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Russia, 1855-1917: Between Reform and Revolution

Tutor: David Moon

Module type: Special Subject

Module code: HIS00067H

The last decades of Imperial Russia, between periods of reform in the 1860s-70s and revolution in 1917, have been interpreted by historians as either the prelude to the revolution or a society that was evolving and changing, but not necessarily collapsing. In this latter view, it came to grief due to the stresses and strains of military defeat in the First World War. In this special subject, however, we will seek to read the history of Imperial Russia forward from the ‘Great Reforms’ of Alexander II in the 1860s and 1870s, rather than backwards, with the benefit of hindsight, from the revolution of 1917. Over the year, on the basis of a wide body of secondary literature and primary sources in translation, we will analyse the ‘problems and prospects’ of Russia between reform and revolution.

The provisional outline of titles for the seminars is as follows:

  • Briefing
  • Perspectives on Russia between reform and revolution
  • Alexander II’s ‘Great Reforms’: The Abolition of Serfdom of 1861
  • Alexander II’s ‘Great Reforms’: other reforms
  • The Growth of the Revolutionary Movement and the Assassination ofAlexander II in 1881
  • Counter-Reforms and Russification under Alexander III (1881-94) and Nicholas II (1894-1917)
  • Economic Change: Agriculture and Industry
  • Rural Society: Peasants and Nobles
  • Urban Society: Proletarians and Bourgeois?
  • Gender
  • National Identities and Empire
  • Revolutionaries, 1881-1917
  • Culture and Identities
  • The Revolution of 1905-7
  • The ‘Constitutional Experiment’ of 1906-14 and the Stolypin Land Reforms
  • The First World War
  • The February Revolution of 1917
  • Revision


For more information, please visit the module catalogue