Denis Kozlov Dalhousie University Fall 2013 Department of History

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Denis Kozlov HIST 3090/5090 // RUSN 3090 Twentieth-Century Russian/Soviet History through Literature

Denis Kozlov Dalhousie University

Fall 2013 Department of History

Office: 3012 McCain Arts & Social Sciences

Office hours: Tuesday, Thursday, 14:00-15:00 or by appointment

Office telephone: (902) 494-6952


HIST 3090/5090 // RUSN 3090

Twentieth-Century Russian History through Literature

Wednesday 12:35-15:25

This is a seminar on the cultural and intellectual history of Russia in the twentieth century, most of which, 1917 through 1991, fell on the Soviet years. The Bolsheviks won as much by their pens as by their guns. Their revolutionary program, setting out What Is to Be Done, was titled after a novel. For them, universal literacy was a key to consciousness and a goal in itself; and in the end, the Soviet Union was supposed to be a nation of readers. This course will consider Soviet history through the prism of society’s interaction with literature. We will look at Soviet culture and politics through the eyes of an aristocratic family and a Jewish lad-turned-commissar, a New Soviet Man and a Soviet conman, a revolutionary poet who committed suicide when the Revolution was over and the wife of another poet who disappeared in Stalin’s prison camps, a youthful rebel infatuated with America, and a sceptical member of the late Soviet intelligentsia. We will think about the relationship between literature and revolution, avant-garde and socialist realism, between self, writing, and the historic epoch. Through literary texts (and, occasionally, readers’ responses to them), we will study the making of Soviet culture during the Revolution, the Civil War, the New Economic Policy, Stalin’s Great Turn, the Terror, and the Great Patriotic War. Following that, we will consider the unmaking of this culture during its late decades – the years of the so-called Thaw, Stagnation, and Reconstruction. Here we will revisit some of the old themes of the course from new standpoints: the impact and memory of World War II, the legacy of mass political violence, and the changing representations of the Revolution. We will also take up such issues as the birth and evolution of dissent, generational conflict, Western cultural imports, the city and the countryside, and the slow death of the Soviet experiment. In the course, we will read key literary texts that shaped the minds of Soviet readers, watch films, listen to sound recordings, and become familiar with some of the recent scholarship on 20th-century Russian politics, society, and culture.
Required Reading
Available at the Dalhousie University Bookstore + on the course reserve at Killam Library:

Katerina Clark, The Soviet Novel: History as Ritual

Mikhail Bulgakov, The White Guard

Andrei Platonov, The Foundation Pit

Lidiia Chukovskaia, Sofia Petrovna

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Valentin Rasputin, Farewell to Matyora

Sergei Dovlatov, The Suitcase

Handouts will be available on the course Blackboard site, under “Course Content.”
Journal articles and book chapters

Most are in print and available from electronic resources, such as JSTOR or Project MUSE. (Look up the journal’s title in the Novanet catalogue or in E-journals on the Library website look for the year and journal issue that you need locate the article in this issue).The articles, chapters, and other selections that are out of print will be available from the instructor and/or placed on reserve.

Background and Reference Readings
Ronald Grigor Suny, The Soviet Experiment (Course Reserve)

Wolfgang Kasack, Dictionary of Russian Literature since 1917 (Killam Reference Collection)

These readings may help you with contextualizing the literary developments we will discuss. The background readings are especially helpful to those students who have not taken a survey of Soviet history earlier.
Course Website on Blackboard

Access the course website through My.Dal  Learning Resources. Some of the course materials will be there, usually under “Course Content.” Please check regularly.

Course Grade

Participation: 35%

Two written reviews of the readings and/or films: 3-4 pp. and 7.5% each

Oral presentation: 10%

Final paper: Undergraduate students: 15-25 pp., 40%. Graduate students: 25-30 pp., 40%
Evaluation of Graduate Students’ Coursework, Including Participation

Please consult the evaluation criteria as specified in the History Department’s Graduate Handbook (Section VIII):

Course Requirements

As a seminar, this course is based primarily on your contribution to the discussion as well as on your written work. Therefore, the assigned readings, attendance, and participation are mandatory. Your incorporation of suggested readings into the discussion and written assignments, while not required, is a major plus.

In addition, there are the following requirements:
Oral presentation:

You are to make one oral presentation in the course. Choose a writer and/or a particular book from the suggested readings or consult with me in advance about other possible topics. You are free to come up with your own topic for the presentation. Your oral presentation may develop into the final research paper about a particular author/book/problem of your choice.

Written assignments:

1. Reviews

You will write two reviews, 3-4 pages each, of any two sets of weekly readings/films of your choice. Your review should summarize the major arguments of the readings and offer an informed discussion and critique of them. The reviews will be evaluated according to the following criteria: a) presentation of the argument; b) sensitive reading of scholarly texts and primary sources, including fiction; and c) your ability to relate the readings to each other.

2. Final paper

At the end of the course, you will submit a paper on a topic of your choice. The topic needs to be discussed with me and approved in advance. The paper needs to be 15-25 pages in length (25-30 pages for graduate students) and should include additional sources and/or scholarly literature beyond the readings covered in class. Before discussing the topic with me in the middle of the course, you are expected to hand in a preliminary bibliography and outline for the paper (due Week 5). First drafts submitted no less than two weeks before the final deadline are encouraged: I will read them and will make suggestions for improvement. The final paper grade will take into account your work on the bibliography, the outline, and the first draft.

The penalty for written work submitted late is 10% of the grade per late day without prior and reasonable excuse.


Office of Student Accessibility & Accommodation

Students may request accommodation as a result of barriers related to disability, religious obligation, or any characteristic under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. Students who require academic accommodation for either classroom participation or the writing of tests and exams should make their request to the Advising and Access Services Center (AASC) prior to or at the outset of the regular academic year. Please visit for more information and to obtain the Request for Accommodation – Form A.

A note taker may be required as part of a student’s accommodation. There is an honorarium of $75/course/term (with some exceptions). If you are interested, please contact AASC at 494-2836 for more information.

Please note that your classroom may contain specialized accessible furniture and equipment. It is important that these items remain in the classroom, untouched, so that students who require their usage will be able to participate in the class.

Academic Integrity
All students in this class are to read and understand the policies on academic integrity and plagiarism referenced in the Policies and Student Resources sections of the website. Ignorance of such policies is no excuse for violations.

Any paper submitted by a student at Dalhousie University may be checked for originality to confirm that the student has not plagiarized from other sources. Plagiarism is considered a serious academic offence which may lead to loss of credit, suspension or expulsion from the University, or even to the revocation of a degree. It is essential that there be correct attribution of authorities from which facts and opinions have been derived. At Dalhousie there are University Regulations which deal with plagiarism and, prior to submitting any paper in a course, students should read the Policy on Intellectual Honesty contained in the Calendar or on the Online Dalhousie website. The Senate has affirmed the right of any instructor to require that student papers be submitted in both written and computer-readable format, and to submit any paper to be checked electronically for originality. As a student in this class, you are to keep an electronic copy of any paper you submit, and the course instructor may require you to submit that electronic copy on demand.

At Dalhousie University, we respect the values of academic integrity: honesty, trust, fairness, responsibility and respect. As a student, adherence to the values of academic integrity and related policies is a requirement of being part of the academic community at Dalhousie University.
What does academic integrity mean?

Academic integrity means being honest in the fulfillment of your academic responsibilities thus establishing mutual trust. Fairness is essential to the interactions of the academic community and is achieved through respect for the opinions and ideas of others. Violations of intellectual honesty are offensive to the entire academic community, not just to the individual faculty member and students in whose class an offence occurs.

How can you achieve academic integrity?

  • make sure you understand Dalhousie’s policies on academic integrity

  • give appropriate credit to the sources used in your assignment such as written or oral work, computer codes/programs, artistic or architectural works, scientific projects, performances, web page designs, graphical representations, diagrams, videos, and images

  • Use RefWorks to keep track of your research and edit and format bibliographies in the citation style required by the instructor -

  • do not download the work of another from the Internet and submit it as your own

  • do not submit work that has been completed through collaboration or previously submitted for another assignment without permission from your instructor

  • do not write an examination or test for someone else

  • do not falsify data or lab results

[these examples should be considered only as a guide and not an exhaustive list]
What will happen if an allegation of an academic offence is made against you?

I am required to report a suspected offence. The full process is outlined in the Discipline flow chart and includes the following:

  • Each Faculty has an Academic Integrity Officer (AIO) who receives allegations from instructors

  • The AIO decides whether to proceed with the allegation and you will be notified of the process

  • If the case proceeds, you will receive an INC (incomplete) grade until the matter is resolved

  • If you are found guilty of an academic offence, a penalty will be assigned ranging from a warning to a suspension or expulsion from the University and can include a notation on your transcript, failure of the assignment or failure of the course. All penalties are academic in nature.

Where can you turn for help?

  • If you are ever unsure about anything, contact me

  • Academic Integrity website. Links to policies, definitions, online tutorials, tips on citing and paraphrasing

  • Writing Center. Assistance with proofreading, writing styles, citations

  • Dalhousie Libraries. Workshops, online tutorials, citation guides, Assignment Calculator, RefWorks

  • Dalhousie Student Advocacy Service. Assists students with academic appeals and student discipline procedures.

  • Senate Office. List of Academic Integrity Officers, discipline flow chart, Senate Discipline Committee

Feel free to come to my office and to contact me by e-mail

if you have any questions about the course.

Week 1. September 11

Introduction: How to Learn History through Literature? (And How to Read in a Seminar)

Week 2. September 18

Utopia, Realism, Revolution

Chernyshevsky, What Is To Be Done – pp. 359-386, handout

Maksim Gorky, Mother – selections. Part 1: chapters I through VIII; X, XII, XIV, and XVI

through XX. Part 2: chapters III, IV, and X through XIX.

Read at:

Katerina Clark, Soviet Novel, 3-67


Igal Halfin, From Darkness to Light: Class, Consciousness, and Salvation in Revolutionary

Russia, 85-148, DAL Electronic Resources, via Novanet

Graduate students, in addition to the above:

1. Read Mother in full

2. Igal Halfin, From Darkness to Light: Class, Consciousness, and Salvation in Revolutionary

Russia – pp. 1-205, DAL Electronic Resources, via Novanet

Suggested additional scholarly works – possible for presentation:

Irina Paperno, Chernyshevsky and the Age of Realism: A Study in the Semiotics

of Behavior

Jeffrey Brooks, When Russia Learned to Read: Literacy and Popular Literature,


Mark Steinberg, Petersburg Fin de Siècle. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.

Olga Matich, Erotic Utopia: The Decadent Imagination in the Russian Fin-de-Siècle.

Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.

Week 3. September 25

Literature of the Russian Revolution and Civil War

Mikhail Bulgakov, The White Guard

Isaac Babel, Red Cavalryselections, handout

Vladimir Mayakovsky:

Visit the website and read some of his poetry. You can also visit the English version of the website of the Mayakovsky museum in Moscow:


Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, chs. 1-3, DAL Electronic Resources, via Novanet

Graduate students, in addition to the above:

Read Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, in full

Suggested literary and political writings/authors – possible for presentation:

Alexander Fadeev, Rout

Dmitry Furmanov, Chapaev

Aleksandr Serafimovich, The Iron Stream

Boris Pil’niak, The Naked Year

Mikhail Sholokhov, Quiet Flows the Don

Leon Trotskii, Literature and Revolution
Suggested scholarly works – possible for presentation:

Katerina Clark, Petersburg, Crucible of Cultural Revolution

Mark Steinberg, Proletarian Imagination: Self, Modernity, and the Sacred in Russia,


Donald Raleigh, Experiencing Russia’s Civil War: Politics, Society, and Revolutionary

Culture in Saratov, 1917-1922

Orlando Figes and Boris Kolonitskii, Interpreting the Russian Revolution: The Language

and Symbols of 1917

Week 4. October 2

NEP as Revolution Betrayed?

Mikhail Zoshchenko, Nervous People – selections, handout

Sheila Fitzpatrick, “Ascribing Class: The Construction of Social Identity in Soviet Russia,”

The Journal of Modern History, vol. 65, no. 4. (Dec. 1993), 745-770, JSTOR
Graduate students, in addition to the above:

Katerina Clark, “The ‘Quiet Revolution’ in Soviet Intellectual Life,” in Russia in the Era of

NEP:  Explorations in Soviet Society and Culture, ed. Sheila Fitzpatrick, Alexander Rabinowitch, and Richard Stites (available from the instructor)
Suggested literary texts/authors – possible for presentation:

Ilya Il’f and Evgenii Petrov, Twelve Chairs

Ilya Il’f and Evgenii Petrov, The Little Golden Calf

Boris Pil’niak, Mahogany

Suggested scholarly works– possible for presentation:

Lynn Mally, Culture of the Future: The Proletkult Movement in Russia

Robert Maguire, Red Virgin Soil: Soviet Literature in the 1920s

Alan Ball, Russia’s Last Capitalists: The Nepmen, 1921-1929

Igal Halfin, Intimate Enemies: Demonizing the Bolshevik Opposition, 1918-1928


Revolution Restaged: The Great Turn and Socialist Realism

Andrei Platonov, The Foundation Pit

Valentin Kataev, Time, Forward! – selections, handout

Katerina Clark, Soviet Novel, 91-155, 255-260

Evgenii Dobrenko, "The Disaster of Middlebrow Taste, Or, Who 'Invented' Socialist

Realism?" in Socialist Realism without Shores, ed. Thomas Lahusen and Evgenii Dobrenko (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997), 135-64, handout
Graduate students, in addition to the above:

Stephen Kotkin, Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as Civilization chs. 2-6

(pp. 72-279), DAL Electronic Resources, via Novanet
Suggested literary texts/authors – possible for presentation:

Fedor Gladkov, Cement

Suggested scholarly works– possible for presentation:

Lynne Viola, Peasant Rebels Under Stalin: Collectivization and the Culture \

of Peasant Resistance

Sheila Fitzpatrick, Stalin’s Peasants: Resistance and Survival in the Russian Village

after Collectivization

Lewis Siegelbaum, Stakhanovism and the Politics of Productivity

Week 6. October 16

The Great Terror: Human Experiences and Varieties of Writing

Lidiia Chukovskaia, Sofia Petrovna

Arkadii Gaidar, Tale of the Military Secret

Nadezhda Mandelshtam, memoirs – in The Portable Twentieth-Century Russian Reader,

ed. Clarence Brown  “A May Night,” “Last Letter” (pp. 403-412), handout

FILM: Burnt by the Sun (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1994) – Time and place TBA
Graduate students, in addition to the above:

Jochen Hellbeck, “Working, Struggling, Becoming: Stalin-Era Autobiographical

Texts,” Russian Review, Vol. 60, No. 3. (Jul., 2001), 340-359, JSTOR
Suggested literary texts/authors – possible for presentation:

Anna Akhmatova, Requiem:

Suggested scholarly works– possible for presentation:

Orlando Figes, The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia

Lynne Viola, The Unknown Gulag: The Lost World of Stalin’s Special Settlements

Jochen Hellbeck, Revolution on My Mind: Writing A Diary under Stalin, DAL

Electronic Resources

Sheila Fitzpatrick, “Signals from Below: Soviet Letters of Denunciation of the 1930s,”

The Journal of Modern History 68, no. 4 (Dec. 1996), 831-866, JSTOR

Sheila Fitzpatrick, “How the Mice Buried the Cat: Scenes from the Great Purges of 1937

in the Russian Provinces,” Russian Review 52, no. 3 (1993), 299-320, JSTOR

J. Arch Getty and Oleg V. Naumov, The Road to Terror: Stalin and the Self-Destruction

of the Bolsheviks, 1932-1939 (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1999)

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

vol. 70, no. 4 (1998): 813-61

Week 7. October 23

War and Postwar

Viktor Nekrasov, Front-Line Stalingrad, selections, handout

Elena Zubkova, Russia after the War: Hopes, Illusions, and Disappointments – pp. 3-39, 74-98,

101-108, 117-148 – handout

Watch the film: The Cossacks of Kuban (Ivan Pyr’ev, 1950)
Graduate students, in addition to the above (and strongly suggested for undergraduate students):

Clark, Soviet Novel, 159-209

Suggested literary texts/authors – possible for presentation:

Vasilii Azhaev, Far From Moscow

Anatolii Kuznetsov, Babi Yar: A Document in the Form of a Novel
Suggested scholarly works– possible for presentation:

Catherine Merridale, Ivan’s War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945

Thomas Lahusen, How Life Writes the Book: Real Socialism and Socialist Realism

in Stalin's Russia

Amir Weiner, Making Sense of War: The Second World War and the Fate

of the Bolshevik Revolution

Karel Berkhoff, Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine under the Nazi Rule

Week 8. October 30

After Stalin: Thaw, Youth, West?

Vasilii Aksenov, Starry Ticket selections, handout

Denis Kozlov and Eleonory Gilburd, “The Thaw as an Event in Russian History,” in Kozlov and

Gilburd, eds., The Thaw: Soviet Society and Culture during the 1950s and 1960s (University of Toronto Press, 2013) – handout

Oksana Bulgakowa, “Cine-Weathers: Soviet Thaw Cinema in the International Context,” in

Kozlov and Gilburd, eds., The Thaw: Soviet Society and Culture during the 1950s and 1960shandout

Watch the film: Nine Days of One Year (Mikhail Romm, 1962)
Graduate students, in addition to the above:

Clark, Soviet Novel, 210-233

Suggested literary texts/authors – possible for presentation:

Ilya Ehrenburg, The Thaw

Vladimir Dudintsev, Not by Bread Alone (1956)

Anatolii Gladilin, The Making and Unmaking of a Soviet Writer: My Story of the "Young

prose" of the Sixties and After
Suggested scholarly works and memoirs – possible for presentation:

Liudmilla Alekseeva, The Thaw Generation: Coming of Age in the Post-Stalin Era Dilemmas of De-Stalinization: Negotiating Cultural and Social Change in the

Khrushchev Era, ed. Polly Jones

Grigorii Svirskii, A History of Post-war Soviet Writing: the Literature of

Moral Opposition

William Taubman, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era

Week 9. November 6

Revisiting the Soviet Past: Terror and Revolution

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Denis Kozlov, “Remembering and Explaining the Terror during the Thaw: Soviet Readers of

Ehrenburg and Solzhenitsyn in the 1960s,” in Kozlov and Gilburd, eds., The Thaw: Soviet Society and Culture during the 1950s and 1960shandout
Suggested literary texts/authors – possible for presentation:

Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

Evgeniia Ginzburg, Journey into the Whirlwind

Iurii Trifonov, House on the Embankment

Varlam Shalamov, Kolyma Tales

Ilya Ehrenburg, Memoirs (People, Years, Life) – note the role of the terror in the book

Suggested scholarly works– possible for presentation:

Vladislav Zubok, Zhivago’s Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia

Leona Toker, Return from the Archipelago: Narratives of Gulag Survivors

Miriam Dobson, Khrushchev's Cold Summer: Gulag Returnees, Crime, and the Fate of

Reform After Stalin

Polly Jones, Myth, Memory, Trauma: Rethinking the Stalinist Past in the Soviet Union,


Denis Kozlov, The Readers of Novyi Mir: Coming to Terms with the Stalinist Past

Week 10. November 13

The Past as Redemption: War, Village, Empire, Memory

Bulat Okudzhava – Good-bye, Schoolboy! – handout

Valentin Rasputin, Farewell to Matyora

Watch the film: The Mirror (Andrei Tarkovskii, 1974):
Bulat Okudzhava – listen to the recordings of his songs and read some of the lyrics:




Short article and recordings:

Recordings (MP3):
Graduate students, in addition to the above:

Clark, The Soviet Novel: History as Ritual, 234-250

Suggested literary texts/authors – possible for presentation:

Vasilii Grossman, Life and Fate

Vasil’ Bykov (Vasil Bykau), The Ordeal
Suggested scholarly works – possible for presentation:

Svetlana Boym, Common Places: Mythologies of Everyday Life in Russia

Yitzhak Brudny, Reinventing Russia: Russian Nationalism and the Soviet State,


Kathleen Parthé, Russian Village Prose: The Radiant Past

Gerald S. Smith, Songs to Seven Strings: Russian Guitar Poetr and Soviet "Mass" Song

Rachel Platonov, Singing the Self: Guitar Poetry, Community and Identity in the Post-

Stalin Period
Week 11. November 20

The West as Salvation? No Salvation?

Eduard Limonov, It’s Me, Eddie – selections, handout

Alexei Yurchak, ch. 5 (“Imaginary West”) from Yurchak, Everything Was Forever, Until It Was

No More: The Last Soviet Generation – handout
Suggested scholarly works– possible for presentation:

Kristin Roth-Ey, Moscow Prime Time: How the Soviet Union Built the Media Empire

That Lost the Cultural Cold War

Robert D. English, Russia and the Idea of the West: Gorbachev, Intellectuals, and the

End of the Cold War

David Caute, The Dancer Defects: The Struggle for Cultural Supremacy during

the Cold War

Joshua Rubenstein, Tangled Loyalties: The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg

Suggested literary texts/authors, memoirs, and journalism – possible for presentation:

Vasilii Aksenov, The Island of Crimea – selections, available from the instructor

Vasilii Aksenov, The Burn

Ilya Ehrenburg, People, Years, Life (note the role of the West in this memoir)

Viktor Nekrasov, Both Sides of the Ocean

Week 12. November 27

The Collapse and After

Sergei Dovlatov, The Suitcase

Alexei Yurchak, ch. 4 (“Living ‘Vnye’”) from Yurchak, Everything Was Forever, Until It Was

No More: The Last Soviet Generation – handout

Il’ia Kukulin, “Alternative Social Blueprinting in Soviet Society of the 1960s and the 1970s,

or Why Left-Wing Political Practices Have Not Caught on in Contemporary Russia,” Russian Studies in History, vol. 49, no. 4 (Spring 2011): 51-92 – Dal Electronic Resources via Novanet
Graduate students, in addition to the above:

Clark, Soviet Novel, 251-253, 265-286

Kathleen E. Smith, Remembering Stalin's Victims: Popular Memory and the End of the USSR

selections (available from the instructor)
Suggested scholarly works– possible for presentation:

Vladislav Zubok, Zhivago’s Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia

Vladimir Shlapentokh, Soviet Intellectuals and Political Power: The Post-Stalin Era

Joshua Rubenstein, Soviet Dissidents: Their Struggle for Human Rights

Suggested literary texts/authors, memoirs, and journalism – possible for presentation:

Raisa Orlova, Memoirs

Lev Kopelev, Ease My Sorrows: A Memoir

Andrei Sakharov, Memoirs

Russia at the Barricades: Eyewitness Accounts of the August 1991 Coup. Edited by

Victoria E. Bonnell, Ann Cooper, and Gregory Freidin

The following two works together:

Nikolai Shmelev, “Advances and Debts,” in The Soviet System: From Crisis to Collapse,

ed. Alexander Dallin and Gail Lapidus. Boulder: Westview Press, 1995, 261-270;

Nina Andreyeva, “I Cannot Forgo My Principles,” ibid., 288-295


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