HIS 342.01: Stalinism

Fall 2006/Grinnell College

D. H. Kaiser





COURSE DESCRIPTION:  This advanced seminar will concentrate upon the major


 historiographical divide over Stalinist Russia, and evaluate the evidentiary bases that sustain these interpretations. Traditional historiography has concentrated upon the "totalitarian" model, and has depended upon official documents, as well as the memoirs and public statements of major figures and emigrès.  More recent interpretations have sought to complicate the story, and give voice to more ordinary historical actors and less official sources, “normalizing” Soviet Russia as part of the “modern” project.  Through scrupulous reading of some major representatives of these views, as well as through careful consideration of representative examples of the various sources, participants in the seminar will develop a better understanding of the historiographical issues and the way that these issues inform historical research.

The first part of the seminar will depend upon our common reading, and will help develop


 a sense of the different interpretations as well as the kinds of evidence employed, their limitations and strengths, and how they influence more general interpretations of the Stalin era.  Early in the term students will select a project on which to work the whole semester, culminating in a written paper and oral presentation to the seminar.


REQUIRED TEXTS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE IN BOOKSTORE (one copy of each text is also available on reserve at Burling Library):


Brown, Kate.  Biography of No Place: from ethnic borderland to Soviet heartland.


Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Dobrenko, Evgeny, and Eric Naiman, eds.  The Landscape of Stalinism: the art and


 ideology of Soviet space.  Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003.

Hoffmann, David.  Stalinist Values:  The cultural norms of Soviet modernity, 1917-


1941.  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003.

Kelly, Catriona.  Comrade Pavlik: the rise and fall of a Soviet boy hero.  London:


Granta, 2005.

Lugovskaya, Nina.  Diary of a Soviet Schoolgirl, 1932-37.  Trans. Joanne Turnbull.


Moscow: Glas, 2003.

Viola, Lynne, ed.  Contending with Stalinism:  Soviet power and popular resistance in


the 1930s.  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002.




by an asterisk in the Course Schedule):

Dobrenko, Evgeny.  “’The Entire Real World of Children’: The School Tale and


‘Our Happy Childhood,’” Slavic and East European Journal 49(2005):225-248.

Kelly, Catriona.  “Riding the Magic Carpet: Children and Leader Cult in the


Stalin Era,” Slavic and East European Journal 49(2005):199-224.

Tucker, Robert C.  “Stalinism as Revolution from Above,” in Stalinism: Essays in


Historical Interpretation, ed. Robert C. Tucker (NY: W. W. Norton, 1977), 77-108.

Weitz, Eric, “Racial Politics without the Concept of Race: Reevaluating Soviet


Ethnic and National Purges,” Slavic Review 61(2002):1-29.



Aleksandrov, Grigorii. “Circus” (1936) RUS-VHS-VT-019

Aleksandrov, Grigorii. “Jolly Fellows” (1934) RUS-VHS-VT-031

Aleksandrov, Grigorii. “Volga, Volga!” (1937) RUS-VHS-VT-053




Participation in the seminar presumes independent work; timely and responsible execution of the assignments is essential, therefore, to the success of the seminar.  Students should come to the seminar not only having read the assignments, but also prepared to discuss how the readings affect our view of the Stalin era, and how the sources they describe and depend on may enlarge or restrict our understanding.


Each seminar participant will also prepare a major paper


(approximately 20 pp.) that either examines a specific kind of source (perhaps reports of foreign observers, novels, cinema, posters, art, etc.) or examines a specific theme of the Stalin era (e.g., ethnic identities, collectivization, the Terror, etc.).  In the first case, students will appraise the utility of the source and its limits, making reference to materials we have read in the seminar as well as the larger literature devoted to that source.  Students examining a specific theme will read several monographs devoted to that theme, paying special attention to the sources used and inferences drawn.  Students are free to select their own topic—in close consultation with the instructor.  All students must declare a paper topic early in the semester (mid-September) and provide a thesis statement no later than September 29.  A bibliography will be due in late October, and completed papers no later than Wednesday, November 22. A revised final written version must be submitted no later than Friday, December 8, 4 PM.  Each student will also be expected to make an oral presentation in class within the last two weeks of the semester (see Course Schedule below).





Thesis Statement, due 9/29



Bibliography, due 10/30



Completed Paper, due 11/22



Oral Presentation, as scheduled



Final Paper, due 12/8



Seminar Participation




Thursday, 8/24:  Introduction:  Stalinism and Authoritarianism





*Robert C. Tucker, “Stalinism as Revolution from Above,” in


Stalinism: Essays in Historical Interpretation, ed. Robert C. Tucker (NY: W. W. Norton, 1977), 77-108.




Tuesday, 8/29:  Reconceiving the Stalinist Project: Modernity and Socialism





David L. Hoffman, Stalinist Values: The Cultural Norms of Soviet


Modernity (1917-1941) (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003), 1-117.




Thursday, 8/31:  Reconceiving the Stalinist Project, Part 2





Hoffmann, Stalinist Values, 118-90.




Tuesday, 9/5: Complicating the Authoritarian Model: Resistance





Contending with Stalinism, ed. Lynne Viola (Ithaca: Cornell


University Press, 2002), 1-138.




Thursday, 9/7: More Resistance





Contending with Stalinism, 139-227.


Sunday, 9/10, 7:30 PM, ARH 224: Public Screening of “Jolly Fellows” (Aleksandrov, 1934, 89 mins.)


M. Solov’ev, “Such Women Didn’t and Couldn’t Exist in the Old Days” (1950)


Tuesday, 9/12: Reading Stalinist Images:  The Gendered Stalinist Subject





Bonnell, Victoria.  “Peasant women in political posters of the


1930s,” ch. 3 of Bonnell,  Iconography of Power: Soviet  Political Posters under Lenin and Stalin.  Berkeley, 1997, 133-73.  Available on-line at: http://sociology.berkeley.edu/public_sociology/Bonnell/bonnell.pdf  where you can download the text and images.



Reid, Susan E.  “All Stalin’s Women:  Gender and Power in


Soviet Art of the 1930s,” Slavic Review 57(1998): 133-73.






Wednesday 9/13, 7:30 PM, ARH 224: Public Screening of “Circus” (Aleksandrov, 1936, 89 mins.)




Thursday, 9/14: Reading Stalinist Images: Heroes, Consumers, Public Space





Clark, Katerina, “Socialist Realism and the Sacralizing of


Space,” in The Landscape of Stalinism:  The Art and Ideology of Soviet Space, eds. Evgeny Dobrenko and Eric Naiman (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003), 3-18.



Plamper, Jan.  “The Spatial Poetics of the Personality Cult:


Circles Around Stalin,” ibid., 19-50



Cox, Randi.  “All This Can Be Yours!  Soviet Commercial


 Advertising and the Social Construction of Space, 1928-1956,” ibid., 125-62.



Dobrenko, Evgeny.  “The Art of Social Navigation: The


Cultural Topography of the Stalin Era,” ibid., 163-200.



Ryklin, Mikhail. “’The Best in the World’:  The Discourse of


 the Moscow Metro in the 1930s,” ibid., 261-76.




Sunday, 9/17, 7:30 PM, ARH 224: Public Screening of “Volga, Volga!” (Aleksandrov, 1937, 90 mins.)




Tuesday, 9/19: Reading Stalinist Discourses:  Cinema





Bulgakowa, Oksana. “Spatial Figures in Soviet Cinema of the


1930s,” in The Landscape of Stalinism:  The Art and Ideology of Soviet Space, eds. Evgeny Dobrenko and Eric Naiman (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003), 51-76.



Taylor, Richard. “But Eastward, Look, the Land is Brighter”:


Toward a Topography of Utopia in the Stalinist Musical,” ibid., 201-18.



Gunther, Hans.  “’Broad Is My Motherland’: The Mother


 Archetype and Space in Soviet Mass Song,” ibid., 125-62.



Widdis, Emma.  “To Explore or Conquer? Mobile Perspectives


 on the Soviet Cultural Revolution,” ibid., 219-40.




Thursday, 9/21: Children and the Stalinist Project



*Dobrenko, Evgeny.  “’The Entire Real World of Children’:


 The School Tale and ‘Our Happy Childhood,’” Slavic and East European Journal 49(2005):225-248.



Holmes, Larry E.  “Part of History: The Oral Record and Moscow’s


 Model School No. 25, 1931-1937,” Slavic Review 56(1997):279-306.



*Kelly, Catriona.  “Riding the Magic Carpet: Children and Leader


 Cult in the Stalin Era,” Slavic and East European Journal 49(2005):199-224.


Pavlik Morozov statue, Moscow


Tuesday, 9/26: Child as Hero—Pavlik Morozov


                                 Kelly, Catriona. Comrade Pavlik xxii-xxxii, 1-109


Thursday, 9/28: Heroism Redefined: Dangerous Pavlik

                                 Kelly, Comrade Pavlik, 110-75, 223-65 (skim 176-222)


Friday, 9/29: Thesis Statement Due


Tuesday, 10/3:  Other Children, Other Heroes


                                 Lugovskaya, Nina. The Diary of a Soviet Schoolgirl, 1932-1937,

                     trans. Joanne Turnbull (Moscow: Glas Publishers, 2003)


V. Koretskii, “The Great Stalin is the Banner of the Friendship of Soviet Peoples!” (1950)


Thursday, 10/5:  The Role of “Nation” in the Supranational State





Hirsch, Francine.  “Toward an Empire of Nations: Border-Making and the


Formation of Soviet Identities,” The Russian Review 59(2000):201-26.



Martin, Terry.  “The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing,” The Journal of Modern.


History 70(1998):813-61



Slezkine, Yuri.  “The USSR as a Communal Apartment, or How a Socialist State


Promoted Ethnic Particularism,” Slavic Review 53(1994):414-52.



*Weitz, Eric, “Racial Politics without the Concept of Race: Reevaluating Soviet


Ethnic and National Purges,” Slavic Review 61(2002):1-29.  Also read commentary by Francine Hirsch, Amir Weiner, and Alaina Lemon, and Weitz’s reply, ibid., 30-65.




Tuesday, 10/12:  Making Nations in Soviet Ukraine





Brown, Kate.  Biography of No Place, 1-133




Thursday, 10/14: Unmaking Nations in Soviet Ukraine





Biography of No Place, 134-238




* * * * * * * * * * * A U T U M N   B R E A K * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *




Tuesday, 10/24:


No Class



Consultations, Independent Research




Thursday, 10/26


No Class



Consultations, Independent Research




Monday, 10/30:  Bibliography Due




Tuesday, 10/31


No Class



Consultations, Independent Research




Thursday, 11/2


No Class



Consultations, Independent Research




Tuesday, 11/7


No Class



Consultations, Independent Research




Thursday, 11/9


No Class



Consultations, Independent Research




Tuesday, 11/14


No Class



Consultations, Independent Research




Thursday, 11/16


No Class



Consultations, Independent Research




Tuesday, 11/21


No Class



Consultations, Independent Research




Wednesday, 11/22PAPERS DUE




* * * * * * * T H A N K S G I V I N G   B R E A K * * * * * * *




Tuesday, 11/28


Oral Presentations (see guidesheet)




Thursday, 11/30


Oral Presentations (see guidesheet)




Tuesday, 12/5


Oral Presentations (see guidesheet)




Thursday, 12/7


Oral Presentations (see guidesheet)




Friday,  12/8





Reference Materials:

The American Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies...  Columbus,

     Washington, DC, 1965- .  Available on-line for post-1990 publications via EBSCO.

European Bibliography of Soviet, East European and Slavonic Studies. Birmingham,

     Paris, 1975- . Also accessible on-line: http://www.ebsees.msh-paris.fr/

The Cambridge encyclopedia of Russia and the former Soviet Union.  Ed. Archie

     Brown, Michael Kaser and Gerald S. Smith.  Cambridge, 1994.

The Encyclopedia of Russian History, 4 vols.  Ed. James R. Millar.  NY, 2004.

The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History (after 1991, The Modern

     Encyclopedia of Russian and Eurasian History).  Ed. Joseph L. Wieczynski.  Gulf

     Breeze, 1976- .

Bloomberg, Marty, and Buckley Barry Barrett.  Stalin:  An Annotated Guide to

     Books in English.  San Bernardino, 1993.

McNeal, Robert H., comp.  Stalin's Works:  An Annotated Bibliography.  Stanford,


Fitzpatrick, Sheila, and Lynne Viola, eds.  A Researcher's guide to sources on Soviet

      social history in the 1930s.  Armonk, NY, 1990.


Relevant On-Line Reference Materials:

Stalin-Era Research & Archives Project:  http://www.utoronto.ca/ceres/serap

Joseph Stalin Reference Archive: 


Revelations from the Russian Archives:


Documents from Stalinism as a Way of Life:


Images from Stalinism as a Way of Life:


Latur, Alessandra.  Rozhdenie mitropolii.  Moskva 1930-1955/Birth of a Metropolis:

      Moscow 1930-1955.  Moscow, 2002.  Bilingual collection of essays and b&w

      photographs of Moscow architecture.

Cathedral of Christ the Savior (inc. video of its 1931 destruction):


Hotel Moskva, 1930s Moscow architecture:


Stalinist Skyscrapers (Moscow, 1930s-50s buildings):


Communal Apartment


Moscow Metro stations (including historical photos, information on dates of

     construction, etc; text in Russian): http://www.metro.ru/stations/


Selected Films Of The Stalin Era (Most Available At AV Center In ARH):


Aleksandr Nevskii.  Dir. Sergei Eisenstein, 1938.  RUS-VHS-VT-002/DSK-VD-001

Chapayev.  Dir. S. Vasil’ev, 1934.  Russian Dept.

Circus.  Dir. Grigorii Aleksandrov, 1936.  RUS-VHS-VT-019

Earth.  Dir. Aleksandr Dovzhenko, 1930. RUS-VHS-VT-025

Enthusiasm.  Dir. Dziga Vertov, 1931.  RUS-VHS-VT-008

Happiness.  Dir. Aleksandr Medvedkin, 1934.  RUS-VHS-VT-029

Ivan the Terrible, pt. 1.  Dir. Sergei Eisenstein, 1942.  RUS-VHS-VT-066

Ivan the Terrible, pt. 2.  Dir. Sergei Eisenstein, 1946.  RUS-VHS-VT-067

Jolly Fellows.  Dir. Grigorii Aleksandrov, 1934.  RUS-VHS-VT-031

Peter the First.  Dir. V. Petrov, 1937.

Salt for Svanetia.  Dir. Mikhail Kalatozov, 1930.  RUS-VHS-VT-360

Three Songs for Lenin.  Dir. Dziga Vertov, 1934.  RUS-VHS-VT-050

Turksib.  Dir. Viktor Turin, 1929.  RUS-VHS-VT-052

Volga, Volga!.  Dir. Grigorii Aleksandrov, 1937.  RUS-VHS-VT-053


Some Autobiographical Texts

In the Shadow of Revolution:  Life Stories of Russian Women From 1917 to the Second

         World War.  Eds. Sheila Fitzpatrick, Yuri Slezkine.  Princeton, 2000.

Intimacy and Terror:  Soviet Diaries of the 1930s.  Eds. Véronique Garros, Natalia

          Korenevskaya, and Thomas Lahusen.  NY, 1995.

Remembering the Darkness: Women in Soviet prisons.  Ed., trans. Veronica

          Shapovalov.  Lanham, MD, 2001.   

Till my tale is told: women’s memoirs of the Gulag.  Ed. Simeon Vilensky, trans. John

          Crowfoot, et al.  Bloomington, 1999.


"Show Trial" Transcripts

The Great Purge Trial.  Ed. Robert C. Tucker, Stephen F. Cohen.  NY, 1965.

Report on the Court Proceedings in the case of the anti-Soviet "bloc of Rights and

          Trotskyites.....  Moscow, 1938.

Report of Court Proceedings in the case of the anti-Soviet Trotskyite centre...   Moscow,


Report of Court Proceedings.  The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite terrorist centre. 

          Moscow, 1936.  Reprinted, 1967.  Also available on the web:



Additional Primary Materials

Dmitrov and Stalin: 1934-1943.  Letters from the Soviet Archives, ed. Alexander

           Dallin and F. I. Firsov; trans. Vadim A Staklo.  New Haven, 2000.

Memoirs of Anastas Mikoyan, trans. Katherine T. O’Connor and Diana L. Burgin. 

          Madison, CT, 1988.

The Stalin-Kaganovich correspondence, 1931-1936.  Ed. R. W. Davies, et al., trans.

          Steven Shabad.  New Haven, 2003.

Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936.  Ed. Lars T. Lih et al., trans. Catherine A.

          Fitzpatrick.  New Haven, 1995.


Makarenko, Anton.  A Book for Parents.  Trans. Robert Daglish.  Moscow, 1954.

Makarenko, his life and works:  articles, talks, and reminiscences.  Moscow, 1963.

Makarenko, Anton.  The road to life: an epic of education.  Trans. Ivy and Tatiana Litvinov.  Moscow, 1955.

Stakhanov, Aleksei.  The Stakhanov Movement explained by its initiator, Alexei Stakhanov.  Moscow, 1939.

Angelina, Praskovia Nikitichna.  My answer to an American questionnaire.  Moscow, 1951.



Russian Posters 1914-1953: http://ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~vbonnell/posters.htm

Artamonova, S. N. Russkii plakat: XX vek, shedevry=The Russian Poster: 20th-century

          Masterpieces. Moscow: Kontakt-Kul’tura, 2000.

Baburina, Nina. The Soviet Political Poster 1917-1980. Harmondsworth: Penguin

            Books, 1985.

Barkhatova, Elena.  Konstruktivizm v sovetskom plakate=Soviet Constructivist Posters

          Moscow: Konkakt-Kul’tura, 2005.

Iskusstvo russkogo plakata XX vveka.  Real’nost’ utopii.  Moscow: Progress-Traditsiia,

            2004.  + DVD with 1100 pictures of posters.

Plakaty voiny i pobedy, 1941-1945, comps. P. A. Snopkov, A. E. Snopkov, A. F

           Shkliaruk. Moscow: Kontakt-Kul’tura, 2005.

Russkii reklamnyi plakat, comps. Aleksandr Snopkov, Pavel Snopkov, Aleksandr

            Shkliaruk. Moscow: Kontakt-Kul’tura, 2001.

Vragi i druz’ia v zerkale Krokodile 1922-1972. Moscow: Pravda, 1972.

Some posters from the Soviet Union:










Shalimoff, George V., and George B. Shaw. Catalogue of Propaganda-Advertising

            Postal Cards of the U.S.S.R. 1927-1934, ed. Jean R. Walton. 

            Norfolk: United Postal Stationery Society, 2002.

Karachun, D., and V. Karlinskii, Pochtovye marki SSSR (1918-1968) [Postage Stamps

            of the USSR 1918-1968].  Moscow, 1969.

Katalog pochtovykh marok SSSR: 1918-1980 [Catalog of postage stamps of USSR, 1918-1980], 2 vols. Moscow, 1983-84).



The Film Factory: Russian and Soviet Cinema in Documents, ed., tr. Richard Taylor.  Cambridge, MA, 1988.

Kenez, Peter.  Cinema and Soviet society from the revolution to the death of Stalin.  London: I. B. Tauris, 2001.

Stalinism and Soviet Cinema, eds. Richard Taylor and Derek Spring. London, 1993.

Widdis, Emma.  Visions of a new land: Soviet film from the Revolution to the Second World War.  New Haven, 2003.



“The Five Year Plan: Vintage Photographs”: http://www.schicklerart.com/auto_exh/5Year_x_Ex_0001

Soviet Photography:  An Age of Realism.  Eds. Sergei Morozov, et al.  NY, 1984.

Tupitsyn, Margarita.  The Soviet Photograph, 1924-1937.  New Haven, 1996.



Iskusstvo pervoi piatiletki:  zhivopis’ [Art of the First Five-Year Plan], ed. Anatolii Mikhailovich Vysotskii.  M, 1983.

Iskusstvo vtoroi piatiletki:  zhivopis’ [Art of Second Five-Year Plan], ed. Emma Nikolaevna Pugacheva.  M, 1984.

Bown, Matthew Cullerne.  Art under Stalin.  NY, 1991.