Looking for online learning materials for this unit?
Online course materials for RUSS20602

History and Memory in Russia


Unit code: RUSS20602
Credit Rating: 20
Unit level: Level 2
Teaching period(s): Semester 2
Offered by Russian & E. European Studies
Available as a free choice unit?: Y

Requisites

None

Aims

  • To introduce the main theoretical approaches to the study of representations of the past  and history writing 
  • To explore the multiple ways in which the past shapes the present and is shaped by present perceptions
  • To give students a greater understanding of the interdependent relationship between historical narratives  and identity politics   
  • To offer students a comprehensive overview of Soviet invented traditions (public commemorations, national holidays, monuments and  national heroes)
  • To introduce students to life stories of Soviet citizens
  • To prepare students for the writing of their dissertation at Level 3

Overview

This course explores the many ways in which the past shapes the present and is, in turn, shaped by present perceptions. It specifically investigates how historical events central to the process of the construction of Russian identity are documented in historical records, narrated in history textbooks, represented in public commemorations and eventually remembered by subsequent generations. During the course, students will discuss how and why the state imposes its visions of the past on society, assess the extent of the rewriting of Russian historical narratives, and consider the significance of Soviet invented traditions in shaping historical narratives and forming national identities in Soviet and post-Soviet space. The course aims to prepare students for the writing of their dissertation at Level 3.

Teaching and learning methods

1 x 1-hour weekly lectures

2 x 1-hour weekly seminar

Extensive resources will be available via Blackboard. These will include PowerPoint presentations; seminar discussion questions; copies of and/or links to required readings and audio-visual materials; and supplementary materials to aid students in preparing for assessment.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • demonstrate familiarity with the concepts of historical revisionism, invented traditions, oral history        and cultural forms of historical memory
  • assess the extent of the rewriting of Russian history and explore the driving forces behind this process;
  • understand the relationship between revisions of history and the construction of national identity;
  • discuss similarities and differences between the ways in which historical events are represented in history textbooks, personal narratives and official representations of the past in public commemorations;
  • construct a research project.

 

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • understand how and why the state imposes its visions of the past on society;
  • understand what ‘writing history’ entails;
  • show awareness of historiography in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia;
  • assess the legacy of history education of the Soviet period;
  • understand the role and the significance of Soviet invented traditions and personal testimonies  in shaping historical narratives in Soviet and post-Soviet space;

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • critically assess conceptual and theoretical approaches to ‘writing history’;
  • apply critical thinking and analysis to cultural representations of the Russian past;
  • develop analytical skills to understand complex historical, cultural and social issues;
  • formulate historical arguments backed by evidence;
  • identify and explain competing historical arguments.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • evaluate  historical documents;
  • make effective use of a wide variety of  historical sources;
  • undertake rigours contextual analysis;
  • present written work in a coherent, well-structured and well-articulated form;
  • give an effective oral presentation;
  • construct a research project.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • gather, organize and deploy evidence in marshalling an argument;through oral presentations,
  • develop effective communication of ideas and arguments;
  • draw upon a wide range of learning resources (including library materials, the Internet, and the Language Centre);
  • provide thoughtful and constructive feedback to others.

Employability skills

  • Analytical skillsanalyse visual and written texts;
  • Group/team workingcritically evaluate a team's performance.
  • Problem solvinggather, organize and deploy evidence in marshalling an argument;
  • Written communicationcommunicate both orally and in writing with structure, coherence, clarity and fluency;

Assessment methods

  • Written assignment (inc essay) - 40%
  • Project output (not diss/n) - 40%
  • Oral assessment/presentation - 20%

Syllabus

Course Content:

Week One: Historical Writing and the Nation

Week Two: History Education and Historiography in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia

Week Three: Archive Interventions

Week Four: Records and Censorship

Week Five: Patriotic Propaganda and the Falsification of Photographs and Art

Week Six: Oral History and Life Stories of Soviet Citizens

Week Seven: Inventing Traditions and National Celebrations

Week Eight: Inventing Traditions and the Lenin and Stalin Personality Cults

Week Nine: Memorials and Identity Formation

Week Ten: Visions of the Past and Veteran Organisations

Week Eleven: Course Conclusion

Recommended reading

Aleida Assmann, ‘From Canon and Archive’, in The Collective Memory: A Reader, ed. by Jeffrey K. Olick, Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi and Daniel Levy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 334-337.

Hayden White, The Content of the Form Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), pp. 1-25.

Paul Thompson, ‘The Voice of the Past: Oral History’, The Oral History Reader, ed. by Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson (London and New York: Routledge, 2006), 25-31.

David King, The Commissar Vanishes: the Falsification of Photographs and Art in Stalin's Russia (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1997).

William B. Husband, ‘History Education and Historiography in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia’, in Education and Society in the New Russia, ed. by Anthony Jones (Armonk, N.Y.; London: M.E. Sharpe, 1994), pp. 119-140.

Jan Plamper, The Stalin Cult: A Study in the Alchemy of Power (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012).

Sheila Fitzpatrick and Yuri Slezkine, in the Shadow of Revolution: Life Stories of Russian Women from 1917 to the Second World War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000).

Irina Shrebakova, ‘The Gulag in Memory’, in The Oral History Reader, ed. by Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson (London and New York: Routledge, 2006), pp. 521-530.

Lisa Kirschenbaum, The Legacy of the Siege of Leningrad, 1941-1995: Myth, Memories, and Monuments (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Feedback methods

  • oral feedback on group presentation
  • written feedback on essays
  • oral feedback on exams when requested
  • additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Study hours

  • Lectures - 11 hours
  • Practical classes & workshops - 3 hours
  • Seminars - 22 hours
  • Independent study hours - 164 hours

Teaching staff

EWA OCHMAN - Unit coordinator

▲ Up to the top