Introduction to Russia and Eastern Europe

Oakland University
Rochester, Michigan

International Studies 260

Department of International Programs
Winter 1992
Instructor: Dr. Janusz K. Wrobel

Course Description:

The purpose of this course is to acquaint students with Russian and Eastern European cultures. The course will have an interdisciplinary character and will take into account, among other disciplines, geography, history, social structures, political structures and religion. The presentation and material will focus on the twentieth century - specifically, on the fall of communism and its empire,the disintegration of the USSR and the rise of liberty in Eastern Europe.

Required Readings:

Milton F. Goldman, Global Studies: Soviet Union & Eastern Europe
Janet G. Vaillant & John Richards II, From Russia to USSR: A Narrative and Documentary History
Patrick Brogan, The Captive Nations. Eastern Europe: 1945-1990. From the Defeat of Hitler to the Fall of Communism
Timothy Garton Ash, The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of 89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin and Prague
Janelle Rohr, Eastern Europe: Opposing Viewpoints
Class Packet
Daily reading of either the Detroit Free Press or Detroit News for news about the Russian Federation and Eastern Europe. Articles may be brought to class for discussion.

Course Requirements:

Attendance. This is a lecture-discussion class; therefore attendance is mandatory. Since your participation in class activities counts toward the final grade, only one unexcused absence is allowed.
Familiarity with required readings.
Familiarity with the material presented in class.
Participation in class discussions.
Twelve typed one-page, single-spaced essays (due one week after the presentation of a topic) will be assigned; of these, you are required to turn in ten.
Two map quizzes. They are due January 21st and March 31st. A blank map of the USSR is available in the OU Bookstore.
Mid-term and final examinations.

Course Outline and Reading Assignments:

Jan. 7 Introduction to Russia. Geography of the Russian Federation and of the Commonwealth of the Independent States
Jan. 14 Reforms Attempted and Aborted: Imperial Russia
Reading: From Russia to USSR, Ch. 1-3
Topic: Discuss the reasons for the downfall of the Russian Empire
Jan. 21 Communism is Born: Russia in Revolution (1905-1927)
Reading: From Russia to USSR, Ch. 4
Map Quiz
Topic: How Russia became the Soviet Union
Jan. 28 "We are all up to Our Elbows in Blood": Stalinism (1927-1953)
Reading: From Russia to USSR, Ch. 5; Global Studies,10-11
Topic: Life under Stalinist Terror
Feb. 4 The Bureaucracy and Ideology: From Khrushchev to Chernenko (1953-1985)
Reading: From Russia to USSR, Ch. 6; Global Studies, 11-13
Topic: Describe the socio-political situation in the Soviet Union in the sixties and seventies.
Feb. 11 The Last man Who Believed that Communism Was Reformable: the Gorbachev Era (1985-1991)
Reading: Global Studies, 14-72, 148-192
Topic: Do you agree with the opinion that Mikhail Gorbachev is Peter the Great of our times?
Feb. 18 Russia Reborn: Soviet Disunion in Search of New Identity
Reading: current press articles
March 3 Mid-term Exam
March 10 The Imposition of Communism on Eastern Europe
Reading: Global Studies, 73-92; Eastern Europe, Ch. l
Topic: How communism was imposed on Eastern Europe: discuss similarities and differences in particular countries.
March 17 Anti-Soviet Upheavals in Eastern Europe
Reading: The Captive Nations, Ch. 1-5; The Magic Lantern, 78-130
Topic: Compare two Czechoslovak Revolutions: The Prague Spring of 1968 and the Velvet Revolution of 1989
March 24 Solidarity's Contribution to the Collapse of Communism in Europe
Reading: The Magic Lantern, 11-77, 131-156; Global Studies, 121-130
Topic: The Polish contribution to the collapse of communism in Europe.
March 31 What Economic Policies Should Eastern Europe Adopt?
Reading: Eastern Europe, Ch. 3; The Captive Nations, Ch. 6-9
Map Quiz
Topic: According to your opinion, what economic policies are the best for Eastern Europe?
Apr. 7 Is European Unification Possible?
Reading: Eastern Europe, Ch. 5
Topic: Discuss the basic difficulties in the unification of Europe
Apr. 14 Perspectives for the Commonwealth of Independent States and Eastern Europe
Reading: Eastern Europe, Ch. 2; The Captive Nations, Postscript
Apr. 21 Final Exam

Janusz K. Wrobel is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Polish Studies at St. Mary's College in Orchard Lake, Michigan, and a recent grantee of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Among his books arePeople's Poland Through the Eyes of the Younger Generation (forthcoming from Slavica Publishers; co-edited with Frank Corliss), Language and Schizophrenia (1990), and Poland in Polish: A Polish Language Handbook for Beginners (with tapes), 2 vols. (1986, co-authored with W. Miodunka).

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