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Discussing Russian Politics

CSUF Hosts ‘Back to the USSR’ Symposium Dec. 7

Nov. 26, 2012


Russia’s history, politics, pop culture and propaganda are among the topics to be discussed at “Back to the USSR,” a Dec. 7 all-day symposium at Cal State Fullerton. Featuring CSUF faculty members and other experts on Russian politics and culture, the symposium is free and open to the public.


Friday, Dec. 7
10 a.m.-10 p.m.


Titan Student Union, Portola Pavilion
Cal State Fullerton
800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, 92831


“The symposium will focus on Russian politics and culture during the Soviet era and its implications for the present day,” said Julius (Jay) Wachtel, a CSUF lecturer in criminal justice and symposium organizer who entered academe after a career in federal law enforcement. “I’m very pessimistic about the future. I see us slipping into another cold war. There seems to be quite a distance growing between us. In order to really guide, or properly inform, our relations with Russia, we have to understand the Soviet Union, the Cold War and why we, at one point, almost came to nuclear war. When the Cold War ended, everyone said, ‘It’s fine; Russia is no big deal,’ but it is. I think we have never resolved our differences.”

Symposium Highlights:

  • 10 a.m.: Wachtel will present “Moscow Show Trials: Five Inside Stories.” Wachtel will discuss his book, “Stalin’s Witnesses: A Novel of the Great Terror and the Moscow Schow Trials” (Knox Robinson Publishing, 2012), a work of historical fiction about five people who were forced to testify against their fellow Communists, condemning the defendants and implicating themselves in farfetched crimes. Wachtel was a special agent in the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives until he retired in 1998.
  • 1 p.m.: Alexei Shevchenko, CSUF associate professor of political science, will deliver “Shortcuts to Greatness: Gorbachev’s Foreign Policy and Domestic Reforms.” He will explain how concerns about Soviet/Russian international status influenced Gorbachev’s choices in domestic and foreign policy.
  • 2 p.m.: Choi Chatterjee, Cal State Los Angeles professor of history and author of “Celebrating Women: The International Women’s Day in Russia and the Soviet Union, 1910-1939” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002), will present “Lady in Red: American Communist Women and the Soviet Experience.”
  • 3 p.m.: J. Arch Getty, UCLA professor of history and author of several books on Stalinism, will present “The Great Purges: War of the Mafia Dons.”
  • 4 p.m.: Michelle DenBeste, professor of history at Cal State Fresno; Getty and Shevchenko will discuss “Putinism: Czarism, Stalinism or Patriotism?” They will discuss how history has influenced Russia’s current leaders and how their styles and preferences affect the West’s ability to peacefully and constructively coexist with what was once dubbed “The Evil Empire.”
  • 5 p.m.: Nancy Snow, professor of communications and two-time Fulbright Scholar, will present “Politics, Pop Culture and Propaganda in Wartime Hollywood.” She will tell the story of FDR’s man in Hollywood, Harry Warner, who propagandized for the war effort as his studio’s moral conscience. At 7:30 p.m., Snow will provide an introduction to the film “Mission to Moscow,” which will be screened in Titan Theater.


$2 per hour or $8 for a daily permit. Details available online.


Division of Politics, Administration and Justice and Pi Sigma Alpha, Epsilon Chapter, with participation from the departments of History and Communications

More Info:

To view the event schedule and reserve a seat, visit the symposium website.

Media Contact:

Mimi Ko Cruz, 657-278-7586

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