The Stenton lecture is an annual lecture by an eminent historian, hosted by the Department and held in honour of its founders, Sir Frank and Lady Stenton, both of whom were responsible for building the reputation of the University of Reading as a centre for historical excellence.

The Stenton Lecture: ‘The Russian Revolution: A Hundred Years On’, Professor Stephen Smith (All Soul’s College, Oxford)

7.30pm, Henley Business School G11.

This year marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution, join us to hear Professor Stephen Smith’s lecture which will reflect on the tumultuous events of 1917 and our attempts to understand this epochal moment in history.

The marginalization of the Left internationally following the rise of neoliberalism and the collapse of communism has created a climate in which revolutions are no longer looked on with much sympathy by historians. Historians of the Russian Revolution nowadays are interested less in “what went wrong” with the Bolshevik regime and more with demonstrating the inevitability of a minority revolution leading to totalitarian dictatorship. For contemporaries, the significance of October 1917 lay in its promise to commence a world revolution that would put an end to capitalist exploitation and socio-economic inequality and put the working class into power. A century on, that hardly looks to be its long-term historical significance. What stands out are elements of the Russian Revolution that were secondary so far as the Bolsheviks were concerned, such as women’s emancipation, nation-building, and anti-imperialism. These were all dimensions of the Revolution that were radically undermined by Stalin but never repudiated.  None of this, of course, is to deny that one may discuss the legacy of the Bolshevik Revolution in far more negative terms – in terms of one-party dictatorship, the shutting down of a civil society, the easy recourse to terror etc. The aim of the lecture, however, is to remind us that the legacy of 1917 was complex and contradictory, and included positive as well as negative elements.

The Stenton Workshop: Using Archives in the Countries of the former Soviet Union

Preceding Professor Stephen Smith’s lecture on Thursday rather than a ‘Stenton Symposium’ we have a ‘Stenton Workshop’. The workshop, which will bring together young scholars to help them learn how to conduct research in the countries of the former Soviet Union.

The workshop is convened by Dr Andy Willimott with the assistance of co-conveners: Max Hodgson, Siobhan Hearne, and Mark Vincent.

This one-day workshop is aimed at postgraduates who have, or who will be, conducting archival research in any former Soviet Union country. The event will be a forum to discuss practical and methodological concerns, as well as to share fieldwork experiences. We invite postgraduates and early-career researchers who have worked in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, or Uzbekistan to propose papers on their experiences of archival research. Possible topics include, but are not limited, to:

  • Reviews of practices and procedures in specific archives
  • Anecdotes about a particularly interesting or unusual document found while researching at an archive
  • Reports on working with specific types of document (letters, police files, interview transcripts, photographs, music scores, newspapers etc.)
  • Overviews of the practical and methodological challenges of conducting archival research in these regions

How to book:

In order to register and book, please follow the link below.  If you have not used the online booking system before you will need to register in the first instance.  Once registered follow the instructions regarding the booking procedure.  Please note that even though this is a free event you must click on ‘Proceed to Checkout’ and ‘Confirm’  in order to reserve your space.  You will receive a confirmation Email if the booking form is completed correctly: