About

I am an Assistant Professor of World history at Ursinus College, outside of Philadelphia. I teach courses in World and European history. My courses include “GOAL! Sport in World History, “Nationalism and Memory in Modern Europe,” “Empire, Patriarchy, and Race: Power and People in Modern World History,” “Cold War in Europe: Gender, Labor, and Immigrants,” and “Oral History: Collecting All Voices.”

My manuscript-in-progress, titled Changing the Game: Hungarian Athletes and International Sport during the Cold War, explores an uncharted, human aspect of Cold War cultural history: how Hungarian athletes shaped the sport world from 1948-1989. Hungary’s impressive sport history and geopolitical status – it became the third-strongest world sport power under Stalinism and later served the IOC as an intermediary with more contentious Communist countries – make the Hungarian sport community a compelling case study to examine Cold War international culture. The project examines the motivations and evolving relationship between the IOC and Hungarian sport leaders on the one hand, and sport leaders and Hungarian athletes on the other. It argues that international sport was not simply an arena for Communist repression and traditional Cold War cultural and diplomatic tensions to play out. Rather, the manuscript demonstrates how athletes, sport leaders, and the IOC engaged in sporting cooperation with one another in order to achieve their respective aims from the 1960s-1980s. Athletes influenced international sport through their increased agency vis-a-vis, and cooperation with, sport leaders, who in turned worked collegially with the IOC to shape its culture and international policies in order to benefit athletes at home.

In one of the first Cold War analyses grounded in athletes’ experiences and memories, I situate their voices in the international sport world by triangulating thirty-five oral histories with Hungarian athletes, coaches, and sport leaders with archival documents from Hungary, Switzerland, and the US. Although typically portrayed as helpless victims or wily resistors, the experiences of Hungarian athletes demonstrate how they asserted agency by choosing to work with sport leaders to improve their lives. Changing the Global Gamedirects scholars of Eastern Europe, Sport History, and the Cold War toward Hungary and demonstrates that histories examining international culture and the Cold War must consider the ways in which people’s actions in the less-contentious Middle Bloc states navigated and shaped the creation of both.

My research has been awarded numerous prestigious grants, including the Olympic Studies Centre’s PhD Research Grant, the North American Society for sport History Dissertation Travel Grant, and a Fulbright Grant. I have also received several Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships to study Hungary.

 

Education

Ph.D., History, University of Florida, 2018

Dissertation Title: Negotiation Through Sport: Navigating Everyday Life in Socialist Hungary, 1948-1989

M.A., History, University of Florida, 2012

B.A., History, College of Charleston, 2008, cum laude

Publications

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles                                  
“From Defectors to Cooperators: The Impact of 1956 on Athletes, Sport Leaders, and Sport Policy in Socialist Hungary.” Contemporary European History. Vol. 29, No. 1 (February 2020), 60-76.
 
“Cold War Politics and the California Running Scene: The Experiences of Mihály Iglói and László Tábori in the Golden State.” Journal of Sport History, Vol. 46, No. 1 (Spring 2019), 62-81.
                                                                                                            
Book Reviews                                    
Review of Beyond Boycotts: Sport During the Cold War in Europe edited by Philippe Vonnard, Nicola Sbetti, and Grégory Quin, East-Central Europe (accepted).
 
Review of The Olympic Games, the Soviet Sports Bureaucracy, and the Cold War: Red Sport, Red Tape by Jenifer Parks, Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies, Vol. 26 (2017), 99-102.                                                      
 
Review of Playing for Equality: Oral Histories of Women Leaders in the Early Years of Title IX, by Diane LeBlanc and Allys Swanson, Sport History Review, Vol. 48, No. 2 (November 2017), 202-203.
 
Review of Between the States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea During World War II by Holly Case, Alpata: Journal of History, Vol. VIII (Spring 2011), 112-113.
 

Projects

Co-authored proposal with Dr. Toby Rider for the Junior Intramural Grant at California State University, Fullerton, for the oral history project titled, “Cold War Athlete-Refugees in CA Project.” Summer 2017-2018. Dr. Rider and I are using the grant to conduct interviews with athlete-defectors from Eastern Europe during the Cold War, for transcriptions to be done by CSUF’s Center for Oral and Public History, and for the collection to be deposited in the archives at the LA84 Foundation.

Co-authored proposal for Hungary Initiatives Foundation grant “1956 – Sixty Years Later” with the Center for European studies, titled, “Freedom’s Fury: The 1956 Hungarian Revolution as Reflected in Sport,” Fall 2016. Selected and invited guest speaker, helped organize the events, and throughout 2017 will be conducting oral histories with Hungarian-Americans who settled in Florida after fleeing in 1956. The collection will be archived at the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.

 

Graduate Coordinator, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, University of Florida, Spring-Fall 2016. Led the Undergraduate Oral History Internship, taught introduction to oral history methods, developed two new collections titled “Sport at UF” and “Craft Beer in Sunshine State,” organized public talks and managed projects with staff members.

Memberships

Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies

North American Society for Sport History

Oral History Association

American Historical Association

Hungarian Studies Association

Memory Studies Association

Réseau D’Études des Relations Internationales Sportives

American-Hungarian Educators Association

Johanna Mellis

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