Political History of the USSR
International and Comparative Politics
American University Central Asia
Spring Semester 2009
J. Otto Pohl, Ph.D.
Meeting Time: Tuesday and Thursday 2:10 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. There will be two short 600 to 800 word papers due. The first one will be on collectivization and dekulakization. The second one will be on some aspect of World War II in the Soviet Union. 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 ten percent for each day they are late. Please see the separate handout regarding late papers. 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. No mobile phones are to be visible during class. They are to be out of sight and turned off. I will eject any student from class that has a visible cell phone or whose cell phone rings during class. 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 a number of shorter readings that will be provided to the students by the instructor.
Plagiarism Policy: I have a zero tolerance policy regarding plagiarism. If I catch any student plagiarizing once I will fail them from the course and recommend to the chairman of the ICP department that they be expelled from the program. Plagiarism includes any verbatim copying of from a source without using quotation marks or setting the text up as an indented single spaced block quotation. If I find that more than four words in a row in your paper show up in the same order in a Google search and you do not have the words in quotation marks or set up as a block quotation I will fail you. Putting a footnote, end note or other citation after the copied words without the quotation marks or block quotation form is still plagiarism, you are claiming to have paraphrased verbatim text, and you will still receive an F for the course and be recommended for expulsion from ICP. Taking text from a source without citing it and rearranging the words so that it does not show up in a verbatim Google search is also plagiarism. I will also do Google searches to see if you have taken text and merely rearranged the words. You must either paraphrase the sentence by putting it completely in your own words and citing it with the proper footnote, end note or in text citation or quote the actual text verbatim complete with the proper citation. Completely paraphrasing sentences in your own words, but neglecting to cite the source of the information is also plagiarism. All information that would not be known to the average person on the street with no university education must be cited. When in doubt always cite a legitimate source. Wikipedia is not a legitimate source. Books published by university presses and academic journal articles found on JSTOR are legitimate sources. Other sources may or may not be legitimate. If you have questions about whether a particular source is legitimate you can ask me. Using Wikipedia or other illegitimate sources will result in a reduction of one letter grade for each citation in a paper.
Two short papers - 40% (20% each)
Written research paper –30% (Due last day of class)
Class participation – 30%
100-96 = A
95-91 = A-
90-86 = B+
85-81 = B
80-76 = B-
75-71 = C+
70-66 = C
65-61 = C-
60-56 = D+
55-51 = D
50-46 = D-
45 and lower = F
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 Five: Nationality Policy during the 1920s
Chapter 4 in Hosking, pp. 93-118 and read Yuri Slezkine, “The USSR as Communal Apartment, or How a Socialist State Promoted Ethnic Particularism,” Slavic Review, Vol. 53, No. 2 (Summer 1994), pp. 414-452.
Week Six: Economic Transformation in the 1930s.
Chapters 5 and 6 in Hosking, pp. 119-182.
Week Seven: 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. Watch the video, Through the Red Gate. The first paper is due on Thursday.
Week Eight: The Great Terror
Chapter 7 in Hosking, pp. 183-204 and read James Morris, “The Polish Terror: Spy Mania and Ethnic Cleansing in the Great Terror,” Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 56, No. 5 (July 2004), pp. 751-766.
Week Nine: The USSR on the Eve of the Great War
Chapters 8 and 9 in Hosking, pp. 205-260.
Week Ten: World War II
Chapter 10 in Hosking, pp. 263-295.
Week Eleven: 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 Twelve: Late Stalinism
Chapter 11 in Hosking, pp. 296-325 and read Nicolas Werth, “The ‘Chechen problem’: Handling an Awkward Legacy, 1918-1958,” Contemporary European History, no. 15, 2006, pp. 347-366. The second paper is due on Thursday.
Week Thirteen: Khrushchev
Chapter 12 in Hosking, pp. 326-362.
Week Fourteen: The Era of Stagnation
Chapter 13 in Hosking, pp. 363-401 and read H.M. Joo, “Voices of Freedom: Samizdat,” Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 56, No. 4, June 2004, pp. 571-594.
Week Fifteen: Nationality in the USSR after World War II
Chapter 14 in Hosking, pp. 402-445 and 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.