HIS 1286H: Categories of Imperial Russian Social History

Winter 2012 T 2-4, US F204
Assoc. Prof. Alison K. Smith email: alison.smith@utoronto.ca
Office: Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2055 phone: 416-946-0968
Office hours: W 2-4  

Nicholas II's Completed Form for the 1897 Census

Course Description:

In this course students will examine the different schemes of categorizing the population of Imperial Russia: by ethnicity, by religion, by social class or estate, and eventually by profession or nation. It will begin with an event from the end of the Imperial period, the first national census of 1897, then look back to see how the categories included in that event developed over the preceding centuries. It will examine how social estates developed, and how alternate forms of social stratification did or did not develop to challenge those estates. It will look at the role religion played in categorizing Russian society, and the ways that the Russian state viewed religion synonymously with nationalism. And it will investigate the ways that ethnic and national differences became more recognized as important sources of social division, too, related to, and yet separate from these other forms.

Marking Scheme:

  1. 3 3-4 page book reviews (15% each)
  2. 1 15-20 page review essay or research proposal due April 10 (40 %)
  3. class participation 15 %)

Each week, students will read first an article on a particular theme, and second, one of three possible monograph readings. The discussion will include reports on the monographs, as well as general discussion of the theme of the week based on all the readings.

Three times over the course of the term students will turn in a 3-4 page book review of that week's reading in lieu of the brief summary (one of these must be handed in more than a week before the drop deadline).

The final project is either a review essay or a research proposal. The former should examine a school of thought, or a topic, at some length. You’re welcome to include monographs you’ve read as part of the class, but the review essay must go beyond them (and certainly beyond any writing you’ve already done for the class). The latter should suggest a new research project, and include both a discussion of the relevant historiography and a discussion of possible sources to use to investigate the project.


January 10: Introduction

January 17: Gender

January 24: Family

January 31: Estate: General Thoughts (this week read all three articles only)

February 7: Estates: Peasants

February 14: Estates: Merchants and Middle Classes

(Reading Week)

February 28: Religion: Orthodoxy

March 6: Religion: Diversity

March 13: Birth language (nationality)

March 20: Literacy: society and culture

March 27: Position/Profession

April 3: Aftermath: Revolution

April 10: Final Papers Due