CHY 4U 2014: Life in the 20th century

Berlin Reichstag via Flickr, by az1172

Today, we will begin work on your next assignment: Life in the 20th Century. The basic guidelines are as follows:

  • You will author a 5 minute presentation that examines the impact of an issue/event on life in a major European city in the 20th century
  • You will revisit this event/issue when you begin your Culminating Activity. Thus, you must choose your topic wisely (see the Culminating Considerations section at the bottom of this entry)
  • The presentations will occur over a 3 day period in a walkabout format. 7 students will present at a given time; each presentation will be delivered to an audience of 2-3.

The Major Requirements

  • This is an exercise in social history. Thus, your presentation must focus on citizens struggling through these times of change/crisis.
  • You will consult at least 4 reputable sources. At least one source you consult must focus on the lives of those impacted by these events. This source can be, for example, an interview, published letters, or a short biography (see the Potential Sources section below).
  • You presentation will feature a clear argument that you will articulate in your introduction. You will dedicate the rest of your presentation to proving your argument.
  • Your presentation must have a visual component, such as PowerPoint, a poster, or something similar.





The Blitz An art movement (Cubism) Wartime Moscow Warsaw (and Poland) in 1939
English cities and popular music (1960s) Wartime Paris The Battle of Moscow Warsaw ghetto
The IRA in 1980s London Paris unrest in 1968 Life in Cold-War Moscow Pope John Paul II (1979-81)
The Brixton Riots Civil Unrest of 2005 Fall of Communism Lech Wałęsa and Solidarity




Wartime Berlin Post-WW I Budapest (revolution + war) Life in Fascist Rome (1930s)
Berlin Blockade Wartime Budapest Wartime Rome
The Marshall Plan The Battle of Budapest Second Vatican Council
East/West: a Divided City 1944 Life in Cold-War Budapest Treaty of Rome and EEC
The Wall/Berlin Crisis The Hungarian Revolution Years of Lead

Potential Sources

  • Consult the school databases, university websites, respected online magazines and newspapers, and other reputable sources. Do not rely on a standard web search to find sources.
  • For more recent events, such as the Brixton Riots, newspapers will be particularly useful. Searching for Brixton Riots on, for example, will provide you with a great deal of relevant material, including an image library.
  • You are not limited to text-based sources. In fact, some of your most useful sources might come from audio/video sources. BBC History Magazine’s podcasts features interviews that are perfect for this assignment; topics include life in Soviet gulags, the experiences of soldiers at the Front, and life during wartime. Learn360 will also be useful.

Culminating Considerations

The Culminating Activity (an essay) is a long way off. Still, since you will use the research for the LIfe in the 20th Century presentation to prepare your Culminating Activity, I’d like you to think carefully about the choice you make today. You may approach your Culminating Activity in the following ways:

  • focus on the change/continuity in a major European city over several centuries
  • apply a specific Historical School (ex: Marxism) to the history of particular country over several centuries
  • examine a particular kind of event (ex: social unrest) in a particular country over several centuries

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