Welcome to the final edition of the weekly digest for the fall of 2013. The meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign led the way as the most popular topics for this last set of posts, but debates about female sexuality, the challenges of economic reform, the move for independence in the Baltic states, and the coup of August 1991 all inspired good posts that shed insight on the collapse of Soviet communism.
Your editorial team finds this “18th Moment” in Soviet History bittersweet. You all have made the mother blog a dynamic space and valuable resource this semester, and I’m very proud of what we accomplished together. I greatly appreciate your patience and perseverance with the bumps we encountered along the way, and especially cherish the sense of humor and creativity you brought to the class, your blogs, and even the last day of class. Doughnuts and kvass are an unlikely combination, but you all made it work!
As you know, commenting has been a key part of the blogging project. Blogmeister Ben and I enjoyed reading and taking part in the discussions, many of which were as valuable as the posts themselves. There are no official honors for commenting, but we wanted to recognize the author of Seeing Red as the “Stakhanovite of Soviet Blogging” (Ben’s term, not mine). While many people posted terrific comments and met or exceeded their “commenting quota,” Seeing Red nearly doubled hers.
Thanks everyone! / Всего хорошего!
We had fewer posts than usual this week (18 total), but they addressed an array of issues that highlight just how action-packed the supposedly “stagnant” Brezhnev era was. The invasion of Afghanistan and the 1980 Olympics garnered the most attention, but television, consumer culture, urbanization, Andrei Sakharov, and the environmental challenges facing Lake Baikal all got their due. The image for this post pays homage to Seventeen Moments In Spring, the wildly popular TV series for which Seventeen Moments in Soviet History is names. Thanks, Brandon, for offering such a thoughtful analysis of the legacy of World War II in the mass culture of the seventies.
This is the penultimate edition of the weekly digest. We’ll select a student choice award in the next couple of days. Stay tuned for the final digest next Wednesday (12/11/13).
As the Pizza Hut ad we watched today suggested, Mikhail Gorbachev’s leadership ushered in an era of increased freedom, opportunity, and hope for Soviet citizens, even as it fostered economic uncertainty, political instability, and the threat of chaos. For your final blog post, please choose a topic that gives you some insight on the collapse of Soviet communism and the social transformation that accompanied it. There are two more modules (on 1985 and 1991) from Seventeen Moments in Soviet History that offer an array of topics ranging from nationalism, sexuality and youth culture, to the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, the anti-alcohol campaign, and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Please also consult and use the Current Digest of the Soviet Press and cite the articles you use from this collection. Feel free to explore any other relevant topic from this period as well. There are good suggestions for primary materials on the Soviet History Resources page. You could also use articles from Historical New York Times to compare the coverage of a particular event or issue in the US with the articles you use from the Current Digest.
The first man in space and the invasion of Czechoslovakia were by far the most popular topics this week. (Gagarin garnered a couple fewer posts (7) than Kornilov did (9), but it’s still impressive!) There are some terrific posts in the slider, sporting red stars, or waiting for you in comrade’s corner. As promised, I’ll post the survey for the Student Choice finalists in the morning and update the sticky post when I get back from my conference. Our long discussion of food today and the advent of the Thanksgiving break inspired me to leave you with this poster for pel’meni – little meat dumplings that are a Russian specialty.
Rock music, new modes of consumerism, expanding television and film offerings, and guitar poets shaped the Soviet seventies, as did the dissident movement, the campaign to clean up the Aral sea, and the invasion of Afghanistan. Despite it’s reputation for “stagnation,” this decade was anything but boring! The next post is due after Thanksgiving, on Saturday, November 30. We will use the modules on 1973 and 1980 from Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. Please also consult and use the Current Digest of the Soviet Press and cite the articles you use from this collection. Feel free to explore any other relevant topic from this period as well. There are good suggestions for primary materials on the Soviet History Resources page.
Afghan Communist Propaganda
The second half of Chapter 13 in the Freeze text may be helpful as well. You may focus on an event, a development or an individual. Your post should use (and cite) primary sources (texts, music, or images). You may also use a particular image or primary document as a focal point for your post.
Conquerors of Space: Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova, 1963
Generational struggles, the space race, crisis in Czechoslovakia, and the shift in leadership from Khrushchev to Brezhnev defined the Soviet sixties. This week we will use the modules on 1961 and 1968 from Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. Please also consult and use the Current Digest of the Soviet Press and cite the articles you use from this collection. Feel free to explore any other relevant topic from this period as well. There are good suggestions for primary materials on the Soviet History Resources page.