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HIST 3395
Dr. David Rainbow
Class meetings: July 11-August 11, Monday-Thursday, 10am-12pm
Honors College, Room L212J
Office hours: Monday and Wednesday, 12pm-1pm
Honors College, Room 205D
Most of Russias wealth comes from oil. Some scholars think this explains why in recent
years Russia has become increasingly authoritarian at home and aggressive abroad. But
authoritarian state power and imperial expansion for resources have been central
elements of the Russian experience for hundreds of years, far longer than petroleum has
mattered. This course, while focusing on the importance of energy in Russian history,
takes as a central premise that understanding a country cannot be reduced to analyzing its
relationship to a single commodity. We examine the development of Russian and Soviet
energy resourcesoil, gas, and nuclearin broader historical, environmental and
political contexts. Tracing changes from the imperial to the Soviet and post-Soviet
periods, we consider the historical bases for the intimate relationship between energy and
Russias place in the world today. Course counts toward Energy and Sustainability minor.
*Please subscribe to our course blog for resources and communications.
*Please register for the course on Turnitin.com. Class ID: *******, Password: *******
By the end of the course students should be able to:
1) Read, think, and speak about historical topics critically.
2) Write analytically about the past.
3) Understand how the history of energy in Russia connects and relates to broader
themes in world history.
4) Explain some of the principle developments of the history of energy in Russian in
political, environmental, and social terms.
This is an upper-level honors history course. As such, it requires a substantial
amount of reading. Your performance in the courseclass participation and
writing assignmentsis bound up in whether, and how well, you do this job.
Class participation
You should come to class each day having completed the readings, and prepared
to make productive contributions to our discussions.

Chapter presentations
Three times during the course you will be responsible for presenting a portion of
the reading to the class. See Chapter Presentations assignment sheet for further
Reading responses
Each class period will begin with fifteen minutes of writing a response to the
reading assignment for the day. You must come to each class prepared to write
intelligently and thoughtfully, focusing on analysis, not description. This means,
in short, that you should tell me what you think is significant about the reading,
how it helps us understand a larger historical problem, or why you did or didnt
find it compelling. I will read and evaluate responses daily.
Book reports
You will write two brief (2 page) book reports, one on Loren Grahams The Ghost
of the Executed Engineer and one on Kate Browns Plutopia. See Book Report
assignment sheet for further instructions.
Legacies of the past
As a final project, and in conjunction with our reading of Svetlana Alexievichs
Nobel Prize-winning Voices from Chernobyl, you will explore some aspect of
how the history of the Chernobyl disaster continues to affect the world today. All
students will give a 10 minute presentation on your project during our final class
meeting. See Legacies of the Past assignment sheet for further instructions.
Extra credit
You may submit an extra book report for extra credit if you read The Siberian
Curse in its entirety. See me for more details if you are interested.
Class Participation:
Reading responses:
Book reports:
Legacies of the past:


Late Submission of Work:

Late assignments will be assessed a penalty of one letter grade per day (e.g., from B+ to
C+), unless prior arrangements with the instructor have been made.
This course is an intensive, short-term course. The material covered in each meeting
cannot be made up. Therefore, more than one unexcused absence will negatively affect
your grade. Advanced notice is required for absences unless for reasons of health, in
which case documentation should be provided after the fact.

Laptops, etc.
Please do not use laptops, tablets, or phones during class. You should come to class with
books, printouts, and notebooks in hand. If this is going to present a hardship, let me
Cases of plagiarism or suspected plagiarism will be reported to the Honors College
hearing officer, at which point appropriate sanctions will be carried out. Familiarize
yourself with UHs academic honesty policy here:
To be purchased:
Loren Graham, The Ghost of the Executed Engineer: Technology and the Fall of the
Soviet Union (Harvard University Press, 1996)
Goldman, Petrostate: Putin, Power and the New Russia (Oxford University Press, 2008)
Kate Brown, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities and the Great Soviet and
American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2013)
Svetlana Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster
(Picador, 2006)
Fiona Hill, The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold
(Brookings Institute, 2003)
Available online:
Stephen Crowley and Irina Olimpieva, Is Putin to face a colored revolution? The
Washington Post (February 10, 2016)
John McCannon, A History of the Arctic: Nature, Exploration and Exploitation (Reaktion
Books, 2012) [through UH Library Catalog]
Scott Borgerson, The Coming Arctic Boom: As the Ice Melts, the Region Heats Up,
Foreign Affairs, 1 July 2013
On reserve in the library:
Steve LeVine, The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian
Sea (Random House, 2007)
Richard Stites, Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the
Russian Revolution (Oxford University Press, 1989)