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Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies pres.

CREES Noon Lecture. "Stalin's Master Narrative": The General Secretary's Rewriting of Party History in the 1938 Short Course

David Brandenberger, professor of history, University of Richmond

Stalin's Master Narrative Stalin's Master Narrative
Stalin's Master Narrative
The Short Course on the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) defined Stalinist ideology, both at home and throughout the communist world abroad. It was quite literally the USSR’s master narrative between 1938 and 1956—a hegemonic statement on history, politics, and Marxism-Leninism that scripted Soviet society for a generation. Long rumored to have been ghostwritten by Stalin, the Short Course has defied comprehensive critical analysis for the past 80 years, despite the opening of the Soviet archives in 1991. Here, David Brandenberger reveals for the first time the enormous role that Stalin played in the development of this all-important text. In so doing, “Stalin’s Master Narrative” characterizes the unparalleled control that the dictator wielded over the Soviet historical imagination.

David Brandenberger has written on Stalin-era propaganda, ideology and nationalism in journals like Russian Review, Slavic Review, Kritika, Revolutionary Russia, Nationality Papers, Europe-Asia Studies, Jahrbuecher fuer Geschichte Osteuropas, Noveishaia istoriia Rossii and Voprosy istorii. He has written or edited nine books including National Bolshevism: Stalinist Mass Culture and the Formation of Modern Russian National Identity, 1931-1956 (Harvard, 2002); Epic Revisionism: Russian History and Literature as Stalinist Propaganda, co-edited with Kevin M. F. Platt (Wisconsin, 2006); Propaganda State in Crisis: Soviet Ideology, Indoctrination and Terror under Stalin, 1928-1941 (Yale, 2011); and Stalin’s Master Narrative, co-edited with M. V. Zelenov (Yale, 2019). He is presently writing a new book on Stalin's last political purge, the 1949 Leningrad Affair, and co-editing the purge-era diary of a high-ranking member of the USSR’s Politburo.

If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation to attend this event, please reach out to weisercenter@umich.edu at least 2 weeks in advance of this event. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Stalin's Master Narrative Stalin's Master Narrative
Stalin's Master Narrative
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