NEWSWATCH: “Why Study Russian History?” – American Historical Association Blog/E. Thomas Ewing and Virginia Tech Students enrolled in HIST 3604: Russia to Peter the Great

File Image of Ivan the Terrible Etching, adapted from image at loc.gov

“… we often took examples from current news or recent history and established connections to the historical period covered . … Russian history from its founding in the ninth century until the beginning of the era of Peter the Great in the late 17th century illustrates how this emerging nation-state navigated complex processes such as building a national political order, sustaining an evolving cultural identity, and legitimizing power through personality, rituals, and institutions. Studying these processes in a historical context – distant in terms of both time and location – provides insights into similar patterns in the more recent past, the present, and into the future, thus demonstrating why history matters. … The evolving role of political leaders from the founding of the Russian state through the Mongol era and into the early modern period also provides evidence of the legitimization of power through personality, rituals, and institutions. … Studying history is not just about collecting facts ….  The value of history … lies in the ability to identify, process, and synthesize potentially overlooked details to explain a broader idea, culture, or event. Teaching history in reference to current examples is also a powerful reminder of how an unexpected historical turn can change perceptions. …”

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