This topic covers the tumultuous history of the Soviet Union, as seen through the eyes of those who experienced it first-hand. Through English-language translations of primary sources, the course introduces students to the perspectives of the visionary actors who called for the creation of a revolutionary new society, the prespectives of the many victims of revolutionary upheaval, and the ambivalent voices of the many who were caught between.
Our discussions will address some of the following themes: the relationship between state and society; forces of change and continuity in political, intellectual and cultral life, the relationship between center and periphery; revolutionary politics and the cultural revolution; Stalinism; the "re-launch" of the Soviet project under Khrushchev; stagnation and the rise of Russian nationalism in the late Soviet period, and the causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
We will read autobiographies, archival documents, literature, poetry, newspapers, memoirs, letters and diaries, and also consider music, film and visual source materials. No prior knowledge of Russian history or Russian language is required.