Mapping Imagined Geographies of Revolutionary Russia
Historical Maps
1912 ethnographic map of the tsarist empire

This early-twentieth-century map shows in light pink the regions of the tsarist empire that were officially considered to be inhabited by “Russians.” The westernmost regions are today’s Ukraine and Belarus, which in World War I were major battle zones.


1919 Europe

This English map of the period of the Russian civil war shows Russia and Ukraine as independent countries.


London Geographical Society

1918-1921 Russian Civil War

This map gives an overview of various stages of the civil war in European Russia.


1920-1921 Tambov Rebellion

This map shows the extent of one of the most widespread rebellions against Bolshevik rule between the Don and Volga Rivers to the south and southeast of Moscow.


1914 Symbolic Europe Map

This propaganda map from the first year of World War I depicts the war (and by inference, Russia) as the liberator of nations. Germany appears as a bull facing the French rooster. The only historical personage representing a country is the Russian tsar, Nikolai II, suggesting that he is the clear leader.


Wounded soldier comes home

This World War I poster shows a contrast between the liminal space of the battlefield (marked with trenches and flat steppe) and the more welcoming and protective “home” place of the Russian north (marked with snow and forest).


Turkish soldier at Constantinople

This propaganda poster from World War I shows Russian ambition with relation to the Ottoman Turks. A Russian soldier mocking a Turkish soldier on the outskirts of “Tsargrad” (the Russian name for Constantinople (Istanbul)), conveys the Russian intent to conquer the ancient capital of Byzantium and center of Eastern Christianity.


Works Of Art
1915 Burliuk Collage

This imagined map-collage by futurist artist D. Burliuk highlights two areas of heavy fighting in the first year of World War I—one with the Germans and the other with the Turks and Austrians. On the left is in tsarist Poland, Suwalki (near the border of Lithuania and what is now Kaliningrad). On the right is the eastern portion of the Balkans. As the maps suggest, the east European “world” has turned topsy-turvy.



Book Illustrations
Goncharova - North Sea I

This the first of two pages illustrated by leading avantgarde artist, N. Goncharova, show a paratextual response to the space of the North Sea and the emotions Modernist poet N. Gumilev attaches to in in his poem, “In the North Sea.” Feelings are both calm and turbulent.


Hoover Archive, with permission.

Goncharova - North Sea II

The second of two illustrations of Gumilev’s poem, “In the North Sea,” shows a livelier, stormy sea.


Hoover Archive, with permission.

Bednyi, Krasnoarmeitsy

This illustration conveys the space of the civil-war steppe battle zone in the fight between the Reds (Bolsheviks) and Whites (the opposition) for the middle and lower Volga region (between Kazan and Samara).


open source through ILL

Book Covers
Kazanskii Rodnomu

This book cover shows a Siberian landscape beloved to the author, Porfirii Kazanskii.

1918 Open source through ILL.

Artamonov Zemlia

This book cover radiates the hope that a Bolshevik-leaning peasant poet feels for the revolutionary cooperation between factory workers and farmers.

1919 (?)

Bednyi Krasnyi

This book cover celebrates the conversion of traditionally loyal tsarist Cossacks to the Bolshevik cause.

1919 Open source through ILL.

Rodov Perebezhka

This book cover of the poetry collection, Outrunning the Lightning, celebrates the power of factories as the site of revolutionary transformation of the world.