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Unit information: The Cold War at Home: Soviet Culture and Society 1945-1991 in 2015/16

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Unit name The Cold War at Home: Soviet Culture and Society 1945-1991
Unit code RUSS30064
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Shaw
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Russian
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will consider Soviet domestic culture and society from 1945-1991. It will examine how the Cold War, with its fears of capitalist imperialism and narratives of socialist superiority, was mapped onto the domestic experiences of Soviet individuals. By examining Cold War society through a range of contexts, including consumption and living standards, leisure activity, tourism (to Eastern Europe and elsewhere), the mass media, fashion, sport and youth cultures, we will consider how the propagandistic tropes of Soviet progress – “forward, USSR!” – impacted on the lives and identities of Soviet citizens, and how the lure of the West both reinforced and undermined a sense of Soviet cultural identity in this period.


  • To introduce students to a significant body of knowledge of a complexity appropriate to final year level. The content matter will normally include one or more of the following: literature; social, cultural or political history; linguistics; cultural studies; film, television or other media.
  • To facilitate students’ engagement with a body of literature, including secondary literature, texts, including in non-print media, primary sources and ideas as a basis for their own analysis and development. Normally many or most of these sources will be in a language other than English and will enhance the development of their linguistic skills.
  • To develop further skills of synthesis, analysis and independent research, building on the skills acquired in units at level I.
  • To equip students with the skills to undertake postgraduate study in a relevant field.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will:

  1. be knowledgeable about a significant cultural, historical or linguistic subject related to the language they are studying;
  2. will have advanced skills in the selection and synthesis of relevant material;
  3. be able to evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of source materials, usually in a foreign language, at an advanced level;
  4. be able to respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in an appropriate style and at an advanced level of complexity;

Teaching Information

Two seminar hours per week across one teaching block (22 contact hours).

Assessment Information

1 x 3000 word essay (50%), 2 hour exam (50%) testing ILO's 1-4.

Reading and References

  • Ronald Suny, The Soviet Experiment: Russia, the USSR and the Successor States (OUP, 1998).
  • Stephen Lovell, The Shadow of War: Russia and the USSR, 1941 to the Present (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).
  • Juliane Fürst (ed.), Late Stalinist Russia: Society Between Reconstruction and Reinvention (Routledge, 2006).
  • Polly Jones (ed.), The Dilemmas of De-Stalinization: Negotiating Cultural and Social Change in the Khrushchev Era (Routledge, 2009).
  • Anne E. Gorsuch and Diane P. Koenker (eds.), Turizm: the Russian and East European Tourist under Capitalism and Socialism (Cornell University Press, 2006).
  • Aleksei Yurchak, Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (Princeton University Press, 2006).