Spring 2017

Holton 190 MW 12:30-1:45

Professor Christine Evans

Office Hours: Tuesday 1-3 or by appointment, HLT 391

History 343: Russia Since 1917

Figure 1 "It's not big, but it does have a telephone!"

This course will introduce students to the complex and fascinating history of the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia, approaching it from a number of perspectives. Although Russia’s “Soviet experiment” lasted for only 74 years, the lifetime of a single generation, the memory of Soviet socialism remains very important in Russia today and in our own national political imagination. We will consider when and whether the 1917 revolution ended, whether it was betrayed, and the fate of its various utopian dreams through the transformations of Stalinism, World War, and Cold War. Throughout, we will focus on how individual people experienced Soviet rule, how the Soviet Union was (or was not) different from other “totalitarian” states of the 20th Century, how it fits into European history more broadly, and how the Party and State leadership balanced ideological imperatives with pragmatic ones as domestic and international conditions changed dramatically over the course of Soviet history. Finally, we will turn to the post-Soviet successor states and the question of Soviet “legacies.”

Course objectives:

·  Be able to describe major debates about the nature and meaning of the Soviet experience and its connections to modern European history, pre-Revolutionary Russian history, and current Russian life.

·  Gain and enhance historical reading, research, and analytical skills, including:

-Critical analysis of primary sources, including personal narratives, works of literature, photographs, movies, television, jokes, and other multi-media artifacts from the past

-Critical analysis of secondary sources on specialized topics within Soviet


-Evaluation and comparison of historical arguments based on primary

source evidence.

Required Reading/Available for purchase at People’s Books Coop:

1. Books to purchase/available on reserve:

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, ISBN 978-0451228147

Mikhail Bulgakov, The Heart of a Dog (any edition, just make sure it’s the novella, not a

later theatrical adaptation)

2. Textbook: There will also be textbook readings accompanying each week. Because the main textbook from which these readings will come is expensive new, and we will only be using part of it this semester, I will make it available to you online on our course D2L site. However, if you would like to purchase it as a book, for reasons of convenience or reckless desire to own good books it is:

Nicholas Riasanovsky and Mark Steinberg. A History of Russia. 8th edition.

Oxford University Press USA, 2010. ISBN-10: 019534197X

**Please note—any edition from 2004 or later is acceptable, including the second volume of the two-volume version of this book (since 1855). Less expensive used copies are available online. If you plan to take History 341 and wish to purchase the book to use in both classes, make sure to get the single volume edition, not the second, since 1855 volume of the two volume series. Amazon also offers this book for rent for approximately $22/semester. But you can purchase the 7th edition for that price or less used.

3. Additional primary and secondary sources each week will be available via D2L. Many are from Ronald Suny, The Structure of Soviet History: Essays and Documents (Oxford University Press, 2013)

***The assigned books and the textbook will be available on reserve at the Media and Reserves library, located in Golda Meir Library, Lower Level West.