RUS 100: Essay assignment and grading ctiteria
Assignment: Write an essay of 3-4 pages (double-spaced, 12-font) in which you discuss one of the topics listed below. The goal of this essay is for you to reflect more deeply on one aspect of Russian cultural history and, in your response, to pull together information that you already know from your readings for RUS 100. Please note: This is not a research paper. If, however, you choose to consult an outside source, you must make proper reference to it. Remember: grammar and spelling as well as content count toward your grade.
Note that there are a total of 15 questions to choose from. You write only one essay.
Questions 1-10: Works of art and architecture of particular cultural and historical significance can be found throughout Russia, and many nineteenth-century Russian painters took their themes from the Russian past. Questions 1-10 concern a work of art or architecture. Choose one of the items listed below and discuss the importance of the historical theme and, in the case of buildings, architect. How does the work you have chosen catch up an important period, event, or perhaps even turning point in Russian history? What political, social, and/or artistic trends of significance in Russian history does this work embed?
All the works mentioned below appear either in Suzanne Massie’s The Land of the Firebird (LF) or in one of the Lessons (Lectures) for RUS 100. REMEMBER: CHOOSE ONLY ONE
1. The icon of Our Lady of Vladimir (Lecture 2; LF)
2. Holy Trinity Monastery (Lecture 4; LF)
3. Ilya Repin’s painting “Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan.” (LF)
4. St. Basil’s Cathedral (Lecture 5; LF)
5. Statue of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky outside St. Basil’s Cathedral (Lecture 5)
6. Valentin Serov’s painting “Peter I [the Great] at the Building of St. Petersburg.” (LF)
7. Vasily Surikov’s painting “The Morning of the Execution of the Streltsy.” (Lecture 6)
8. Smolny Cathedral (LF)
9. Orest Kiprensky’s portrait of Alexander Pushkin (Lecture 8; LF)
10. Kazan Cathedral (in St. Petersburg) (Lecture 7).
Questions 11-12: Suzanne Massie suggests that the true Russian genius tended toward art, not politics. Do you support this statement? Discuss with regard to either
11. The eighteenth century or
12. The first half of the nineteenth century
13. Much of the debate between Westernizers and Slavophiles in the 1840s centered on Peter the Great. Westernizers supported his reforms and the westernization of Russian social and military life. Slavophiles believed that Peter’s reforms had grafted an artificial, European identity on the upper classes and cut them off from the masses of peasants, who embodied the real Russia. How do you assess the impact of Peter’s reforms on Russia? Do you believe that Russian identity is inextricably bound with Europe, or do you regard Russia as fundamentally different from Western Europe, perhaps more eastern than western?
14. Catherine the Great apparently considered Alexander Radishchev, the author of A Journey from Petersburg to Moscow, a rebel worse than Pugachev. What was the status and role of the peasants in Russia in the time of Catherine? How did the masses react to Napoleon’s invasion in 1812, and what was the effect of the Great Patriotic War on progressive Russian thinking in the age of Alexander I? How did Nicholas I deal with the question of serfdom? How did serfdom enter into the conversation of the newly formed intelligentsia (Slavophiles and Westernizers) of the 1840s? Conclude your essay by arguing for or against Catherine’s statement about Radishchev.
15. Compare and contrast the presentations of the city of St. Petersburg in A.S.Pushkin’s “Bronze Horseman” and N.V. Gogol’s “Overcoat.” What is the effect of the “northern capital” on the lives of Evgeny and Arkady Arkadievich? What significance do you attribute to the class status of these two heroes? In what ways does the city seem fantastic in these works?
GRADING CRITERIA FOR ESSAY
Some of you may wonder how your essays will be graded. I use the following categories, which, for the most part, explain the brief notations in my response to you. I make no notations on grades of 96 and higher.
G, syntax, word usage, spelling and other mechanical matters (20 points).
F/I and information (30). Do you stay focused on the topic and is your information correct. You should indicate the page in Massie and other class readings where you quote or paraphrase these sources. Of course, if you choose to use outside sources, you must make a notation in the text (give the last name of the author and page number in parentheses) and include a bibliographic reference at the end of the essay.
C and cohesion in developing your ideas (20). Do you jump from one topic to another without transition or repeat yourself excessively?
H/cultural import (20). For example, if you choose to write on Ilya Repin’s painting “Ivan the Terrible and his Son Ivan,” you should mention the significance of the event within Russian history. What is the connection between the death of Tsarevich Ivan, the end of the Rurik dynasty, and the Time of Troubles?
O (10). Matters not covered by the above. For example, are your essays significantly shorter than required or do they use a format other than the one specified?