The Soviet Union and the Rebirth of Russia: Stalin, Gorbachev, and Putin

We are aware of missing faculty photos in the directory and catalog and will be updating them shortly. Thank you for your patience.

Spring 2019
Credits per quarter

Compare offerings and share your lists with others.

Taught by

Russian language and literature

This program will investigate the 74-year lifespan of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), as well as the decades that have passed since its collapse. We will explore poetry and prose and analyze why the USSR produced such remarkable and world-renowned talents as writers Bulgakov and Solzhenitsyn and composers Prokofiev and Shostakovich. We shall also investigate how this society included inhumane prison camps and totalitarian rule. Indeed, how did Josef Stalin become responsible for the murder of at least 20 million of his fellow citizens while at the same time transforming a relatively backward empire into an undisputed world power?

Economic difficulties and shortages of consumer goods plagued citizens of the USSR until its collapse, but the empire’s last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, did his best to revitalize the Soviet socialist experiment. Gorbachev’s campaigns to restructure the empire’s economy and become more open to a free press simply hastened the collapse of the empire. We will examine these policies, but equally important, we will also investigate the rise of 15 independent states that emerged and trace their paths since they gained independence in 1991. Vladimir Putin has led Russia since 2000 and his authoritarian policies suggest that he will remain in power until 2024.

Faculty will provide lectures to guide our study, students and faculty will seminar on a diverse selection of historical and literary texts, and we will view and discuss relevant documentaries and films. The centerpiece of student work will be a major research paper and final presentation.

Students will choose between language study and a special history workshop segment, which will explore the former Central Asian republics of the Soviet Union through their ancient and diverse cultures, languages, religions, traditions, gender relations, ethnicity, and collective identities. A 12-credit option is available to students who do not wish to participate in the daytime Russian language segment or the special workshop; a 4-credit option is available to students wanting only the language segment or special workshop. To enter language study at this point, students should have the equivalent of two quarters of college Russian.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: education, diplomatic and security services, film, music, art, international business, and graduate studies in international affairs and in Russian and Slavic literary, historical, political, and social studies.          

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

$40 for poster presentations and workshop supplies.


Students choosing the Russian language segment within the program must have at least two quarters of college-level Russian or the equivalent.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia