This free website brings together my ideas about how to teach and study the Russian Revolution and Soviet history. These ideas have been developed over thirty years of teaching at university.
The website is designed to support courses at all levels - from GCSE to A-level, IB, undergraduate degree at university and post-graduate studies.
It is best used together with my book, Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991, which draws from all my books on the Russian Revolution and Soviet history (visit bookstore).
Revolutionary Russia can be used alongside textbooks in schools and universities. It presents my view that - although it changed in form and character - the Russian Revolution should be understood as a single cycle of 100 years, from the famine crisis of 1891 until the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1991.
The website's 18 sections run in parallel to the chapters of my book. They are organised around the major themes of the curricula at schools and universities.
In each website section you will find an introductory outline of the period with my commentary on the issues, photos, videos and some questions you may need to think about as a student. Each section also has short extracts from my book Revolutionary Russia on themes covered by GCSE and A-level syllabuses.
For A-level teachers and students who are keen to stretch their studies, or for students at university, there is a premium site www.revolutionaryrussia.com with more materials, including:
** my ideas on how to answer the most common exam questions
** 18 lecture/podcasts on the major themes of Russian and Soviet history
** longer extracts from my books carefully selected to help students
** photo essays and videos with questions designed for class work
** regular discussions of key themes and exam questions
** updates on news and source materials for Russian revolutionary history
The first season of seminars on Google Hangout will cover the following questions:
1. How reformable was the Tsarist system and could reform have saved it from its fate in 1917?
2. Why was war such a catalyst to revolutionary change in Russia between 1855 and 1945 (the Crimean War, World War 1, the Russian Civil War and World War Two)?
3. Account for the persistence of authoritarian government in Russia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
4. How did life change for the peasants under Tsarist and Soviet rule?
5. What - if any - credit can be given to Stalin for the industrialization of the Soviet Union?
Here is a short extract of a 40-minute seminar I had with the students of the International School of Toulouse.
And this is what their teacher said:
"The live video conference my students had with Professor Figes was a brilliant experience. The classroom task of formulating the 'big' questions in advance, then having them answered by a leading professional historian, was highly motivational. It resulted in some sparkling insights which students will find invaluable in giving them 'the edge' in the final examinations. My class came away from the experience full of enthusiasm for the way in which Professor Figes brought the subject alive in an accessible but intellectually stimulating manner"
- Russel Tarr, Head of History at the International School of Toulouse and author of www.activehistory.co.uk