History of olympics

In Paper 2, you will select an Official Olympic Film and an oral history interview from the same Olympic Games. Think strategically about the film you will analyze for this paper, then make sure there is a good oral history interview from those Games in the LA84 database. Consider the broader context of the Games you select and the ways in which you could interpret the film and oral history based on what you are learning in the other assigned materials in our course.

The IOC has a YouTube channel and many of the official films are collected here
(Links to an external site.)
. Others will require some searching to locate or may not be fully available—you may have to go with a second or third choice instead of your preferred Games. The LA84 oral history collection is available here
(Links to an external site.)
. Remember that Winter and Summer Olympic Games used to take place in the same year — check to make sure your athlete competed in the correct corresponding Games. If there is an athlete you really want to write about but whose oral history interview is not included in the LA84 database, and that athlete has published a memoir, you may use the memoir in place of the oral history. Some examples: Wyomia Tyus (1964, 1968), Tommie Smith (Mexico City 1968), John Carlos (Mexico City 1968), Wilma Rudolph (1956, 1960)


Before beginning the assignment, please read carefully the “Guidelines for working with Primary Sources” document posted in Canvas in Module 7 and in Module 0. This is a separate document that provides more information about interpreting primary source materials.

Think of yourself as a detective as you watch the film. Take notes. Think critically. You likely will need to pause occasionally to write down your thoughts, and you also will want to rewind and watch certain sections of the film more than once. The same goes for the oral history interview transcript.

The paper you will write is 4-6 pages in length. That’s short! Think strategically about what you want to include, and make every word count. Do not try to summarize the entire film or life of the athlete, because that would be an impossible task.


In the paper, answer the questions listed below. You may write an essay that incorporates all the questions, or, you may separate your responses to the questions into sections with headings.

How does the film present these Games as part of a long and storied tradition? Are there elements of these Games that are presented as unique in the film?
Do the experiences of the athlete you’ve selected line up with what is presented in the film? How does the athlete’s story fit/diverge from the film narrative? (Think creatively. It’s perfectly ok if your athlete is not discussed directly in the film.)
Considering all the athletes who participate in an Olympic Games, and all their personal stories, what elements of your athlete’s story give a sense of the incredible accomplishment of making an Olympic team and competing in the Games? What elements of your athlete’s story suggest a disconnect between the athlete’s lived experiences and the aspirational values projected in the film (and broader Olympic rhetoric) about the Games?

This is a short paper. It will not be comprehensive or exhaustive. Pick a few examples to answer the questions; make arguments (ideas) about the examples; and use evidence from the film and oral history/book to support the arguments (ideas).

Formatting Guidelines:

The essay should be typed, with one-inch margins, in Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spaced, and 4-6 pages in length. A heading (single-spaced) should include the assignment description, your name, and the date. A title should also appear at the top of the first page. Finally, the pages should be numbered.

Citation Guidelines:

Internal citations should be used. For the film, use an abbreviated title and the time. For example (London 1948, 23:31). For the oral history transcript, include the athlete’s last name and page number. For example (Barksdale, 14).

Do not use block quotations because this is a short paper. Quotations should be no longer than 3 lines or 1-2 sentences. Citations are required when ideas are paraphrased as well as when sentences are quoted directly. If you find you are paraphrasing a lot, which is fine and to be expected, you may use a mass citation at the end of the paragraph to cover the entire paragraph. For example (London 1948, 23:31-34:10) or (Barksdale, 11, 14-15). If you cite some of the other assigned materials in our course for the writing of this paper, please include a Works Cited page. Finally, if you prefer to practice using the citation style required by your major (Chicago, APA, MLA, etc.), you may do so.

Grading Rubric:

Total Points: 25, broken into 3 components

Analysis (10 points): paper is argument-driven, with an explicit thesis present, and includes analysis and critical thinking; demonstrates a clear analytical voice; places primary source documents in proper historical context
Content (10 points): all questions answered/all components of question addressed, paper includes specific facts and information from the sources to support arguments; accurate depiction of the primary source documents
Presentation (5 points): grammar and spelling, sentence structure and paragraph structure, writing style; correct citations which give proper credit

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