Course description and requirements
Instructor: Karl Hall
Number of credits: 2
Course level: MA
Time: Thursdays at 15:40
Instructor's office hours: Tuesdays 13:00-15:00; Thursdays 14:00-15:00; and by appointment
Zoom option: If you require Zoom access for visa reasons or other extenuating circumstances, use this link. Please alert the instructor beforehand if you will not attend in person; online access is only for special circumstances.
This course treats debates among and about intellectuals in Soviet history. Our investigation of the relations between scholarly expertise and state authority will be interspersed with conceptual debates from various disciplines. Rather than focus solely on canonical literary and political intellectuals, we will cast our nets more widely, studying the effects of specialization and "disciplinization" on intellectual life, as well as the changing composition of the white-collar class.
When Julian Benda famously invoked La trahison des clercs (1927), he had in mind the French Dreyfusard consensus that intellectuals were capable of forming a class-in-themselves, and amid rampant cultural pessimism he faulted his postwar contemporaries for failing to defend "a corporation whose sole cult is that of justice and of truth." In the newly-formed Soviet Union many Old Regime intellectuals who had survived the disastrous Civil War might have subscribed to Benda's sentiments, referring to the Bolsheviks as "gorillas" and lamenting the new regime's contemptuous attitude toward "pure science." But the Bolsheviks were much more inclined to treat the intelligentsia suspiciously as bound by their (now-abolished) classes of origin, while many intellectuals gradually found new roles for themselves in a transitional white-collar "stratum," and a younger generation of scholars learned how to "re-bind" themselves to the class of the future. Karl Mannheim's Ideology and Utopia thus looms in the background of our discussions of Soviet intellectuals negotiating periods of optimism, crisis, and normalcy under state socialism. (Here "Soviet" is always understood as more than ethnically Russian.) Global configurations of knowledge production shifted dramatically in the course of the twentieth century, so the sociology of Soviet intellectuals must range widely if it is to generate a common framework for disciplines usually assimilated to the "universal" modern experience (the natural sciences), versus disciplines usually understood to be "distorted" or somehow distinctively "Soviet" under state socialism (humanities and social sciences). Recurrent tropes of genius on the one hand or collectivity on the other should thus be interrogated in a variety of academic fields, not least because the Soviet case can in turn shed light on historians' practices of "situatedness" (in Mannheim's sense).
NB: there are presently 14 subject options for 12 weeks. We will decide which two topics to exclude based on the consensus of the current cohort.
Grading: General participation: 25%. One formal presentation: 25%. Review essay: 50%.
Review essay length: 8-9 pages, double-spaced. Due on April 12. Topic chosen in consultation with instructor. Pragmatically speaking, the essay should take one of the session topics as a jumping-off point, but it is understood that prior research interests will shape the chosen emphases.
-  January 12 — REVOLUTION AS APOTHEOSIS?
 January 12 — REVOLUTION AS APOTHEOSIS?Assigned reading:
P. Sorokin, "War and the militarization of society," Artel'noe delo no. 1-4 (1922): 3-10. (Russian original)Nikolai Berdiaev, "Spirits of the Russian Revolution" (1918). [Russian text]
Read any two of these short texts:
Vladimir Steklov, "Introduction," Free Association for the Development and Dissemination of the Positive Sciences (1917), 11-14. (Russian source)
Letter from V. Lenin to M. Gorky, 15 September 1919. (Russian)
Daniil Pasmanik, ""Приятие революции"," Революционные годы в Крыму (1926), 30-35.
Oleksandr Shulgin, "Трагедіє російського інтелігента," Нова Рада no. 70 (1918), p. 2. [at libraria.ua]
Michael David-Fox, "The Soviet order between exceptionalism and shared modernity," in Crossing Borders: Modernity, Ideology, and Culture in Russia and the Soviet Union (2015). [access via JSTOR]
Stephen Kotkin, "1991 and the Russian Revolution: Sources, conceptual categories, analytical frameworks," J. Mod. Hist. 70 (1998): 384-425.
Peter Holquist, "'Information is the alpha and omega of our work': Bolshevik surveillance in its pan-European context," J. Mod. Hist. 69 (1997): 415-450.Kendall E. Bailes, "Natural scientists and the Soviet system," in Party, State, and Society in the Russian Civil War: Explorations in Social History, eds. D. P. Koenker, W. G. Rosenberg, R. G. Suny (1989), 267-295.
Kendall E. Bailes, Science the Russian Culture in an Age of Revolutions: V. I. Vernadsky and his Scientific School (1990).
Jane Burbank, Intelligentsia and Revolution: Russian Views of Bolshevism, 1917-1922 (1986).
Stuart Finkel, On the Ideological Front: The Russian Intelligentsia and the Making of the Soviet Public Sphere (2008).
-  January 19 — TECHNOCRATS, PROFESSIONALS, AND WHITE-COLLAR WORKERS
 January 19 — TECHNOCRATS, PROFESSIONALS, AND WHITE-COLLAR WORKERS
Presentation: Brooklyn (and...?)
S. Raetskii, "Managing the managers" (1921).Daniel Orlovsky, "The hidden class: White-collar workers in the Soviet 1920s," in L. H. Siegelbaum and R. G. Suny, eds., Making Workers Soviet: Power, Class, and Identity (1994), 220-252.
Michael David-Fox, "Science, orthodoxy, and the quest for hegemony at the Socialist (Communist) Academy," Revolution of the Mind: Higher Learning among the Bolsheviks, 1918-1929 (1997), 192-253.Kendall E. Bailes, “The politics of technology: Stalin and technocratic thinking among Soviet engineers,” American Historical Review 79 (1974): 445–469.
Susanne Schattenberg, Stalins Ingenieure. Lebenswelten zwischen Technik und Terror in den 1930er Jahren (2002). [2011 Russian translation]
Don K. Rowney, Transition to Technocracy: The Structural Origins of the Soviet Administrative State (1989).
Mark Beissinger, Scientific Management, Socialist Discipline, and Soviet Power (1988).
Kendall Bailes, Technology and Society Under Lenin and Stalin: Origins of the Soviet Technical Intelligentsia, 1917-1941 (1978).
"Університет чи інститут?" Вісті (ВУЦВК) (Kharkiv, 10 March 1929). [at libraria.ua]
-  January 26 — PHYSIOLOGY OF THE NEW SOVIET MAN
 January 26 — PHYSIOLOGY OF THE NEW SOVIET MANPresentations: Brooklyn and IuliiaAssigned reading:Nikolai Krementsov, “New sciences, new worlds, and ‘New Men’,” in The Art and Science of Making the New Man in Early 20th-Century Russia, edited by Yvonne Howell and Nikolai Krementsov (2021).
-  February 2 — SOVIET CRITIQUES OF PSYCHOANALYSIS
 February 2 — SOVIET CRITIQUES OF PSYCHOANALYSIS
Lev Vygotsky and Alexander Luria, "Introduction to the Russian translation of Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle" (1925), from The Vygotsky Reader, eds. R. van der Veer and J. Valsiner (1994), 10–18.
A. Zalkind, "The twelve sexual commandments of the revolutionary proletariat" (1924) [in class] [Russian ] (Cf. 1926 collection of essays.)
V. N. Voloshinov, "Critique of Freudianism" (1927), The Bakhtin Reader: Selected Writings of Bakhtin, Medvedev and Voloshinov, ed. Pam Morris (1994), 38–48.
Alexander Etkind, Eros of the Impossible: The History of Psychoanalysis in Russia (1997).
Martin A. Miller, Freud and the Bolsheviks: Psychoanalysis in Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union (1998).
Eric Naiman, Sex in Public: The Incarnation of Early Soviet Ideology (1997).
In addition to readily available resources in Russian libraries, see also the library of texts assembled by Patrick Seriot, including works by Luria and Voloshinov.
Е. Bergler, "Психоаналіз. Суть та значіння науки проф. З. Фрейда," Червоний шлях no. 6-7 (1923): 119-135. [at libraria.ua]
Ernst Schneider, "Baiļu psicholoģija," Izglītības Ministrijas Mēnešraksts no. 8 (1920).
Lucijas Grāvelsin, "Psichoanalize," Mūsu Nākotne no. 3 (1 May 1931).Millija Vosvinieks, "Freuda psīchoanalitiskā metode," Domas no. 8 (1 August 1931).
-  **February 10** — EXCURSION TO PRAGUE AND BACK: STRUCTURALISM, FORMALISM, THEORY
 **February 10** — EXCURSION TO PRAGUE AND BACK: STRUCTURALISM, FORMALISM, THEORYDo not forget that we meet on Friday afternoon at 15:40. Location: A214.
"Methodological problems stemming from the conception of language as a system and the significance of this conception in Slavic languages," from Theses Presented to the First Congress of Slavic Philologists in Prague, 1929, in Peter Steiner, ed., The Prague School: Selected Writings, 1929-1946, 5-8.Aleksandr Dmitriev and Galina Babak, "The postponed revival, or maps of Atlantis," Ab Imperio no. 4 (2021): 63-83.
Each student chooses ONE response to read from roundtable devoted to Dmitriev and Babak's book.
"Deutsche Gesellschaft für slavistische Forschung in Prag," Slavische Rundschau 3 (1931): 1-7.
Roman Jakobson, "Futurism" (1919), in Language in Literature, K. Pomorska and S. Rudy, eds. (1987), 28–33.
Vilém Mathesius, "New currents and tendencies in linguistic research" (1927), from Praguiana: Some Basic and Less Known Aspects of the Prague Linguistic School, ed. Josef Vachek (1983), 45–63.
L. Bileckyj, "Головні напрями українскої літературно-наукової критики за останніх 50 літ" (1929).
Jindrich Toman, The Magic of a Common Language: Jakobson, Mathesius, Trubetzkoy, and the Prague Linguistic Circle (1995).
Galin Tihanov, "Why did modern literary theory originate in Central and Eastern Europe? (And why is it now dead?)," Common Knowledge 10 n. 1 (2004): 61–81.Catherine Andreyev and Ivan Savicky, Prague and the Russian Diaspora, 1918-1938 (2004).
Katerina Clark, "Promethean linguistics," in Petersburg: Crucible of Cultural Revolution (1995), 201-223.
Galin Tihanov, The Birth and Death of Literary Theory: Regimes of Relevance in Russia and Beyond (2019). [on-campus access]
-  February 16 — FOREIGNERS AT HOME: THE SOVIET JEW AS INTELLECTUAL
 February 16 — FOREIGNERS AT HOME: THE SOVIET JEW AS INTELLECTUAL
Assigned reading:Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, “Reconceptualizing the alien: Jews in modern Ukrainian thought,” Ab Imperio 4 (2003): 519–80.
Further resources:Sasha Senderovich, "Dispersion of the Pale," How the Soviet Jew was Made (2022).
Yuri Slezkine, "Babel's love: The Jews and the Russian Revolution," The Jewish Century (2004), 105-203.
Paul Robert Magocsi, and Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, Jews and Ukrainians: A Millennium of Co-Existence (2016).
-  February 23 — MUST MODERN MUSIC HAVE A POLITICS?
 February 23 — MUST MODERN MUSIC HAVE A POLITICS?
Please note that this session will be held online (link above).
Please consult the Socialist Realism in Music module below as preparation for this session.
Theodor W. Adorno, "Why is the new art so hard to understand?" (1931), Essays on Music, ed. Richard Leppert, trans. Susan H. Gillespie (2002), 127–134.
Richard Taruskin, "Shostakovich and us," from Shostakovich in Context, ed. Rosamund Bartlett (2000), 1–29.
There is no obligation whatsoever, but if you're at all curious about the experimental music of the 1920s, you can listen to clips from the module Symphony of Sirens (esp. p. 4) below as well.
-  March 2 — BEYOND ZHENOTDEL: INCORPORATING WOMEN IN SOVIET INTELLECTUAL HISTORY
 March 2 — BEYOND ZHENOTDEL: INCORPORATING WOMEN IN SOVIET INTELLECTUAL HISTORY
Please note that this session will be held online (link above).
Presentations: Julia, Berkant
Assigned reading:Elizabeth Wood, "Paradoxes of gender in Soviet Communist Party women’s sections (the Zhenotdel), 1918–1930," in The Routledge Handbook of Gender in Central-Eastern Europe and Eurasia (2021).This section will have a more experimental character and require student collaboration. Although many topics in the seminar lend themselves to gender analysis, this is an intellectual problem at the methodological level, one which I hope will enter into our discussions, but not something that has driven the choice of subject in any given week. This week is no exception, in the sense that we are NOT going to foreground "the woman question" in Soviet political and social history, but rather discuss in a more concrete and biographical way the challenges facing Soviet intellectuals who happened to be female. Students should pair off and work together to identify one female intellectual to present briefly (10 minutes?) in class. But here's the catch: the figure presented must be known primarily for contributions to something other than politics or literature, e.g., no Aleksandra Kollontais, no Anna Akhmatovas. When choosing someone to present, think about concrete pathways (and obstacles) to social and disciplinary advancement in a particular intellectual role, reaching beyond mere appeals to male chauvinism, Soviet bossism, and patriarchal cultures.We will use the brief Wood essay simply to give us a common reference point regarding early Soviet aspirations, but it is not about intellectual history per se. Our aim will be to identify broader challenges to incorporating Soviet women into intellectual history. I will set the scene and then briefly present the case of Maria Petrashen.Further resources:Also not intellectual history, but important for moving the conversation outside of Moscow and Leningrad: Douglas Northrop, "Subaltern voices," Veiled Empire: Gender and Power in Stalinist Central Asia (2004).
- [not held 2023] — THE LYSENKO PROBLEM
[not held 2023] — THE LYSENKO PROBLEM
Nikolai Krementsov, "Talking the talk: Ritual and rhetoric," Stalinist Science (1997), 158-183.
Kirill Rossiianov, "Editing Nature: Joseph Stalin and the 'new' Soviet biology," Isis 84 (1993): 728-745.
Trofim Lysenko, The Science of Biology Today (1948) (excerpt).
David Joravsky, "Academic issues: Science," The Lysenko Affair (1970), 187-227.Ethan Pollock, "From Partiinost' to Nauchnost' and Not Quite Back Again: Revisiting the Lessons of the Lysenko Affair," Slavic Review 68 (2009): 95-115.
Nils Roll-Hansen, "Wishful Science: The Persistence of T. D. Lysenko’s Agrobiology in the Politics of Science," Osiris 23 (2008): 166-188.
O. V. Romanets', "Negativnyi vplyv lysenkivshchyny na genetichnu nauku v ukrainy," Narysy z istorii pryrodoznavstva i tekhniky 46 (2012): 53-64.
Ethan Pollock, Stalin and the Soviet Science Wars (2006).
Loren R. Graham, Lysenko's Ghost: Epigenetics and Russia (2016).
-  **March 10** — THE SOVIETIZATION OF INTELLECTUAL LIFE
 **March 10** — THE SOVIETIZATION OF INTELLECTUAL LIFE
Note new time: Friday at 15:40 in room B215
Presentation(s): Nana + Letian
Peter Kapitza, letters to Mezhlauk, Molotov, and Stalin, from Kapitza in Cambridge and Moscow, eds. J. Boag, P. Rubinin, D. Shoenberg (1990), 329–346.
Alexei Kojevnikov, "Rituals of Stalinist culture at work: Science and the games of intraparty democracy circa 1948," Russian Review 57 (1998): 25–52.
Benjamin Tromly, "Uncertain terrain: The intelligentsia and the Thaw," Making the Soviet Intelligentsia (2014), 187-216.
Heorhii Kasianov, Українська інтелігенція 1920-30-х років: соціальний портрет та історична доля (1992).
Konstantin Ivanov, "Science after Stalin: Forging a new image of Soviet science," Science in Context 15 (2002): 317-388.
Vladislav Zubok, Zhivago's Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia (2009). [prologue and epilogue]
Maria A. Rogacheva, The Private World of Soviet Scientists from Stalin to Gorbachev (2017).Alexey Golubev, “Techno-Utopian Visions of Soviet Intellectuals after Stalin,” in The Things of Life: Materiality in Late Soviet Russia (2020).
Image: May Day heroes (Krokodil, 1945)
-  March 16 — SOVIET PLANNING AND THE DISMAL SCIENCE
 March 16 — SOVIET PLANNING AND THE DISMAL SCIENCE
Leonid Vitalievich Kantorovich, "Mathematics in economics: Achievements, difficulties, and perspectives," Nobel Prize in Economics lecture (1975).
Ivan Boldyrev and Olessia Kirtchik, "The cultures of mathematical economics in the postwar Soviet Union: More than a method, less than a discipline," Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 63 (2017): 1-10.Artemy M. Kalinovsky, "Ayni's children, or making a Tajik-Soviet intelligentsia," Laboratory of Socialist Development: Cold War Politics and Decolonization in Soviet Tajikistan (2018), 43-66.Further resources:Till Düppe and Ivan Boldyrev, “Economic Knowledge in Socialism, 1945–89,” History of Political Economy 51, no. S1 (2019): 1–4.Kristy Ironside, A Full-Value Ruble: The Promise of Prosperity in the Postwar Soviet Union (2021).Yakov Feygin, “Dreaming of a ‘New Planning’: Development and the Internationalization of Economic Thought in Late Soviet Reformist Politics,” Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development 12, no. 2 (2021): 159–83.Pekka Sutela, Economic Thought and Economic Reform in the Soviet Union (1991).Vincent Barnett, The Revolutionary Russian Economy, 1890-1940: Ideas, Debates and Alternatives (2004).Aron Katsenelinboigen, Soviet Economic Thought and Political Power in the USSR (1980).Jan Adam, Planning and Market in Soviet and East European Thought, 1960’s-1992 (1993).Image: "Miracles of planning" (Krokodil, 1958): "Hello! Tashkent! Didn't a bunch of reindeer harnesses show up at your end! We could send over some cotton harvesting combines."
-  March 23 — CYBERNETICS AS REFORM DISCOURSE
 March 23 — CYBERNETICS AS REFORM DISCOURSE
V. V. Ivanov, "The role of semiotics in the cybernetic study of man and collective," in Daniel P. Lucid, ed., Soviet Semiotics: An Anthology (1977 ), 27-38.
Slava Gerovitch, "The 'cybernetization' of Soviet science," From Newspeak to Cyberspeak (2002), 199–251.
Ukrainian alternative: V. M. Glushkov, "Кiбернетика в теорiї i на практицi," in Наука i культура (1966), 37-49. [libraria.ua]
Eden Medina, Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile (2011).
Ronald R. Kline, The Cybernetics Moment: or Why We Call Our Age the Information Age (2015).
Eglė Rindzevičiūtė, The Power of Systems: How Policy Sciences Opened Up the Cold War World (2016).
-  March 30 — "DISCIPLINARY" CONTRIBUTIONS TO DISSIDENCE?
 March 30 — "DISCIPLINARY" CONTRIBUTIONS TO DISSIDENCE?
Two letters of Andrei Amalrik (1969).
Andrei Sakharov, Memoirs (1990), (excerpts).
Benjamin Nathans, "The dictatorship of reason: Aleksandr Vol'pin and the idea of rights under 'developed socialism'," Slavic Review 66 (2007): 630-663.
- Section 18
-  January 12 — REVOLUTION AS APOTHEOSIS?