On Tuesday 24th September Dr Arfon Rees, retired Professor of Russian History at Birmingham University, gave a lecture to Form 6 A-level students on ‘Dilemmas in modernising Russia’.
The talk provided a valuable overview of the last three Tsars and an introduction to Lenin’s rule.
Dr Rees introduced students to the complexities of different historical perspectives on the period, such as whether we should be asking why autocracy survived so long, rather than why it collapsed. He was keen to stress that democratisation and industrialisation was not a priority at the outset of Alexander II’s reign, which is an interesting revision of the traditional interpretation of The Emancipation Edict of 1861.
History A-level at Oakham has recently changed to studying Tsarist and Communist Russia 1855-1964. The History department was lucky to host such an authority on the subject so early on in the course. The students really enjoyed the evening (and the cake!), greatly helping them to contextualise their early work on the course.