past century.  Besides being an introduction to Russian history and culture, the seminar aims to get students thinking about fundamental problems historians grapple with as they reconstruct and represent the past.  

We will be asking two kinds of questions about the interaction between history and film in Russia.  1) How have films acted as secondary historical sources, i.e. to portray historical reality and disseminate it to a broad public (not only within Russia but internationally)?  What are the principal challenges of making and interpreting films about past eras and major historical events?  Is there a discernible line between educational and propagandistic uses of historical films?  2) Second, how can films (not only "historical" films but more broadly) be used as primary sources for understanding Russia's 20th and 21st century history?  What exactly can they tell us about Russian/Soviet society that other sources cannot, or not as effectively?

Students will view films outside of class.  In some weeks the assignment will be two standard-length films; in others it will be one longer or multi-part film.

The films we focus most closely on will include several of the following, many of which are considered masterpieces of world cinema.  Andrei Rubley (Andrei Tarkovski, 1966); Ivan the Terrible (Sergei Eisenstein, 1944-1945); War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1967); The Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1975); The Man With a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929); 

Agony/Rasputin (Aleksey Petrenko, 1975); Circus (Grigorii Aleksandrov, 1936); The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kolotozov, 1957); Burnt by the Sun (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1994); Siberiade (Andrei Konchalovskii, 1979); Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Vladimir Menshov, 1979); Repentance (Tengiz Abuladze, 1987); Little Vera (Vasilii Pichul, 1988); Brother (Aleksei Balabanov, 1997); and The Return (Andrei Zviagintsev, 2003).  Alongside we will read other sources such as critics' reviews, directors' commentaries, and accounts of the film-making process.  For historical context, we will be using Gregory L. Freeze, ed., Russia: A History, and essays on specialized topics. 

Students will write graded essays both on assigned films and on films of their own choice, and will be expected to engage in seminar discussion.  They will occasionally be asked to write and present short, ungraded commentaries.  No exams will be given.  No previous knowledge of Russian history, culture, or language is required. 

 

Course Instructor: 

History of Russian Empire 1700-1917

HIEU
2152
Undergraduate
Fall
2016

Want to understand the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and what lied behind Vladimir Putin's behavior?  Many of the answers lie in Russia's imperial past, when it ruled over not only Ukraine but also Poland, Finland, Georgia, Armenia, Central Asia, etc.  We will begin with the reign of Peter the Great, and cover two centuries in which the Romanov dynasty struggled to bring Russia into the ranks of European and world powers by pursuing its economic, social, and cultural transformation, and by conquering ever more territories and populations.  At the same time the tsars insisted on preserving many of Russia's traditional and distinctive features, including autocratic rule itself.  This precarious situation ultimately led to social and political revolution, but almost as soon as tsarist rule ended in 1917, Russia and much of the empire were taken over by a new dictatorship, that of the Bolsheviks (Communists) under V.I. Lenin.  

About half the course will be devoted to the last sixty years of the imperial (tsarist) period, from defeat in the Crimean War and implementation of the so-called Great Reforms (beginning with the abolition of serfdon), concluding with close analysis of the revolutions of 1905, February 1917, and October 1917.  Special attention will be paid to the tsarist social hierarchy and the governance of diverse ethno-national populations.

Students will read from 100 to 150 pages per week.  The overview text will be A History of Russia (vol 1: to 1917) by Walter Moss.  Primary source readings will include Russia literacy classics such as the theatrical farce The Government Inspector (Nikolai Gogol) and the novels Fathers and Children (Ivan Turgenev) and Hadji Murad (Lev Tolstoy), Memoirs of a Revolutionist by Vera Figner, and several peasant memoirs.  Graded work will include a map quiz, a take home mid-term, one 5-6 pp. paper, and a comprehensive final exam

Course Instructor: 

Scandals in History

HIST
4501
Undergraduate
Spring
2016
What makes some scandals historically significant, and others little more than contemporary diversions?  Why do some "stick" for centuries in collective memory while others fade away rather quickly?  This research seminar for history majors will explore incidents of public wrongdoing and mass outrage both as shapers and catalysts of historical events and as windows through which we can view past societies and eras.   
 
During the first few weeks we will read some theoretical and methodological material on the subject, followed by some monographic case studies (and sections thereof) by prominent historians on events such as the Salem witchcraft trials, the South Sea Bubble (financial corruption in the early 18th century), the Dreyfus Affair (anti-semitism in 1890s France), the Azef affair (mutual infiltration of police and terrorist cells in tsarist Russia), Watergate, and Enron. 
 
The bulk of the semester will be spent on guiding students through the production of a research paper of 25 pages or so on a relevant topic of their choice from virtually any place or time in history up to the 1980s.  The instructor will guide students through various stages of the work:  framing a research question; compiling a bibliography; reviewing and summarizing secondary literature; interpreting a key primary source; drafting the paper.  Work will be graded at several stages to ensure that students distribute their efforts evenly through the semester.  Students are expected to engage in constructive critique of other students' papers-in-progress, and will be graded on discussion participation and peer reviewing as well as on their own research. 
Course Instructor: 
Subscribe to Geraci, Robert P.

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904

  

Contact:
(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts