Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Political History of the USSR Syllabus

ICP 255
3 Credits
International and Comparative Politics
American University Central Asia
Spring Semester 2008
J. Otto Pohl, Ph.D.

Meeting Time: Monday and Wednesday 1:00 pm.

Course Description: This course is an introductory survey course to the political history of the Soviet Union. It will cover the political, economic and social changes in the USSR from the time of its founding until its collapse. Important political events that will be covered include the Bolshevik Revolution, the Civil War, the collectivization of agriculture, the Great Terror, World War II, and the reforms of the Khrushchev era. Special emphasis will be given to the multinational nature of the Soviet Union. In particular the course will pay attention to how different nationalities in the USSR experienced and remembered the events covered in class.

Requirements: The course will consist of assigned readings, lectures, discussions, short writing assignments, and a research paper. For each of the four weeks with supplemental reading assignments, students will be required to submit a 600 to 800 word summary and analysis of the material along with one question for class discussion. These supplemental readings are the four pieces by Long, Viola, Krieger and Khazanov. These papers are all due in class on the Wednesday of the week during which the material is discussed. Students will also have to complete a 1400 to 2000 word research paper on the history of their family in the USSR. Students may substitute a research paper on a different subject in consultation with the instructor. This paper is due the last week of class. All late papers will lose one letter grade for each day they are late. Students must come to class on time. Being more than fifteen minutes late will count as an absence. Students will lose one letter grade after four unexcused absences and fail the course after seven. Written proof of an emergency from a doctor or other appropriate authority is required for an absence to be excused. Please turn off all cell phones while in class. I will eject any students carrying on cell phone conversations during class from the room. This will count as an unexcused absence. Finally, I have a significant hearing loss and may have to ask people to repeat their questions or statements from time to time. You can minimize this by speaking loudly and clearly. This syllabus is tentative and subject to change.

Readings: The primary text book for this class is Geoffry Hosking’s, The First Socialist Society: The History of the Soviet Union from Within (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993). In addition to this book there are four short readings by James Long, Lynne Viola, Viktor Krieger and Anatoly Khazanov that will be provided to the students by the instructor.

Policy on Plagiarism: Plagiarism will result in a zero on the assignment for the first offense. A second offense will result in a grade of F for the course. Please be sure to cite your sources.


Four short papers - 60% (15% each)

Written research paper –20% (Due last day of class)

Class participation – 20%

Class Schedule

Week One: Introduction to the course and review of the syllabus.

Week Two: The Bolshevik Revolution.

Chapters 1 and 2 in Hosking, pp. 15-56.

Week Three: War Communism

Chapter 3 in Hosking, pp. 57-92.

Week Four: The 1920-1921 Famine

Read: James W. Long, “The Volga Germans and the Famine of 1921,” Russian Review, Vol. 51, no. 4 (Oct., 1992), pp. 510-525.

Week Four: Nationality Policy during the 1920s

Chapter 4 in Hosking, pp. 93-118.

Week Five: Economic Transformation in the 1930s.

Chapters 5 and 6 in Hosking, pp. 119-182.

Week Six: Destruction of the “Kulaks”

Read: Lynne Viola, “The Other Archipelago: Kulak Deportations to the North in 1930,” Slavic Review, Vol. 60, no. 4 (winter 2001), pp. 730-755.

Week Seven: The Great Terror

Chapter 7 in Hosking, pp. 183-204.

Week Eight: The USSR on the Eve of the Great War

Chapters 8 and 9 in Hosking, pp. 205-260.

Week Nine: World War II

Chapter 10 in Hosking, pp. 263-295.

Week Ten: World War II Continued

Read: Viktor Krieger, “Patriots or Traitors? – The Soviet Government and the ‘German Russians’ After the Attack on the USSR by National Socialist Germany” in Karl Schlogel, ed., Russian-German Special Relations in the Twentieth Century: A Closed Chapter? (New York: Berg Publishers, 2006), pp. 133-163.

Week Eleven: Late Stalinism

Chapter 11 in Hosking, pp. 296-325.

Week Twelve: Khrushchev

Chapter 12 in Hosking, pp. 326-362.

Week Thirteen: The Era of Stagnation

Chapter 13 in Hosking, pp. 363-401.

Week Fourteen: Nationality in the USSR after World War II

Chapter 14 in Hosking, pp. 402-445.

Week Fifteen: Nationality in the USSR after World War II Continued

Read Anatoly Khazanov, “People with Nowhere to Go: The Plight of the Meskhetian Turks,” (chapter 7) in After the USSR: Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Politics in the Commonwealth of Independent States (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995), pp. 192-210.

Week Sixteen: The End of the Soviet Union

Chapter 15 in Hosking, pp. 446-501.

Week Seventeen: Research paper due and concluding remarks.

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