A useful construct for thinking about contemporary Russia is the geographical and geopolitical space of Eurasia. A look at Google Maps shows a zone of arctic tundra, boreal and deciduous forests, temperate grasslands, and high arid plateaus, surrounded by mountains, deserts, and seas. It encompasses much of northern and central Asia and extends westwards across the low-lying Ural Mountains toward an indeterminate line dividing eastern from western Europe. The location of that dividing line, and the desire to be on one or the other side of it, has been a central question for the history of this region throughout the modern era. A succession of Russian states,beginning with 16th-century Muscovite tsars and extending through both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union to include today the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin, has laid claims to some or all of this Eurasian space.
This course of four PowerPoint lectures—with class participation encourage— will provide a broad overview of that history and explore its consequences:
– the Russian Empire before the 1917 Revolutions
– 20 th -century; Soviet Power; and the USSR as world power
– the post-Soviet kaleidoscope of the Russian Federation since 1991
– the contemporary Russia-Ukraine War and its implications for this history (suggested
reading, Marci Shore, The Ukrainian Night. An Intimate Portrait of Revolution [Yale,