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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Establishing the Iron Curtain: Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe, 1945-1968 (HIST10431)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will enable students to consider how totalitarian regimes functioned by studying the mechanics of terror and propaganda employed by the Third Reich and Stalin's Russia. Students will then be able to apply this knowledge to the communist revolutions that took place in Hungary and Czechoslovakia immediately after WWII - and to study the ways in which this revolution was actually totalitarian in nature.
Course description Totalitarian regimes acquainted the twentieth century with a different and more extreme political system: a system intertwined with, and dependent upon, radical ideology. Even though the discussion of totalitarianism in Europe usually revolves around Nazi Germany and Stalin's Russia, the installation of repressive political structures throughout Eastern Europe after the end of WWII also drew upon a 'blueprint' of totalitarian methodology by utilising mechanics of terror and propaganda in an extreme way.

Totalitarianism itself generates controversy as a system of political classification, but this course emphasizes the term's ability to describe conditions and implications of oppression. Therefore, the first part of the semester focuses on totalitarianism and what it means, and the ways in which both Stalinism and Nazism embody the workings of a totalitarian system. The second part of the course will discuss how these oppressive structures functioned in Hungary and Czechoslovakia following the end of WWII, taking a case-studies approach in considering communist dictatorships and their solidification of rule by show trials, purges and the secret police.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Stalin's Russia, 1921-1941 (HIST10336) OR The Third Reich 1933-1945 (HIST10359)
Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.

Before enrolling students on this course, Personal Tutors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Administrator to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 50 3780).
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting Students should usually have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an acquisition of basic knowledge regarding the key topics and themes of the course;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others; and an ability to work with peers for the group presentations
Reading List
Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 (2012).
Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951).
Peter Baehr, Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism, and the Social Sciences (2010).
Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto (1848).
Robert Gellately, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe (2007).
Vaclav Havel, The Power of the Powerless: Citizens Against the State in Central Eastern Europe (1985).
Peter Kenez, Hungary from the Nazis to the Soviets: The Establishment of the Communist Regime in Hungary, 1944-1948 (2006).
Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon (1940).
Kevin McDermott, Communist Czechoslovakia, 1945-89: A Political and Social History (2015).
Kevin McDermott and Matthew Stibbe (eds), Stalinist Terror in Eastern Europe: Elite Purges and Mass Repression (2010).
Martin Mevius, Agents of Moscow: The Hungarian Communist Party and the Origins of Socialist Patriotism. 1941-1953 (2005).
Czeslaw Milosz, The Captive Mind (1953).
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - the capacity to work independently on a research topic;
- the ability to respect different opinions in a group discussion;
- the ability to effectively evaluate a range of source materials relevant to the course;
- the capacity express arguments clearly and effectively;
- the ability to meet the deadlines.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Tereza Eva Valny
Tel: (0131 6)50 2504
Course secretaryMiss Katy Robinson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3780
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