Midterm Assignment


Midterm Assignment


Choose a primary source that interests you, either from the list below, or from anywhere on our syllabus. (You may select a source we haven’t yet discussed in class, if you like.) Your assignment is to critically read and analyze the source while making a historical argument about it. Your argument may pertain to what the source reveals about its author or the historical moment in which it was produced; how it fits into contemporaneous intellectual, social, or creative debates; or the insight it gives us into broader trends in Russian and Soviet history. Your essay should focus exclusively on the source you’ve chosen. You don’t need to do any outside research, and for the purpose of this assignment, you can treat any information you learned from our secondary sources or classroom discussion as common knowledge. Some of these sources relate to contexts we haven’t yet discussed together in conference. If you want to work with one of those sources, or if you’d like to brush up on your contextual knowledge in general, I recommend Gregory Freeze’s Russia: A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). This is not required reading, but you might find it helpful.

            Please note: There are two sections of this class, and the library’s resources are limited! If you are using a print source, please scan or xerox the pages you intend to use and return the book to the library, so others can use it, too.



Your essay should be 1200 words long (yes, I will count them!). Remember to put your name and title on the first page and number your pages. You must use 12-point font and double-spacing. Though you are only working with one source, you still must provide properly formatted citations for all quotations. You may use either internal citations or footnotes. Either way, they must conform to The Chicago Manual of Style, which you can access online for free through the Library’s website.

            DON’T PLAGIARIZE! I am all-seeing and all-knowing, and I will figure it out if you plagiarize any part of your essay. If you have a question about how to avoid plagiarism, please feel free to ask me.

            You must submit your essay via Moodle no later than FRIDAY, March 10 at 10pm. Late papers will be penalized 1/3 of a letter grade per day. Good luck!!! If you have any questions, please talk to me before or after class, during my office hours, or via email.


Available Sources

*In addition to this list, you may use any of the primary sources from our syllabus.


Riha, Thomas, ed. Readings in Russian Civilization, v.2: Imperial Russia (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969)

Nicholas Karamzin, “Memoir of Ancient and Modern Russia”

Alexander Herzen, “Young Moscow”

Nikolai Dobrolyubov, “What Is Oblomovism?”

Katerina Breshkovskaia, “Going to the People”


Raeff, Marc, ed. Russian Intellectual History: An Anthology (NY: Harcourt, Brace, 1969)

Feofan Prokopovich, “Sermon on Royal Authority and Honor”

Nikolai Novikov, “On the Upbringing and Instruction of Children”

Peter Chaadaev, “Letters on the Philosophy of History”

Konstantin Aksakov, “On the Internal State of Russia”

Aleksandr Blok, “The People and the Intelligentsia” and “The Intelligentsia and the Revolution”


Dmytryshyn, Basil, ed. Imperial Russia: A Sourcebook, 1700-1917 (NY: Holt, 1990)

Mikhail Bakunin, “Catechism of a Revolutionary”

“Demands of Narodnaia Volia”

“Programs of Russian Political Parties”


Fitzpatrick, Sheila and Yuri Slezkine, eds. In the Shadow of Revolution: Life Stories of Russian Women from 1917 to the Second World War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000)

Anna Litveiko, “In 1917”

Valentina Bogdan, “Students in the First Five-Year Plan”

Ekaterina Olitskaia, “My Reminiscences (3)”


17 Moments in Soviet History (soviethistory.msu.edu)

P.I. Lebedev-Polianskii, “Revolution and the Cultural Tasks of the Proletariat”

Narkompros, “On Popular Education”

John Scott, “A Day in Magnitogorsk (Construction Accidents)”

Pravda, “Chaos Instead of Music”

Andrei Sakharov, “Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom (Liberal Dissent—        Sakharov)”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “Letter to the Soviet Leaders (Conservative Dissent—Solzhenitsyn)”

Mikhail Gorbachev, “Report to the Plenary Session of the CPSU Central Committee (Gorbachev Challenges the Party)


Other Sources

Alexandra Kollontai, “Sexual Relations and the Class Struggle”        (https://marxists.org/archive/kollonta/1921/sex-class-struggle.htm)

Vassily Grossman, Everything Flows, chapter 14 (pp.115-138)

“The Bulldozer Exhibition” in Laura Hoptman and Tomáš Pospiszyl, eds. Primary Documents: A Sourcebook for Eastern and Central European Art since the 1950s, pp. 65–77 [You will need to order this book through Summit]

Tatyana Tolstaya, “The Price of Eggs,” Pushkin’s Children: Writings on Russia and Russians

Jeff Sharlet, “Inside the Iron Closet: What It’s Like to Be Gay in Putin’s Russia,” GQ, Feb. 4, 2014: http://www.gq.com/story/being-gay-in-russia?printable=true