17.57J / 21H.467J Soviet Politics and Society, 1917-1991

Spring 2003

Map of the former Soviet Union.
Map of the former Soviet Union. (Map courtesy of http://www.theodora.com/maps used with permission.)

Course Highlights

All assignments and a complete bibliography of readings are available for this course. This course also features archived syllabi from various semesters.

Course Description

At its greatest extent the former Soviet Union encompassed a geographical area that covered one-sixth of the Earth's landmass. It spanned 11 time zones and contained over 100 distinct nationalities, 22 of which numbered over one million in population. In the 74 years from the October Revolution in 1917 to the fall of Communism in 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, its leaders and its people, had to face a number of difficult challenges: the overthrow of the Tsarist autocracy, the establishment of a new state, four years of civil war, a famine, transition to a mixed economy, political strife after Lenin's death, industrialization, collectivization, a second famine, political Show Trials, World War II, post-war reconstruction and repression, the "Thaw" after Stalin's death, Khrushchev's experimentation, and Brezhnev's decline. Each of these challenges engendered new solutions and modifications in what can be loosely called the evolving "Soviet system."

*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.

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Prof. Elizabeth Wood
Prof. David Woodruff

Course Meeting Times

Two sessions / week
1.5 hours / session