Introductory Seminar in Post-1700 European History

Life in Dictatorships

What is it like to live in a dictatorship? Can people feel like they are leading “normal” lives? How does political oppression affect their desires, their practices, and even their thoughts?This course examines three authoritarian regimes in 20th and 21st century Europe: Nazi Germany, Communist Eastern Europe, and Putin’s Russia. Rather than studying their leaders, we’ll focus on ordinary people, and ask how they experienced daily life in repressive states. We’ll consider the extent and limits of state power; the impact of public affairs on private lives; and the possibility of nonconformity or resistance. This is a discussion-based seminar; be prepared to read up to 150 pages per week. You’ll also have to write several short papers, including a source analysis, an imagined autobiography, an exhibition catalog, and an op-ed. This course is intended for first- and second- year students; no prior experience with History courses expected.

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts