The common notion deeply ingrained in the Western imagination of the Stalinist regime is that state politics
and Bolshevik ideology undercut the formation of individual identities. Under this assumption, all social
initiatives were monopolized by the revolutionary state, and individuality was oppressed in a totalitarian
system. Recent scholarship, however, challenges this view, arguing that members of the Soviet society had
the opportunity to seize political agency and to form their autonomy and personhood. Which argument do
you support? This is a potentially very large subject. Be certain to construct a focused argument that
examines the nature of Soviet rule and its impact on the affected societies.
Your narrative must be based on evidence from Gulag Boss: A Soviet Memoir, other course readings as
appropriate (Week 2 to Week 5), and lecture notes. All readings are posted in Canvas. The textbook
provides a background introduction. You cannot use it as your sole reference source.
Your essay should be approximately 800-1000 words in length, using Times New Roman 12 pt. font,
double-spacing, and one-inch margins. Cite the readings using a short parenthetical format, for example:
(Mochulsky, p. 25). Cite lectures by title, for example: (“The Bolshevik Experiment in Russia”). Titles of
lectures are available on the syllabus.
Your essay will be judged by the extent to which:
You demonstrate careful reading of the Gulag Boss: A Soviet Memoir, and other sources as relevant;
You include ideas from lecture and other course readings as appropriate;
You craft a well-written and well-constructed essay;
You demonstrate an understanding of the history presented thus far in class;
You are able to write a paper that is free of careless errors.