Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

Soviet Origins of Contemporary Russia


Course Schedule:

Monday, Wednesday 4:10 - 5:30 PM Berlin (UTC+2)

Professor: Aleksei Gilev
Semester: Spring 2024 (January 29  – May 21)
Course Level: 200
Subject: PS
Number of Bard Credits: 4 Course Title: Soviet Origins of Contemporary Russia
Max Enrollment: 22
Schedule: Mon Wed 4:10 – 5:30 Berlin (UTC+2)
Distribution Area: Social Analysis
Cross-Listing(s): HIST (History), RES (Russian and Eurasian Studies)
Language of Instruction: Russian

The similarities between contemporary Russia and its Soviet predecessor are manifested in the contemporary Russian state’s open declarations of adherence to traditions and institutions of the Soviet past. This course aims to identify such connections while keeping track of how the old Soviet institutions and practices were preserved, modified, and reinvented in Russia in the 2000s and 2010s. Such topics as political monopoly, state surveillance apparatus, welfare and gender contracts, anti-westernism and expansionism, a legacy of Soviet ethnic policies, distrust of civic activities, and the importance of informal networks in the public sphere will be covered. To explore these phenomena, we will turn to historical studies of the Soviet state and society. Different segments of the course will address elements of contemporary Russian politics that owe their potency to Soviet legacy, from those rooted in pre-Soviet Russian modernity to those that have been reinvented later. We will discuss how different legacies enhance each other and what are the ways out of the existing “history traps.” The theoretical framework of the course relies on ideas of such scholars as M. David Fox, S. Fitzpatrick, O. Kharkhordin, S. Kotkin, and A. Yurchak.

Guidelines for the Statement of Purpose:
Craft a reflective statement of purpose explaining your interest in the Smolny Beyond Borders online course. The file should be saved with your name and course title as the filename and uploaded accordingly. Your statement’s clarity and substance will significantly influence our selection. Convey your motivations and aspirations for this course succinctly but thoroughly. Kindly write your statement in the course’s Language of Instruction.

Application Portal Instructions:
1) Use the Latin alphabet for all entries on the portal, including your name. If the Language of Instruction is Russian, you may use Cyrillic only within the Statement of Purpose file, and the title of the file should still be in English.
2) Refrain from using email addresses associated with Russian or Belarusian educational institutions.
3) While completing the “Required Information” section, ensure you fill in the “Province” field for your address.
4) Provide an address outside Russia or Belarus in both the “Required Information” and “Geographic Location Confirmation” sections of the “Online Course Application”. This ensures we can send your transcript.
5) You must press the “Sign” button twice during the application.
6) If you hold a bachelor’s degree, select “4th+” in the “Academic Year (online)” section.
7) Applicants either unaffiliated or affiliated with educational institutions in Russia and Belarus should list ‘Smolny Beyond Borders’ as their educational institution.
8) In the student ID section, enter ‘SBB’.
9) Consider drafting your motivation letter ahead of time. Save it as a separate file with this format: LastName_FirstName_CourseTitle for a smoother application process.