FALL 2008


Bob Weinberg                                                                                 Office Hours:

Trotter 218                                                                                      Monday 1-3

328-8133                                                                                         Wednesday  1-3

                                                                                                         By Appointment


This first-year seminar focuses on the history of Russia from the Revolution of 1917 through the Stalinist purges of the 1930s.  Particular attention is paid to assessing the impact of Lenin and Stalin on developments after 1917 and the interplay among socioeconomic, gender, cultural, and ideological currents.  We explore the significance of the socialist experiment and try to explain how and why the Stalinist dictatorship emerged.  Topics focus on the Bolshevik seizure of power, the cultural dreams of revolutionaries, the struggle to succeed Lenin, the rise of Stalin, the cult of personality, collectivization and industrialization, the purges, and women’s emancipation.  Course materials include monographs, documents, memoirs, and films.


As a Writing Course, the seminar will devote special attention to developing your expository and analytical skills as a writer.  The seminar will focus on developing, organizing, revising, and editing your papers and will help you to identify a thesis, develop an argument, and analyze evidence to support your thesis.


Course Requirements


Attendance and active participation

Four six-page papers (two are revised)

Final Exam


Papers are due on these dates:


September 19

October 10

November 7

December 5


Revised papers are due ten days after I hand back the first version of the essays.


I have placed the following books on course reserve for students who desire more background reading:


Gregory Freeze, ed., Russia: A History

Geoffrey Hosking, The First Socialist Society

Robert Service, A History of Twentieth-Century Russia

Ronald Suny, The Soviet Experiment: Russia, the USSR, and the Successor States

John Thompson, A Vision Unfulfilled: Russia and the Soviet Union in the Twentieth



I also recommend that you peruse the following websites for your own edification and enjoyment:


Communal Living in Russia: A Virtual Museum of Soviet Everyday Life Site devoted to apartment life in the Soviet Union.


Gulag: Soviet Forced Labor Camps Site devoted to history of the gulag.


Lenin Mausoleum: A History in Photos

Site devoted to the history of the mausoleum.  Includes text, audio, and photographs,
including those of Lenin and Stalin on display.  Has links to other sites devoted to Lenin

and Stalin.


Lenin Museum

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


Red Files: Soviet Propaganda Machine

A production of PBS, this website explores through texts and images the role of propaganda in the history of the Soviet Union.


REENIC: Russian and East European Network Information Center

A website from the University of Texas at Austin that provides an exhaustive list of websites about Russian and East European Studies.


REES Web: The World Wide Web Virtual Library for Russian & East European Studies

The University of Pittsburgh has assembled a comprehensive website devoted to the field of  Russian and East European Studies.


Revelations from the Soviet Archives: Documents in English Translation

Collection of documents and photographs from the archives of the Soviet Union from the exhibit at the Library of Congress in 1992.


Seventeen Moments in Soviet History

A narrative history of Soviet history through an innovative use of texts, documents, music, images, and video assembled by two professors at Michigan State University and Carleton College.


Slavic and East European Library: Internet Resources

The reference library at the University of Illinois has assembled a site devoted to internet resources pertaining in part to the history of the Soviet Union.


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.


Stalinka: Digital Library of Staliniana

 A digital library of texts and images about the Stalin phenomenon.


The Chairman Smiles

An on-line exhibit from the International Institute of Social History in the Netherlands that focuses on posters from the Soviet Union, Cuba and the People’s Republic of China.


Paintings of the Gulag

Paintings of Nikolai Getman, a Hungarian who spent eight years in the gulag.


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 plagiarism will be penalized.  I will submit papers suspected of violating the College’s policy on academic honesty and integrity to the College Judiciary Committee.  Finally, unexcused absences will result in a lower final grade.


I have placed all books on course reserve and all articles/documents on Blackboard.


September 4: Introduction—Russia on the Eve of Revolution


Semen Kanatchikov, A Radical Worker in Tsarist Russia, pp. 1-209

Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, introduction and chapter 1 (Access via Tripod)


September 11: The Year of Revolutions


Mark Steinberg, ed., Voices of Revolution

Ronald Suny, “Revising the Old Story: The 1917 Revolution in Light of New Sources” BB

Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, chapter 2 (Access via Tripod)


September 18: The Crucible of the Revolution—Civil War and War Communism


Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, chapter 3 (Access via Tripod)

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

Stephen Cohen, “Scholarly Missions: Sovietology as a Vocation” BB

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

P. Vinogradskaia, “The `Winged Eros’ of Comrade Kollontai” BB

Paul Avrich, “The Crisis of War Communism” BB

The Tenth Party Congress BB

Moshe Lewin, “A Dictatorship in the Void” and “Lenin’s Testament” BB

Watch The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (78 minutes)


September 25: The Quiet Before the Storm—NEP and the Rise of Stalin


Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, chapter 4 (Access via Tripod)

Stephen Cohen, “Bolshevism and Stalinism” BB

Handouts (Please read in order)


October 2: The Revolution in Literature


Fedor Gladkov, Cement

Watch Bed and Sofa (75 minutes)


October 9 (Reschedule): The Revolution from Above--Collectivization


Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, chapter 5 (Access via Tripod)

Sheila Fitzpatrick, “Cultural Revolution as Class War” BB

Lev Kopelev, The Education of a True Believer BB

Alec Nove “Was Stalin Necessary?” BB

Lynne Viola, “Babi’ Bunty and Peasant Women’s Protest during Collectivization” BB

Handouts (Please read in order)

Watch Happiness (65 minutes)


October 23: The Revolution from Above --Industrialization


John Scott, Behind the Urals


October 30: The Revolution and Culture


Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, chapter 6 (Access via Tripod)

David Hoffmann, Stalinist Culture

Watch Man with a Movie Camera (70 minutes)


Public Lecture: Joshua Sanborn (Lafayette College) 4:30 PM


November 6: Revolutionary Cannibalism—Theoretical Approaches to the Purges


J. Arch Getty, “Afraid of Their Shadows: The Bolshevik Recourse to Terror,

     1932-1938” BB

Robert Tucker, “Stalinism as Revolution from Above”  BB

Amir Weiner, “Nature and Nurture in a Socialist Utopia: Delineating the Soviet Socio-Ethnic Body in the Age of Socialism” BB

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


November 13: The Purges—Personal Recollections


Evgeniia Ginzburg, Journey into the Whirlwind

Watch Burnt by the Sun (135 minutes)


November 20: Daily Life in the 1930s


Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism


December 4: Assessing the Russian Revolution, 1917-1939


Georgii Vladimov, Faithful Ruslan