The Communist Experience in the 20th Century|
Spring 2021 not offered
Two decades have passed since the collapse of Communism, its empire, and its utopian vision of the kingdom of heaven on Earth. Indeed, the Communist collapse was heralded as not just the end of the Cold War but the end of history itself. Yet how do we understand the nature of the communist way of life, the causes of its decline, and the meaning of its demise? This course will trace the development of Communism's answer to capitalist modernity from the 1917 Revolution through the Soviet collapse. It will seek to shed light on the birth, life, and death of Communist modernity through history, literature, and art, by exploring the world socialism created as an ideological model and a way of life. The emphasis of the course will be on the lived experience of Communism, primarily within the Soviet Union, but also beyond it (in Eastern Europe and Asia). In the global conflict between capitalism and Communism, how did people understand the competing demands of ideology and reality, individual and society, private and public, production and consumption, labor and leisure? How did the state manage the contradictions that arose when lofty ideologies encountered everyday life, and how did citizens make sense of these ideological transformations? What killed Communism: bombs and diplomacy, or refrigerators and Finnish shoes?
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|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CGST-MN)(HIST-MN)(HIST)(REES-MN)(REES-Lang/Lit/C)(REES-Social Sci)
Svetlana Alexievich, VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL: THE ORAL HISTORY OF A NUCLEAR DISASTER. Keith Gessen, trans. Picador, 2006.
Paulina Bren, THE GREENGROCER AND HIS TV: THE CULTURE OF COMMUNISM AFTER THE 1968 PRAGUE SPRING. Cornell University Press, 2010.
Kate Brown, PLUTOPIA: NUCLEAR FAMILIES, ATOMIC CITIES, AND THE GREAT SOVIET AND AMERICAN PLUTONIUM DISASTERS. Oxford University Press, 2015 (Reprint edition).
Greg Castillo, COLD WAR ON THE HOME FRONT: THE SOFT POWER OF MIDCENTURY DESIGN. University of Minnesota Press, 2010.
Boris Groys, THE TOTAL ART OF STALINISM: AVANT-GARDE, AESTHETIC DICTATORSHIP, AND BEYOND. Verso, 2011.
Heda Margolius Kovaly, UNDER A CRUEL STAR: A LIFE IN PRAGUE 1941-1968. Francis Epstein, trans. Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1997.
Yang Jisheng, TOMBSTONE: THE GREAT CHINESE FAMINE, 1958-1962. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2013.
Glennys Young, ed. THE COMMUNIST EXPERIENCE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: A GLOBAL HISTORY THROUGH SOURCES. Oxford University Press, 2011.
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