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Lecture 1

HIST 245 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Ruling Class, Industrial Revolution, Russian Culture

Course Code
HIST 245
Ana Siljak

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HIST 245 - Imperial Russia, Week 1.1
Introduction to the Course:
-Study of Russian History from the era of Peter the Great until the October Revolution (1689 -
-This is a period of time where Russia starts out as being seen as a Eastern European
Backwater, but by the end of the course, it is one of the four most powerful states in the world
at the time
-This is the time period when Russian Culture grows —> literature, etc.
-Chronology course (will know the important dates, names and events)
-Russian culture blooms during this period
-There will be an overarching theme —> Is Russia an European country? —> Westernization
(the theme in one word) —> is Russia a Western Country?
-How does a country become Western?
-Prof loves ideas and culture (cultural and ideological history) (will mostly focus on this) —>
not so much about wars and royalty
-however, she will mention the wars, etc.
-Terms and names will be on the exams
-Outlines for lectures are given before each class
-are a mixture of literature, documents, etc.
-topics for paper will be given by prof
-There will be a midterm, Final Exam and a paper
-Office Hours: Wednesdays - 10:30 to 12:00 or by appointment
Background - Environment:
-Large Territory —> expands from the Western European border to the Sea of Okhotsk
-Russia is a cold country (typically compared to Canada)
-Major potions of Russian territory have freezing temperatures for over 200 days a year.
-Even in the warmer regions, winter lasts for 6 months
-During the beginning of our course 90-95% of the population is agricultural (they work the
land and live off the land for their substances)
-So cold means a struggle for the Russians at the beginning
-Planting crops was difficult as a normal European harvesting season is typically 9
months, Russia’s harvesting season is reduced to 4-6 months
-Partly because of the cold and other difficult geographical conditions, Russia has very difficult
soil for farming
-Crop yields are very low —> Europeans, at this time, are getting 9 seeds for every seed sowed
-This means that after each harvest, a typical European will get enough grain to eat, to plant
again and enough grain to sell on the market
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