Russian and Soviet History, 1881 to the Present|
Spring 2021 not offered
Reversals of fortune have defined Russian history perhaps more so than for any other nation. Though the Russian Empire began the 19th century as an emerging European superpower that defeated Napoleon, it ended that same century as a backward state plagued by political, economic, and social strife that ultimately brought the Romanov dynasty to a revolutionary collapse. A similar trajectory describes the "short" Soviet 20th century that began with the promise of a qualitatively new political order that sought to transform social relations and human nature and concluded with a spectacular implosion that some heralded as the end of history itself.
This course will follow the story of how the Soviet Union emerged from the ruins of the Russian imperial order to become the world's first socialist society, the most serious challenge to imperialism, liberalism, and capitalism, and, arguably, modernity's greatest political experiment. We will cover the following topics: the emergence and fate of Russian national identity; the origins and dynamics of Russia's revolutions; the political, economic, and cultural challenges of the Soviet project; the role of the party and ideology in politics and everyday life; the nationalities question and the challenges of governing a socialist empire; Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War and the rebirth of the nation (and nationalism); the emergence of the Soviet Union as a Cold War superpower; the country's historic attempts to reform (and the frequent failure of these attempts); and the dynamics of the system's collapse.
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|Course Format: Lecture / Discussion||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CEAS-Arcp/Hist)(CGST-MN)(HIST-MN)(HIST)(REES-MN)(REES-Lang/Lit/C)(REES-Social Sci)(SISP-Hist Conc)
1. Ronald Grigor Suny, THE SOVIET EXPERIMENT: RUSSIA, THE USSR, AND THE SUCCESSOR STATES (Oxford University Press, 2011).
2.Robert Weinberg and Laurie Bernstein, REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA: A HISTORY IN DOCUMENTS (Oxford, 2011)
3. Stephen Kotkin, ARMAGEDDON AVERTED: THE SOVIET COLLAPSE, 1970-2000 (Oxford, 2008).
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This course is given as a lecture, with time for questions and discussion.
Course readings will supplement the lecture narrative with maps; primary sources in political and intellectual history; fiction, memoir, and personal documents; music; and the visual arts and film.
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