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Unit information: The New Soviet Man and His 'Others': Politics and Identity in Soviet Russia, 1917-1945 in 2015/16

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Unit name The New Soviet Man and His 'Others': Politics and Identity in Soviet Russia, 1917-1945
Unit code RUSS20010
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Shaw
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Russian
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This course will consider the ‘Soviet project’ to transform man and society, focusing on how the Soviet state attempted to foster an idealised New Soviet Man who would build and ultimately inhabit the utopian, communist society of tomorrow. We will examine the ideological foundations of the New Soviet Man, the population politics employed by the Soviet state to bring this ideal to life (inclusion and exclusion, education, hygiene and healthcare), and the ways in which these political frameworks were adopted and transformed by individual citizens. Alongside the ideal New Soviet Man, we will consider examples of those individuals and communities that could not (or would not) conform to this utopian ideal. By looking at how these ‘others’ – from women to the disabled – were treated by the state and viewed their own position within society, we will attempt to draw broader conclusions about the relationships between self, society, and the state in Soviet Russia from the Revolution to the death of Stalin.


  • To introduce students to a significant body of knowledge of a complexity appropriate to second 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 C.
  • Some options may prepare students for the experience of the Year Abroad.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will:

  • be knowledgeable about a significant cultural, historical or linguistic subject related to the language they are studying;
  • be skilled in the selection and synthesis of relevant material;
  • be able to evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of source materials, usually in a foreign language, at a high level;
  • be able to respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in an appropriate style and at an high level of complexity;
  • be able to transfer these skills to other working environments, including study at a foreign university and on work placements during the year abroad.

Teaching Information

Normally one lecture hour and one seminar hour per week across one teaching block (22 contact hours), often with student presentations. In units with a smaller number of students the lecture hour may be replaced by a second seminar or a workshop. Units involving film may require students to view films outside the timetabled contact hours.

Assessment Information

2000 word essay, 2 hour exam 50%/50%

Reading and References

  • Catherine Evtuhov and Richard Stites, A History of Russia since 1800: Peoples, Legends, Events, Forces (Houghton Mifflin, 2004).
  • Catriona Kelly and David Shepherd (eds.), Constructing Russian Culture in the Age of Revolution, 1881-1940 (Oxford University Press, 1998).
  • Christina Kiaer and Eric Naiman (eds.), Everyday Life in Early Soviet Russia: Taking the Revolution Inside, (Indiana University Press, 2006).
  • David Hoffmann, Stalinist Values: The Cultural Norms of Soviet Modernity 1917-1941 (Cornell University Press, 2003).
  • Sheila Fitzpatrick (ed.), Stalinism: New Directions (Routledge, 2000)
  • Veronique Garros, Natalia Korenevskaya and Thomas Lahusen (eds.), Intimacy and Terror: Soviet Diaries of the 1930s (New Press, 1995)