Welcome to the final edition of the 20th-Century Russia Digest for Spring 2018. The collective went out on a very strong note! The best of the final contributions are featured in the slider and can be found in the Red Star or Comrade’s Corner categories .The slider posts suggest the array of challenges that ultimately overwhelmed the Soviet system, including the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, the AIDS crisis, and the Baltic republics’ bid for independence. Other posts this week explored the fallout of social and economic transformation in government efforts to regulate the supply of alcohol, the complex dynamics of youth culture, and changing norms of sexuality.
The Final “Student’s Choice” award — highlighted in grey in the center of the page — goes to Emma’s fascinating exploration of Soviet efforts to manipulate public perceptions of HIV / AIDS. We encourage you to read this post in tandem with Garret’s discussion of the AIDS crisis from the angle of public health policies.
The middle section of the site features posts the class selected as “Greatest Hits” from the entire semester. Your editorial team is proud of the range of interests, topics, talent, and perspectives represented here and elsewhere on the site. We’ve learned a lot together and these greatest hits offer visitors to the site an overview of how exciting that journey has been.
As your editor-in-chief I want to thank you all for your enthusiasm, commitment and patience over these last few months. There were some bumps along the way, but you navigated them with grace and humor. I hope you will look back on the work we did together with pride and that the course has piqued an ongoing interest in a fascinating place with a rich and complicated historical experience.
Finally, please join me in thanking your devoted, accomplished and talented student editors. The weekly editions and the discussions in class and in the comments would have been impoverished or absent without them. They brought their best to the class and the website and we all benefited from their insight, experience and interest in Soviet History. Thank-you Spencer, Caroline, and Ellen!
Mikhail Gorbachev’s leadership ushered in an era of increased freedom, opportunity, and hope for Soviet citizens, even as it fostered economic uncertainty, political instability, and the threat of chaos. For your final blog post, please choose a topic that gives you some insight on the collapse of Soviet communism and the social transformation that accompanied it.
There are two more modules (on 1985 and 1991) from Seventeen Moments in Soviet History that offer an array of topics ranging from nationalism, sexuality and youth culture, to the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, the anti-alcohol campaign, and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Please also consult and use the Current Digest of the Soviet Press and cite the articles you use from this collection. Feel free to explore any other relevant topic from this period as well. There are good suggestions for primary materials on the Soviet History Resources page. You could also use articles from Historical New York Times to compare the coverage of a particular event or issue in the US with the articles you use from the Current Digest.