A depressing article about his dissertation from Jack Morgan Jones. I accept it's a one-sided piece but it sets out how a simple proposal to look at something that fascinates the author became a piece of boilerplate leftist nonsense. The idea of students having real autonomy in study is undermined, the article is worth a read for that alone, but worse it shines a light on leftist revisionism:
I meet with my dissertation supervisor for the first time. She insists that the Soviet Union during the 1930s and 1940s was not totalitarian, and that using totalitarianism as an analytical framework has long since been dismantled by revisionist scholarship.That's right folks, all those years you've been labouring under the misconception that Finer's definition of totalitarianism applied (in spades) to the Soviet Union of the 1930s. Jack goes on:
My supervisor seems peculiarly determined to render it obsolete. She firmly advises me against making totalitarianism the focus of my dissertation. She makes her case with emphatic certainty—the scholarship on this matter, she tells me, is settled. She is so dismissive that I begin to feel foolish for having even proposed it.The scholarship is settled! So much for the spirit of enquiry, the joy of research - 1930s Russia wasn't totalitarian! I'm guessing Jack's supervisor and her pals see the Soviet Union of Stalin, with its gulags, state sponsored starvation, pogroms, murders, intrusive secret police and atmosphere of fear, as some sort of cuddly bear that we've all misunderstood. Seems to me that ideology is trumping scholarship here.