Sample outline of a historiographic essay

Historiography on the 1917 Revolution in Provincial Russia

I.  Introduction

~In historiography of major revolutions, serious scholarly study of events in the provinces was linked to evolution of social history; before the advent of social historical analysis, local studies were the bailiwick of antiquarians.

~This was also true in the case of the Russian Revolution, although

    a) political histories had not completely ignored events in the provinces,

    b) historians in the USSR had produced shelves of studies of the provinces, almost all of which had been tailored to fit the moment's Party line

    c) restrictions upon research in the USSR delayed the development of provincial studies for nearly two decades after the publication of the first important social histories of 1917

[cite Chamberlin's 1930 study; various Soviet works from the 1950s and 1960s on the "Triumphal March of Soviet Power"; Rabinowitch's Prelude to Revolution (1967) and The Bolsheviks Come to Power (1976); Raleigh's Revolution on the Volga (1986)]

~During the Cold War and until the mid-1990s, western-language studies of the provinces were almost entirely the province of "leftist" social historians, whose work neatly fit the "social polarization" paradigm developed in path setting works on Russia's capital cities. 

[cite Keep, Russian Revolution (1976); Koenker, Moscow Workers (1981); Smith, Red Petrograd (1983) Wade, Red Guards (1984;) Raleigh, Revolution on the Volga (1986); Figes, Peasant Russia (1989); Hickey, Revolutionary Smolensk (1993)] 

~By the mid-1990s the Cold War inflected debates that had dominated historiography of the Russian Revolution had more or less faded away.  Recent archive-based western language studies of the provinces (and a few of the best Russian language studies) have endeavored to use provincial history to fit 1917 into the context of the broader wartime crisis of 1914-1922, to examine trans-national routines of the modern state, to apply elements of cultural-historical discourse analysis to understanding revolutionary identities and politics; and to examine 1917 from the perspective of post-colonial peasant studies.  They have added these new methods to a framework that still draws on, but largely revises earlier social historians' focus on social polarization. 

[Cite Hickey articles, 1996-2001; Holquist, Making War, Forging Revolution (2002); Retish 2003 dissertation; Badcock 2003 dissertation).

II. Body Paragraphs

1st section:  Works published before 1967.  Main point:  Soviet studies all locked into "triumphal march" paradigm, western studies all locked into "conspiracy of Bolshevik minority who spread the revolution by decree" paradigm.  Two views really mirror images of one another (both based on top down conception of revolution).  

~Paragraph that examines arguments in typical western scholarship, e.g., small sections in books by Bernard Pares, Leonard Shapiro, etc., that discuss the provinces.

[Pares 1930 book; Schapiro's 1953 book, etc.)

~Paragraph that examines Soviet scholarship, particularly early post-Stalin works under guidance of Mints in 1950s and early 1960s

[Mints' 1957 volume; the 2 volume Triumphal'noe shestve Sovetskoi vlasti;a few local publications, etc]

~Paragraph on the exception:  chapters in Chamberlin's 1930 study, which considered the social basis of support for the revolution in the provinces.

2nd section:  the social historians and their critics in the 1960s-1980s.  Main point:  The tension between the social historians and their "social polarization paradigm" and their "liberal" and "conservative" critics reflected basic Cold War divisions in the western body politic.  With very few exceptions, these works spent little time on the provinces.  The breakthrough was Raleigh's Revolution on the Volga.

~Paragraphs on the social polarization paradigm most important social histories of Petrograd and Moscow that set mold for later studies of the provinces. 

[Haimson's 1963-64 articles; Rabinowitch's 1967 and 1976 book; Ferro's 1978 and 1981 books; Koenker's 1981 book; Smith's 1983 book; Wade's 1984 book; Suny's 1983 AHR essay; etc]

~Paragraphs on major criticisms of social polarization paradigm. 

[From the Right, Pipes (esp. 1990 book).  From the center, Melgunov (1964 Russian émigré edition) and Daniels (1967), etc.] 

~Paragraphs on works that did actually deal with the provinces: 

    a) in the social polarization paradigm

[Suny, 1972 book, Erzigalias, 1976 book; Gill, 1978 book; Getzler, 1984 book; Wade, chapters in 1984 book; and especially Raleigh's 1986 book]

    b) major but subtle rejection of social polarization paradigm for the provinces

    [Keep, 1976 book]

3rd section:  Works with explicit focus on the provinces in the 1980s-early 1990s that elaborated the social historian's paradigm. 

~Paragraphs on Raleigh, Revolution on the Volga (1986)

~Paragraphs on Figes, Peasant Russia (1989)

~Paragraph on articles from 1980s-1990 by Melancon

~Paragraph on Hickey, Revolutionary Smolensk (1993)

4th section:  Post cold war works on the provinces that have moved beyond without rejecting the social historians' paradigm.  Focus on setting 1917 into context of wartime crisis of 1914-1922 and trans-national routines of the modern state, cultural historical approaches to discourse and identity, post-colonial peasant studies, and an eclectic mix of all of these.   All based on extensive use of archival materials as well as new methods of analysis

~Paragraph on works that focus on the context of the wartime crisis (1914-1922). 

[Holquist Making War (2002), Retish dissertation (2002), Baker book (2006)]

~Paragraph on works that focus on trans-national routines of the modern state. 

[Holquist, Making War (2002)]

~Paragraph on the cultural historical focus on discourse and identity. 

[articles by Hickey (1996, 1998), dissertation by Badcock (2002), Raleigh's 2004 book]

~Paragraph on application of post-colonial peasant studies. 

[Retish dissertation (2002)]

~Paragraph on the new eclecticism found in several archive-based studies. 

[articles by Hickey (2000, 2001); Baker book (2006); forthcoming book by Badcock]

III. Conclusion. 

~Patterns of historiography of Russian Revolution similar to that of other major revolutions

~pre-1960s historiography on 1917 in the provinces was almost exclusively "top down" and political in its approach

~Cold War inflected debates dominated study of 1917 generally in the 1960s-1980s, but only one side in those debates (the leftist social historians) showed any real interest in the revolution in the provinces

~The first generation of serious historians of the revolution in the provinces all worked out of the social historical paradigm

~After the end of the Cold War, a second generation of scholars (and some of their older brethren) moved into the archives and beyond the foci of the social historians without rejecting the social historians basic arguments.  New works in particular have tried to fit the story of 1917 in the provinces into the larger framework of the wartime crisis of 1914-1922; trans-national routines of the modern state; cultural historical studies of discourse; and post-colonial peasant studies.