Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Petre Petrov

Assistant ProfessorPh.D., University of Pittsburgh

Petre Petrov


  • Phone: (512) 232-9130
  • Office: BUR 402
  • Office Hours: Fall 2015: Wed 11-12am, Fri 3-4pm
  • Campus Mail Code: F3600


Russian and Western modernism; socialist realism; Stalinist culture; Soviet language and ideology; theory of ideology; Marxism; critical theory


After completing my undergraduate education at "Kliment Okhridski" University of Sofia, Bulgaria, I moved to the United States to pursue graduate studies. In 2006 I received my Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh (Slavic Languages & Literatures and Cultural Studies). Before coming to the University of Texas at Austin, in 2014, I was an Assistant Professor at Princeton.

I began to teach independently while still in graduate school, and since then I have taken on quite a variety of courses and subjects, among them three languages (Russian, Bulgarian, and Polish), vampires, madmen, and barbarians. At the core of this motley repertory are undergraduate and graduate offerings on modernism, early Soviet culture, and Russian-Soviet cinema.

My book, Automatic for the Masses: The Death of the Author and the Birth of Socialist Realism (University of Toronto Press, 2015) is an attempt to make sense of the paradigm shift that took place when modernism in Russia gave way to Stalinism. With Lara Ryazanova-Clarke, I coedited a volume on the language cultures of the Soviet Union and its satellite states: The Vernaculars of Socialism: Language, Ideology and Power in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (Routledge, 2015). 

Currently I am working on two projects. One is a theoretical account of Stalinist ideology; the other is a philosophically inflected genealogy of modernism. 


REE 386 • Stalinism: Ideology & Cultr

43790 • Spring 2016
Meets M 300pm-600pm CMA 3.134

Course description:

As Russia under Putin continues to court authoritarian rule, Stalinism remains as relevant as ever. Even more so because, instead of causing embarrassment, the Stalinist period is being unflinchingly reclaimed by the current regime for a heroic nationalist history, while Stalin is contending for the title of greatest Russian ever (he took third place in a 2008 nationwide poll).  The seminar will examine Stalinism as a complex historical, ideological, and cultural phenomenon that crucially shaped Russia’s destiny through the twentieth century and up to the present moment. While giving due attention to its dark sides, we will seek our way beyond popular stereotypes (blood-thirty tyrant; miserable and terrorized population; total propaganda; etc). The course consists of three modules: 1) History; 2) Ideology; and 3) Culture. The last of these—in which we will consider some landmark works of literature, film, and art of the quarter-century 1928-1953—carries the greatest weight. Yet it is a plain fact that in no other period of Russian history has culture been so closely bound with political and ideological questions, and with the affairs of state in general. And this means that we will understand little about cultural developments if we do not understand, first, those factors—economic, political, ideological, personal—that made Stalinism possible and defined its character.  


Course Structure



1.     Introduction & Background

  1. D’Agostino, The Russian Revolution, 1917-1945 (140)
  2. Stalin (documentary), Part I 

2.     Points of Debate

  1. Hoffman, “Introduction: Interpretations of Stalinism” (8)
  2. Cohen, “Bolshevism and Stalinism” (27)
  3. Suny, “Stalin and His Stalinism” (24)
  4. Lewin, “Grappling with Stalinism” (24)
  5. Kotkin, “Magnetic Mountain” (20)

3.     Ordinary Stalinism

  1. Fitzpatrick, “Everyday Stalinism” (18)
  2. Kotkin, “Living Socialism” (87)
  3. Hellbeck, “Fashioning the Stalinist Soul” (40)
  4. [Hellbeck, “Working, Struggling, Becoming”] (30)
  5. [Magnitogorsk (documentary)]



4.     Ideology as a Concept and as a Soviet Reality

  1. Eagleton, “What is Ideology?” (32)
  2. Encyclopedia Britannica article, “Communism, Ideology” (10)
  3. Malia, “The Soviet Tragedy” (15)
  4. David-Fox, “The Six Faces of Soviet Ideology” (45)

5.     Marx and Lenin

  1. Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto (selection)
  2. Lenin, “State and Revolution” (selection)
  3. Lenin, Imperialism

6.     Stalin’s “Marxism-Leninism”

  1. Stalin, “Foundations of Leninism” (125)
  2. Stalin, “Dialectical and Historical Materialism”
  3. Mitin, et al. “The Contribution of Comrade Stalin to Marxism-Leninism”



7.     The Cultural Revolution

  1. Fitzpatrick, “Cultural Revolution as Class War”
  2. Platonov, The Foundation Pit

8.     Socialist Realism  

  1. Clark, The Soviet Novel (selection)
  2. Bown, Socialist Realist Painting (selection)


9.     The New Hero  

  1. Kataev, Time Forward (330)

10.  Cinema for the Masses

  1. Vassiliev Brothers: Chapaev

11. Popular Culture 

  1. Stites, Russian Popular Culture since 1900, Chapter 3

12. The Terror

  1. Stalin (documentary), Part II
  2. Khlevnyuk, “Objectives of the Great Terror” (22)
  3. Chukovskaya, Sofia Petrovna (120)

13. The Stalin Cult

  1. Stalin (documentary), Part III
  2. Joseph Stalin: A Short Biography, Chapters X-XI  (180)
  3. Chiaureli, The Fall of Berlin

14. World War II

  1. Polevoi: Story About a Real Man (210)

15.  Postwar Stalinism, Zhdanovshchina

  1. Zubkova, “Russia after the War” (24)
  2. Brandenberger, National Bolshevism, Chapter 11 (14)
  3. Party resolutions on culture, 1946
  4. Politbuiuro discussions of Ivan the Terrible, Part II
  5. Eisenstein, Ivan the Terrible, Part II

16. The GULAG

  1. Applebaum, “Gulag: An Introduction”
  2. Take virtual GULAG tour at
  3. Solzhenitsyn: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

POL 312L • Second-Year Polish II

43945 • Spring 2016
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm BUR 228

The Second Year Polish continues the exploration of the language.  The course will emphasize proficiency in contemporary Polish: listening, reading, speaking, and writing.  Second Year Polish seeks to integrate knowledge of the culture and society of contemporary Poland with the acquisition of grammar and vocabulary.


POL 312K or consent of the instructor

No auditing is allowed


Cześć jak się masz?  Spotkajmy się w Europie by Władysław Miodunka


Four units tests                                   40%

Vocabulary quizzes                              10%

Attendance and participation                 10%

Homework                                          10%

Written assignments                            10%

Oral Presentations                               10%    

Final Oral                                            10%

REE 325 • Russian Cinema: Potemkin-Putin

43745 • Fall 2015
Meets MW 300pm-430pm JES A303A
(also listed as C L 323)



The course is intended as a general introduction to the history of Russian-Soviet film. It will survey landmark cinematic texts from the early days of filmmaking in Russia to the present. In viewing and discussing these films, we will also be following the course of Russian social and cultural history. The goal, thus, is not only to acquaint students with major achievements of Russian cinema, but to use these as a gateway to mapping the broader territory of Russian culture over a turbulent century.


The Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)

Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)

Chapaev (Vassiliev Brothers, 1934)

Ivan the Terrible, Part II (Sergei Eisenstein, 1944)

The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1956)

Ivan’s Childhood (Andrei Tarkovskii, 1962)

Autumn Marathon (Georgii Daneliia, 1979)

Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Vladimir Menshov, 1980)

Little Vera (Vasilii Pichul, 1988)

Brother (Aleksei Balabanov, 1997)

Peter Kenez, Cinema and Soviet Society: From the Revolution to the Death of Stalin. NY: I.B. Tauris, 2008

Richard Taylor and Ian Christie, Eds. The Film Factory: Russian and Soviet Cinema in Documents, 1896-1939. Cambridte: Harvard UP, 1988.


Class participation 20%

Weekly viewing journal 30%

Midterm exam 20%

Final paper/exam 30%

POL 312K • Second-Year Polish I

43995 • Fall 2015
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm CAL 419

The course will review, strengthen, and upgrade the knowledge acquired during the first year of language study in Polish (POL 506 and 507). While enhancing their familiarity with grammatical structures, students will develop also a broader vocabulary, more idiomatic patterns of speech, and greater fluency in oral expression.  All linguistic skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing) will be practiced, but the main emphasis will be on communicative competence, as well as on a closer acquaintance with Poland’s life and culture. English will not be used in class, except where absolutely necessary for conveying certain grammatical structures and course-related information. The immersion in the target language is an essential component of the communicative method, as it stimulates students to be more attentive in the process of understanding and more resourceful in the process of expression. 


  • Małolepsza, Małgorzata and Aneta Szymkiewitcz. Hurra!!! Po Polsku 2. Kraków: Prolog, 2006. (textbook, workbook, grammar, and CDs)



  • Class participation                      10%
  • Homework                                  30%
  • Unit exams                                  30%  
  • Final exam                                  30%



POL 507 or consent of the instructor.

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