Imperial Russia Syllabus

One semester/12 weekly sessions; H.S. credit 0.5 (History, Fine Arts, Humanities)


Recommended Text: Susanne Massie. Land of the Firebird: The Beauty of Old Russia  (Hearttree Press, 1980).

A classic, readable, illustrated cultural history. You can find used copies priced quite reasonably on Amazon. It also is in many libraries, as it was a best-seller when it was first published. If you already have a Russian history, you may choose to use that as a general guide instead.

Keeping a Notebook

Russian history is full of colorful names and events. We recommend you track the flow of this material by whatever method works best for you: a notebook divided into sections for history, geography, art, music, terminology, etc., or perhaps note cards filed by topic. You may prefer keep notes on computer files. Whatever method you choose, it’s helpful to keep the information close at hand, where you can refer and add to it easily.

Russian Alphabet

What about “Russian”? Are we going to learn Russian? We won’t have time to learn Russian formally in one semester, but we will have regular exposure to the Cyrillic alphabet. I will provide exercises, and invite you to get more familiar with Russian names (in Cyrillic) and basic terms that are cognates (same roots, meaning same things in various languages).

You will find it surprisingly easy to familiarize yourself with the alphabet. Knowing the alphabet will open up the Russian language for future study.

Viewing & Listening

Part of the course requirement will involve viewing Russian art as well as video clips both as follow up to a class and in preparation for the next class. Also, there will be listening requirements with links that will take you directly to the music.

Students taking this course for high-school credit are required to do these assignments. Those taking the class for enrichment are strongly encouraged to do the assignments.


Interactive, self-graded quizzes will be provided. Students taking the course for credit will be expected to log their quiz grades.

There is also a midterm and final exam.


Module 1 Russia and the West  
Unit 1 Video 1
Unit 2 Module 1 Gallery
Unit 3 Terms, Figures, Places
Unit 4 Exercises in the Cyrillic Alphabet
Unit 5 Assignment: Russia and the West
Module 2 Orthodox Music and Art  
Unit 1 Features of Orthodoxy
Unit 2 Video 2
Unit 3 Transliteration Practice 2
Unit 4 Cyrillic Transliteration Practice: The Olympics
Unit 5 2: Terms, Events, Personages, Places
Unit 6 Assignment: Orthodox Singing
Unit 7 Quiz: Modules 1-2
Module 3 The Riuriks  
Unit 1 Video 3
Unit 2 Riurik Gallery
Unit 3 Transliteration Practice 3
Unit 4 3: Terms, Events, Personages, Places
Unit 5 Assignment: The Riuriks
Module 4 The Early Romanovs  
Unit 1 Video 4
Unit 2 Early Romanov Gallery
Unit 3 4: Terms, Events, Personages, Places
Unit 4 Assignment: Peter the Great
Unit 5 Quiz: Modules 3-4
Module 5 The Tsarinas  
Unit 1 Video 5
Unit 2 5: Terms, Events, Personages, Places
Unit 3 Assignment: Anna and Elizabeth
Module 6 Catherine the Great  
Unit 1 Video 6
Unit 2 6: Terms, Events, Personages, Places
Unit 3 Assignment: Catherine the Great
Unit 4 Mid-Term Test
Module 7 Napoleonic Russia and Folk Art  
Unit 1 Video 7
Unit 2 7: Terms, Events, Personages, Places
Unit 3 Assignment: Napoleonic Invasion and Folk Art
Module 8 Pushkin  
Unit 1 Video 8
Unit 2 8: Terms, Events, Personages, Places
Unit 3 Assignment: Pushkin
Unit 4 Quiz: Modules 7-8
Module 9 The Golden Age  
Unit 1 Video 9
Unit 2 9: Terms, Events, Personages, Places
Unit 3 Assignment: The Golden Age
Unit 4 Assignment: A Life for the Tsar
Module 10 Russian Realism  
Unit 1 Video 10
Unit 2 10: Terms, Events, Personages, Places
Unit 3 Assignment: Russian Realism
Unit 4 Gallery: Vasily Surikov
Unit 5 Gallery: Aivazovsky
Unit 6 Gallery: Nikolay Ge
Unit 7 Gallery: Ilya Repin
Unit 8 Quiz: Modules 9-10
Module 11 Final Flowering of Imperial Russia and the Ballet Russes  
Unit 1 Video 11
Unit 2 11: Terms, Events, Personages, Places
Unit 3 Assignment: Last Flowerings of Imperial Russia
Module 12 The End of Imperial Russia  
Unit 1 Video 12
Unit 2 12: Terms, Events, Personages, Places
Unit 3 Assignment: The End of Imperial Russia
Unit 4 Review: Modules 7-12
Unit 5 Final Test Review Sheet
Unit 6 Final Exam
Unit 7 Final Exam Afterword