Robert C. Tucker/Stephen F. Cohen Dissertation Prize

2008 Citation Recipient

Benjamin Tromly

TheĀ Robert C. Tucker/Stephen F. Cohen Dissertation Prize, established in 2006 and sponsored by the KAT Charitable Foundation, is awarded annually (if there is a distinguished submission) for an outstanding English-language doctoral dissertation in Soviet or Post-Soviet politics and history in the tradition practiced by Robert C. Tucker and Stephen F. Cohen. The dissertation must be defended at an American or Canadian university and completed during the calendar year prior to the award.

Winner: Benjamin Tromly, Harvard University
Title: “Re-Imagining the Soviet Intelligentsia: Student Politics and University Life, 1948-1964”

Ben Tromly’s dissertation, “Re-Imagining the Soviet Intelligentsia: Student Politics and University Life, 1948-1964,” is framed by a fresh and exciting conceptualization of the intelligentsia as a discursive category that both reflected and shaped how educated citizens understood their relationships to higher knowledge, to the party-state, and to each other during a period of transition. The fruit of imaginative and exhaustive research in Russian libraries and archives and thoughtful interviewing, it focuses on the trajectory of students’ intellectual identities at Moscow, Kiev, and Saratov universities from the late Stalin era to Khrushchev’s ouster in 1964. The dissertation systematically challenges conventional and oversimplified assumptions about such important historical issues as possibilities for autonomous socialization and sociability within state institutions as well as outside the state’s purview in the last years of Stalin’s rule, the role of the Komsomol, the seedbed of political “revisionism” and Ukrainian nationalism, the relationship of Soviet intellectuals to the process of de-Stalinization in eastern Europe, and what the Virgin Lands and other public works campaigns meant to students, teachers, and other intellectuals. Its astute blending of social and cultural approaches to the political history of the USSR exemplifies the best tradition of historical scholarship as practiced by Robert C. Tucker and Stephen F. Cohen and embodies the makings of an outstanding first book.

Honorable Mention: Edward Cohn, University of Chicago
Title: “Disciplining the Party: The Expulsion and Censure of Communists in the Post-War Soviet Union, 1945-1961”

Ed Cohn’s dissertation, “Disciplining the Party: The Expulsion and Censure of Communists in the Post-War Soviet Union, 1945-1961,” is a highly detailed study of the shift in the way the party treated deviant behavior in the post-war era. Its central argument that the discipline system became less repressive but more intrusive after Stalin, that it increasingly concerned itself with such ‘private-life’ issues as family stability is based on exhaustive research in both central and provincial archives and employs both quantitative and qualitative indices. Replete with colorful examples and written in an engaging manner, the dissertation makes an important contribution to the rapidly expanding literature on the postwar and post-Stalin periods. Its conversion into a monograph is eagerly awaited.