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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Scott Alan Brown
SIS 440
Seattle Campus

History of Communism

Communism from its origins in Bolshevik faction of Russian social democracy to the present, treating the development of the ideology, the various communist parties, and the communist states. Recommended: two history or politics of Europe courses. Offered: jointly with HSTEU 440.

Class description

This course will explore several themes pertaining to the history of communism. We will compare the theory of communism, as espoused in canonical texts from Marx, Lenin and others, to attempts at its implementation in the Soviet Union, China, Latin America and elsewhere. This course will also examine the factors behind the rise and fall of Communist regimes, searching for explanations for why communism took root not in the industrially developed countries of Western Europe, as Marx had predicted, but in less industrialized, largely agricultural societies, such as Tsarist Russia and China. We will read a variety of primary sources and memoirs that describe how individuals experienced Communist societies. Finally, we will try to put all these facets together in order to explain why communism failed in Eastern Europe, yet managed to survive and even adapt elsewhere.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lectures and discussion. We will also few some films in class.

Recommended preparation

No specific background knowledge is expected, though previous coursework in history will be helpful.

Class assignments and grading

Midterm, final, two papers (6-8 pages each), participation.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by M Jane Meyerding
Date: 02/02/2009