Everyday Life in the Soviet Union (HISM110)

StaffDr Matt Rendle - Convenor
Dr Claire McCallum - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

Between October 1917 and December 1991, the Soviet regime subjected its people to immense economic, social and cultural change, as well as terror, war and everyday repression. But how did these people experience the Soviet Union? What was everyday life like for ordinary citizens? This module utilizes memoirs, diaries, letters, petitions, reports and more to explore the experiences of people at all levels of Soviet society. It examines how people reacted to economic change and ongoing repression, analysing the lives of those who suffered and those who prospered. Ultimately, people continued to enjoy a childhood and education, work, marry, and socialize, even if it was within a very different economic, social and ideological context than in the west. Themes will be traced across the Soviet period to examine issues of continuity and change, with a focus on case studies from particular periods, whilst there will be plenty of opportunity for students to explore their own interests in more detail.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an understanding of key themes and issues in the history of the Soviet Union
  • 2. Demonstrate an awareness of historiographical and theoretical debates related not only to the Soviet Union but the concept of everyday life and social history
  • 3. Demonstrate an understanding of the nature and significance of people's experiences to the history of the Soviet Union
  • 4. Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of a wide selection of primary source materials and be able to evaluate their historical value critically
  • 5. Demonstrate an ability to evaluate different disciplinary perspectives on themes related to everyday life
  • 6. Propose and begin work on essays and presentations in discussion with tutors

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 7. Analyse and synthesize widely different types of historical material and evidence
  • 8. Identify and understand the nature of original sources
  • 9. Critically understand key historical concepts and debates
  • 10. Research independently and present interpretations of different historical issues.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 11. Demonstrate capacity for independent critical study and thought
  • 12. Apply key bibliographical skills (including the use of online searching aids).
  • 13. Construct and defend a sustained argument, both in written form and orally, using primary and secondary materials.
  • 14. Work as an individual and with a tutor and peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way (e.g. lead a group discussion or task).
  • 15. Analyse, summarize, and organize material to produce a coherent and cogent argument, within specific deadlines.

Syllabus plan

1) Introduction: Everyday life and Soviet History 2) Creating a Socialist Utopia: The Changing Structure of Soviet Society 3) Behind Closed Doors: Private Life Under Socialism 4) The New Soviet Person: Sexuality and Soviet Gender Ideals 5) Growing Up in the Soviet Union: Childhood, Schooling and Youth Culture 6) Representing Reality?: Depicting Everyday Life in Soviet Culture 7) Everyday Life in the Shadow of Terror: Criminality, Repression and the Gulag 8) Life on the Periphery (I): Soviet People on the Margins of Society 9) Life on the Periphery (II): Geography, Nationality and Identity 10) Resisting Soviet Power: Deviancy, Dissent and Non-Conformity 11) Student Presentations

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities22seminars
Guided independent study278 independent study

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
essay383000 word 1-15written and oral
essay 373000 word 1-15written and oral
presentation 2525-30 minute1-15written and oral

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

A. Applebaum, Gulag Voices: An Anthology (New Haven, 2011) [primary sources] M. Dobson, Khrushchev's Cold Summer: Gulag Returnees, Crime, and the Fate of Reform after Stalin (Ithaca, 2009)

O. Figes, The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia (London, 2007)

S. Fitzpatrick, The Cultural Front: Power and Culture in Revolutionary Russia (Ithaca, 1992)

S. Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism (Oxford, 1999)

S. Fitzpatrick et al. (eds.), Sedition: Everyday Resistance in the Soviet Union under Khrushchev and Brezhnev (New Haven, 2011)

[primary sources] C. Frierson and S. Vilensky, Children of the Gulag (New Haven, 2010)

[primary sources] J. Hellbeck, Revolution on My Mind: Writing a Diary under Stalin (Cambridge, MA., 2006)

P. Jones (ed.), The Dilemmas of De-Stalinization (London, 2005)

C. Kelly, Children's World: Growing Up in Russia, 1890-1991 (New Haven, 2007)

D. Raleigh, Russia's Sputnik Generation: Soviet Baby-Boomers Talk About Their Lives (Indiana, 2006) [primary sources]

L. Siegelbaum and A. Sokolov, Stalinism as a Way of Life (New Haven, 2000) [primary sources]

L. Viola et al. (eds.), The War Against the Peasantry, 1927-30 (New Haven, 2005) [primary sources]

A. Yurchak, Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (Princeton, 2005) I

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Marxists Internet Archive: http://www.marxists.org/ Seventeen Moments in Soviet History: http://www.soviethistory.org/

Available as distance learning?