To be offered as virtual lectures via Zoom Webinar
The Soviet Experiment – Russia’s Tumultuous 20th Century
Presented by Julia Zarankin
Tuesdays, January 12 to March 2, 2021 – 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
From the Bolshevik Revolution to Putin, Russia’s history in the 20th and early 21st centuries has been tumultuous. As the 20th century began, St. Petersburg was the capital of the Russian Empire and 20 years later, Moscow became the capital of the Soviet Union, with St. Petersburg renamed Leningrad. By the end of the century, the Soviet Union crumbled, Leningrad transformed back into St. Petersburg, and Moscow became capital of the Russian Federation with a new, modern-day dictator at its helm. We will examine how this head-spinning historical trajectory plays out in Russia by focusing on the evolution of Russian culture – including art, music, literature, film and architecture – from Soviet to post-Soviet times. This course will begin with the 1905 Revolution and explore Stalin’s reign of terror, Khrushchev’s thaw, Brezhnev’s stagnation and Gorbachev’s perestroika in order to make sense of Putin’s current socio-political climate in present-day Russia.
12 January 2021 Twilight of Empire
Russian culture at the turn of the 20th
century. Cultural splendour in Russia comes hand in hand with imperial decay.
19 January 2021 Revolutionary Energy
Russia had three revolutions, the first
in 1905 and two in 1917. The end of the Romanov dynasty and the rise of Lenin
and the Bolsheviks. How modern Russian artists, poets, writers and theatre
directors embraced the spirit of the Revolution. St. Petersburg renamed
Petrograd and the capital of Russia moves to Moscow.
26 January 2021 Visions of Utopia and Homo Sovieticus
The formation of the Soviet Union after
the death of Lenin, the rise of Stalinism and the Socialist Realism doctrine
for the arts. The emergence of a new cultural icon, and a new human being: the
invincible Homo Sovieticus. Five-year plans, forced industrialization,
Stakhanovites, collectivization. St. Petersburg renamed Leningrad.
2 February 2021 “Life has Become More Joyous”
Stalinism in Russia. Terror, the gulag,
the purges and the barbaric 1938 show trials of former Bolsheviks. In the midst
of Stalinist purges and the terror, musical comedies thrive in the Soviet
Union. Propaganda and the creation of an entertainment industry. Dimitri
9 February 2021 The Thaw and De-Stalinization
After the Great Patriotic War and the
death of Stalin, Khrushchev’s regime erases the stains of Stalinism and what
follows is brief period of reprieve. Russia’s first cosmonauts conquer space.
The perils of reform. Joseph Brodsky’s trial and the arts. The end of Khrushchev.
16 February 2021 Stagnation and the Ruins of Utopia
Living in the sham that is Brezhnev’s
Soviet Union. The Olympics in 1980. Maintaining a façade amid the
disintegration and erosion of Soviet ideology.
23 February 2021 Glasnost, Perestroika and the End of the USSR
Moving toward a new order. Opening up
toward the west, dismantling communism, Gorbachev’s reforms, Yeltsin, and the
1993 coup. Leningrad becomes St. Petersburg again and the Soviet Union
2 March 2021 Beyond Communism
Putin’s Russia and his new cult of
personality. Russian nationalism and rewriting of the country’s Communist past.
Corruption. Post-Soviet art and literature. Where is Russia headed now? What
does it mean to live in Putin’s Russia today? Reflections on the “Soviet