2014 Student Research Conference:
27th Annual Student Research Conference

Educated Elites Views on Serfdom and its Effects on the Emancipation of the Sefs
Jacob B. O'Rourke
Dr. Thomas Zoumaras and Dr. Sally West, Faculty Mentors

The Emancipation of Serfdom in Russia was a long-overdue process that was needed by the time Alexander II signed the Emancipation Manifesto in 1861. The disaster of the Russian armys performance in the Crimean War and Russias lack of stable industry were among many of the reasons that the autocracy eventually decided to act to modernize the country somewhat. Most historical and literary research, however, tends to ignore the pressure that educated members of the upper class made on the Tsar to reform serfdom. W. Bruce Lincoln argues that enlightened bureaucrats failed in their goals to renovate Russian political culture and institutions because Tsar Nicholas I withdrew his support and dismissed the enlightened bureaucrats out of the key ministerial positions. A key question this paper will address, however, is whether the educated elites-men like Ivan Turgenev, Anton Chekhov and Mikhail Saltykov-were expressing their political opinion in their literature, or whether the pressure served as a convenient excuse for the tsar to enact the reforms.

Keywords: Emancipation of the serfs, Educated Elites, W. Bruce Lincoln, Political opinion

Topic(s):History Senior Seminar
History
Russian

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 201-2
Location: MG 2001
Time: 9:45

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