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Level 5

5AAH2012 The Soviet Union & Russia, 1945-2000

Credit value: 30
Module convenor/tutor (2018/19): Professor Stephen Lovell
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%), 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each) & 1 x oral presentation (10%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment by the following methods: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%); 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each); 1 x 1500 word essay (10%)

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This course covers Soviet/Russian history from the end of World War II to the start of the Putin era. Although the 1920s and 1930s have until now dominated the study of Soviet history, there is much to be gained from taking the war (rather than the Revolution) as a point of departure and investigating the further growth, maturity and eventual obsolescence of Soviet socialism. Starting with the late Stalin era and the recovery from war, the course moves on to the tempestuous years of de-Stalinization and to the unjustly neglected period of ‘stagnation’ under Leonid Brezhnev. It concludes by considering the significance of the transformation that Russia underwent from the late 1980s onwards: was this a revolution or something less than that? Topics will range widely over political, social, economic and cultural history: from Cold War and kremlinology to mass culture and migration.

Provisional teaching plan

Semester 1

1. Introduction: Total War and the Remaking of the Soviet Union
2. The Aftermath of War
3. Stalinism Revived: The Party-State, 1945-53
4. The Origins and Early Course of the Cold War
5. The Gulag and the Retreat from Repression
6. The Battle over the Succession: High Politics and Political Change, 1953-1964
7. De-Stalinization: Ideological and Social Dimensions
8. State and Society in the Khrushchev Era
9. Society and Culture in the Post-Stalin Era
10. The War Remembered

Semester 2

11. The Nationality Question, 1953-1991
12. The Russian Question, 1945-1991
13. State and Society, 1960s-80s
14. The Intelligentsia: Thaw, Dissent, Collaboration, Glasnost
15. The Soviet Union and the Wider World, 1953-1991
16. The Party-State under Strain, 1970s-80s
17. From Reform to Collapse: The Gorbachev Years
18. The New Politics of the 1990s
19. Kapitalizm: Towards a New Economic (Dis)Order
20. The Rebirth of Russia? Nation-Building and Geopolitics since the Fall of Communism

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

Acton, E. and Stableford, T. (eds) The Soviet Union: A Documentary History, vol. 2, 1939-1991 (2007). (A very useful and engaging collection of primary sources.)

Hosking, G. A History of the Soviet Union 1917-1991 (1992), chapters 11-15. (An especially well-written account.)

Hosking, G. Rulers and Victims: The Russians in the Soviet Union (2006), chapters 7-11.

Keep, J.H.L. A History of the Soviet Union 1945-1991 (1st ed. 1995; 2nd updated ed. 2002).

Kotkin, S. Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000 (2001). (Short and lively; covers both before and after the Soviet collapse.)

Lovell, S. Destination in Doubt: Russia since 1989 (2006).

Lovell, S. The Soviet Union: A Very Short Introduction (2009).

Lovell, S. The Shadow of War: Russia and the Soviet Union, 1941 to the Present (2010).

Nove, A. An Economic History of the USSR 1917-1991 (1992), chapters 11-15.

Service, R. A History of Twentieth-Century Russia (1997), parts 3 and 4.

Suny, R.G. The Soviet Experiment: Russia, the USSR, and the Successor States (1998), chapters 15-22.

Suny, R.G. The Structure of Soviet History: Essays and Documents (2003), chapters 5-10. (A useful anthology of documents and articles.)

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