History | Gorbachev Rev. & Collapse of the Soviet Empire
D302 | 2985 | Eklof


A portion of the above section reserved for majors
Above section open to undergraduates only
Above section carries culture studies credit
Above section meets with REEI R500

This course examines the remarkable and improbable implosion, and
sudden disappearance in 1991 of the world's greatest, and longest
lasting empire, of the Soviet state, which comprised one sixth of
the world's surface, and of the only major rival to US dominance of
the world. What was this empire, state and society, and why did it
seemingly vanish so abruptly?  What is the nature of
the "democratic" system that succeeded the USSR in Russia?  Who was
the charismatic leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and why did he launch his
peaceful revolution, unilaterally begin to end the Cold War, give up
a vast empire in Central Europe in 1989, but then see his revolution
spin out of control?  What was his program, and why did it go
wrong?  We pay equal attention to policy making and the dilemmas
confronting late Soviet rulers, to the generation which produced
Gorbachev and believed in "socialism with a human face," and to
daily life, or the lived experience of the population, as well as
the changing structure of Soviet and post-Soviet Russian society.
The course is divided into three segments: The Tsarist and Soviet
Legacy to 1982(30%); the Gorbachev era (40%); and post-Soviet Russia
(30%).  The format is combined lecture/discussion.  Sources include
introductory textbooks, analytical essays, a powerful journalistic
account of late Soviet society trying to come to grips with
revelations about its own Stalinist past; short works of fiction
from the late Soviet era, and documentary films.  Students will also
be introduced to electronic sources on contemporary Russian life and
required to assess their credibility.  Each student will also be
required to trace the trajectory of another Soviet republic/post-
Soviet state after 1991 in addition to Russia (probably as a written
homework exercise)

READINGS:

Multiple Articles on e-reserve
John Gooding, Socialism in Russia: Lenin and His Legacy, 1890-1991
(Palgrave-Macmillan, 2002)
Adam Hochschild, The Unquiet Ghost (1994)
S. Kotkin, Armageddon Averted ( Princeton, 2002)
Robert Service, Russia: Experiment with a People (Macmillan, 2003)
UNESCO,  A Decade of Transition:(Unicef: The MONEE Project: Regional
Monitoring Report #8, 2001) (available free online)

REQUIREMENTS:

Regular Attendance and Preparation (10%);
Two Exams (@20%); the first on the Stalinist legacy, and the second
on the Gorbachev era
Two  5-page (1,250 words) essays (@20%: the first on The Unquiet
Ghost" and the second on the post-1991 decade;
A 2 page (500 words) single space homework write-up on parallel
events in a non-Russian Soviet republic (10%)

I reserve the right to slightly alter the weighting at the beginning
of the semester.  For your participation (attendance and
preparation) grade, I accept notes taken from the reading, or during
the class, as a contribution (esp. for those who prefer not to talk
in class).

No prerequisites (usually fewer than a tenth of students in this
class have background or career interests in Russia)