All the Lies We Cannot See: Operation Infektion and HIV/AIDS in the Soviet Union

In the early 1980s, the HIV/AIDS virus emerged and spread with quick and deadly force. Throughout the decade and into the 1990s, those infected (often part of socially-ostracized groups) fought for their lives in the face a seemingly indifferent government, a willfully-blind public, and slow-moving pharmaceutical companies. However, in the midst of the chaos caused […]

Before the West was Cool: Soviet Hipsters in the 1950s

I first discovered the stilyagi of the fifties when I saw a movie on Kanopy called Hipsters (2008). Set in 1955 Moscow, the film follows a Komsomol member who falls in love with one these stilyagi. A term for nonconformist, Western-oriented youths, the word stilyagi carried a highly negative connotation in Soviet society. Bonus: Listen to a song about hipsters (written by hipsters) while […]

Innocence Lost: The Great Patriotic War in “Ivan’s Childhood”

Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1962 debut film, Ivan’s Childhood (available on Kanopy), follows a 12 year old boy serving as a scout in the Soviet military during World War II. Although it was made a couple decades after the war, this film not only portrays the mental and physical destruction wrought by the war, but also raises fascinating […]

Stalin’s Favorite Movie: Soviet Film in the 1930’s

  The period from 1924 to 1930 is often called “The Golden Age of Soviet Cinema.” During this time, Soviet filmmakers made breakthroughs in visual effects and editing styles. At the same time, they rejected the bourgeoisie trend in Western films of psychologizing characters and focusing on individuals. Instead, Soviet directors often focused on people […]

The Divine Penitentiary: Solovetskii Monastery’s Solemn History

This photograph, taken by Russian photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii in 1915, depicts the Solovetskii (also spelled Solovetsky) Monastery. Located in the Solovetsky archipelago (Solovki), the monastery harbors major Russian historical significance. The first major expansion of the monastery occurred under the guidance of monk Philip Kolychev. From 1547  to 1566, Kolychev carried a series of construction projects […]

Welcome to my blog!

My name is Emma – I’m writing this blog for a class on twentieth century Russia. Join me as I learn more about the trials, tribulations, and complexities of living in Russia during this time!