This course takes a deep dive into one of the most consequential periods in Soviet history: the Stalin Era. Stalinism occupies a unique space in popular imagination, marked by political terror and dictatorial excess. But as scholars have shown, this is not the whole story. Stalinism was, in historian Stephen Kotkin’s phrase, “a civilization,” and like any civilization, it generated a range of hopes, fears, aspirations, and wonder among those who lived through it. In this course, we will explore Soviet citizens’ experiences during the nearly 30 years Stalin held power by analyzing their creative productions and personal accounts. We will consider issues of propaganda and true belief, identity formation and self-fashioning, adoption of new values and courageous resistance. Along the way, we will also interrogate the radical economic, social, and demographic shifts that made this era so remarkable. Through close analysis and discussion, we will deepen our understanding of how the Stalinist experience shaped Soviet citizens’ imaginations and senses of individual and national selfhood and consider its legacy in Russia today.