Welcome to the final edition of the weekly digest for the fall of 2014. The meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign proved to be the most popular topics by far, but the dissolution of the Warsaw pact, the problems of the Soviet health system, the Russian fascination with Western music, and the failing economy all inspired good posts that shed insight on the collapse of Soviet communism.
Motherblog Central Directives
Final Blog Post Guidelines
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.
All the World’s a Stage…
The 1980 Olympics, black market consumer goods, railroads, rock-n-roll, and most of all, the invasion of Afghanistan captured our attention this week. While few posts mentioned the Soviet leader most closely associated with the long Soviet seventies, they all speak to the contradictory and wide-reaching policies and practices of the Brezhnev era. Far from being an insular, stagnant system, Soviet society in these years played a major role in shaping and responding to the political, social and economic dynamics of a globalizing world.
We have a bumper crop of red star and comrades’ corner posts this week and encourage visitors to explore and comment on these reflections on late Soviet life. The weekly digest will take a break over the Thanksgiving holiday and be back for its final edition in early December. Until then, всего хорошего!
Image source: Soviet Life. Washington: Embassy of the Soviet Union in the USA. 1965. (from Seventeen Moments in Soviet History)
Ninth Blogpost Guidelines
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! For this post, 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 as well.
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.
Image source: http://soviethistory.macalester.edu/index.php?page=subject&show=images&SubjectID=1980moscow&Year=1980&navi=byYear
Final, Finite Frontiers
This week was all about pushing boundaries — whether in outer space, on the border with China, atop the Bratsk high dam, at the edge of tillable land, or in the tense encounter between an artist and the Soviet leader. Taken as a whole, the posts bear testament to the contradictions and richness of the…
Change was the watchword of the Soviet fifties, and this weeks’ posts speak eloquently to that fact. A record number of Red Star and Comrades’ Corner posts speak to the often contradictory, and sometimes staggering social, cultural and political transitions following Stalin’s death in 1953. While many wonderful submissions continued to rely on the bounty…
Eighth Blogpost Guidelines
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…
Death, Love, and Deportations: Winning the Great Patriotic War
We had some terrific posts this week covering many facets of World War II – 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, deportations of ethnic minorities,and the feats of female aviators. Analyses of gender…
Seventh Blogpost Guidelines
Dramatic changes in Soviet society, culture and politics followed Stalin’s death in 1953. This week we turn to the initial period of “De-Stalinization” and “The Thaw” and will use the modules on 1954 and 1956 from Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. Please also consult and use the Current Digest of the Soviet Press and cite…
Terror and Triumph in the Thirties
If the Soviet thirties were the worst of times for many, for others they were among the best. The posts this week reflected that dichotomy, and one of the main themes that comes from looking at all of the submissions is the amazing juxtaposition of achievement and success (building the Metro, mass marketing “champagne,” investing in a “happy childhood,” cultivating enthusiasm for physical fitness) against the trauma and tragedy of the Purges and the Stalinist dictatorship. We had a bumper crop of good posts this week, and the editorial team is delighted to bring back the weekly digest. Besides the wonderful posts featured in the slider, make sure to check out Comrades’ Corner, which has never been so crowded. Finally, a warm congratulations to the student choice winner and finalists.
And now, full steam ahead. The Great Patriotic war awaits!