This is a blog for use in both of my HIS 241 and HIS 242 Russian history survey courses at Northern Virginia Community College.

Blue separator bar

27 April 2008

Russian Movie Series

The National Gallery of Art is presenting a series of Russian films as part of its, Envisioning Russia: Mosfilm Studio, running May 24th through June 29th in the East Building auditorium. Some of these films are rarely available--most are never shown on the big screen in the US--and there are quite a few that I've never seen.

20 April 2008

Russian Culture

It would be great if more of you chose to read one of the great Russian classic novels instead of opting for a movie or doing something not-so-demanding on the web. Some of the Russian literary works of the nineteenth- and early twentieth century can be counted among the world's greatest, and you should read them sometime.

13 April 2008

The Revolutionary Movement

Well, with week 13 of the HIS 241 class, we turn our attention to the revolutionary movement that emerged in Russia in the reign of Aleksandr II. Next week, we will look at cultural developments. One thing to remember is that the "impact" of the revolutionary movement was out of all proportion to its rather tiny size. Really a very small segment of the educated class was involved in oppositional activities, yet that segment was very vocal in publicising their ideas for the future of Russia.

06 April 2008

Aleksandr II

When Aleksandr II ascended the throne of Russia, he had to immediately confront the issue of the Crimean War. In a way, the situation resembled a cruel joke that had been played on Russia. In 1815, Russian armies stood victorious in the triumph over Napoleon, and it was tsar Aleksandr I who had led the march down the Champs Elysees in Paris. (almost) Nicholas II had then ruled Russia for over twenty years, seemingly emphasizing the military might of Russia that entire time and ruling like a commanding general, but then along came this nasty little conflict between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, and suddenly the allies that had helped Russia in the struggle with Napoleon were turned against Russia and allied with the Turks. In addition to that little bit of irony, it was the Turks, French and British who invaded Russian territory on the Crimean peninsula, and it was those armies, supplied over a tenuous thousand mile sea voyage, who were doing better than the Russian armies. While the Russians fought bravely, they were terribly under-supplied and forced to fight in dreadful circumstances. So, when Aleksandr became tsar he had to deal with the war situation (he almost immediately began peace negotiations which turned out better than the Russians could have expected), and then he had to figure out what had put Russia into the debacle. His answer was that Russia needed to reform itself if it was to remain a great power.