W4343: Imperial Russia, 1682-1918


  1. On Thursday, Professor Wortman handed out the following announcement regarding the first paper assignment for undergraduates (graduate students - you can ignore this handout. Refer to the syllabus for your assignment, and talk to Prof. Wortman about further details).
    Essay Assignment- History W4343

    The historical memoir, real or fictionalized, sets the protagonist in a particular social and political setting, confronts him/her with certain issues of the time, and presents the events and figures of the period through the authors or central figures eyes. Your assignment is to discuss one of these texts and show how the central figure perceives and understands the historical setting, and what the story may reveal about particular subjects raised in the historical readings, documents, and lectures such as political and social attitudes, cultural norms, westernization, economic conditions.

    Papers should be 5-8 pages long and submitted by 5 PM, Monday, October 16, to the reception desk of the Harriman Institute, 12th floor, International Affairs Building.

    The list of suggested memoirs includes:
    • Catherine II- Memoirs - For those of you with particular interest in Catherine, these of course would be the obvious choice. She's a lively writer and there are plenty of juicy details. Keep in mind, she was writing these memoirs years after the events, and with very definite political and personal goals in mind.
    • Sergei Aksakov- A Family Chronicle - Great historical fiction, about a provincial gentry family in Catherine's time, fairly closely modeled on Aksakov's own family. Earlier translations also published under the title "A Russian Gentleman." Sergei Aksakov was the father of two famous Slavophiles, Konstantin and Ivan Aksakov.
    • Nadezhda Durova-The Cavalry Maiden: Journals of a Russian Officer in the Napoleonic Wars - Durova dressed as a man in order to enlist in the Russian army - fascinating stuff.
    • Alexander Herzen, My Past and Thoughts, Volume 1 - Herzen was a radical journalist and thinker, who was exiled under Nicholas I, and later went abroad and started the first Russian émigré journal. His memoirs are exceedingly well-written.
    • Alexander Pushkin, The Captain's Daughter - Again, this is technically historical fiction, though Pushkin's history is wonderful. An especially good choice for those of you who may be more literary-minded.
    • NB: There are certainly other memoirs out there from the period, quite a few in English, like those of Ekaterina Dashkova, lady-in-waiting to Catherine the Great, a co-conspirator in her coup, and later head of the Academy of Sciences - these are available in paperback, I think still in print. There are also the memoirs of Prince Adam Czartoryski, an early Polish Nationalist brought to service in Russia by Catherine the Great following the third partition of Poland. He became a close friend of Alexander I and later his foreign minister. The memoirs are hard to purchase (unless you're willing to cough up $200 on Bibliofind.com), but Butler has a copy (which I very recently returned - anyone who's interested may have to ask for it at circ). They're long, but you would only want the first volume, and possibly only a section of that. With these and any other memoirs you might find on your own, speak to Professor Wortman to OK the choice before you start working!

  2. I've readjusted the format of the page a little - the tables, terms, names and dates are now all collected on one (easily printable??) separate page, while the general course info, including syllabus, lecture outlines, and contact info is on this page as before. Also, look for the date and time of most recent update on the cover page from now on.


History W4343, Fall, 2000
Professor Richard Wortman, 1231 IAB
Office Hours-Tues., Thurs., 4:30-5:30

Imperial Russia, 1682-1918

Texts Required for Purchase:

James Cracraft, Major Problems in the History of Imperial Russia
Nicholas Riasanovsky, A History of Russia
Thomas Riha, Readings in Russian Civilization, Volume II
Ronald Suny & Arthur Adams, The Russian Revolution and Bolshevik Victory; Causes and Processes

(Available at Labyrinth on 112th Street, or try Bibliofind.com and The Strand for used copies)

1. Muscovy and the Reforms of Peter the Great (September 5)

Riasanovsky, 3-10, 175-227
Riha, 233-37 (Perry)
Supplemental, Cracraft, 46-58

2. The Petrine Heritage  (September 12)

Riasanovsky, 228-53.
Cracraft, 81-99, 110-125,  245-48
Supplemental, Wortman, Scenarios of Power, (Reserve) 42-80, Cracraft, 127-46,

3. Catherine the Great (September 19)

Riasanovsky, 254-99
Cracraft, 166-79, 197-212, 234-43, 249-51
Riha, 256-79 (Solov'ev, Radishchev)
Supplemental, Cracraft, 179-97

4. Reform and Rebellion (September 26)

Riasanovsky, 300-22
Cracraft, 255-68
Riha, 280-302 (Karamzin, Decembrists)

5. The Apogee of Autocracy  (October 3)

Riasanovsky, 323-47
Cracraft. 268-82, 292-312
Riha, 303-31 (Chaadaev, Belinsky, Herzen), Cracraft, 329-40 (Herzen)
Supplemental: Geroid T. Robinson, Rural Russia under the Old Regime,
34-63 (Reserve), Wortman,  247-332, 379-405.

6. The Emancipation and the Peasant Problem  (October 10)

Riasanovsky, 368-74.
Cracraft, 313-16, 340-55
Gerschenkron, A., "Russia:  Agrarian policies and industrialization, 1861-1917,:" Cambridge Economic History, VI. pt.2, 706-63, also in his Continuity in History and Other Essays. (Reserve)
Supplemental, Wortman, Vol. 2,  Chapter 2

7. The Political Movement and the Narodnichestvo  (October 17)

Riasanovsky, 374-84
Cracraft, 316-29, 381-88
Riha, (Dobroliubov, Breshkovskaia, Uspenskii, Footman) 332-77
Supplemental, Phillip Pomper, The Russian Revolutionary Intelligentsia (Reserve), 57-142

8.-The Crisis of the Autocracy and the Counterreforms  (October 24)

Riasanovsky, 391-98
Cracraft, 360-69
Riha, (Aksakov, Pobedonostev), 378-83, 390-401
Supplemental: Cracraft, 370-81, Wortman, Vol. 2, Chapters, 6-7

Midterm Examination-October 26

9-The Russian Empire: Foreign Policy and the Nationalities  (October, 31)

Riasanovsky, 384-90, 398-401
Cracraft, 398-438
Riha, (Danilevsky, Pipes), 383-89, 430-44
Supplemental:  Hans Rogger, Russia in the Age of Modernization and Revolution: 1881-1917,162-207 (Reserve)

10. Industrialization and Social Change (November 9-14)

Riasanovsky, 422-30
Riha, 409-29 (Workers, Witte)
Cracraft, 441-53,  469-89, .
Gerschenkron, Cambridge Economic History, VI. pt.2, 763-83, or Continuity in History and Other Essays.
Supplemental, Cracraft, 454-68, 528-48

11.-Marxism, the Liberation Movement, and the Onset of the Revolution of 1905  (November 16-21)

Riasanovsky, 398-411
Cracraft, 595-602
Riha, 402-08 (Miliukov)
Tucker, A Lenin Anthology 12-31, 67-91, 99-101, 112-14, 120-34 (What is to be Done? Two Tactics of Social Democracy)
Supplemental: Tucker, xxv-xliii, Cracraft, 552-78, Pomper, 143-90 (The Revolutionary Era)

12.-The Ebb of Revolution and the Aftermath  (November 28)

Riasanovsky, 411-21
Riha, 445-78, (Nicholas II, Government Declaration, Stolypin, Durnovo)
Cracraft, 619-33
Suny-Adams, 7-49
Gerschenkron, Cambridge Economic History, VI. pt.2, 783-800
Supplemental, Wortman, Volume 2, Chapters, 12, 13.

13.-1917  (December 5)

Riasanovsky, 453-61
Tucker,  295-300, 305-06, (April Theses, Enemies of the People)
Suny-Adams, 50-69, 166-95, 241-268, 376-431
Supplemental: Remaining sections in Suny-Adams.

Lecture Outlines

Tuesday, September 5


  1. Russia and its History
  2. Geographical Setting
  3. Problems of Organization, Production, and National Identity

Thursday, September 7

Muscovite State and Society in the 17th Century

  1. The 17th-century crisis in Russia
  2. Development of the Russian military
  3. Law Code of 1649 and System of Orders
  4. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich and the Cultural Crisis
  5. Peter the Great and Old Russia

Tuesday, September 12

[Alexei and cultural crisis, continued.]

Peter the Great

  1. Peter and Muscovy
  2. Military Reform
  3. The Building of Industry
  4. Tax Reform

Thursday, September 14

[Tax Reform, continued]

Peter the Great, Part Two:
The New State, the New Elite

  1. The "Police" State
  2. The Russian Nobility and the New Official Culture
  3. The Nobility and the Throne

Reports on the Ecclesiastical Regulations and the Table of Ranks

Tuesday, September 19

The Noble Monarchy

  1. The Monarch and the Nobility
  2. Westernization
  3. The Noble Estate and the Peasants
  4. Pugachev

Thursday, September 21

[The Peasants and Pugachev, continued]

Catherine the Great

  1. Catherine as Legislatrix
  2. Catherine as Journalist
  3. Catherine as Reformer

Report on Radishchev's Journey from Petersburg to Moscow

Tuesday, September 26


Thursday, September 28

Alexander I, Part Two

  1. Governmental Reforms: Institutions & Personnel
  2. The Russian Universities
  3. The Military Colonies and Bible Societies
  4. The Decembrist Uprising

Report on N. M. Karamzin's Memoir on Old and New Russia

Important Names, Dates, Russian Terms

For the alleviation of puzzlement and as informal aid to exam review...

Graded Assignments


1.-A mid-term in-class examination (October 26)  (20 % of grade)

2.- Two essays of 5-8 pages, each on a historical memoir, analyzing the ways the texts combine a personal narrative, with historical events, trends, and figures. Further instructions will be provided later in the semester.  Students should discuss the paper with the instructor or assistant before beginning work. (40 % of Grade)

The first essay is due October 16.   Suggested works:

Catherine II- Memoirs
Sergei Aksakov- A Family Chronicle (pb)
Nadezhda Durova-The Cavalry Maiden: Journals of a Russian Officer in the Napoleonic Wars (pb)
Alexander Herzen, My Past and Thoughts, Volume 1

The second essay is due November 27.  Suggested Works:

Peter Kropotkin- Memoirs of a Revolutionist (pb)
Vera Figner-Memoirs (pb)
Barbara Engel and Clifford Rosenthal- Five Sisters; Women Against the Tsar (memoirs of women revolutionaries) (pb)
Leon Trotsky-My Life (pb) (Chapters 1-28)
Victoria E.Bonnell. (ed.) -The Russian Worker: Life and labor Under the Tsarist Regime  (worker memoirs)
S. Kanatchikov- A Radical Worker in Tsarist Russia (pb)
M. Gorky-Childhood  (First Section of Autobiography) (pb)
N. Berdiaev- Dream and Reality (Chapters 1-9)

 3.- A final examination (30% of Grade)

 4.-Students are expected to participate in discussions, raise questions, objections, etc. during lectures.  (10%)

Graduate Students:

1.-Two essays of 5-8 pages analyzing and comparing interpretations presented in two or three works of history on the issues raised in the course.  A supplemental list of works will be distributed in the next week or two.  Papers will be due October 23 and December 11.

2.-A Final Examination.  (With the agreement of the instructor, graduate students may write a second longer paper involving a survey of the historical literature on a particular issue.)

Links for more information

Office Hours and Contact Info

Professor Richard Wortman                     rsw3@columbia.edu
1231 IAB                                                   854-8488 (office)
Office Hours: Tues, Thurs, 4:30-5:30

TA: Kate Pickering                                 kmp30@columbia.edu
                                                                 749-5338 (home number)
Office Hours: Tues, Thurs, 1:30-2:30
or by appointment, in the GSAS Lounge, 301 Philosophy
(on the left when entering from campus, yes undergrads are allowed in!)

NB: will be out of town Tuesday, September 26


Please send problems with or suggestions for this page to Kate Pickering, kmp30@columbia.edu