10 x 2-hour lectures per semester
11 x 50-minute tutorials per semester
Enrolment not permitted
HIST3043 has been successfully completed
Topic description

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 topic 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.

Educational aims

This topic aims to:

  • Enable students to acquire knowledge by examining the development of the Soviet state, specifically its rise to 'Great Power' status by the 1950s and its subsequent decline
  • Have students apply that knowledge in analysing Soviet riseand decline and determining to what extent it was internally and externally driven
  • Enable students to study the objective and subjective causes of these events and their contribution to shaping the Soviet state that existed until 1991
  • Help students communicate their knowledge and analysis effectively in both collaborative (discussions) and independent (the written word) ways
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will be expected to be able to:

  1. Assess the significance of revolution in a backward country
  2. Identify and analyse phases of Soviet development
  3. Relate and reflect on the principal events in the consolidation of the Soviet regime
  4. Describe and evaluate the various accounts of the Soviet collapse