History of Dissident Thought in Russia and Central Europe

Course NameHistory of Dissident Thought in Russia and Central Europe
Course CodeIRS335
DescriptionThis course aims to provide students with an understanding of the complex intellectual debates of dissent that took place in Russia and Central/Eastern Europe from the 15th century to the present. The course will encompass the early expression of dissent promoted by the religious ideology of the Hussites and Old Believers and the transformation of religious dissent into a powerful political, philosophical and cultural ideology: utopianism, anarchism, left radicalism, Marxism, nationalism, etc. We will look at the Russian Revolution, the revolution that shook Hungary in 1919, the establishment of the Bolshevik government in Russia in 1917, and the formation of the totalitarian state. We will analyze the diverse and vigorous dissident activities: democratic groups fighting for the democratization of the Soviet state, national and religious movements, and the fight of the Jewish minority for the right to immigrate to Israel. We will examine the role of underground publications (samizdat and tamizdat), the intensification of political demonstrations and petition writings. Special attention will be given to the dissident movements in the Soviet bloc countries, particularly Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland in the wake of the destalinization process that took place after 1956. The dismantling of the USSR created the possibility of the establishment of new democratic governments in Russia and Central/Eastern Europe. In Russia it generated an atmosphere of initial euphoria that was soon replaced with disillusionment, frustration and political apathy. In recent years, the level of apathy has increased, and dissent in Russia has become fractured and marginalized. We will survey what is left of dissent in Russia and will analyze the current political situation. We also will examine the growth of the new nationalism and isolationism that is on the rise in present-day Europe.
Learning OutcomesUpon completion of this course, students will be able to:
– Understand and interpret the concept of religious, political or social dissent; – To be able to identify and deconstruct different dissident movements, place these ideological developments in the proper historical context and be able critically examine all aspects of individual groups;
– Evaluate the role these movements played in the overall development of political ideologies; examine the ideologies of individual movements and the interplay between them;
– Develope the skills needed for the critical evaluation of the books or articles provided in the reading list; broaden these skills in the class presentation, book review and the well-researched term paper.
SchoolSchool of International Relations and Diplomacy (IRD)
Number of credits (US / ECTS)3 US / 6 ECTS