Possible History 390 Topics

Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.

Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

In the classic children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit, a little boy is given a stuffed rabbit for Christmas.  For many months, he neglects the toy, preferring to play with his other, fancier toys, like his wooden train set.  One day, however, after the boy loses his cherished china dog, his aunt absentmindedly throws the rabbit into the boy’s room; from then on, the boy and his rabbit are inseparable.  In the end, through the strength of the boy’s love, the rabbit becomes real.  The book, written almost a century ago, was my favorite story when I was younger: it is a testament to the power of a child’s imagination.  Toys and children have not always occupied the exalted status they enjoy today; a toy’s role in society has evolved alongside our notion of childhood.  One topic I might explore, then, is: how has our view of childhood evolved over the years, and how do the different toys we play with reflect these changes?

Another topic that I might explore is the series of events that happened in the days leading up to the Iranian revolution.  As a Global Affairs major, I am particularly interested in recent historical events in the Middle East as they pertain to the current situation there.  World History Sources has a link to the Iranian Oral History Project (http://chnm.gmu.edu/worldhistorysources/r/98/whm.html), which features a collection of testimonials dating from 1929 to 1979, the year of the revolution.   The testimonials are in audio and written format (while the majority of them are in Persian, Google Translate provides for an adequate translation).

I am also interested in the Arab-Israeli predicament, especially since I lived in Israel for a time. I might investigate something related to genesis of the crisis (the forced expulsion of Paletinians in 1948 from Palestine, or the Intifada), or perhaps a major turning point, such as the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.


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