Life’s a Circus

The 1936 Russian Soviet film, Circus, directed by Grigori Aleksandrov and Isidor Simkov, tells the story of a famous American performer, Marion Dixon, as she flees from the United States after persecution from giving birth to a black child. She goes with a corrupt theatrical agent, Franz von Kneishitz, who looks suspiciously like Adolf Hitler, to Russia where she becomes a circus performer. After falling in love with another performer, Ivan Petrovich Martinov, von Kneishitz becomes jealous and not only prevents her from staying with Petrovich, but actively abuses Marion, despite claiming to love her.… Read the rest here

The Process of “Peopling” in Industrialization

Stephen Kotkin’s article Peopling Magnitostroi explores the industrialization period of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, specifically regarding the newly built industrial city of Magnitostroi. Located in a remote area of the steppe, the soviet regime mobilized and recruited the masses to come and work at this factory center. The workers sent there – a mix of skilled workers, unskilled peasants or exiled kulaks, and seasonal workers, otkhodniki, were overall reluctant to go there, especially those sent there from other factories in the cities.… Read the rest here

The Awakening of the Soul in Society

 

Yevgeny Zamyatin’s science fiction dystopian novel, We, tells the story of the character D-503 in his futuristic world, the One State, where everyone runs on the same clock, where one needs permission to close the blinds in their otherwise glass rooms, where there is one God-like ruler, the Benefactor, who ironically is “elected” every year without competition. D-503’s life as an engineer and mathematician is perfectly controlled and rational, as this regime believes true happiness comes with total control and that individual freedom brings forth chaos, until the disruptive force of love and emotions compel his world upside down.… Read the rest here

Abdication and Creation of a New Russia

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After almost two hundred years of expanding a nation that would be respected as an equal to the Western European states, the Russian Empire fell. The 1917 Revolution in March called for the abdication of the Tsar, Nicholas II, as well as the need for a government of the people to take its place. When Nicholas abdicated though, he appointed his brother, the Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, as his heir; he was the next to rule what was left of this grand Empire.… Read the rest here

Great Reforms in the 1860s

During the reign of Alexander II from 1855 to 1881, the state passed a series of reforms that covered the most basic areas of need in Russian society. The emancipation of serfdom occurred in 1861 which abolished the owning of peasants. The Emancipation document asserts that those freed have “personal and property rights” just as any free city dweller. They also received some land to provide for themselves from the landowner but in return the peasant had to pay them in either labor or money.… Read the rest here

How Rank Influenced Gogol’s The Overcoat

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Gogol’s short story The Overcoat follows an awkward individual named Akaky Akakievich who occupies a low ranking position in the government where he simple copies documents all day. He saves up his money in order to get a new overcoat which is then stolen on his way back from a party. Akaky Akakievich asks for help from several higher level officials who all turn him down. After his death several days later, his ghost comes back and doesn’t leave until he finds and steals a perfectly-sized overcoat from one particularly Important Person who was one of the officials that cruelly rejected him.… Read the rest here

The Problem of Female Rule – Catherine the Great

In the article Catherine the Great and the Problem of Female Rule, Brenda Meehan-Waters argues that Western European writers and Russian writers view the reign of Catherine the Great differently, and that these views reveal cultural reactions towards women in positions of power. Western foreigner ambassadors and correspondents alike of Catherine II almost always bring into discussion the fact that she is a women and the traits that differentiate men and women. Foreigners describe her as having “a masculine force of mind” with a “weakness vulgarity attributed to her sex” and as “an ambitious and unnatural women” giving the impression that “there was something inherently perverse in female ambition”.… Read the rest here

Comparing the Sudebnik and the Ulozhenie

The Law Code of 1649 (Ulozhenie)1 shows us how life has changed for the Muscovites since the Sudebnik of 1497  2  written under the rule of Ivan III. This document, written during Alexis I’s reign, is significantly longer and more detailed than its predecessors, including topics topic’s that we haven’t seen before such as permits to travel to other countries, tolls, ferries, and bridges, and even illegal taverns. There are many differences, but it is crucial to mention the first and second articles, Blasphemers and Heretics and The Sovereign’s Honor and How to Guard his Health respectively. … Read the rest here

Evaluation of Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible (1533-84) began his rule in 1547 at a young age and during the first half of his reign he and his administration made great strides toward reform in the Muscovite lands. In 1564, however, his health starts to decline and so does his power to rule. He separated his administration into people who he could trust, and it is possible that he became mentally paranoid, and a second administration run by boyar elite and nobles.… Read the rest here

Russian Court Processes in the 15th Century

Even after the Mongols retreated from the Rus lands, the economy and culture were still experiencing much turbulence. Officials attempted to rebuild their society from the devastation, and in our readings we have evidence of their attempts to restructure the legal system in the fifteenth century.

The Novgorod Judicial Charter shows us that the archbishop had power to prosecute crimes with his own church court in addition to the mayor of Novgorod’s court. In general, we see improvement in this document compared to the Pravda Russkaia; the details of the jobs of the court are more detailed and the money system for winning a trial has adapted to accommodate the accused and who gets a specific percentage of the money.… Read the rest here