History | Gorbechev Revolution and the Collapse of the Soviet Empire
D302 | 1414 | Eklof


Above section carries culture studies credit

This course examines the remarkable implosion in 1991 of the Soviet
state, and collapse of and empire making up 1/6 of the earth's land
surface.  What was this empire, state and society, and why did it
vanish so abruptly?  Who was the charismatic leader, Michael
Gorbachev, and why did he launch his peaceful revolution,
unilaterally begin to end the Cold War, but then see his country
collapse around him?  What was his program, and why did it go wrong?
Equal attention is paid to policy making and the dilemmas confronting
late Soviet rulers, and to daily life, or the lived experience of the
population.  The course is divided into three segments: 1] the
Tsarist and Soviet legacy up to 1979...the date of the Soviet
invasion of Afghanistan; 2] The Gorbachev era (1982-1991); post
Soviet Russia and the former Soviet states (1991-2002).

Lecture and discussion: a significant portion of class time will be
devoted to watching and analyzing Soviet news documentaries and films
about daily life.

Grading: three exams (20%; 40% and 20%).

Reading:
M. Galeotti, "The Gorbachev Revolution"
Adam Hochschild, "The Unquiet Ghost"
Minton Goldman, "Global Studies: Russia, the Eurasian States and
Central Europe" (Ninth Edition, 2002)
and a UNICEF study on the human impact of the collapse of the Soviet
Union entitled "A Decade of Transition" (focussing on education,
health care, children and standard of living outcomes).
All books should be available in the Russian and East European
Institute Library (BH565) and for purchase.  No prerequisites.

Instructor: Professor Ben Eklof, who has lived in the former Soviet
Union on several occasions.

Recommended background:

Edward Acton, "Russia, the Tsarist and Soviet Legacy."
Geoffrey Hosking (any of his several textbooks on Russian history)
T. McDaniels,  "The Agony of the Russian Idea"
R. Suny, "The Soviet Experiment"
Nancy Ries,  "Russian Talk" (1997)