Week VII: 12 Oct. Eighteenth Century Economy, Society, and Culture
Assignment: R&S, pp. 256-278; Dmyt. pp. 64-69, 94-99, 117-136
R&S pp. 256-263 (Ch. 23)
What happened to patterns in Russian population growth in the 18th century?
Besides demographic shifts, what other "large scale" causes of economic change do the authors point out in the chapter introduction?
Describe the regional patterns that had emerged in Russian agriculture by the 1700s. In what regions were serfs generally on barchshina, in what regions were they generally on obrok, and why?
How do the authors describe the could level of agricultural productivity in 18th century Russia? Also, how could serfs on obrok raise money to pay their quitrent?
What evidence do the authors present regarding industrial development in 18th century Russia? (Look carefully at the map on p. 259--what geographical patterns in the distribution of industry do you notice?)
What fundamental "structural" aspects of Russian industrialization do the authors discuss? (Where did factory labor come from? Was all factory labor done by serfs? Were all factory owners merchants? What role did the State have in the industrialization process?)
What steps did the Russian state take to promote internal (domestic) trade in the 1700s? What do we learn here about patterns of domestic trade?
What were Russia's main exports in the 1700s, through what ports were they exported, and to where? Dwell on this a bit: what does this tell us about Russia's place in the evolving European and world market system (remember, the 1700s was a key period in the evolution of the world-scale capitalist market system, and by the end of that century Western Europe would be the new "core" of the world's industrial production).
When we consider the distribution of Russia's population among its various social estates/classes, what group was in the majority? Were all peasants serfs? Were all serfs farmers? And what measures indicate that life had become harder for serfs as the century progressed?
Why is the 18th century described as the "golden age of the Russian gentry" (p. 262)?
Besides peasants, what other predominantly rural social group suffered from deterioration of its status in the 1700s? Explain.
What do the authors have to say about urban social groups in the 1700s?
The great early 20th century Russian historian Florinskii argued that in the 1700s "the state swelled and the people grew thin." What evidence do the authors present in this chapter that might support Florinskii's contention?
R&S pp. 264-278 (Ch. 24)
Why do the authors describe the 1700s as a "distinct period in the history of Russian culture" (p. 264)?
Some historians argue that we should talk about "Enlightenments" instead of "The Enlightenment," and that Russia (like France, Scotland, North America, etc.) had its own distinct national Enlightenment. Would the authors agree? Explain. Also, what impact do they think the Enlightenment had on Russia society?
What role did Peter I himself have in promoting enlightenment and education in Russia? Give examples.
If we took as our judgment point the year 1750, would it seem that Peter I's efforts at "enlightenment through education" had scored much success? Explain.
What if we took as our judgment point the year 1800? What had changed in regards to "enlightenment through education" in Russia, and what had not changed? Explain.
What role had Catherine II played in these changes? Give examples.
In what sense did the process of Westernization in the 1700s change the Russian language?
In one of his plays, Denis Fonvizin has a pseudo-westernized noblewomen show off her knowledge of Paris by proclaiming that the people there mostly speak French... Which leads (sort of) to a question: what about Riasanovsky's outline of 18th century literature indicates that even the greatest of the era's Russian writers (Karamzin) were influenced powerfully by trends in Western European literature?
In the reign of Catherine the Great (and in particular before the 1790s), the government censored publications and frequently shout down journals for being "too critical." Did the government ban and censure all forms of social criticism? Explain. What form did most criticism take, what were the main "center" of criticism, and what institutions did they criticize most often?
What made Radishchev's criticisms of serfdom so "dangferous," what happened to Radishchev, and why?
What main point are the authors making about Catherine's response to Radishchev/the French Revolution?
Mikhail Lomonosov is justly the most famous of Russia's Enlightenment thinkers (and a true "Renaissance man"). What do the authors tell us about Lomonosov?
Historians often talk about Russian backwardness. In terms of science and other forms of scholarship, were 18th century Russian intellectuals "backwards"? Explain.
Above I asked about the influence of European literature on Russian authors; in what sense does the architecture of the "new" capital city, St. Petersburg, reflect the influence of European culture? What about other art forms?
So, in sum, what do the authors think "happened" to Russian culture in the 1700s?
Dmyt. pp. 64-69, 94-99, 117-136
We discussed documents related to serfdom last week, so this week's documents focus exclusively on issues of "culture."
***Lomonosov's Challenge of the "Normanist Theory," 1749 (pp. 64-69)
Explain the basis of Lomonosov's criticism of Muller's scholarship. What does he think of Muller's sources? Of Muller's logic? Muller's knowledge of Slavic linguistics?
What about Lomonosov's argument might be termed "nationalistic"? How might we explain this (given what we have read about the era, and in particular about the shifts in culture and "party politics" that took place under Empress Elizabeth (or, more to the point, after the reign of Empress Anna)?
***Novikov's Thoughts on Catherine II and on Russia, 1769, 1770 (pp. 94-99)
Be sure to read the header information on Novikov, as it tells you some things that Riasanovsky omitted...
Of what does Novikov (very slyly) accuse Catherine the Great in his 1769 letter? Is he just accusing her of not knowing Russian well enough???? Explain!
In his 1770 essay, what criticisms is Novikov leveling against the Russian nobility of his time? Remember, he has to speak carefully, to avoid censorship! Also remember, virtually all of his readers would have been nobles (since literacy was very still low among non-nobles).
Based upon what you've read here and in R&S, what would Novikov's readers "figure out" (p. 99) about the changes he hoped for in Russian society?
***Rules Regarding Public Elementary Schools, 1775 (pp. 117-121)
What do these guidelines tell you about Catherine's aims for the elementary school curriculum? What were students to learn by the end of fourth grade?
What can we gather from this laws specifications regarding the teaching staff?
Where were these schools to be located? What does that infer for the diffusion of education?
***Statistical Data on Russian Public Schools, 1782-1800.
Remember, the Russian Empire had a population of about 29,000,000 in the late 1790s.
Ok, look at this table. What does it tell us about the growth of schooling/education under Catherine II?
***Radishchev's Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow, 1790 (pp. 122-135)
On pp. 122-127, we have a fictional dialogue between Radishchev and a companion who is traveling with him by coach (no railroads yet!!!) from "Europeanized" St. Petersburg into the heart of "old" Russia, as symbolized by their destination, Moscow. He is explaining to his companion who a poem, the "Ode to Liberty," has been banned by government censors. The author uses this fictional device as a way of criticizing "indirectly." (He still got himself in a whole lot of trouble, as you know from our readings).
OK--so, just what about the Russian government and Russian society is Radishchev criticizing? Explain. Be specific!
Now, let's add to this some more context: it is 1790, and the French Revolution is underway. Can you find more elements in this dialogue that the Russian government would have found intolerable in that context?
On pp. 127-135, Radishchev describes coming upon a village in which serfs have just been conscripted (levied) into the Russian army. Look back at the textbook--what did this mean for a peasant and for his family? Ok, now back to Radishchev!
How does Radishchev portray the serfs in this passage? Are they ignorant brutes?
How does he depict the young serf's opinion of serfdom?
How does he depict the young serf's opinion of the nobility?
Who does comes off as ignorant and beastly in this passage? Explain.
So, again, why would the Russian state censors have banned this book, and why was Radishchev arrested and sentenced to death (then exiled)?