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Eurasian Studies 201


Fall Quarter 2001 Syllabus

Daily 1:00-1:50

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Professor: Edward Vajda (rhymes with the "vita" in "vitamin.")

Office: Humanities 255

Office Telephone: 650-4856

Office hours: Thursdays 12:00-1:00



A History of Russia, the Soviet Union, and Beyond, 5th edition,
by David MacKenzie and Michael Curran (All reading assignments refer to this book.)

Course grade:

Three tests (the last given during exam week). Each counts equally as 1/3 of your final grade. Tests will be objective, with some discussion questions (given in advance on three study sheets handed out to you at the beginning of each segment of the course).


This course surveys the history and culture of Russia from the earliest times to the present day. Students are not expected to bring to the class any extensive prior knowledge of the subject. The course systematically covers a variety of basic sociohistorical information on Russian civilization and identifies many unexpected similarities as well as a few celebrated but often misunderstood contrasts between Russia (or the Soviet Union) and Western countries, especially the United States. The pedagogical goals of this course are therefore twofold. First, the lectures and reading assignments will provide you with a solid factual overview of the entire sweep of Russia's 1,000-year history which will prepare you very well for any type of more specialized study of Russian history, culture or language that you may choose to embark upon in the future. Second, and most important, this course is designed to assist you in developing your critical thinking and analytical ability through open discussion of and creative writing on the most interesting and pivotal factors in Russia's past and present situation. I will consistently draw your attention to the often contradictory opinions and attitudes that scholars have developed with regard to the more controversial topics of Russian history. Both the textbook and the lectures will highlight these debates without presenting any particular side as necessarily and exclusively correct. In other words, there is no "political catechism" of any kind built into this course. I'll give you my opinions on the historical controversies discussed, but won't at all require you to agree with me on them to get a good grade. Instead, I will encourage each of you to develop your own opinions on controversial aspects of Russian history based on the factual material presented and your personal value judgments.