Motherblog Central Directives

Summing Up and Falling Down

cropped-Kremlin11Since we did not have time to select a final “Students’ Choice” winner, I’m dedicating this space of the final edition to two posts which chart their author’s journey through Soviet history.  The first offers a reflection on the themes of Soviet history as seen through one person’s blog posts over the semester.  The second ties the author’s journey through Russia and Germany to conflicting perspectives on the collapse of Soviet CommunismCheckPointCharlieweb Both exemplify the kind of original research and engaging reflection that has made the course blog so compelling this semester. Enjoy!  And please don’t forget to share your thoughts on the Blogging Soviet History Experience here:

After the Fall

Doughnuts and Shots12-13WebWelcome 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!


Double Agent Action in the Era of Stagnation

seventeen-moments-of-spring-movie-poster-1973-1020464626We 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).

Spacing Out and Giving Thanks

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.


Defending the Motherland

The posts this week covered many facets of the Great Patriotic War – from the major military moments (Battle of Stalingrad, Battle of Kursk), to the struggles of a besieged city, the massacre of Polish army officers in the Katyn forest, and the origins of the Cold War.  Analyses of family policy, gender relations, wartime…

The Terrifying, Terrific Thirties

red starThere were so many good posts and such a good array of topics this week!  Besides the red star and comrades corner honorees, there were also wonderful discussions of the Stakhanovite movement and new labor laws, the building of the Great Fergana Canal, the 1936 Constitution, film, the opera, and of course, the purges…lots of purges. Certainly one of the main themes that comes from looking at all of the posts is the amazing juxtaposition of achievement and success (building the Metro, the Fergana Canal) against the trauma and tragedy of the Purges. I’m eager to see how the voting for student’s choice turns out.  Have a good fall break!


Smite the Pseudo-Shock WorkerThe Soviets may have completed the five-year plan in four, but I can’t make a comparable claim about this weekly edition. I’m sorry to be so late getting everything out today.  The good news is I figured out how to animate the slider so you don’t have to click through the buttons anymore.

There were some terrific posts this week.  I hope the tag cloud will help you find the relevant posts on the anti-religion campaign, which didn’t make it to the slider, but were quite good.  We’ll talk tomorrow about the survey results and a new mechanism for identifying the student choice post.

The Menshevik’s Hat

A couple weeks ago, when we were working on the Revolution of 1905 and Cara’s “student choice” post on anti-semitism in Imperial Russia, was stimulating such good discussion, a colleague sent me a photograph of Nicholas II wearing cap like this one.  He was interested in what the hat’s cockade meant, explaining that his grandfather,…

The Bolsheviks in Power

Once again, it was tough to choose the posts for the weekly slider.  This was the first week you had some flexibility in terms of whether of not you posted, and nearly everyone who submitted something made a fine contribution.  Although we haven’t talked about culture much in class yet, there are some fine posts…