BLS 320: Russian Literature from Stalin to Putin

Take a peek behind the Iron Curtain! Let’s go beyond the traditional Cold War views of the Soviet Union to explore a diversity of books, films, and music produced in response, first to the end of the repressive Stalinist era (Khrushchev’s “Thaw” in the 1960s), and then in the 1980s, to the collapse of the Soviet Union following Gorbachev’s glasnost’ and perestroika.

In both eras, the loosening of censorship led to both an unsettling detachment from the narratives that seemed to have always structured Soviet life, alongside an exciting sense of the creative potential of the present and future. How did people respond, in life, literature, film and music, to these great changes? What types of meaning, personal and collective, were people able to create in the spaces opened up by the cracks in the official narrative?


Victor Pelevin’s The Yellow Arrow (ISBN 978-0811213554)

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (any edition)

Liudmila Petrushevskaya, There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In, ISBN 9780143121664