Soviet Culture @ Virginia Tech, Fall 2015

How do the arts influence and reflect their environment? What role does culture play in revolutionary change? What are the peculiarities of the arts and culture in authoritarian systems? This course explores the ways in which both “high” and popular culture shaped and reflected the essential dynamics of Soviet society. Our inquiry will be guided by the artifacts of cultural expression, from popular music, film, and other forms of entertainment, along with literature, poetry and the visual arts. This course is an invitation to explore the rich and distinctive cultural traditions of twentieth-century Russia and the often tragic circumstances under which they evolved.

This is a hybrid course that leverages active co-learning and the web to enhance our understanding of the key characteristics and dynamics of Soviet culture. We are a community of co-learners, and depend on the aptitudes and experiences of each learner to make the most of our time together. Students author original research posts or create digital artifacts on topics of their choosing, using print materials, sources available on the open web, and databases provided by the Virginia Tech library. An editorial team comprised of the instructor and an alumna of the hybrid Soviet History course taught last fall curate the posts from individual researchers into a Weekly Digest that appears on Wednesday afternoon. Our overview of the current issue and guidelines for upcoming projects appear in the “Red Corner” section underneath the slider. Particularly compelling posts are awarded a “Red Star” and appear in slider. Projects addressing the role of radical innovation or veneration of tradition in cultural production maybe featured in the “iconolasts & conservatives” section. We may also designate some posts as warranting a “students’ choice award and feature them prominently on the site.

Visitors are welcome click around and encouraged to contribute to the many interesting discussions taking place in the comment section.

The syllabus and networked learning guidelines that guide the course are here and here.

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