1: Who Makes a Revolution?
Revolutions are messy and chaotic. Begin with an examination of how revolutions arise from societal forces, and how they are seldom organized by the most downtrodden and repressed groups in a society. Reflect on how violence, or the threat of violence, accompanies political transformation.
2: Nationalism as Revolutionary Ideology
The idea of the nation-state—and the accompanying feelings of nationalism—have shaped the world we know today, but nationalism has often gone hand in hand with revolution. Explore how social progress, literacy, and the evolution of new cultural bonds led to revolutions in France, Italy, and elsewhere.
3: Mexico’s Revolution of Bullets and Myths
The Mexican Revolution is confounding for its many characters, as well as the twists and turns the revolution took. Meet Emiliano Zapata, Francisco Madero, Pancho Villa, and others who transformed Mexico in the early 20th century. This larger-than-life story is truly something made for the movies.
4: The Man Who Lost the Russian Revolution
The Russian Revolution of 1917 began with the great promise of overthrowing the Romanov autocracy and ended with totalitarianism. There was a moment in 1917, however, when an interim government may have set Russia on a different course. Learn about Alexander Kerensky, who embodied the hope and fall of revolutionary Russia.
5: Totalitarianism and Counterrevolution
It’s easy to get swept up in the promise of revolution, but the 20th century laid bare the costs of a counterrevolution. Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union were on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but their totalitarian states were tragically similar. See what led to the rise of totalitarianism, and what it’s like to live in such a state.
6: The US Civil Rights Revolution
Not every revolution involves a violent overthrow of the government. In the United States, the civil rights movement transformed the political landscape by reforming the system. From Reconstruction to Martin Luther King Jr., trace the arc of African American history as it moved toward social equality and social justice.
7: England’s Glorious Revolution
Modern revolutions were likely made possible by the Enlightenment, by humanity daring to inquire about the world and imagine something different. In this lesson, go back to one of the earliest revolutions in the modern era: the Glorious Revolution in the 17th century. See how England transformed into a constitutional monarchy.
8: Samuel Adams: Apostle of American Liberty
The American Revolution has so many iconic historical figures that it is easy to forget that the war began with a panoply of business owners and citizens disgruntled by Britain’s onerous tax laws. Join rabble-rousing Samuel Adams as he becomes the apostle for freedom. Trace the events that led to the first battles at Lexington and Concord.
9: The French Revolution: Fraternity and Terror
Inspired by the American example, the French led an amazing revolution to overthrow the monarchy in the name of liberty, equality, and fraternity—only to watch as the movement for independence gave way to dictatorial control. From the storming of the Bastille to the terror of Robespierre, survey this astonishing period.
10: Haiti: Trailblazer of Democracy and Failure
The American and French revolutions facilitated democracy and economic growth, but not every movement was so successful. The Haitian Revolution completely upended the small Caribbean country’s political, economic, and social order, and fomented a legacy of continuing disruption and inequality. Explore this doomed democratic experiment.
11: The Industrial and Urban Revolutions
Not every revolution is political. In this lesson, you will examine how the process of industrialization reshaped production, markets, and society. What started as innovations in the textile industry marked the breathtaking transition to the modern age. Roll up your sleeves and enter the revolution of technological innovation.
12: The Decembrist Wives of Imperial Russia
Shift your attention to the annals of Russians history and the Decembrist Uprising of 1825. After this failed revolt, the conspiratorial officers were sent into exile, accompanied by their wives. The story of these Decembrist Wives—their self-sacrifice and social martyrdom—is the stuff of legend. See how these women created a revolutionary code of ethics for generations to come.
13: China’s Revolutionary Nationalism
Two of the main revolutionary accelerants of the 20th century were a quest for national liberation from external powers—in Asia, Africa, and Latin America—and the international campaign to implement Marxist principles in place of existing regimes. Here, witness these trends in China from the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1912 to the rise of Mao.
14: The Women’s Revolution for the Right to Vote
Despite America’s founding principle that “all men are created equal,” women had no direct voice in government. Survey the suffrage movement in the United States and Great Britain, from the writings of Abigail Adams to the passage of the 19th Amendment. Meet Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Emmeline Pankhurst, and other pioneers in the movement.
15: Mao Zedong’s Revolutionary Road
Mao Zedong’s defeat of Chiang Kai-shek in 1949 ushered in a new revolutionary period for Chinese history—the era of communist China. Efforts such as land redistribution, liquidation of class enemies, and the Cultural Revolution brought about dramatic—and sometimes disastrous—results. Delve into this astonishing period.
16: Gandhi’s Revolutionary Nonviolence
Delve into one tactic of India’s anti-colonial resistance: non-violent struggle, which was developed and popularized by Mahatma Gandhi. Not only did his peaceful methods of protest further the cause of independence from Britain, but he introduced a new method of revolutionary agitation throughout the world.
17: The Cuban Revolution with Fidel and Che
The revolution led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara is one of the most captivating stories of the 20th century, in part because it represented a proxy fight between US capitalists and Soviet communists. In this lesson, Professor Hartnett takes you into Latin America and shows you a dramatic sequence of events on a small island that changed the world.
18: The Revolutionary Year of 1968
Most revolutions are local to a particular nation, but sometimes global events create a worldwide revolutionary fervor. Consider the events of 1968, which included the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, and the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia. See how the world’s youth led a revolution.
19: The Counterculture Revolution
Political transformations are bigger than systems of government. They are also about culture, and the unifying bonds of a mass of like-minded people. In the 1960s, the counterculture generation led a cultural revolution to overthrow the stodgy past and usher in a new era of personal liberation and promoted ideals of equality, justice, and peace.
20: The Anti-Apartheid Movement as Revolution
Thus far, we have reflected on social movements as revolution, as well as the power of nonviolent resistance. In this lesson on South Africa, you will assess how nonviolent resistance was adapted to the challenge of apartheid, and how even the most repressive regimes are vulnerable in ways that can be exploited with patience, perseverance, and coordination.
21: Terrorism as Revolutionary Strategy
Terrorism is a political tactic that uses violence to engineer radical change. When members of a group employ it for a radical purpose, terrorism is a frightening revolutionary strategy. Here, survey the history of terrorism as a political tactic, and then step into the War on Terror to better understand our contemporary world.
22: Iran’s Islamic Revolution
The Iranian revolution of 1979 is unique in the modern era. Rather than seeking to advance secular notions of liberalism and democracy, the revolution was theological in orientation. Investigate how Iran’s political history, and global position, engendered a sense of nationalism rooted in Shi’a Islam, and see how the revolution’s process fits a consistent pattern.
23: The Revolutionary Year of 1989
The year 1989 was the culmination of the Cold War, the generation-long struggle between American freedom and Soviet totalitarianism. After examining the background of this ideological war, Professor Hartnett walks you through the cascading events that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Empire.
24: The TV Revolution in Your Living Room
Media scholars consider the introduction—and widespread dissemination—of television to be one of the most significant social forces of the 20th century. It revolutionized how people thought about the world and spent their leisure hours. In this final lesson, study the way television has been both a locus of cultural revolution and an agent of political change.
For better and worse, people are the central characters in revolutions.
For better and worse, people are the central characters in revolutions.
About Lynne Ann Hartnett
Dr. Lynne Ann Hartnett is an Associate Professor of History at Villanova University, where she teaches courses on all facets of Russian history as well as on the social, political, and intellectual history of modern Europe. She earned her PhD in Russian History at Boston College. Dr. Hartnett’s research focuses on the Russian revolutionary movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and she has conducted archival research in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, and London. She regularly presents her research at international conferences in the United States and Europe. Dr. Hartnett’s work, which has been published in a number of academic journals, focuses on the Russian revolutionary leader Vera Figner and the terrorist group People’s Will; Russian political émigrés in European exile; the Russian Civil War as experienced by an individual family; and the transnational activist networks that Russian émigrés built with British liberals, socialists, and suffragists. Immigration policy and refugee issues are central to this work and provide a link to contemporary policy questions. Dr. Hartnett is also the author of the book, The Defiant Life of Vera Figner: Surviving the Russian Revolution. Dr. Hartnett is the director of Villanova’s graduate program in History and the president of the Sigma of Pennsylvania Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. At Villanova, she has served as the director of the Russian Area Studies Program. Dr. Hartnett has been nominated three times for the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award and has received several teaching awards at both Villanova and Boston College.