HIS 439:  Russia’s Empire

Winter 2013 2-4 T; UC F204
Assoc. Prof. Alison K. Smith email: alison.smith@utoronto.ca
Office: Munk 124N  
Office hours: M 2-4  


Course Description:

For centuries, the Russian capital, whether Moscow or St. Petersburg, has served not only as the center of the Russian nation, but also as the center of a large, multi-ethnic, contiguous empire.  In this course, students will examine various issues facing the rulers of this unusual empire, focusing on two regions: the “old” empire of the west, and the “new” empire of Central Asia. 

In this course, too, students will produce research papers based on a particular genre of primary source:  travel narratives.  Recent scholarship has addressed the role of travel narratives in interpreting empires; we will think about the Russian empire in these terms.

Marking Scheme:

  1. class participation (15%)
  2. service as discussion leader for one class (10 %)
  3. weekly reaction papers (1 page each week) (10 %)
  4. one 4-5 page book review (15 %)
  5. one 1-page research paper proposal (5%)
  6. one 12-15 page term-long research paper (see here for more details) (45 %)

Marking of written assignments is based on accuracy and use of historical evidence, statement and development of a strong thesis, style, and grammar.

Be warned that plagiarism is a serious offense.  Read the university’s policies on academic dishonesty, located at http://www.utoronto.ca/govcncl/pap/policies/behaveac.html.  In this course, plagiarism (ask if you’re confused about what that means) can lead to failure, not on a single paper, but for the class as a whole.

Furthermore, normally, students will be required to submit their course essays to Turnitin.com for a review of textual similarity and detection of possible plagiarism. In doing so, students will allow their essays to be included as source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database, where they will be used solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. The terms that apply to the University's use of the Turnitin.com service are described on the Turnitin.com web site.

Unexcused late papers or missed exams are also not acceptable.  If you find yourself in dire straits, or anticipate a conflict, discuss the matter with me ahead of time.  The night before something is due is not ahead of time.  Do not simply fail to turn in a paper and assume I’ll accept something late.  At a minimum, the penalty for late work is three percentage points per day.

Texts  (available at the University Bookstore):
Dominic Lieven, Empire:  The Russian Empire and Its Rivals
Nikolai Gogol’, Taras Bulba
Frederick Burnaby, A Ride to Khiva
Additional materials are available online (see links below)

Schedule of assignments/topics:

Week 1:          Introduction

September 10:      Empires and Nations

Weeks 2-4:     Background:  Russia: Nation, Empire, and the World

September 17:    Russia and nationalism

September 24:    Dominic Lieven, Empire, Parts One and Two

October 1:    Dominic Lieven, Empire, Chapters 6-8

Week 5:          Background:  Travel Narratives

October 8:    Travel Narratives as Historical Sources

Weeks 6-8:     The Oldest Empire:  the West

October 15:  The literary Ukraine

October 22:         Memory and the Empire

October 29:       The Crimea:  Old and New

Weeks 9-11:       The Farther Empire:  Siberia, Central Asia and the Caucasus

November 5:       Siberia in the Russian Imagination

November 19:       Travels in the new Russia

November 26:            Empire and Religion

December 3: Wrap up and project presentation