Glennys J. Young
Each seminar examines a different subject or problem. A quarterly list of the seminars and their instructors is available in the Department of History undergraduate advising office.
Stalin and Stalinism
In this seminar, we will read, talk, and write about some of the major issues concerning Stalin’s leadership of the Soviet Union (ca. 1927-1953) and the creation of a Stalinist society, viewing these phenomena neither as examples of Russia’s uniqueness nor of the tragic aberration of Soviet communism but as part of European and indeed world history. For example, among the issues we will consider are the relationship of the Stalinist project to Enlightenment visions of progress and social engineering.
Stalin and the Stalinist system he helped to create had a profound influence not only upon society and politics in the Soviet Union, but upon the rest of the world. Stalinism was one of the most important political models--and anti-models!--of the twentieth century. It became a positive model to those modernizing politicians around the world who saluted the use of an ideologically-based political party seeking seeking total control in order to transform a “backward” nation into a modern world power. It became a negative model to those who condemned the horrible acts the Stalinist regime perpetrated in the quest for progress, in the quest to “build socialism.” Between 1929 and 1945, more than 35 million Soviet citizens died prematurely from the Soviet state’s forced collectivization of agriculture, terror, and its engagement in World War II. As well, Stalinism continues to inform discussion about the history and nature of the “welfare state.”
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Although this course is taught in the History Department and I am an historian, our approach to the subject will necessarily be interdisciplinary. We will read contributions by scholars who have drawn on the disciplines of history, anthropology, literary analysis, political science, and sociology to make their interventions. Because Stalinism as a “civilization” involved all aspects of society, this will also necessarily be a multi-media approach to the subject. We will examine primary sources from diaries to posters to film.
Class assignments and grading
Readings will include, but will not be limited to, the following:
Veronique Garros et al., eds., Intimacy and Terror: Soviet Diaries of the 1930s Lewis Siegelbaum and Andrei Sokolov, Stalinism as a Way of Life: A Narrative in Documents
Reading, writing, and discussion requirements will be outlined on the syllabus.