History | Gorbachev Revolution and Collapse of the Soviet Empire
D302 | 12547 | Eklof

Above class carries culture studies credit
Above class open to undergraduates only
Above class 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 Soviet Union during
the Cold War (20%); the Gorbachev era (50%); 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; memoirs and interviews
with Soviet citizens; 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


I am currently searching for an appropriate background text;
and considering using the following works, but have not made a final

Adam Hochschild, The Unquiet Ghost (1994)  (most likely, if
Donald J. Raleigh, Russia’s Sputnik Generation  (2006)
Alena Ledeneva! Russia's Economy of Favours: Blat, Networking and
Informal Exchange,1998.
There will be articles to read posted on E-Reserve

REQUIREMENTS:  (Also subject to minor changes, which will be
announced when the syllabus is handed out)

Two or Three non-cumulative exams (@20%); the first on the Stalinist
legacy, the second  on the Gorbachev era, and the third on post-
Soviet Russia; Two essays, @1.5 pages, single space essays @15% the
first on The Unquiet Ghost" and the second on the post-1991 decade.
These requirements may be slightly altered; please check the actual
syllabus on the first day of classes

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