EUH 4572: Modern Russia
The 20th Century Soviet Experience: The Dream that Failed
Professor Steven Kreis
Florida Atlantic University, Davie
COURSE OUTLINE: This course is designed to offer the upper division undergraduate a better grasp of the major social, intellectual, political and economic developments of 20th century Russia. We shall spend the majority of our time investigating the historical conditions of the Russian Revolution, Stalin's "revolution from above," the cold war and finally, the collapse of Soviet-style communism over the past five years. The one theme which perhaps unites the whole course is the development of totalitarianism in the 20th century. In this respect, we shall devote a great deal of attention to Joseph Stalin and the Stalinist years, c.1927-1953. In fact, the entire course is devoted to an understanding of totalitarianism and Stalin's role in its genesis. Although there are no stated prerequisites for this course, it assumed by the instructor that you have had Western Civilization or are, at the very least, familiar with the basic outlines of modern European history.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Attendance and informed participation at all class meetings is not just strongly recommended, but required. This means that you (1) show up to class on a regular basis and (2) complete your written and reading assignments on time. The entire success of the course, both from my standpoint and yours, is that you get involved, get interested and get motivated to study a nation whose history has been of such extreme importance in the 20th century. Remember, education is nothing more than dialogue, and according to the master of dialogue, Socrates, good dialogue ought to improve both the instructor and the student. Above all, you will be challenged to think and discuss freely and openly.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution
READING ASSIGNMENTS: The reading assignments may seem a bit hefty at first. Soviet history, from the western perspective is difficult primarily because of language and cultural traditions. Trying to memorize all the facts is both impossible and unproductive. Therefore, you ought to read your texts with and eye to themes and ideas. You must make the effort to keep up with the assigned readings. If you have not done the reading for a specific week, you should still show up to class. One hint which may help you to get through the course is as follows: whenever you encounter a word in Russian, try repeating it out loud. This will be especially helpful with those names which you will encounter on a regular basis. If you learn how to pronounce the word, your reading will be improved.
GRADING: will assign two or three take-home examinations during the course of the semester. These will be essay exams which ask you to comment and reflect upon topics we have dealt with in class. These exams will be announced in advance and you will have one week to complete them. For those of you interested in submitting a research paper in lieu of the exams, please see me as soon as possible to discuss your somewhat different requirements. I will also assign several short assignments based on your readings for a particular week. Your final grade is based upon two variable: (1) performance on the exams or research essay and (2) the level of your participation in class. At least 15% of your final grade will be determined by this last variable.
THE INTERNET: There are a vast number of resources available on the Internet which you may certainly utilize in adjunct to the requirements of this course. While much of the fun and tedium of the Internet consists in locating these resources, I can help to point you in the right direction. In the past I have tried to utilize a mailing list for my classes but the success of that list depends upon the willingness of the student to participate. So, I urge you all to get an FAU VAX account as soon as possible. Email is a wonderful method of communication and you should also be exploiting all the available resources on the Internet. After all, your account with FAU is FREE. I'll talk more about this in class.
THE CLASS: My conduct in the class, as you will soon see, is based on a genuine respect for the intellect of the student. My approach is informal and at times, irreverent. Just the same, I take my work very seriously and I expect you to do so as well. If you show up late for a class I expect you to enter the room as discreetly as possible. If you miss any class it is your responsibility to make sure that you make up for lost ground. I have found that a format of lecture AND discussion works to the advantage of everyone involved, including myself. If you are not prepared to at least think about our subject, then I suggest you will have a tough time overall. In other words, come to class prepared to learn and discuss new ideas, and above all, THINK!
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copyright � 2000 Steven Kreis