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   Course Title    History for the Youth in Russia. Controversy of Government, Scholars and Public. XVIII-XX centuries
Lecturer    Tatiana Volodina
Institution    Tula State Pedagogical University
Country    Russia


The course focuses on the concepts of history which have been addressed to the young people, forming their historical consciousness and values. It is not a narrative of historical events, but rather an interpretation of the ways Russian youth has been taught the history of its own country. History has a particular role in the transmission of cultural heritage and in cultivating a sense of national identity. Thus it is quite natural that history education is at present, and was in the past, the arena of controversies and embittered debates. The course intends to give an idea of teaching history as an element of nation-building processes. The motto of my course is "A country is known by the history textbooks it keeps". The primary attention is paid to the Russian experience but in a wide comparative context.

The course is designed for fourth grade students who have passed Russian and World history, Historiography, Philosophy of History and can put the knowledge to use while studying the course.

The task of the course is to provide students with an overview of national consciousness development in the mirror of history textbooks. There are three main forces, which conflict and interact in the arena: Government, Public and Scholars. All of them have been trying to impose their own will on selection of facts, interpretation, arguments. How should we estimate the contribution of parties and the results of interaction? As society, scholarship and political systems have been changing, so have been history textbooks. As the world changes, so do the ways all nations imagine themselves, their achievements, and their place in the international scene. Comparative analysis of the content of history textbooks will promote the critical thinking of students and a better understanding of national identification.

Progress in the course will be evaluated as follows:

  • Midterm Examination November 45%
  • Term Paper December 45%
  • Class Participation 10%

Regular attendance and participation is expected. The latter may consist of questions and comments related to the topic of the weekly lectures. The examination will be taken in class: students will have to answer three questions related to the topics discussed during lectures and seminars. The Term Paper (10-15 pages, written at home) should have the critical essay about any modern Russian textbook in history and humanities, evaluation from the point of view of content and concepts, structure, philosophy, political attitudes, historiography etc.

Thematic units of the course:

  1. History as Means of Forming Nation. Theories of nations and nationalism in modern historiography. Patterns, approaches and diversity. The role of schooling and history knowledge. Producing the past: making histories inside and outside the academy.
  2. Analyzing Historiography Devoted to This Problem. In Russian historiography the problem hasnít been investigated at all. There is, however, an extensive literature in Eastern and Western Europe, which is devoted to the subject. Modern educational reforms arouse interest in the contents of history textbooks. Acute disputes have involved scholars, teachers, public and government in the issue. Arguing their views, different sides of the controversy have appealed to various past and current facts or examples.
  3. Partners and Patterns of History Education. The influence of scholarship. Government control: legitimatization of social order and established social hierarchies. The attitude of public. The secret history education (family and church), for instance in Poland after partitions.
  4. Content of History Textbooks in the XVIII century. The influence of Enlightenment. Inferiority Complex.
  5. History Education in Russia in the XIX century. The controversy of liberal and conservative approaches. The role of intelligentsia.
  6. History textbooks in the XX century. Succession or abruption in history counciousness?
  7. The Great Power Complex in History Textbooks. Distinctive features of national identity, which were peculiar to Russia in its becoming a Great Power. Specific empire values in times of triumphs and the reaction of the nationís consciousness in times of failures. Transformation of history consciousness when the Great Power begins to lose its position, the limit of this transformation if any.
  8. Problem of Mono-History. Achievements and failures in trying to adopt one version of history for different constituent peoples of the empire. Untamable cases Ė Poland and Finland in the Russian Empire. Different versions of history and transmission of consistent history knowledge to the young generation. The role of teaching history in case of any nationís political, social, racial or regional disruption. Political correctness and nationhood identity in teaching history Ė the problem of the golden measure.
  9. Painful Problems of History Education in Modern Russia. The mirror of crisis or the index of progress? Development of history education in NIS and Eastern Europe.


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