HIST 377: Everyday Communism in Eastern Europe

Instructor: Nathan Wood

Day & Time:
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Category Fulfillment: I

Soviet women and men throwing concrete bricks while wearing bathing suits.

Everyday Communism in Eastern Europe 

The purpose of this class is to introduce students to the “everyday” history of Soviet-style communism in Eastern Europe. We will investigate through film, literature, memoirs (including a graphic novel), music, photography, architecture, and scholarship the experience of ordinary citizens as they supported, resisted, opposed, and merely got by under state socialism until its collapse in 1989. The course begins with an investigation of the theoretical and historical background of Marxism-Leninism as well as an exploration of everyday life in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, before moving on to our area of special concentration in the Eastern European states where communist regimes came to power after the Second World War. Here we will explore notions of public and private space, gender, family life and reproductive rights, socialist consumerism, film and photography, religion and dissidence, rock music and youth culture, regime failure, and, finally, the aftermath of communist collapse. As a 300-level course, this class emphasizes reading, writing, and discussion. The combination of lectures, in-class discussion, reading, and writing aims to fulfill three major pedagogical goals: 1) careful and critical evaluation of written and visual sources, 2) effective analysis and reasoning, and 3) clear and accurate oral and written presentation. Students who take responsibility for their own learning will leave the classroom with a good understanding of the theory and practice of communism in Eastern Europe, and with enhanced facility in the fundamental skills essential to success in future university courses and in any other intellectual work.