Connected histories of the USA, USSR and Russia since 1945

Course Material 2023/24

This new Specified Subject aims to bring you into the ‘inner history’ of the Cold War and its aftermath -- in all its social, cultural, political and transnational dimensions -- so that you can explain the course and outcome of Soviet-American hostility in ways that transcend conventional international history. Drawing on a growing comparative historiography, you will explore the similarities and differences in the societies and politics of the two superpowers between c.1945 and c.1991, ranging across such topics as nuclear weapons, urban life, the security state, and human rights. You will observe encounters between all kinds of American and Soviet people: collaborations in the cosmos, cultural exchanges, spy defections, military flashpoints and top-level summits. This will require you to analyse how the two superpowers constructed knowledge about each other, probing the limits and accuracy of the Soviet perception of America and the American perception of the Soviet Union. While the core analytical destination of the Paper is an explanation of the collapse of the USSR and the triumph of America, these journeys across the comparative and connected histories of the USA and USSR will go beyond the end of the Cold War. At the end of the Paper, you will apply your own new historical knowledge to explain the contemporary crisis in relations between the United States and Russia.