July 20 – 31, 2020
2 ECTS, 20 contact hours in total
Beginning in 1917 in Petrograd, this course will lead you to the modern St. Petersburg and Russia through decades of socio-political changes, shedding light on the planned economy, culture, ideology, science and to technology.
This course examines the history of the 20th century Russia in the context of multiple transformations, ranging from global political events to internal cultural changes. The course will discuss such questions as: the new Soviet man and its destiny; political regime and the borders of control; Soviet technological innovations, science and technology; nature and environment; economic choices and pitfalls; Soviet consumer; Soviet and post-Soviet regime and globalization of tastes and production; memories about the Soviet.
The course is taught by Elena Kochetkova, PhD, Senior Lecturer, History Department, and Researcher, Laboratory for Environmental and Technological History, HSE.
We will go through key stages of Soviet and Post-Soviet Russian history from 1917 to 2000 by looking at the interplay between global and local developments. The main question of this course is how did the Soviet Union develop in this age of many rapid and deep transformations? What the Soviet culture, ideology, society, economy, technology, and environment were about? How did the Soviet system develop and why did it fail? What was Soviet failure and success to the nation and globe? How did the country survive post-socialist period? And, in general, how to interpret this age?
Class discussion: Introduction: Continuities and Disruptions
Visit to the Museum of Political History: Revolutions of 1917
Class discussion: Was Russia competitive? Technological innovations and science
Class discussion: Choices of the planned economy
Class discussion: Soviet consumer: between material abundance and shortage
Class discussion: Ideologies: from the world revolution to perestroika
Class discussion: “We will bury you!”: East-West-South and the Cold War
Class discussion: Environmentalism: Was it there?
Field excursions in the city: Memory about the Soviet in the city
Exam and Summing-Up
Skills and Competence
Upon completion of this course, students will:
- know key interpretations and approaches to Soviet and Russian history and the history of the 20th century
- develop an understanding of Russian history as a complex phenomenon
- gain skills of doing interdisciplinary research
- learn about well known and new historical sources
- learn to build connections between history and presence, adequately seeing the legacies of historical past today
The course combines traditional lectures built around key historiographical discussion and plenty of historical materials and field trips. It includes a visit to the Museum of Political History, the most updated and richest museums in Russia with a specific focus on the February and October revolutions. In the end of the course, a unique excursion in the city will show main developments of the country “on site” on the example of Petersburg-Petrograd-Leningrad-St. Petersburg.
Final Grade Background
The final exam will be held at the last class of the course. At this day, the students must engage into a group discussion on preliminarily distributed tasks (will be distributed in the beginning of the course).
Books and Articles
Please read the introduction for this work before the course begins: Michael David-Fox, Crossing Borders: Modernity, Ideology, and Culture in Russia and the Soviet Union (University of Pittsburg, 2015)
These readings are not obligatory but can be useful for completing the course:
1. Archie Brown, Seven Years that Changed the World: Perestroika in Perspective (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).
2. Kate Brown, Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future (W.W. Norton & Company, 2019).
3. Natalya Chernyshova, Soviet Consumer Culture in the Brezhnev Era (Oxon, 2013).
4. Stephen F. Cohen, “Was the Soviet System Reformable?” Slavic Review 63: 3 (Autumn 2004): 459-88.
5. Michael David-Fox, Toward a Life Cycle Analysis of the Russian Revolution, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 18: 4 (2017): 741-783.
6. Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).
7. Anne E. Gorsuch, “From Iron Curtain to Silver Screen: Imagining the West in the Khrushchev Era,” in Imagining the West in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, ed. György Péteri (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), 153–71.
8. David Holoway, Science, Technology and Modernity, Cambridge History of Russia, vol. 3 (Cambridge University Press, 2008).
9. Melanie Ilic, Jeremy Smith, eds., Khrushchev in the Kremlin: Policy and Government in the Soviet Union, 1953-1964 (Abingdon: Routledge, 2011).
10. Astrid Mignon Kirchhof and J. R. McNeill, Environmentalism, Environmental Policy, Capitalism, and Communism, In Nature and the Iron Curtain, Environmental Policy and Social Movements in Communist and Capitalist Countries, 1945-1990 (University of Pittsburg Press, 2019).
11. Elena Kochetkova, Milk and Milk Packaging in the Soviet Union: Technologies of Production and Consumption, 1950s-70s , Russian History 46: 1 (2019): 29-52.
12. Stephen Kotkin, Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).
13. Stephen Kotkin, Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization (University of California Press, 1995).
14. Anna Krylova & Elena Osokina, Introduction: The Economic Turn and Modern Russian History, The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review, (2016) 43(3): 265-270
15. Stephen Lovell, The Shadow of War: Russia and the USSR, 1941 to Present (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).
16. Susan E. Reid, “Cold War in the Kitchen” Slavic Review 61: 2 (Summer 2002): 211-52.
17. Christopher J. Ward, Brezhnev’s Folly: The Building of BAM and Late Soviet Socialism (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009).
18. Taubman, William, The Khrushchev Period, 1953-64, Cambridge History of Russia (Cambridge University Press, 2008).
19. Alexei Yurchak, Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).
This is the list of most relevant works for the course and definitely it is not full. If you would like to read more, please contact the course lecturer.
Useful Online Resources
Databases (Chernobyl, Soviet Economics and Literature, etc.):
More can be found here.