Instructor: Dr. Erica Fraser

1971 USSR stamp: the 54th Anniversary of October

1971 USSR stamp: the 54th Anniversary of October

Course Description:

2017 marks the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, an anniversary that has caused profound unease in Russia (and other former Soviet republics) this year, as well as in the West as we confront new (and revive old) discourses about Russian culture, authoritarianism, and the communist legacy.

In this course, we will focus on three main issues:

  • How the Russian Revolution unfolded; how Western historians have characterized it over the course of the century; and how that writing was influenced by contemporary politics
  • How the Revolution influenced the development of communism and revolutions elsewhere in the world
  • How the Revolution (known in the USSR simply as “October”) was commemorated, starting with the 10-year anniversary in 1927 and moving through to today, including discussions of the distortion of memory, the emotional pull of nostalgia, and the strategic “forgetting” that both governments and various population groups have engaged in throughout these 100 years.

The course will consist of one 3-hour seminar per week, which will primarily involve student-led discussions of the assigned readings. Attendance is mandatory for success in this class.

Discussion participation, one presentation, reading response papers, and a final research essay on a topic of the student’s choice. History students should choose either a primary-source based research essay or a historiography essay, and EURUS students in other disciplines may pursue a topic related to commemoration (or rejection) of the Revolution in Russian, Ukrainian, or other FSU politics or culture today.

All readings will be available via ARES or cuLearn. 

Prerequisites, Language, and Registration

Students should have taken at least one previous course in Russian or Soviet history or post-Soviet studies (EURUS). All readings and discussions will be in English and no knowledge of Russian is required, but native speakers or students with experience in Russian, Ukrainian, or other FSU languages are encouraged to conduct their research using original documents or to consult historiography and literature in those languages. Fourth-year students may enroll under HIST 4201A or EURR 4202, and graduate students may enroll under EURR 5202. The course requirements will be more rigorous for graduate students. 

Questions about this class? Feel free to email me at