Bob Weinberg

Trotter 218                                                                          Office Hours: T/TH 1-2

328-8133                                                                                                    W: 1-3



This course focuses on the major trends and events in Russian history during the twentieth century.  Topics include the collapse of the Romanov dynasty, the Bolshevik seizure of power, the fate of the communist revolution, the rise of Stalin, the establishment of the Stalinist system, World War II, de-Stalinization, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.  We shall pay particular attention to the interaction between social and economic forces and political policies and explore how the regime’s ideological imperatives and the nature of society shaped the contours of Russia in the twentieth century.  Readings include primary documents, historical monographs, oral histories, and literature.


Two Six-Page Papers (25 percent each)

Final Examination (15 percent)

Twelve-Page Research (25 percent)

Class Attendance and Active Participation (10 percent)


All students are expected to read the College’s policy on academic honesty and integrity that appears in the Swarthmore College Bulletin.  The work you submit must be your own, and suspected instances of academic dishonesty will be submitted to the College Judiciary Council for adjudication.  When in doubt citing sources, please check with me.


I will not accept late papers and will assign a failing grade for the assignment unless you notify me and receive permission from me to submit the paper after the due date.  Finally, students are required to attend class on a regular basis in order to pass the course.


All documents and articles are on Blackboard (BB).  The following books are available for purchase and are also on reserve in McCabe:


Liudmila Alekseeva and Paul Goldberg, The Thaw Generation: Coming of Age in the Post-Stalin Era

Svetlana Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Barbara Engel and Anastasia Posadskaya-Vanderbeck, eds., A Revolution of Their Own: Voices of Women in Soviet History

Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism

Fyodor Gladkov, Cement

Mark Steinberg, ed., Voices of Revolution

Nicholas Werth, Cannibal Island


I am not asking you to buy a textbook, but you may find the following texts useful if you want to explore a topic at greater length.  They are on reserve.


Geoffrey Hosking, The First Socialist Society

Robert Service, A History of Modern Russia

Ronald Suny, The Soviet Experiment

John Thompson, A Vision Unfulfilled


Here is a list of websites you may find interesting:


Lenin Mausoleum: A History in Photos. http://www.aha.ru/-mausoleu

Site devoted to the history of Lenin’s final resting place.  Includes text, audio, photographs, and links to other sites devoted to Lenin and Stalin


Lenin Museum. http://www.stel.ru/museum

Site devoted to the life of Lenin as presented in the Lenin Museum in Moscow


The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia


Based on letters, diaries, memoirs, and photographs collected by the historian Orlando Figes, this site explores private life in the Stalin period.


The Alexander Palace Time Machine


Website allows the visitor to take a tour of palaces and view the diaries and memorabilia the royal family.


Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. http://www.soviethistory.org

Site devoted to the history of the Soviet Union through an innovative use of texts, music, documents, and video


Communal Living in Russia http://kommunalka.colgate.edu/

Site devoted to apartment living in the late Soviet period


Revelations from the Soviet Archives: Documents in English Translation. http://loc.gov/exhibits/archives/

Collection of documents and photographs from the archives of the Soviet Union from an exhibit at the Library of Congress


Stalinka: Digital Library of Staliniana. http://images.library.pitt.edu/s/stalinka

A digital library of texts and images about the Stalin phenomenon


The Chairman Smiles. http://www.iisg.nl/exhibitions/chairman/

Posters from the Soviet Union, Cuba, and the People’s Republic of China from the collection of the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam


Gulag. http://gulaghistory.org/

Site devoted to the history of the gulag


Soviet Poster Collection in the Peace Collection, McCabe Library


Posters devoted to maternity care, industrialization, collectivization, and antireligious campaigns from the 1920s and early 1930s. 


Soviet Music


A website devoted to music written under communism.  It is a collection of songs about war, the military, patriotism, and leaders and also contains speeches and posters.


Soviet Poster Collection


The Hoover Institution at Stanford University owns over three thousand posters produced in the Soviet Union.


Kennan Institute-National Public Radio Russian History Audio Archive


On-line audio archive of speeches and voices of key political figures from the Soviet Union such as Lenin and Stalin.


January 19: Russia Enters the Twentieth Century


Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution (introduction and chapter one) On-line book via Tripod


January 21: Approaches to Revolution


Vladimir Lenin’s Theory of the Party BB

Leon Trotsky, “The Peculiarities of Russia’s Development” BB


January 26: Approaches to Understanding the Bolshevik Seizure of Power


Stephen Cohen, “Scholarly Missions” BB

Ronald Suny, “Revising the Old Story” BB

Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, chapter two. Tripod


January 28:The Bolsheviks Come to Power


Mark Steinberg, ed., Voices of Revolution


February 2: The Revolutionary Promise


Alexandra Kollontai, “Make Way for Winged Eros” and “The Family and the Communist State” BB

Nadezhda Krupskaia, “What a Communist Ought to be Like” BB


February 4: The Revolution Off-Track: Civil War and War Communism


Moshe Lewin, “A Dictatorship in the Void” BB
“The Kronstadt Revolt: What We Are Fighting For”

“The Trade Union Controversy and the Workers’ Opposition” BB

“On Party Unity” BB

Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, chapter three Tripod


February 9: The Dilemmas of NEP and Approaches to Building Socialism


Leon Trotsky, “Trotsky on Industrialization” BB

Joseph Stalin, “Socialism in One Country” BB

Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, chapter four  Tripod


February 11: Soviet Power and Women’s Question/Nationality Policy


Fyodor Gladkov, Cement


Febuary 16:The Rise of Stalin


Stephen Cohen, “Bolshevism and Stalinism” BB

Moshe Lewin, “Lenin’s Testament” and “If Lenin had Lived” BB

“Bukharin on the Opposition” BB

“Condemnation of the Trotskyist Opposition” BB

Film: PBS Documentary on Stalin (part one)


February 18: The Great Leap Forward: Collectivization and Industrialization


“Bukharin on Peasant Policy,” “Bukharin on the Menace of Stalin,” “Stalin’s Revolution,” and “Stalin on the Liquidation of the Kulaks” BB

Lynne Viola, “`Bab’i Bunty’ and Peasant Women’s Protest during Collectivization” BB

Alec Nove, “Was Stalin Necessary?” BB

Lev Kopelev, “The Education of a True Believer” BB

Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, chapter five  Tripod


February 23: Culture and Politics in the 1930s: The End of Revolution?


Documents on Socialist Realism  BB

Documents on the Family and Abortion (Read 251-269) BB

Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, chapter six Tripod


February 25: Life in the 1930s


Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everday Stalinism

Film: PBS Documentary on Stalin (part two)


March 2: Explaining the Purges


Peter Holquist, “State Violence as Technique: The Logic of Violence in Soviet Totalitarianism” BB

Amir Weiner, “Nature and Nurture in a Socialist Utopia: Delineating the Soviet Socio-Ethnic Body in the Age of Socialism” BB
J. Arch Getty, “Afraid of Their Shadows: The Bolshevik Recourse to Terror, 1932-1938”


March 4: Experiencing the Purges


Nicholas Werth, Cannibal Island

Anna Akhmatova, Requiem BB

Film: Burnt by the Sun (135 minutes)


March 16: World War II and Its Aftermath


Film: PBS Documentary on Stalin (part three)

William Fuller, “The Great Fatherland War and Late Stalinism, 1941-1953”  BB


March 18: Final Years of Stalin


Andrei Zhdanov, “Report to the Leningrad Branch of the Union of Soviet Writers” BB

The Campaign against “Cosmopolitanism”  BB

“The Arrest of a Group of Doctor-Saboteurs” and “Spies and Murderers in the Guise of Physicians and Scientists” BB


March 23: Khrushchev and De-Stalinization


Nikita Khrushchev, “Secret Speech at the Twentieth Party Congress, 1956” BB

Stephen Cohen, “The Stalin Question Since Stalin” BB

Iulii Daniel, “This is Moscow Speaking”  BB

Gregory Freeze, “From Stalinism to Stagnation, 1953-1985”  BB

(Read part on Khrushchev)


March 25: Women Reflect on the Revolution


Barbara Engel and Anastasia Posadskaya-Vanderbeck, ed., A Revolution of Their Own: Voices of Women in Soviet History


March 30: The Brezhnev Era


Currents of Dissent: Sakharov, Solzhenitsyn, and Medvedev  BB

Finish reading Freeze, “From Stalinism to Stagnation” BB


April 1: Brezhnev and the Emergence of Political Dissidence


Liudmila Alekseeva and Paul Goldberg, The Thaw Generation: Coming of Age in the Post-Stalin Era       


April 6:  “Developed Socialism” or the “Era of Stagnation”


James Millar, “The Little Deal” BB

John Bushnell, “The `New Soviet’ Man Turns Pessimist” BB

Natalya Baranskaia, “A Week Like Any Other Week”BB

Film: The BAM Zone (19 minutes)


April 8: The Gorbachev Revolution


Mikhail Gorbachev, “Restructuring,” “Glasnost,” and “Challenging the Party” BB

Mikhail Gorbachev, “Speech from 1987” BB

Nina Andreyeva, “I Cannot Forego My Principles” BB

Martin McCauley, “From Pererstroika towards a New Order, 1985-1995” BB

Film: Little Vera (110 minutes)


April 13: Ecocide


April 15: Chernobyl


Svetlana Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Film: Chernobyl (54 minutes)


April 20: Guest Speaker: Professor Vladimir Zubok, Temple University


April 22: Explaining the Collapse of the Soviet Union


Martin Malia, “To the Stalin Mausoleum”

Alexander Dallin, “Causes of the Collapse of the USSR”


April 27: Presentation of Research Project


April 29: Presentation of Research Project