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Russia: The Revolution of 1917

2. Historiography

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In this module, we think about the historiography of Russian Revolution, i.e. the trends in how historians have written about and interpreted the events in 1917, focusing in particular on: (i) the distinction between the totalitarian and revisionist schools of thought; (ii) the work of Sheila Fitzpatrick and the importance of popular support for the Bolshevik Party and the Revolution; (iii) the work of Moshe Lewin and the importance of the Russian peasantry to the development of the Revolution; (iv) the distinction between the neo-traditionalist and modernity schools of thought, and the ways in which we might bring these two schools together.


In this module, Dr Andy Willimott (Queen Mary, University of London) explores the Russian Revolution(s) of 1917. We begin in the first module by thinking about the events of 1917, from the final months of the First World War to the deposition of the Provisional Government by the Bolsheviks in November [O.S. October] 1917. After that, we think about the historiography of the Russian Revolution, focusing in particular on four different schools of thought among historians writing about the Revolution. In the third module, we look more closely at the role of the Bolsheviks in the Revolution – where they came from, what they believed in, and how they came to power – before turning in the fourth model to consider the extent to which the Russian Revolution was a feminist revolution. To what extent, in other words, did it concern itself with improving the lives of women? Finally, in the fifth module, we consider the cultural foundations and impact of the Russian Revolution, focusing in particular on the various cultural campaigns launched by the Bolsheviks, and the importance of culture in galvanising revolutionary energy in the 1920s.


Dr Andy Willimott is a Lecturer in Modern Russian History at Queen Mary, University of London. He has a particular interest in the formation and popular experience of revolution, radical discourse, and utopian models. His recent publications include Living the Revolution: Urban Communes and Soviet Socialism, 1917-1932 (2017) and (co-edited with M. Neumann) Rethinking the Russian Revolution as Historical Divide (2018).

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APA style

Willimott, A. (2019, October 15). Russia: The Revolution of 1917 - Historiography [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Willimott, A. "Russia: The Revolution of 1917 – Historiography." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Oct 2019,

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