Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

The Soviet Union and the World: Views from the Hoover Archives

HISTORY 23N

This seminar looks at the influence of the Soviet Union and communism on the world from the Revolution of 1917 until 1991. The idea is to encourage you to explore aspects of Soviet influence in Europe, the Americas, and elsewhere around the globe by delving into the rich and unique collections of the Hoover Archives, including original documents, posters, and film clips, available in English or in translationone of the great collections of materials on the history of communism anywhere. You will be asked to read and evaluate documents relevant to the history of communism in various parts of the world. We will meet with the Hoover archivists on campus, who will be able to navigate you through the archival collections and help you find suitable material for research and for writing up your final papers.

Some of the topics that we will cover during the quarter include: the impact of the Russian Revolution around the world; the dynamics of outside intervention in the revolution; the development of Comintern (Communist International) policies and establishment of communist parties in various countries; the alliance of the Soviet Union with the United States and Great Britain during World War II; the emergence of the Cold War; Soviet activities in the Third World; Euro-communism and the Viet Nam War; détente and nuclear rivalry; propaganda and counterpropaganda; the decline of the Soviet world; Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union; and world leaders. We will conclude with a consideration of how the history of Soviet communism influences the Russia of Vladimir Putin.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Norman Naimark

Norman Naimark is McDonnell Professor of East European Studies in the Department of History, a Senior Fellow at Hoover, and has been interested in the Soviet Union since his own undergraduate days at Stanford. He studied Russian, has visited the Soviet Union (and now Russia) dozens of times since the late 1960s, and has written widely on Soviet international behavior.

"The overwhelming impetus for this course is my desire to involve students in the Hoover Archives collections from the very beginning of their studies at Stanford. I want to share the excitement and the importance of archival research with Stanford frosh. The topic of Soviet influence around the world and the topic is a natural one for the Hoover collections, which are among the strongest in this field anywhere. Now, one hundred years after the Russian Revolution, there is still a lot to be learned about Soviet international behavior, the responses abroad, and the history of communism in the 20th century."