HSEM2540H: Understanding the Russian Land

3 CreditsFreshman SeminarHonorsEnvironmentHistorical PerspectivesLiteratureTopics Course

Encompassing more than 6.5 million square miles, Russia is an immense and ecologically diverse country. The environment of the frigid and heavily forested heartland of early Russian civilization, as well as that of the "wild field" (the Eurasian steppe) on its border, have posed a series of challenges to Russians and have left an indelible mark on modern Russian culture. In this interdisciplinary seminar, we will study how Russians have conceived of and used nature from the medieval period to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Articulating a particular approach to nature has been integral to several ideological and cultural projects in Russian history, including the formation of a literary tradition, the establishment of a multi-ethnic empire encompassing several biomes, and the development of a vision of Soviet science conquering and reshaping nature and the world. In the period we will study (the fifteenth century to 1991 Russia) underwent several profound epistemological shifts, and a particular focus of this course will be how the ways Russians created natural knowledge changed over time. Knowledge is power, and we will study how natural knowledge was used to strengthen and expand the state in the medieval, imperial, and Soviet periods. Another major focus of this course is the ravages that nature and humankind have inflicted on one another, and we will study how the environment influenced the development of Russia's form of agricultural slavery, serfdom, as well as the history of environmental degradation, including deforestation, the establishment of heavy industry, and nuclear disaster.

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A Average (3.867)Most Common: A (65%)

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89 students
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