RUST1/VENS20 Culture and everyday life of the "Soviet Thaw" 5 ECTS
Period I Period II Period II Period IV
Language of instruction
Type or level of studies
Basic studies
Course unit descriptions in the curriculum
Russian Studies
Faculty of Communication Sciences

General description

Course outline

The course offers an introduction to one of the most important periods in the history of Soviet society, which is believed to form the modern urban intelligentsia. The urgency of the course is determined by the growing interest in the phenomenon of the "thaw", which can be observed in recent years both in scholar research and in Russian mass culture (television, serials, etc.). The goal of the course is to consider changes in the historical background, everyday practices, culture, art, and through them - those changes that occurred in the minds of people of this period. The material for discussion are 1) cultural texts of the "Soviet Thaw"; 2) memoirs and documents of the era, 3) modern Russian and foreign studies, 4) original research by the author.  In the center of attention is the human of the thaw era and the circle of his/her social connections and relations, as well as literature, cinema and travel as spheres, reflecting the basic anthropological shifts of the "thaw". The circle of topics may be interesting to Slavists, historians, journalists.


Classes - 16 hours, incl. 12 lecture hours

1. The «Soviet Thaw" as an amount of significant historical and anthropological shifts. Inside the country, changes have affected both political attitudes and the everyday life of Soviet citizens: the family, education, movement around the country. De-Stalinization and liberalization of ideology have become decisive trends. Ideological shifts were widely reflected in the cultural practices of the era. This is noticeable at the level of life, art, mass culture. Along with the traditional sources of sociological and historical research (documents, memoirs, statistics), cultural practices and the art of the "thaw" period give a vivid picture of the processes taking place in the public consciousness, important changes in optics that build a new axiology of Soviet citizens in the 1950-70s.

2. Privat life. The liberalization of ideology partly rehabilitated the "private man" and the topic of private life in the minds of Soviet citizens, including questions of the relationship between men and women and gender in general. Soviet culture of the "thaw" period fixes a new system of relations in the family and society, a new formation of young heroes. An important place is occupied by the theme of love (see «Ljubit'», directed by Mikhail Kalik, «Eshhjo raz pro ljubov'», directed by G. Natanson, etc.). The pronounced didacticism of the Stalin period is replaced by ambivalent or ambiguous coding systems posing complex questions, which can not always be answered unequivocally. This reflected the new complex relationships established between Soviet ideology and everyday life.

3. Shifts in art. Liberalization gives impetus to the development of neoromantic tendencies, including a change in the role and function of art and design in society. On the example of literature, this is best seen in poetry, which receives additional incentives for development in conditions, on the one hand, the preservation of Soviet censorship, on the other - the tendency to weaken public control in the field of private life. The mouthpiece of art at this time is the lyrics, most closely associated with personal experience. Simultaneously, the lyre loses chamber character and acquires a mass, stadium.

4. Transformation of the space and place. The literature of the "thaw" fixes the sharp growth of the stories connected with the movement of the heroes, in which the feelings of "openness" and "liberation" typical of the epoch (E. Galimova) were embodied. In cultural texts (cinematography, literature, songs, etc.) a topography is formed, the poles of which are "city" and "wild" places (mountains, islands of the Russian North, taiga, Arctic, etc.), where the heroes carry out a journey or a flight. Features of this topography can be explained through the concept of an "out-of-control" man of the late Soviet era (A.Yurchak). The geographic romance of the epoch can be illustrated by the history of the formation of the images of the Russian North and, in particular, of the Kizhi Island as a symbolic place of Russia in the 1960-70s.

As an illustrative material, photographs, fine arts, fragments of films from the 1950s to the 1970s are used. The course assumes three seminar classes with the analysis of the chapter of the book by A. Yurchak and the story of Yu. Kazakov "Adam and Eve" (in English translation) with elements of slow reading and analysis of thematic cases. As a test paper, a written essay with an analysis of  one  issue (journies, family, love, art) or one text /film sub specie of axiology or changes in daily practice in the era of the "thaw" is planned.

Enrolment for University Studies

Enrolment time has expired


Shilova Natalia, Teacher responsible


11-Feb-2019 – 17-Feb-2019
Lectures 12 hours
Tue 12-Feb-2019 at 16-20, Pinni B4087
Wed 13-Feb-2019 at 16-20, Pinni B4087
Thu 14-Feb-2019 at 16-18, Pinni B4087
Fri 15-Feb-2019 at 16-18, Pinni B4087