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Regional and Topical Surveys

HIST 049 The Soviet Century

Holquist and Nathans

Taught as schedule allows (consult the Course Directory)

Out of an obscure, backward empire, the Soviet Union emerged to become the great political laboratory of the twentieth century. This course will trace the roots of the world's first socialist society and its attempts to recast human relations and human nature itself. Topics include the origins of the Revolution of 1917, the role of ideology in state policy and everyday life, the Soviet Union as the center of world communism, the challenge of ethnic diversity, and the reasons for the USSR's sudden implosion in 1991. Focusing on politics, society, culture, and their interaction, we will examine the rulers (from Lenin to Gorbachev) as well as the ruled (peasants, workers, and intellectuals; Russians and non-Russians). The course will feature discussions of selected texts, including primary sources in translation.

Course Syllabus (PDF)