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In 1917, the former Russian Empire became the site of the world’s first socialist revolutionary government and the twentieth century’s largest multiethnic state. Over the next quarter century, the Soviet Union witnessed the rise of one of history’s most violent dictatorships, an apocalyptic war that claimed upwards of 26 million lives, and communist expansion into Eastern Europe and the decolonizing world. It also became the site of vibrant and optimistic utopian cultural projects, flights into space, bitter and hilarious political satire, and a society that was, for the most part, economically equal. Then in 1991, everything fell apart. This course will survey the origins, life, and collapse of the Soviet Union, paying particular attention to the ideas that shaped its development, the mark its architects’ and leaders’ policies left both at home and abroad, and the impact it had on the people who lived and didn’t live to tell the tale.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
active class participation, two short essays (3-5 pages), one in-class midterm, and one take-home final exam
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
GBST Russian + Eurasian Studies Electives
HIST Group C Electives - Europe and Russia