The focus of this article is an officially authorized symposium in which historians and philosophers took up the task of devising a new Marxist-based theory and methodology of history in accordance with party instructions. The author considers the materials of the conference in two complementary ways: first, as a direct response to the paradigm shift in historical pedagogy and research announced by party officials; second, as a vehicle for examining some of the more creative readings of Marx and ways of engaging with intellectual currents abroad. Albeit representing the voice of the few, these bolder arguments attest to initiatives undertaken by members of the academic community themselves to rethink the terms of historical enquiry and the meaning of history. They also point to some potentially rewarding parallels between Thaw-era Soviet historiography and the turn to social and cultural history in the West, which would eventually benefit from analysis in a comparative perspective. [Publishers' text].