Builders and Deserters: Students, State, and Community in Leningrad, 1917-1941

By Peter Konecny | Go to book overview

Builders and Deserters
Students, State, and Community in
Leningrad, 1917-1941

One of the most significant changes produced by the Bolshevik Revolution was the formation of an élite that identified with the new socialist order. Students in the rapidly expanding higher-education system were part of this new élite. In Builders and Deserters Peter Konecny makes use of an unprecedented range of previously unavailable sources to examine the academic, cultural, and political dimensions of student life in the Soviet Union's second largest city, Leningrad.

Being a student meant much more than simply attending classes. The new Soviet student was expected to engage in activities ranging from work in local Communist Party organizations to participation in collectivization brigades in the countryside. Builders and Deserters explores how student attempts to accommodate personal ambition and established cultural traditions with the numerous obligations that came from their privileged status led to a difficult relationship with the state.

Konecny discusses changes in the higher-education system and everyday life from the pre-revolutionary period to the beginning of World War II. He also considers the world of politics and political activism, training in and out of the classroom, and the ways in which students both conformed to and deviated from explicit standards of social conduct and "Communist morality" under Stalinism.

This is the first comprehensive analysis of the important role played by students in the Soviet socialist revolution during the inter-war period. The breadth of subject matter and thematic issues will interest scholars and students of Soviet history, as well as specialists in comparative education and youth culture.

____________________
PETER KONECNY is adjunct research professor of history at Carleton University.

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