HS 454 20TH CENTURY RUSSIA

website:  http://www2.bc.edu/~manning

 

INSTRUCTOR:  Roberta T. Manning

OFFICE: 165 Carney

OFFICE HOURS:  Tuesdays:  11:00 to 12:30

                          Thursdays:  11:00 to 12:30

 

Course Description:

 

Whither Russia?  What does the future hold in store for what is still the world’s largest nation, which has long surprised, amazed, horrified and astonished outside observers?  Does Russia’s turbulent past hold any clues for its future?  We will seek to answer this question by surveying the stormy course of 20th Century Russian History from the time of Tsar Nicholas II to the present day, with an emphasis on the Communist period.  Topics covered include the revolutionary movement, the 1905 and 1917 Revolutions the Civil War, the power struggle, Stalinism, industrialization, collectivization, political terror, World War II, the Cold War, de-Stalinization, Stagnation, Perestroika, the Fall of Communism, the dissolution of the USSR, and the economic collapse of the Soviet successor states.

 

A variety of primary and secondary sources, including documents, short stories, memoirs, poems and recommended films, will help us understand how the events we study influenced the lives of ordinary people.  We will also assess the impact of the very different personalities of Russia’s successive leaders--Nicholas II, Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev,  Yeltsin and Putin--upon the often tragic fate of a nation that spawned one of the world’s great cultures and played a prime role in shaping the events of the 20th century.

 

Course Requirements: Students are required to take a mid-term and a final examination, based on study questions distributed in advance.  The mid-term is scheduled for  March 1.  Students will also write a 15-20 page research paper on a topic of your choice selected with consultation with this instructor.  The paper is due April 17.  Descriptions of your paper topics and a short bibliography of works to be utilized are due March 27. Papers can focus on any period or any aspect of history--social, economic, political, diplomatic or cultural.  Students are encouraged to undertake projects involving the use of films and literature.  Guidelines for the papers and some  suggested paper topics are found at the end of this syllabus.

 

Weighing of grades:  The paper, mid-term, and final examination will weigh equally in determining the final grade, with participation in class discussions factored in.

 

Assigned Readings:

Ronald Grigor Suny, The Soviet Experiment

Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution

Ginzburg, Journey into the Whirlwind

The Origins of the Cold War:  the Novikov, Kennan and Roberts “Long Telegrams” of  1946

Kotz and Weir,  Revolution from Above:  the Demise of the Soviet System

Professor files (Manning HS 454)  Readings 1-5

Videos listed on the syllabus are on reserve in the Media Center, O'Neill Library

 

Students should also consult my website: http://www2.bc.edu/~manning for links to other websites of relevance to this class, especially the rich Slavophilia.

Schedule of  Lectures, Readings, and Assignments

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week  classes        topic & readings

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I.          1/16  1/18   pre-Revolutionary Russia 

 

            Readings:  Suny, The Soviet Experiment , xiii-xvii, 1-34

                              Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 1-39

                              Manning HS 454 Readings No. 1 Brezhnev's Childhood

 

                             ( STUDY QUESTIONS:

1.        What is the main thesis of Sheila Fitzpatrick's The Russian Revolution

2.        What role did the industrial working class play in the Russian society?

In social unrest before World War I?

3.  What were the main characteristics of life in the small industrial town in which future Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev lived?

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II.      1/23 1/25   The 1917 Revolutions

 

            Readings:        Suny, 35-55

                                    Manning HS 454 Readings No. 2 The Poetry of Revolution (Bloc                                        “The Twelve” and "The Sycthians" and selected poems of                                                          Mandelstam)

                                    Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 40-67

                                   

            Video:             Eisenstein’s “Ten Days That Shook the World” 1927

 

                        (STUDY QUESTIONS:

 

                                1. Compare and contrast Bloc's and Mandelstam's vision of the October Revolution and                                     new regime;

2. After reading Suny's and Fitzpatrick's account of 1917 would you regard Eisenstein's "Ten Days" a propaganda film? 

                                3. What kinds of people supported the Bolsheviks/Communists in their rise to power?  Why? 

                                4.  What were the soviets?  the Provisional Government?

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III.      1/30 2/4    The Russian Civil War, 1918-21

 

            Readings:        Suny, 56-120

                                    Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 68-92

                                    Manning HS 454 Readings No. 3 The Civil War

(Isaac Babel, “Red Cavalry” and  Marina Tvetaeva, “The White Swan” Cycle)

 

(STUDY QUESTIONS: 

                                1. Compare and contrast how the Red's adversaries are portrayed in Babel and Tvetaeva.

                                Do the Reds figure any better?

2. What does Babel's Red Calvary have to tell us about Joseph Stalin?  (Stalin served as a political commissar in this unit and his long time political associates Voroshilov and Budennyi were its commanders).

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Schedule of  Lectures, Readings, and Assignments

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week  classes        topic & readings

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2/6   2/8              The  NEP (1921-1927)

 

            Reading:   Suny, 121-215

                         Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 93-119

 

            Video  “Bed and Sofa” 1925

 

(STUDY QUESTIONS:  1.  How does video "Bed and Sofa" reflect the position of Soviet women in the 1920s?

                                                                                          2.  What were the strengths and weaknesses of the NEP?)

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V.  2/13    2/15   The Stalin Revolution

 

            Readings:        Suny, 215-290

                                    Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 120-172   

                                    Manning HS 454 Reading 4.  Stalin's Industrial Revolution

                                                (includes Scott, “A Day in Magnitogorsk,” from Behind the                                                             Urals and excerpts from Stalin’s speeches)

 

            (STUDY QUESTIONS:

                1.  What are the pros and cons of being an industrial worker during Stalin's Industrial Revolution?

                2.  How does Stalin explain and justify his policy of rapid industrialization?

                3.  What are some characteristics of the Stalinist command economy (some times called "planned

                                economy"--was it really planned as far as you can see from the Scott Reading

                4.  Did Scott encounter manifestations of Stalin's Terror?  What were these?)

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V.        Feb. 20   Feb. 22   Political Terror 1 & II   

 

            Reading:            Evgeniia Ginzburg, Into the Whirlwind, 1-250

                                   

            Video (recommended):  "Burnt by the Sun,"  (Oscar Winner)

 

(STUDY QUESTIONS:

                                1.  Why was Ginzburg arrested?

                                2.  What was she charged with?

                                3.  What made people confess to absurd crimes that they did not admit?

                                4.  Did Ginzburg confess?  Why not?

                                5.  What kinds of people were arrested?

                                6.  How, why did Ginzburg survive?

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Schedule of  Lectures, Readings, and Assignments

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week  classes        topic & readings

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VI.              2/27  More Terror

Readings:  Ginzburg, 251-418

            (STUDY QUESTIONS:

                                What were Ginzburg's prison experiences like?

                                What was camp society like?

 

3/1MID-TERM   EXAMINATION

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3/5-11  SPRING VACATION

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VII.  3/13  3/15  World War II

 

            Readings:        Suny, 291-336

                                    Manning HS 454 Readings 5  World War  II

                                    video "PBS Series:  Russia's War:  The Goths Ride                                        East"

(STUDY QUESTIONS:

                1.  How did the war in Russia differ from the war in the West?  Why?

                2.  What role did Soviet women play in the war?

                3.  How was it to be a country boy during World War II? (as was Gorbachev and Yeltsin

                                as well as Shukshin's autobiographical character Ivan Popov)

 

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VII.           3/20 and 3/22 The Exhausted Superpower & the COLD WAR

 

Readings:  Suny, 337-383

                                    The Origins of the Cold War:  the Novikov, Kennan and Roberts                                                            “Long Telegrams” of 1946

 

                (STUDY QUESTIONS: 

                1.  Why were the Soviet ambassador to the US Novikov and the US ambassador to USSR George                 Kennan convinced in 1946 that the other Superpower was aggressive and expansionist?  On what       kinds of evidence did these two key diplomats base their case?

                2.  What was the state or Russia after the war?)

 

 

      3/22 Discussion of The Origins of the Cold War

 

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Schedule of  Lectures, Readings, and Assignments

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week  classes        topic & readings

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IX.  3/27 3/29   Khrushchev & the Thaw

 

3/27 PAPER TOPICS AND BIBLIOGRAPHY DUE

 

            Readings:   Suny 387-420

                                    Yevtushenko “Stalin’s Heirs” (1961) (handout)

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4/1-4/5 EASTER VACATION  

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X.  4/3 BREZHNEV I:  SUCCESS OR STAGNATION?      

 

      4/5  INSTRUCTOR AT UCLA

 

Readings:        Suny, 421-446

            Kotz & Weir, Revolution from Above:  The Demise of the Soviet System, 1-58

 

            Recommended:  Video:  "Moscow Doesn't Believe in Tears" (1978--Oscar winner)

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XI.       4/10   Brezhnev II

 

            4/12-16  HOLY THURDAY/EASTER/PATRIOTS' DAY

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XII.  4/17  4/19     GORBACHEV AND PERESTROIKA

 

            4/17 TERM PAPER DUE

 

            Readings:  Kotz & Weir, Revolution from Above, 59-172

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XIII.  4/24  4/26   THE FALL OF COMMUNISM   YELTSIN'S RUSSIA

 

            Readings:   Kotz & Weir, Revolution from Above, 173-235

 

            Video recommended:   “Little Vera” 1989

 

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XIV.  5/1            PUTIN AND THE FUTURE                   

 

Study Days 5/2 to 5/3

 

Final Examination  5/10  @ 12:30

 

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PAPERS

 

Students are required to write a 15-20 page research paper (Due April 17 ).  Topics recommended include the Revolution or Civil War, Stalin's Terror, World War II, the Cold War, Women's History and aspects of Russia's great culture (like  its individual writers and film makers and their works).

 

Paper topics must be selected in consultation with this instruction.  Short 1-2 page descriptions of your topics and a short bibliography due MARCH 27.

 

Papers should be concrete and specific.  Papers will be graded on the basis of writing as well as content. Effort, knowledge, understanding, imagination, empathy, insight, organization and syntax (i.e. grammar, spelling, proper use of words, consistency of verb tense etc.) will all figure in the evaluation of these papers.

 

Papers should have an introduction and a conclusion and be reader-friendly, i.e., they should be written in a manner that makes them easily comprehended by the reader.  The papers should be addressed to an intelligent but uninformed reader (not to a Professor who is presumed to know the stuff).  You should have an introduction that should make the reader want to read your paper i.e., an introduction that convinces the reader that it is important to know about the topic selected so they will want to read your paper.  The conclusion should sum up your arguments and findings.  The point of all this is to prepare you to write for real people in the real world, like future bosses and coworkers, who are generally a lot more demanding of writers than the average college Professor! 

 

Run your paper by your roommate or a friend and make sure they can comprehend it.  Ask them to be honest!  For further suggestions about writing, see Booth, Coloomb and Williams, The Craft of Research from which these suggestions come.  This is a book that can be profitably consulted by writers at all levels and used as a reference book long after you leave the university.

 

PAPER   due APRIL 27.  SOME SUGGESTIONS:

 

1.  STALINIST TERROR  ask me for a bibliography of Terror victim's

                memoirs if you are interested--try to use primary sources--

                first handed accounts of Purge victims--rather than secondary

                sources (scholarly books) unless you are doing a historiographical paper

 

NOTE:  veterans of HS 300.64 Stalinist Terror should NOT write on this topic!!!!

 

a. Arrest.  What kinds of people were arrested under Stalin in the 1930s?  Why were they arrested?

                               

b. Interrogation/Confession.  Did most people confess?  Why?  How do you explain the fact that Ginzburg did not confess.  What motivated her?  What motives did others have in confessing?  Why did people confess to improbable crimes and "named names" of non-existing accomplices, who were then addressed?

                               

c. Compare and contrast life in prison and in labor camps under Stalin.

 

d. Discuss the functioning of the Soviet labor camps and describe the social hierarchies in them.

               

e.  Why do you think Ginzburg survived physically and spiritually?  It has been argued that victims of Hitler's Holocaust survived the death camps by becoming as cruel and immoral as the Nazis?  Was this true of the survivors of the Soviet camps?

 

g.  gender and terror.  How did the Terror impact on women as victims, mothers, wives, and daughters?

 

h.  Poetry and Terror.  the fates of Osip Mandel'stam and Anna Akhmatova.  Or the poet laureate of Russian Revolution Mayakhovsky--his life and why he killed himself?

 

I.  Compare and contrast a traditional and a revisionist account of Stalin's Terror  (e.g. Robert Conquest The Great Terror and Robert Thurston's Life and Terror in Stalin's Russia 

 

j.  What happened to the families of Terror victims?  Begin with Elena Bonner's Mothers and Daughters  and Anna Akhmatova's poem "Requiem."  Look into the fate of Ginzburg's family by consulting the second volume of her memoirs Inside the Whirlwind.

 

k.  What was the Stalinist Command Economy like?"  Was it planned?  What were its strengths and weaknesses?  Begin by consulting the full version of John Scott, Behind the Urals and Andreev-Khomiakov

Bitter Waters.  Then go on perhaps to R. W. Davies' studies or to studies of the Soviet war economy.

 

l.  An analysis of Nikita Khrushchev's famous 1956 "Secret Speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU"

in which he attacked Stalin's Terror as unfounded and wrong.  You will want to analyze the speech itself and try to place it in the context of Khrushchev's career and time.   

 

2.                world WAR II ON THE EASTERN FRONT 

               

a) How were the experiences of World War II different on the Eastern front?  Discuss some unique aspects of the Soviet war experience?

 

c)  What was the war like on the home front--for noncombatants.  Or was that a                 distinction that could be made in this kind of war?

 

d.  A child's view of the war? (a good question because Russian reformers like Gorbachev                 and Yeltsin were children during the war)

 

e.  major war correspondents--Ilya Ehrenburg and Konstantin Simonov--their writings and memoirs

 

f.  WAR NOVELS--Simonov’s Nights and Days  and The Living and the Dead  (one was written under Stalin and the other under Khrushchev)

Voinovich, Private Chokin   (The Catch-22  of Soviet war novels, which could not be published in Russia under Brezhnev)

Tvardovsky,  Vasilii Tyorkin:  a Book about a Soldier

A. Anatoli (Kuznetsov)  Babi Yar:  a Document in the Form of a Novel

Grossman, Life and Fate

Lazar Lazarev, "Russian Literature on the War," Garrard and Garrard eds. World War2 and the Soviet People

 

Comparing how World War II has been treated by some of the best Soviet authors of the time is good way to find out for yourself whether all Soviet citizens really thought the same, as we often said that they did during the Cold War

 

g.  Particular battles--the Battle of Stalingrad, the Siege of Leningrad (cut off from the rest of the nation for 900 days, completely surrounded by German troops)  NOTE There is a video game "The Battle of Stalingrad" available for use in the media center.  It is very historically accurate.

                                               

One good approach to the Battle of Stalingrad is to compare Konstantin Simonov's Days and Nights (a Soviet account of the Battle of Stalingrad) with Theodor Plievier's Stalingrad (which gives the German perspectives from interviews with German POWs)

 

If you opt for Leningrad, you should consult with Prof. Cynthia Simmons in the Slavic Languages Dept. who is writing a book on the women writers of Siege of the Leningrad.  Also see Dmitrii Pavlov, Leningrad 1941:  The Blockade , Alexander Werth, The 900 Days, and the chapter on the war in Simon Volkov's St. Petersburg. 

 

Culture in the besieged city of Leningrad is also an interesting and inspiring topic.  Start with the Volkov book.

               

h. the role of women in the Soviet war effort.  See also my website links to sites on Russian women aviation aces!

 

 

3.  THE ORIGINS OF THE COLD WAR

 

a.  Was Stalin responsible for the Cold War?  Compare and contrast a traditional account of Stalin and the origins of the Cold War like  V. Mastny, Russia's Road to the Cold War  or W. Taubman, Stalin's American Policy  with Zubok and Pleshkov, Inside the Kremlin's Cold War, based on newly available documents.

 

b.  research a particular Cold War crisis on the basis of American news weeklies like Newsweek, Time, or US News and the Soviet foreign affairs weekly New Times  or the Current Digest of the Soviet Press, a

US selected anthology of the Soviet Press, to see the Cold War from two perspectives.

 

d.  Or analyze the state of the Cold War the week that you were born from the periodicals mentioned above.  What were the crises and concerns of that week?  The charges and counter-charges raised?  The tone used?  How valid does any of this seem to you today?

 

e.  Atomic diplomacy and Atomic Spies--Did they really exist?  Did we execute the right ones?  Ask me for help with bibliography and be sure to hunt down the new biography of Ted Hall, the real atomic spy, reviewed in the NY Times book review in the fall of 1997.

 

4.  Russian / Soviet women

 

General works by Richard Stites, The Women's Liberation Movement in Russia Wendy Goldman, Barbara Engel, A Revolution of their Own (oral histories), Barbara Clements, Bolshevik Women,  Farnsworth and Viola, Russian Peasant Women.  See also Rochelle Ruthchild Women in Russia and the Soviet Union:  an Annotated Bibliography

 

a.  How did the Revolution change women's lives?  Use the works of Richard Stites, Wendy Goldman and

Gladkov's novel Cement as well as the film "Bed and Sofa."

 

b.  Soviet women at war--many sources.  Begin with our World War II Readings

 

c.  Gender and Terror see above under Terror

 

d.  The origins of the most commonly used method of natural childbirth in the world--the Lamaze

Method," developed at the Institute for Painless Childbirth" in Leningrad in the 1930s, based on the psychological theories of Pavlov, and imported into France by a Communist doctor after World War II.  See me for bibliography (and promise absolutely that you will return my books).  We even have a video documentary of an actual birth by these methods.

 

e.  Soviet Women After World War II.  For this use the films "Wings (1966)," "Moscow Doesn't Believe in Tears (1979)," "Little Vera."(1989)  There are also good short stories by Grekova and Nataliia Baranskaia's novela, "One Day Like Any Other."

 

f.  Post-Soviet women see the new book by Mary Buckley and others.  Did the Fall of Communism improve or worsen women's situation?

 

g.  the Soviet woman film maker Larisa Shepitko.  We have two of her films in the library, The Ascent" and "Wings" and a documentary film on her "Larisa" by her husband Elem Klimov, also a major Soviet filmmaker.  For her mentor Alexander Dovzhenko, see Jay Leyda Kino.  We should also have some of his films.  You will need to put filmmakers into the times in which they lived.  Also in the case of female filmmakers (or authors), be sure to read Nataliia Baranskaia's A Week Like Any Other  so you can appreciate what it is like to be the working mother of a small child in post Stalinist Russia (or any other land).

 

These are just starts!!

 

OTHER TOPICS

Cold War Crises—individual ones

The nuclear arms race and arms control 

The Fall of Communism:  theories and realities

Khrushchev's Thaw

Brezhnev and dissent

Gorbachev and Yeltsin

The August 1991 coup d'etat

The October 1993 Crisis

The Great Post-Communist Soviet Depression:  how?  Why?

Putin:  who is he?  Is the America media right?  Look at the new Soviet leader through the European and Russian press (including Internet sources)

The Chechen Wars:  look not just at the present but the situation of Chechnia under the tsars and Stalin too and the failure of Yeltsin's war against Chechni+a

Soviet/Russian reactions to Star Wars/National Missile Defense System