Stalinism: Making the Soviet State
This Eloquentia Perfecta (EP) course will explore the enormous transformations in life in the Soviet Union under the rule of Stalin, one of the most brutal dictators of the 20th century and the architect of the massive social transformation that turned Russia from a predominantly agrarian nation to a powerful industrial state. We will take a broader perspective on this history by looking at the roots of Stalinist rule in the Russian Revolution and follow that story to the dismantling of the Stalinist system in the 1950s. During this period, Soviet society was engulfed in a series of massive traumas including: a brutal civil war, heavy industrialization, collectivization of farmland, widespread upward social mobility, the establishment of a labor camp system, the Great Terror, the horrific experience of World War II, and postwar reconstruction. In the course we will explore each of these phenomenon in great detail with a broad interest in underlying social, political, and cultural phenomena. We will make use of both recently declassified primary source material available since the collapse of the Soviet Union as well as a wealth of new and innovative recent literature on the history of Stalinism. At its core, the students will interrogate the basic ideology of “Stalinism” as a historical phenomenon at the national, community, and personal levels as situated in the broad vista of modern European history.