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Regular version of the site

190068 Saint Petersburg
123 Griboedov channel, Room 123

Phone:+7 (812)786-92-49 

Postal address: 
190068 Saint Petersburg
123 Griboedov channel

Department Head Adrian A. Selin
Academic Supervisor Evgeniy Anisimov
Remembering the Neoliberal Turn: Economic Change and Collective Memory in Eastern Europe after 1989

Gökarıksel S., Gontarska O., Hilmar T. et al.

L.: Routledge, 2023.

Book chapter
The Stolbovo Treaty and Tracing the Border in Ingria in 1617–1618

Adrian Selin.

In bk.: Sweden, Russia, and the 1617 Peace of Stolbovo. Vol. 14. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2024. P. 99-118.

Working paper
The Image of the Past in Ciro Spontone’s ‘Historia Della Transilvania’

Khvalkov E., Levin F., Кузнецова А. Д.

Working Papers of Humanities. WP. Издательский дом НИУ ВШЭ, 2021

20th-Century Personality Cults

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Delivered by:
Department of History
Elective course
2 year, 1, 2 module


Course Syllabus


The objective of the course is to introduce the issue of the personality cults of political leaders, on the basis of the materials of the 20th century . The cult of personality is a global phenomenon that allows one to look at the particularities of the political development of different societies in terms of their inter-connectedness, inter-contextuality, similarity and distinction. The course will examine the practices of sacralization of widely known leaders such as Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler and Mao Zedong, as well as less famous ones such as Alexander Kerensky, Nelson Mandela and Evita Perón. The concept of the "modern cult of personality", introduced by Jan Plamper, will be the object of the discussion in the class. By analysing both sources (narrative and visual) and current historiography, participants will be able to address the question of the multiplicity of the historical contexts of contemporary cults of personality.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Learn contemporary approaches to the modern personality cults
  • Able to analyse the regional political cults in the global context
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Able to analyse the regional political cults in the global context
  • Know and able to apply contemporary research approaches to the personality cults
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction
  • Bismarck and Garibaldi’s personality cults.
  • Revolutionary Russia and the cults of leaders
  • The cults of leaders in the European totalitarian states
  • Revolutionary China and the cult of Mao Zedong
  • Eastern european cults of leaders
  • The cults of leaders of the Global South
  • The cult of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
  • Final discussion
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking leading discussion
  • non-blocking final essay exam (term paper)
    Term paper (3 000 words)
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • 2021/2022 2nd module
    0.5 * final essay exam (term paper) + 0.5 * leading discussion


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Anson Rabinbach, & Sander L. Gilman. (2013). The Third Reich Sourcebook. University of California Press.
  • Boris I. Kolonitskii. (2020). Images of A.F. Kerensky and the Political Struggle in 1917 (based on the newspapers of A.A. Suvorin) Authors. Historia Provinciae: Журнал Региональной Истории, 4(3), 834–883. https://doi.org/10.23859/2587-8344-2020-4-3-5
  • Brunk, S., & Fallaw, B. (2006). Heroes and Hero Cults in Latin America: Vol. 1st ed. University of Texas Press.
  • Ibrahim, V, & Wunsch, M (eds.) 2012, Political Leadership, Nations and Charisma, Taylor & Francis Group, Florence. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [11 July 2021]. https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hselibrary-ebooks/reader.action?docID=956995&ppg=113
  • Kirill Postoutenko, & Darin Stephanov. (2020). Ruler Personality Cults From Empires to Nation-States and Beyond : Symbolic Patterns and Interactional Dynamics. Routledge.
  • Reyes, A. (2020). I, Trump: The cult of personality, anti-intellectualism and the Post-Truth era. Journal of Language & Politics, 19(6), 869–892. https://doi.org/10.1075/jlp.20002.rey
  • Ssorin, C. N. (2006). On heterochrony: birthday gifts to Stalin, 1949. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 12(2), 355–375. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9655.2006.00295.x
  • Tumarkin, N. (1983). Political Ritual and the Cult of Lenin. Human Rights Quarterly, 5(2), 203–206. https://doi.org/10.2307/762257

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • B. Apor, J. Behrends, P. Jones, & E. Rees. (2004). The Leader Cult in Communist Dictatorships : Stalin and the Eastern Bloc. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Ivanovich Kolonitskii, B. (2018). The Genealogy of the “Leader of the People”: Images of Leaders and the Political Language of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Russian History, 45(2/3), 149–177. https://doi.org/10.1163/18763316-04502002
  • Leese, D. (2006). Performative politics and petrified image : the Mao cult during China’s cultural revolution /.
  • Vivian Ibrahim, & Margit Wunsch. (2012). Political Leadership, Nations and Charisma. Routledge.