RUSS 337
After Stalin: Soviet History from "Thaw" to Collapse Fall 2019
Division I
Cross-listed HIST 337
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Class Details

When Joseph Stalin died in 1953, the crowd of people that gathered to view his embalmed body on Moscow’s Red Square grew so large, it provoked a stampede that killed nearly 500 people. This moment embodies the uncertainty and challenges that ordinary citizens and state officials faced when they imagined what a post-Stalin future might bring to the Soviet Union. For all the suffering that his rule infected on the Soviet people, Stalin remained for many a reliable constant in a life dominated by revolution and war. Stalin’s successors faced a classic dilemma: how to reform and breathe new life into a system without disturbing the foundation it needs to stand intact? Despite superpower status and some stunning achievements at home and abroad, the fault lines in Soviet society ran deep. This course will consider the experiences that grew out of the uncertainty that emerged after Stalin’s death. We will examine how the “Soviet experiment” evolved – politically, legally, socially, culturally – once the last of the original Bolshevik revolutionaries left the Kremlin. What opportunities did the post-Stalin moment open up for political elites, members of the professional class, the intelligentsia, and citizens from Soviet republics and satellite states? What obstacles did they face, and how successful were they at overcoming them? In what ways did the spirit of the October and Stalinist Revolutions persist or erode from 1953 until 1991? Most importantly, how did the “children of the revolution” participate in, check out of, or contest the socialist system whose birth their parents witnessed first hand? After all, more generations experienced the Soviet Union without Stalin as their leader than generations who only knew a life with the “Vozhd” in power. Through secondary and primary source readings, we will attempt to recover the voices of those whose lives both shaped and were shaped by the nearly four decades after Joseph Stalin’s death.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 15-20
Class#: 1247
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation, three short essays (2-3 pages), and one long essay (8-10 pages)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: History Majors
Distributions: Division I
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
HIST 337 Division II RUSS 337 Division I
Attributes: HIST Group C Electives - Europe and Russia

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