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In the lands formerly ruled by the Tsars, the first half of the twentieth century was a violent period with five revolutions, an extremely destructive Civil War, two World Wars and a whole range of smaller military conflicts. This atmosphere of upheaval was reinforced by waves of state terror against a variety of groups (from peasants to bureaucrats, and from the intelligentsia to jazz fans).
Within this cauldron of violence the Russian Empire was unmade, re-constituted as the Soviet Union, and eventually stabilized in a new Red Empire locked in the Cold War with the west. This subject explores the society of the Soviet Empire and the transformations of this social system in the less tumultuous periods between Stalin's death in 1953 and the 1980s. It also explains the crisis and breakdown of the Soviet Union and the continuing struggle of the fifteen successor states to find a stable economic and political system. Particular emphasis is placed on the critical and creative use of the wide variety of sources available for the study of the Soviet Union.
This subject forms part of the pathway “political and international history” within the History major.
Intended learning outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- Understand the analytical challenges in the interpretation of Russian and Soviet history
- Have acquired the ability to overcome some of these challenges by critical analysis of a variety of primary evidence available to the historian of the Soviet Union
- Have learned to creatively and imaginatively use primary sources to build an argument about the Soviet past
- Situate their arguments within the larger scholarly debate on Soviet history.
Students who complete this subject should develop their:
- Critical and analytical skills (including argument identification and analysis);
- Communication (written and oral);
- Engagement (with real world ideas and problems)
Last updated: 15 February 2024