Scheda insegnamento

Anno Accademico 2021/2022

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

Scopo del corso è fornire le competenze necessarie ad un approfondimento dei temi legati alla dimensione sociale e politica dell’esperienza storica sovietica e dei principali filoni di ricerca storici. Alla fine del corso lo studente sarà in grado di : - Definire i principali aspetti della Storia sociale Politica dell’Unione Sovietica - Sviluppare e condurre una ricerca storica, inserendola nei principali filoni di ricerca - Interpretare e comunicare argomenti inerenti la dimensione sociale politica della Storia dell’Unione Sovietica - Analizzare autonomamente testi e documenti inerenti all’evoluzione sociale e politica della Storia dell’Unione Sovietica


The module offers a journey through a number of key historical events and processes that elicited essential memory debates, policies or polemics in the last twenty years in the post-Soviet states. This semester, the focus will be made on the nationality policy in the Soviet Union, the notion of Soviet identity, the question of Soviet imperial characteristics

Classes 1-6: From the Russian empire to the Soviet Union. "Russia" through wars and revolutions

Classes 7-10: “Was There a Soviet Nationality Policy?” (Jeremy Smith)

Classes 11-12: The Great Famine of 1932-33 as reflected in Ukrainian memory politics (2000s-2010s) and in scholarly debates

Classes 13-14: The national criterium in Stalin's terror (1928-1953) - a growing preoccupation that supplanted the class criterium?

Classes 15-17: The Second World War between myths and research - Stalin's imperialism, Soviet people's unity, the USSR and the world

Classes 18-20: From "stagnation" to the chaotic 1990s - Soviet and post-Soviet society, political life and relation to "the west" from the 1970s to 2000.


During classes students are also expected to acquire or improve their skills in historical methodology in order to approach the most relevant events of the domestic policy of Russia and Soviet Union from 1917 to 2000. Students are particularly expected to develop a critical approach toward all kinds of historical sources, as well as a good mastery of a number of key scholarly interpretations and debates.


Overall studies of Russia in the XXth century offer the background of specialized works that will be discussed during the classes. 

Edele, Mark. The Soviet Union. A Short History. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2019.


Hoffmann, David L. The Stalinist Era. Cambridge: Cambridge University press, 2018 OR Edele, Mark. Stalinist Society, 1928-1953. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

The following collective book, though not being a handbook, offers precious insights into the history of late Soviet Union: Klumbyte, Neringa, and Gulnaz Sharafutdinova, eds. Soviet Society in the Era of Late Socialism, 1964–1985. Lanham; Boulder; New York; Toronto; Plymouth: Lexington Books, 2013.


Recommended complementary readings uploaded on the Virtuale of the course or available on AlmaRe.


A list of references on Soviet foreign policy and its connection to other domestic policy and Soviet political culture is available on the Virtuale of the course.


A special folder gathers resources on the current war in Ukraine.



Metodi didattici

The 20 classes are spread from mid-February to 6 May 2022, in order to give the students enough time to read for the classes specified, and to prepare their presentation (see assessment methods).

The first classes (14-18 Feb. 2022) are devoted to the presentation of the functioning of the course and the main academic questions. The methods of analysis of primary sources and of critical reading and analysis of specialized literature will also be discussed with the students on the basis of examples uploaded on Virtuale before the beginning of the course.

The following classes are organized in lectures combining presentations by students, collective discussions and instructor’s feedbacks and synthesis. The students will therefore actively participate in class, improving their methodological skills (interpretation of sources, critical appraisal of scholarship notably), and acquiring essential knowledge of recent and contemporary Russia.

Students must regularly consult the Virtuale of the course and use the resources uploaded on it (glossary, maps, primary and secondary sources, slides of the classes)

Modalità di verifica e valutazione dell'apprendimento

The mark of attending students will be composed of two parts:

1°/ Presentation, during class, of either

a) a topic chosen together with the instructor

b) an analysis of an academic article / or a monograph chosen together with the instructor.

The grade assigned to the presentation will be based on both the critical approach, the intelligibility of the presentation (structure and language skills) and the research made by the student to interpret the topic / article in their context (the bibliography s.he used)

c) (with another student) a role in a debate on a historiographical controversy

In this case the grade will depend on the assimilation of the argumentation of one side of the scholarly debate, and on the student's capacity to afterwards critically assess the two positions.

2°/ written essay, max 4000 words, on a topic chosen by the student in agreement with the instructor, to be sent to the instructor no more than 4 weeks after the end of the course.

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

During frontal lessons the instructor will make ample use of power point presentations.

After class, the powerpoint or word files will be uploaded the Virtuale of the course.

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Vanessa Voisin