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Gender, Culture, and Geopolitics in the Khrushchev Era

at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

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Online Classroom
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Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 14
System Requirements:

You will need a reliable Internet connection as well as a computer or device with which you can access your virtual class. We recommend you arrive to class 5-10 minutes early to ensure you're able to set up your device and connection.

Class Delivery:

Classes will be held via Zoom.

Teacher: Olena Lyubchenko

Flexible Reschedule Policy: This provider has flexible, free rescheduling for any-in person workshop. Please see the cancellation policy for more details

What you'll learn in this history lesson:

Everyday Communism: Gender, Culture, and Geopolitics in the Khrushchev Era

With the death of Stalin, the succeeding Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev announced a new era in Soviet life, a turn away from the sacrifice of the Stalin years toward a new “Golden Age” of Soviet socialism. The post-Stalin period focused attention on housing, living standards, and the production of Soviet commodities for Soviet households. Khrushchev’s “thaw” extended to the Cold War, initiating a new phase of “peaceful competition” whose battleground was the kitchen. The Khrushchev-Richard Nixon “Kitchen Debates” of the early 1960s exposed social reproduction and social citizenship as sites of geopolitical relations. Internationally, the Soviet Union condemned racial segregation, advocated for equal pay for equal work, for health and safety provisions, and for conceptualizing domestic work as productive. And yet, while to some degree emancipating women from byt (everyday life), the Soviet turn to consumerism also served to entrench norms of domesticity, heteronormativity, family, and gendered labor. How can we understand Soviet consumer culture? How was it perceived across the public/private divide? Was it a fulfillment of the Soviet promise or a repudiation of its ideals? And, how did the Soviet consumer model and the mother-worker gender contract differ from the male-breadwinner model predominant in Western Keynesian welfare states? What was the life of a Soviet household?

In this course, we will explore Soviet material culture—consumer commodities, advertising, women’s magazines, literary journals—in the context of social policy, labor and family law, and developments in international political economy in the post-Stalin era. Was Soviet consumerism an expression of progressive social relations–objects for the emancipation of women and workers—or was late socialism simply another variation of the post-war welfare state model?  In tracing the relationship between production, consumption, and time in the Soviet economic system, as well as the social relations of gender, sexuality, and race, this course will critically engage with such authors as Susan Reid, Lewis Siegelbaum, Dan Healy, Caroline Humphrey, Natalya Chernyshova, Anna Krylova, Eileen Boris, Alexander Gerschenkron, Michael Lebowitz, and Katherine Verdery, among others. To help us grasp the making of the “new Soviet person,” we will explore popular Soviet films including: The Cranes are FlyingThe GirlsWalking the Streets of MoscowWedding in Malinovka, and The Diamond Arm.

Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

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Refund Policy

Upon request, we will refund the entire cost of a class up until 1 week before its start date. Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to a 75% refund. After the first class: 50%. After the second: 25%. No refunds will be given after the third class.

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Reviews of Classes at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (27)

School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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