After the Thaw: The Transformations in Soviet Life


After the death of Stalin in 1953, Soviet Communism and Soviet life in general were transformed on many different levels. In a cohesive, well-organized essay, explain what made the final period of the Soviet Union’s existence (1953-1991) so different from the Soviet life of the past.

First, you need to account for the big picture. How would you characterize the most significant changes, and which aspects of Soviet life were affected? What do you think set these changes in motion? Which social issues became the focal point of Soviet life? How did “official” culture interact with “unofficial” culture? What were the different phases in the transformation of Soviet society? How did the Soviet Union interact with the world beyond its borders? You might want to conceptualize late-Soviet society in terms of its contradictions.

Then, you need to discuss some specific examples, which you feel best illustrate the transformations in Soviet life. Although it would be great to consider as many examples as possible, your essay must include well-developed discussions of at least three specific examples, with at least one example taken from each of the following cultural spheres:

            1) Politics, the legal system, or major social issues

            2) Popular culture

            3) Intellectual culture

These examples may be taken from any of the assigned readings, films, or other materials we have covered. The idea is to demonstrate your understanding of these assigned materials—so you should not be looking for outside sources. (Our Soviet Culture Wiki could help you refresh your memory.) Be sure to discuss your examples in detail.

Ultimately, what conclusions could be reached about “the Soviet project” in general and its importance in global history—based on the way Soviet life was transformed in its final years?

5 pages

APA – 5 References