ILIN A.A. Past, Present and Future of the Soviet University: Jubilee Histories of Higher Education Institutions in the 1930s – 1980s

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2020.2.7 

Andrei A. Ilin

Candidate of Sciences (History), Senior Researcher,

Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities, National Research University “Higher School of Economics”,

Myasnitskaya St., 20, 101000 Moscow, Russian Federation

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8771-6620 


Abstract. Introduction. Jubilee histories of the Soviet and Russian universities (higher education institutions) draw scholars’ attention as tools for the construction of traditions and search for a usable past. Historians scrutinize primary the past of universities as it is depicted in historical texts, but as a rule, these texts also treat the present and future of educational institutions. Exploring narratives that put all three times together, the article examines jubilee texts in their integrity.

Methods and sources. The study is based on both published and unpublished narrative sources on histories of universities that usually are somehow connected with jubilees. Special attention is paid to discursive features of the texts under study. The author employs the method of discourse-analysis, as well as the method of contextualization of the examined written sources within political and social developments of the Soviet era.

Analysis. The 1930s saw a gradual development of the jubilee history genre. While a lot of norms and regulations had not been implemented yet, there were distinctly visible anachronisms and factual errors. The exact place of the revolution and other landmark events had not been determined yet. The new genre gained momentum during and after the thaw period. The history of the universities of that time showed greater attention to historical detail and accuracy. At the same time, a certain model of linear history became well established; past, present, and future were clearly ordered and delineated.

Results. Typical jubilee texts of the 1930s – 1980s had quite a stable structure, albeit they could vary in content. They were efficient and flexible enough for ongoing ideological campaigns. More importantly, these qualities widened the opportunities for the articulation of various visions of the university that didn’t necessarily fully chime with the official ideology although they didn’t explicitly confront it either.

Key words: history of the USSR, jubilees, history of universities, jubilee history, time.

Citation. Ilin A.A. Past, Present and Future of the Soviet University: Jubilee Histories of Higher Education Institutions in the 1930s – 1980s. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2020, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 93-102. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2020.2.7.

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Past, Present and Future of the Soviet University: Jubilee Histories of Higher Education Institutions in the 1930s – 1980s by Ilin A.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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