Stalin and Stalinism


Fall 2013 quarter

Taught by

Russian history, environmental history

What explains the rise of Joseph Stalin, one of the 20th century's most vicious and powerful dictators? How can we understand the survival and persistence of his legacy still today, six decades after his death? How did this longest ruling leader of the Soviet Union, responsible for the murder of at least 20 million of his fellow citizens, transform a relatively backward empire into an undisputed world power? Join us as we trace how this initially insignificant radical young Georgian revolutionary by the name of Ioseb Jughashvili managed to climb through the ranks to become Joseph, the “Man of Steel,” leader of the Soviet Union and one of the most insidious butchers of the previous century.

Stalin is a pivotal figure not only in Russian and Soviet history, but also world history. Through his mandates, he had a phenomenal impact on the country’s art, literature, politics, courts, prisons, economy and agricultural and urban life. Guided by Stalin, the USSR abolished private property; compelled peasants to work on state-owned collective farms; forced rapid industrialization throughout the empire; redefined education and political loyalty; sent millions of citizens to notorious Gulag "work camps"; and proudly declared war against nature.

At the same time, Stalin's USSR also did more than any other country to crush Nazi Germany. And under his rule, the USSR transformed a mostly illiterate culture to one which became nearly entirely literate. It also developed a nuclear arsenal second only to the U.S.’s and kept an uneasy peace with its ideological enemies after the close of World War II.

In lectures and seminar we will examine issues raised in a selection of readings from history, literature and culture geared to helping us answer questions raised by our exploration, and we will also view and analyze relevant films. Students will write a major research paper, producing drafts during the course of the quarter, and will also present the results of their research to their peers in poster projects at the end of the term.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

history, cultural studies and foreign affairs.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Required Fees

$20 for poster development and printing.


Date Revision
April 17th, 2013 This program has been cancelled. Rob Smurr is teaching Adventure Travel and Eco Tourism.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 24


Course Reference Number not yet available.

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