Zenon Wasyliw

Professor, History


Russian History



HIST 22100-01


The disintegration of the USSR and the critical transitions in Russia and states of the former Soviet Union brings to light the lessons of history. Political, cultural, social, religious, psychological, intellectual and economic events in today's Russia cannot be fully understood without examining historical developments, accomplishments, contradictions and tensions that spanned many centuries and form the basis of present-day interpretations as Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev rebuild a Russian state based upon a constructed glorified historical memory. This memory is often in conflict with the construction of memory in newly independent states, particularly Ukraine. This course offers an interpretive survey of Russia's fascinating historical development with an eye toward neighboring states and peoples. We follow a chronological thematic outline, spanning from medieval Kievan Rus, through the twilight years of the Romanov dynasty and the eve of Russian revolutions of 1917. The course material follows a general chronological order; however, exhaustive detail is not the order of the day, for we emphasize an analysis of important historical transitions and themes through the study of both leading elites and the general population, assess intellectual developments, cultural trends, social conditions, policies, religious beliefs and the transformation of everyday life and values also within a larger global context. A special focus this year is 150th anniversary commemoration of the abolition of serfdom in Russia (1861).

Books and Sources:

The following books are required for this course and may be purchased at the Ithaca College bookstore or as in the case of the Gogol book, found online.

Dixon, Simon. Catherine the Great.

Gogol, Nikolai (Mykola). Taras Bulba and Other Tales


Longworth, Phillip. Russia. The Once and Future Empire from Pre

   -History to Putin.

Massie, Suzanne. The Land of the Firebird. The Beauty of Old


Plokhy, Serhii. Tsars and Cossacks: A Study in Iconography.

Turgenev, Ivan. Fathers and Sons.

Worobec, Christine. editor. The Human Tradition in Imperial Russia

Online primary sources and reference sites are found throughout the Topics and Reading Assignments section of this syllabus. These are required readings in addition to the above-listed books.

Supplemental articles and handouts will be distributed throughout the semester.

Additional non-required survey histories -

Dmytryshyn, Basil, editor. Medieval Russia. A Sourcebook.

Dmytryshyn, Basil, editor. Imperial Russia. A Sourcebook.

Evtukhov, Catherine, David Goldfrank, Lindsey Hughes and Richard Stites. A History of Russia: Peoples, Legends, Events, Forces.

Magocsi, Paul. History of Ukraine.

Subtelny, Orest. Ukraine. A History

Riasanovsky, Nicholas. A History of Russia.


1. “Students at Ithaca College are expected to attend all classes, and they are responsible for work missed during any absence from class… Students should notify their instructors as soon as possible of any anticipated absences.” (Ithaca College Undergraduate Catalog). Absences will adversely affect the comprehension of course material and one's grade. Students are expected to have read the assigned readings and participate in class discussion.

2. Each student will complete two interpretive essay examinations, and a final comprehensive examination. The essays are conceptual in nature and test the students' comprehension and analysis of material covered in class and assigned readings. The optional project   

3. Students will complete an individual or group special project. The project should be creative in nature and must be approved by the professor. Detailed project guidelines, topics and options will be distributed and reviewed.     

4. The writing of essays, critiques and papers follows specific criteria and all sources must be properly documented.   Carefully read the Ithaca College Standards of Academic Conduct found at the end of the syllabus and at the following Student Policies link –


5. Diminished mental health (stress, depression, untreated mental illness) can interfere with optimal academic performance. There are many potential sources of personal difficulties. Academic studies, family, friends, poor health and difficult romantic relationships can contribute to personal difficulties – and impaired academic performance.

Through the office of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), cost-free support can be obtained when personal difficulties threaten your well-being.

In the event I suspect you might benefit from additional support, I will express my concerns, my reasoning, and remind you of resources (e.g., CAPS, Health Center, Chaplains, etc.) that might be of help to you. It is not my intention to know the details of what you might be experiencing, but simply to let you know I am concerned and that help, if needed, is available.

Getting help is a smart and healthy thing to do… for yourself and for your loved ones.

6. In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case by case basis. Students must register with the Office of Academic Support Services and provide appropriate documentation to the college before any academic adjustment will be provided.

7. The syllabus outline and assignments are subject to change.


Examination and critique dates are listed in the Topics and Readings section of this syllabus

All work must be completed to earn a passing grade!

First Examination                        20%

Second Examination                    20%

Special Project                           20%

Final Examination                       30%      

Qualitative Class Participation      10%



Week of:

29 August (no class on Monday – Convocation) Introduction and Popular Images of the Russian Past.

Longworth, Chapters 1, 2

5 September (no class on Monday – Labor Day) The Slavic Peoples: Geography, Identity and Historical Legacies. The Historical Debate on the Origins of Rus and the national histories of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Longworth, Chapters 1, 2

Massie, Chapters 1, 2  







http://www.khazaria.com Khazar Jewish Kingdom 

12 September A Political History and the Social and Economic Structure of Kievan Rus. The Acceptance of Christianity and the Role of the Eastern Orthodox Church                 

Longworth, Chapter 3

Massie, Chapter 3

Primary sources for the Kievan Rus and early Muscovite era


19 September The Decline of Kievan Rus. Mongol Domination and Its Legacy. The Appanage Period. Novgorod and Galicia-Volynia.

The Rise of Muscovy. The Russian Church and the Concept of a Third Rome.

Longworth, Chapter 4

Massie, Chapters 4, 5

26 September Ivan the "Terrible" and the Time of Troubles. The Romanov Dynasty and Its Neighbors - Ukraine, Poland and Ottoman Turkey. The Rise and Influence of the Russian and Ukrainian Cossacks

Longworth, Chapter 5, 6, 7

Massie, Chapters 6

Examination 1

Read for next week, Plokhy, Tsars and Cossacks

3 October Turmoil, Consolidation and Expansion in the Seventeenth Century. The Romanov Dynasty and the Growth of Imperial Russia.

Longworth, Chapters 7

Massie, Chapters 8-10

Begin Gogol, Taras Bulba and Other Tales (e-book linked above)

Read for next week, Dixon, Catherine the Great

10 October The Reigns of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great.               

Longworth, Chapter 8, 9

Massie, Chapters 8-10                    



For next week Worobec, Chapters 1-5                     

17 October (no class on Friday – Fall Break) The Intensification of Serfdom, Protest and Rebellion. Intellectual and Literary Developments.

Discussion of Worobec chapters “Fashion and the Rise of Consumer Capitalism in Russia,” “How One Runaway Peasant Challenged the Authority of the Russian State…” “Life on the River: The Education of Merchant Youth,” ‘The Good Society of Russian Enlightenment Theater,” “The 1827 Peasant Uprising at Bernovo.”

Longworth, Chapter 10

Massie, Chapters 11-15

Finish Reading Gogol

24 October The Rural World. A Discussion of Gogol's Village Evenings Near Dikanka  - Alexander I, the Decembrists and Nicholas and continued discussion of Worobec chapters.

Massie, Chapters 17, 18

Begin Reading Turgenev, Fathers and Sons                         


Special Project Plan is due

31 October Emancipation and the Great Reforms. Russia Under Alexander II and III Discussion and Assessment of Primary Sources on "The Era of Great Reforms: Society in the 1860s"

Longworth, Chapter 10             

The Emancipation Manifesto – “Serfs Up!”      


Finish Reading Turgenev.

Examination 2                     

7 November Decline of the Rural Gentry and the Rise of a Revolutionary Intelligentsia.

Discussion and Evaluation of Turgenev's Fathers and Sons       





Read for next week Worobec, Chapters 6 and 7

19 November Life and High Culture in Late Imperial Russia, Music, Ballet, Poetry and the Great Classics of Literature

Dicussion of Worobec, “Reframing Public and Private Space in Mid-Nineteenth Century Russia…,” “Happy Birthday Siberia! Reform and Public Opinion in Russia’s ‘Colony’”                    

Massie, Chapters 21-26

21 November Thanksgiving Break

Read Worobec, Chapters 8-12

28 November Populism, Revolutionary Developments and Tsarist Reaction – Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality

Discussion of Worobec, Chapters 8-12 – “Life in the Big City…,” “Freedom and Its Limitations: A Peasant Wife Seeks to Escape Her Abusive Husband,” “She Done Him In…,” “Serving the Household, Asserting the Self…,” “Plebeian Poets in Fin de Siecle Russia: Stories of the Self.”                   

Longworth, Chapter 11



5 December The 1905 Revolution and Political Mobilization , 1905-1906" The Stolypin Reforms, World War and the Coming of Revolutions in 1917.

Longworth Chapter 11



12 December Return to the Past: Contemporary Russia’s Revival of a great Imperial Past or Reinventing Russia. 

Summary and Conclusions  

Special Project Presentations

Longworth, Chapter 15 and Conclusion

18-22 December Examination Week

We will meet during our designated exam day and time

Final Examination is due Wednesday, 21 December.




Socialist Revolutionary Party – 1901


Bolshevik Social Democrats


and the Mensheviks


Constitutional Democrats – Kadets