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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Glennys J. Young
HSTEU 440
Seattle Campus

The Communist Experience Around the World

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: either two history or politics of Europe courses. Offered: jointly with JSIS B 440.

Class description

Have you ever wondered why communist regimes emerged and became influential political forces in the twentieth century? Have you ever been puzzled by why those same regimes--especially the USSR and Communist China--proved to be so vulnerable? Do you want to understand the legacies for the 21st century and beyond of the quest to build a truly communist society, and of the collapse of communist regimes and their empires? These are some of the questions that this course will address. Focus will be on the origins of communist ideologies, practices of communist rule (including political rituals and ceremonies), conflict between communist regimes, dismantlement of communist systems, and communist legacies.

Student learning goals

Understand the basics of Marxist theory, and the way in which this theory was adapted by communist regimes and parties around the globe

Understand how and why Communist regimes and parties around the world developed, gained support, and lost adherents

Understand how ordinary people lived in communist societies around the world

Have an appreciation for the importance of visual material (political posters, films, architecture) and political symbols for communist regimes and polities

Read primary sources and other texts more carefully and critically.

Write more effective prose

General method of instruction

Lecture and discussion. We will also watch a few films and film clips, and examine examples of the visual art (e.g., posters, banners) of communist regimes.

Recommended preparation

There are no formal prerequisites; knowledge of European and world history will be helpful. But the most important factor for success in the course will be commitment to read, write, and think.

Class assignments and grading

Midterm, final, short papers (5-7 pp.). This is a "W" course

Grades will be assigned on the basis of written work; class participation will also be taken into consideration.


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 Glennys J. Young
Date: 05/09/2013