World History at
Potential Research Paper Topics 15th Waves
Every student taking on a research project has the right to choose the area on which he/she wants to do his research project.
The teacher will advise him on how to narrow down the project / choose a source base.
The following list therefore is not intended to be exclusive, but merely to provide students with options to consider.
Social History :
(1) The Americanization of Western Europe
North Korean refugees often state that while they, in the Republic of Korea, they enjoy freedom, they feel the lack of
community life, they feel alien here, because South Koreans, under the economic pressure of the last decades, have
changed, adopted a hectic lifestyle of workoholics/studyholics with little room for community life. South Koreans
have undergone rapid Westernization (or Americanization, if you want), while behind the "fence", North Korea was
protected from such development.
After having been liberated from German occupation / Nazi tyranny, Western Europe, physically destroyed, in the immediate
post-war years saw U.S. soldiers stationed in Europe, living an "American Lifestyle" (free-spending, not worrying about
tomorrow) in an environment where people did not know what tomorrow would bring. Large numbers of young women saw
a U.S. (G.I.) boyfriend as the easiest way out. Watch "I Was a Male War Bride"; the U.S. Army used an ocean liner to
ship war brides over to the U.S.
When Western Europe gradually recovered from wartime destruction, Hollywood movies portrayed an (idealized) United States
with skyscrapers, tv, good-looking cars, seemingly unaffected by the war Europeans wanted to forget, economocally
decades ahead of Europe, a society of carefree consumers which Europeans after decades of want (Great Depression,
World War II, years of post-war reconstruction) were all too willing to imitate.
A student choosing this topic, could try observe this gradual "Americanization" of Western European society,
based on movies depicting European society. I would recommend starting with "The Americanization of Emily".
As there are lots of movies and many different countries, It is recommendable to focus on one country or to limit the
period of time examined.
This topic leaves room for several students, providing they pick different countries to observe.
(2) Sovietization of Eastern Europe ?
After World War II, Eastern Europe was under Soviet occupation; Communism Soviet style was imposed on countries and
people. Under one-party-rule and centrally planned economies, the state hoped to turn their people into model
socialist citizens, imbibed by the spirit of socialism, immune to temptations of a 'decadent' capitalist society,
The reality turned out to be different. Movies again are to form the basis of the research project.
(3) The Development of a Consumer Society in Eastern Europe
Mail Order Catalogues as the main source.
Topics 2 and 3 can be combined.
(4) Events of the Cold War as Presented in German Newsreels
Newsreels were 15 minute news shown in movie theaters just before the feature film was shown. Many of them are available
online free of charge. One such 15 minutes newsreel would consist of a number of reports ranging from 30 seconds to
perhaps 3 minutes.
After World War II, Germany was divided into (capitalist, democratic) West Germany and (communist) East Germany. Both
sides had their own sets of newsreels. Both sides covered events such as the Greek Civil War, the imposition of
Communism on Czechoslovakia, Poland etc., the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall, the Berlin Blockade and Airlift, the
East German Rising 1953, the Hungarian Rebellion 1956, the Prague Spring 1968, the Cuban Missile Crisis etc. from
sharply contrasting perspectives.
Broadcast comments of less than 2 minutes each have texts of perhaps a paragraph length. Translation of such short
texts is manageable.
(5) The Cinematic Perception of (English/British) Parliament in History
Movies tend to focus on the history of invididual persons / events. Long-living institutions such as parliament are
not chosen as the main object, are covered when they form the stage for this or that person, this or that event to
(6) Documentaries on History
The non-academic general public, these days, may receive more information on history by watching movies, documentaries and
tv news than they got/get at school, and moving images present this information in a more digestable form than schoolbooks do.
However, there are documentaries and documentaries. While some were made by serious historians, meet academic standards,
some are speculative, sensationalist.
Students who want to research documentaries could choose certain specific topics such as
a) the Crusades
b) the Easter Rising 1916 (Ireland)
c) the Cuban Missile Crisis 1962
d) The Suez Crisis 1956
e) The Yalta Conference
February 7th 2011