The Soviet Union: a history in film, 1922-1991
Time: 14:45 - 16:45
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
This course has now started
Course Code: HEH57
Duration: 12 sessions (over 12 weeks)
What is the course about?
This course uses film to explore changes in Soviet society and politics between the NEP era and the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Cultural politics was a fraught and often dangerous arena in the USSR, and filmmakers had to adapt frequently in order to survive or thrive. Furthermore, as many soviet-era films are available in the public domain, their works provide a fascinating basis from which to explore long-term change and continuity in the USSR.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
The course will analyse long-term cultural change in the Soviet Union, analysing the shifting boundaries of artistic acceptability and respectability as they are evidenced in Soviet films. We will also use film to search for how the regime represented or ignored perennial problems in Soviet society: the position of the family, trauma, “being Soviet”, and nationalism.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Identify the key shifts in Soviet cultural politics between the 1920s and 1990s, and speculate as to why they occurred.
• Display a good comparative knowledge of Soviet film over time.
• Identify the ways in which film producers in the USSR represented Soviet society, in addition to how or why this changed.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is intended to build upon some existing understanding of Soviet history. You will benefit most from this course if you have some basic knowledge of the key eras in Soviet history: the NEP period (1922-29), the early Stalin years (1928-1941), the war and late Stalinism (1941-1953), the ‘thaw’ era under Khrushchev (1953-1964), the era of “stagnation” (1964-1985) and the era of perestroika, glasnost’, and collapse (1985-1991).
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be assigned up to two films to watch between classes: these will be on YouTube and with English subtitles – due to age restrictions on some of the films, you may need to create a YouTube account in order to watch them. You may also be assigned some reading to provide some background and additional understanding for the films you are watching. We will explore the films you have watched in class through a mix of discussion and lecture.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You are advised to bring a pen and some paper, and to approach the course with an open mind towards studying ideas you may not agree with.