Russia to 1917 Syllabus

42.356 Fall 2003

Study Questions, Week 10


Again, I want everyone to do all of the readings for this week, but in class I will ask the following "teams" to report on specific readings:

Group Assignments:

Note that some readings are designated as "all groups"


Cracraft, Ch. 7

Raeff, Constitutionalism of Alexander I:   All groups

Explain the popular response to the murder of Paul I.

According to Raeff, what effect did Paul have on the political attitudes of nobles?

What "sort" of liberalism attracted Russian nobles circa 1800?

Why would liberal nobles expect Alexander I to promote constitutional reform?

What sorts of reforms did the "Senatorial Party" propose in 1801-02? What was Alexander I's response? Explain.

Had Alexander I given up belief in constitutions? Explain. What did "constitution" mean to him?

In what ways did Alexander I's personality influence his policies?

What "model" did Alexander I want to impose on the bureaucracy? Why?

Who was Mikhail Speranskii (see chapter intro)?

What is Raeff's thesis in this essay?


Kaiser & Marker, pp. 256-257

Statute on State Ministries (1802):   Groups 1 and 2

How does this statute divide government duties?

Does this conform with what Raeff tells us about Alexander's view of the state?


Edict Defining Responsibilities (1810):   Groups 3 and 4

How does the definition of ministries in 1810 differ from that in 1802?

How does this edict fit into Raeff's argument?



N. M. Karamzin Defends Established Order (1811):   Groups 5 and 6

Who was Karamzin? What did K. think of the reign of Peter I as a whole?

What was K.'s assessment of the reign of Catherine II as a whole?

What aspects of Alexander I's early reign did K. criticize? What did he consider Alexander's "biggest mistake"?

Why did K. oppose the emancipation of Russian serfs?

What sorts of policies did K. suggest Alexander I follow?

Why is this considered a classical "conservative" document?


Kaiser & Marker, pp. 412-414. Karamzin, "On the Book Trade" (1802):   Group 7

What benefits does Karamzin see in the spread of literacy in Russia?


Kaiser & Marker, 370-76. Memoirs of Anna Labzina (1810):   Group 8

Who was Labzina? What does this memoir tell you about: noble relations with other social groups; the role of religion in the lives of nobles; noble ideals concerning marriage; nobleattitudes towards women; urban noble culture under Alexander I; noble attitudes towards children.

I) State and Bureaucracy Under Nicholas I

Cracraft, pp. 268-283, Riasanovsky, Nicholas I   All Groups

What does Riasanovsky tell us about the "2 sides" of Nicholas' personality?

What does Nicholas' 1848 manifesto on revolutions show us about his personality and his politics?

According to R., how did Nicholas' personality shape his politics?

What "drove" Nicholas as Emperor? What did Nicholas expect of his subjects?

What did Nicholas consider the Emperor's role and duty? What were his religious views?

What does R. consider the greatest weakness of Nicholas' reign?

What was "Official Nationality"? What is Riasanovsky's interpretation?

In what sense did society and the state "split" under Nicholas?

What is Riasanovsky's thesis?


Cracraft, pp. 292-302. deCustine dazzled by the Imperial Court (1839):   Groups 1 and 2

Summarize deCustine's impression of Nicholas I. Does it concur with Riasanovsky's thesis?


Kaiser & Marker, p. 257. Edict on 3rd Section (1826):  Group 3

Explain the functions of the Third Section. How does Riasanovsky's essay on Nicholas' personality help us explain this document?


Kaiser & Marker, pp. 257-62. Lincoln, Enlightened Bureaucracy   ALL Groups

According to Lincoln, what problems did Nicholas' government face?

Does L. consider Nicholas an opponent of reform? Explain.

What sort of conditions hindered effective government? Why was it hard to gather accurate information?

How did Nicholas intend to solve these bureaucratic problems? How does this help us understand the "3rd Section"?

How does L. revise Riasanovsky's argument about Nicholas' views on government?

How does L. explain tensions between Nicholas and the nobility? How did Nicholas try to solve this problem? 42.356 Russia to 1917

What does L. say about the social origins of the "progressive" bureaucrats? About their political and social attitudes? How did they view "change"?

How did the bureaucrat's views differ from the views of the intelligentsia in the 1840s?

Why did Nicholas try to keep these 2 groups apart? Results (according to L.)?

How, why, and when did the progressive bureaucrats and the intelligentsia begin to merge?

What is Lincoln's thesis?


Kaiser & Marker, pp. 263-82. Pinter, Russian Higher Civil Service:  Groups 4 and 5

Briefly explain Pinter's basic findings regarding the social origins and career paths of the higher bureaucracy. What is his thesis, and does it differ from Lincoln's? Explain.


II) Nobles and Polite Society Under Nicholas I   Group 6

Kaiser & Marker, pp. 352-54, Aksakov, Memoirs (1850s):

Based on these memoirs, explain the organization of gentry (noble) households and their family dynamics.


Kaiser & Marker, pp. 376-79, Durova, Cavalry Maiden (1836):  Group 7

Compare the view of the family in Durova's memoir to that of Aksakov.

Compare the view of gender roles in Durova's memoir to that in Labzina's.


Kaiser & Marker, pp. 414-17, Annenkov, Literary Memoirs (1840s):  Group 8

Who were the "westernizers"? The "slavophiles"? Were the two groups mutually exclusive? Explain.

Explain the views of Belinskii as described here. Of K. S. Aksakov. Of Herzen. Of A. S. Khomiakov.

Was Khomiakov a "Eurasianist"? Explain.


Kaiser & Marker, pp. 418-20, Todd, Polite Society:  Group 1

According to Todd, what was the "moral purpose" of Russian literary criticism in the 1810s-20s? The results?

How does Todd describe the Decembrists' views, and how were they related to the literary circles of the 18102-20s?

What became of the Decembrists? What is Todd's main point in this essay?


Kaiser and Marker, pp. 421-27, Riasanovsky, The Split   ALL GROUPS

According to R., what cultural effects did Peter's reforms have?

How does R. explain the causes of the Decembrist rebellion?

According to R., when after the 1820s did new opposition to Nicholas I emerge?

According to R., how did "liberal historians" explain opposition to Nicholas?

What is R.'s criticism of this liberal interpretation?

How did western views of Russia change between the 1820s-1850s?

How did the Russian educated public change between the 1820s-1850s?

How does R. explain the views of the Westernizers and Slavophiles? Did they differ over serfdom? Explain.

According to R., how does the growth of the educated public help us understand opposition to Nicholas?

What institutions spawned opposition? What role did journalism have in building opposition? What role did "circles" and salons play?

What is R.'s thesis?


III) Middling Groups Under Nicholas I

Kaiser & Marker, pp. 328-33, Rieber, Merchants Way of Life:  Group 3

In Rieber's view, why didn't Russian merchants become a coherent, progressive, politically "liberal" bourgeoisie (as most European merchant classes supposedly had)?

What was at the center of merchant life? Explain. What made merchants different from other soslovie, and why is that important?

What is Rieber's thesis?


Kaiser & Marker, pp. 336-39, Belliustrin, Description of the Clergy (1858):   Group 4

What does Belliustrin identify as the chief problems facing village priests?


IV) Serfs and Rural Life

Kaiser & Marker, p. 295, Nicholas on Serfdom (1842):   Group 5

Did Nicholas I defend serfdom? Why didn't he end it? What was his position?

What does it reveal about Nicholas' view of the social order?


Cracraft, pp. 302-312, Haxthausen on the Commune (1844):  Groups 6 and 7

Who was Haxthausen? How did he define the term "mir"?

Did H. consider the mir a recent institution? How did H. explain the origins of the mir?

According to H., how did Russian social organization differ from that of Europe?

Did H. think that Russians were attached to their land? Explain.

Did H. consider Russians individualistic? Rigid? Explain. What did he conclude about the Russian "national character"?

So for H., why was Russia "different," and why was the commune so important?


Kaiser & Marker, pp. 297-302, Hoch, The Peasant Commune:   Groups 8 and 1

According to Hoch, what were the commune's functions?

Describe the peasant community at Petrovskoe (its demography and service tasks).

How did the commune work as an economic institution?

Why were bribes important to the commune's functions?

Describe relations between the commune and the priests.

Describe the commune's legal functions.

How did the commune chose military recruits, who was a likely target, and why?

Was the mir harmonious?

What is Hoch's main point?


Kaiser & Marker, p. 296, MVD on Serf Disorders (1847):   Group 2

Does this report square with Haxthausen's view of the peasantry? Explain.

What does this report tell us about serf aspirations?


Kaiser & Marker, pp. 303-311, Kolchin on Peasant Resistance:   Groups 3 and 4

What is Kolchin's main focus? What does he consider the main differences between serfdom and American slavery?

What was a volnenie? Explain the basic pattern that these disorders followed.

Explain the two incidents described on pp. 307-310.

According to K., what facilitated organization of the volnenie?

What is Kolchin's thesis here?


Kaiser & Marker, pp. 356-61, Czap, A Large Family:  Groups 4 and 5

What was the dvor? Describe the peasant homestead.

What types of serfs worked at Mishino? How were Mishino's peasant villages organized?

Who ran the estate?

Explain the demographics of peasant marriage at Mishino. How were partners chosen?

How large were Mishino peasant families, and why?

What types of family were most common at Mishino and why?

What factors influenced family size? What forces held families together? Spilt them?

What is Czap's thesis?


Kaiser & Marker, pp. 394-99, Gromyko, Peasant Culture:   Groups 6 and 7

How did peasants "use" customs and tradition? Did they have a sense of law? Explain.

How did peasants understand history, how far back did their "memories" reach, and in what ways were they "utopians"?

Was peasant culture only an oral culture? Were all peasants pre-literate? Explain.

Did this selection make you re-think peasant culture? Explain.


Kaiser & Marker, pp. 391-93, Blacksmith and the Devil (1859):   Group 8

What sorts of lessons and popular mentalities does this story suggest?

Russia to 1917 Syllabus