In this project, students in Dr. Mellis’s “HIST-350B Cold War in Europe” course use oral histories and digital media to portray the experiences of an individual who lived during the Cold War. The project tasks students with using previously-conducted oral histories and additional material to examine the person’s life and present their experiences to digital audiences. The first projects were completed in the spring of 2019 using Sway, and focused on male and female athletes who lived behind the Iron Curtain of Communist Eastern Europe. These projects help to nuance the American narrative of the Cold War by highlighting the opportunities, in addition to the challenges, that people experienced under Communism. Future projects may analyze people who lived elsewhere during the Cold War. The Cold War Lives project enables students to gain experience: creating a research-based narrative, selecting relevant information from a large amount of material, understanding the value and challenges of using oral histories, and perhaps most importantly, presenting the information in an engaging and effective manner to people who are unfamiliar with the Cold War.
How Politics Can Shape Sports and the Athletes Who Perform: A Case Study of Hungarian Gymnastics During the Cold War
Julia Adams and Corinne Cichowicz
The purpose of the project is to juxtapose how politics and government structure shape the world of sports, as well as the progress of individual sports, with the isolation of athletes from the political realities of their respective nations. We assert that contemporary politics is directly reflected in the sports community through the way athletes interact and the ways other nations perceive athletes’ treatment. We argue that around the Hungarian Revolution, Eastern countries like Hungary attempted to perform their strength by giving privileges that allowed athletes to excel while western nations like the United States focused on fostering their savior complexes by "saving" and subsequently parading around eastern athletes who were convinced to defect. This narrative is complicated by the disparity between the sports community acknowledging how domestic and international politics influences each sport and the utopia view that governments were able to craft among their athlete populations about the government's actions.
Nick Martin's Communism
Dylan Bagley and Matthew Kenwood
This project examines the life and career of Hungarian-born athlete Nick Martin. It explores the opportunities available to Martin via his success as an Olympic athlete.
Communism, Post-Communism, Sport, and Patriotism in 1980s-1990s Hungary
Sarah Johns and Morgana Olbrich
We will argue that Communism left long lasting effects on the ways in which patriotism was perceived and executed through labor. Specifically we will look into the ways in which laborers, namely athletes, both intentionally and unintentionally used their work to gain privileges.