What was it like to live in Stalin's USSR? One way to answer this question is to study how those who lived through the Stalin era -- workers, peasants, youth, women, national minorities, officials, members of the creative intelligenntsia, Gulag prisoners, etc. -- represented their experiences in letters, diaries, memoirs, and works of imagination. In this course, students will draw upon these and other primary sources to write a 25-page research paper on everyday life under Stalin. During the first six weeks of the semester, readings of about 200 pages per week will provide students with background on the Stalin era (1928 - 53) and introduce them to the range of possible topics and available English-language sources. Students will then carry out independent research on a topic to be chosen in consultation with the instructor. A draft of the paper will be due in November, and the final draft will be due several days after the last class meeting, during which students will give an oral presentation of their findings.
IMPORTANT: This capstone seminar fulfills the history thesis and second writing requirements. Enrollment is capped at twelve and restricted to History Majors who have previously taken college-level courses in Russian/Soviet history. Students who enroll in the course must choose a research topic that is directly connected to the theme of the seminar -- viz., everyday life under Stalin. All topic choices are subject to instructor approval. Possible texts for the first six weeks of common reading include: Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution and Everyday Stalinism; Chris Ward, Stalin's Russia; J. Bardach, Man Is Wolf to Man: Surviving the Gulag; Maurice Hindus, Red Bread; Viktor Kravchenko, I Choose Freedom: The Personal & Political Life of a Soviet Official; N. Novak-Deker, ed., Soviet Youth: Twelve Komsomol Histories; and William K. Storey, Writing History: A Guide for Students.