In European History Since 1648 at UNLV, our focus on Tuesday was the Russian Revolution. We had spent comparatively little time during the course on case studies related to Russia, so I began with a brief overview of Russian history, designed to help students think about how to explain the revolution. Having read Marx, they were also able to consider to what extent the Revolution squared with the framework he and Engels laid out in The Communist Manifesto.
We rushed through the chronology of the Revolution, and spent a bit of time thinking about the means by which the Soviet state sought to rally people around a futuristic, technocratic vision of the country’s capacities.
We spent the last half hour or so of the class talking our way through what was only the second academic article of the semester, in this case about explaining violence in the Russian Revolution. It was an opportunity to discuss how historians ask good historical questions, relate their scholarship to the work of others, and frame arguments.
Both students writing research papers and students writing shorter, synthetic papers are using skills related to framing and backing up arguments. We’ll continue briefly today with a discussion of the Soviet Union before discussing some of the other ideologies which came to be in competition with its version of Communism during the years between the World Wars.