Laryssa DeMarco smiles serenely at the camera

Laryssa DeMarco

Soviet Childhood: A Series of Short Documentaries

Laryssa DeMarco, a History major in her junior year, spent her summer doing historical research. Through the Summer Scholars Program, DeMarco was able to begin a project designed to teach the history of Russia and the Soviet Union to entry-level students.

Throughout the project, she focused on four critical moments in Soviet history: the 1917 Revolution, Collectivization (the consolidation of individual farms into communal farms called kolkhozes in the late 1920's), World War II, and Perestroika (the restructuring of political and economic life in the Soviet Union).

Laryssa added her own twist to the project by presenting her topics in the form of a four-documentary miniseries centered on the perspective of Soviet children.

She remarks that "Exploring history from the vantage point of children in particular has been the most interesting and rewarding part of my research. A major theme in my project is that children mirrored their parents' hopes for the future as they witnessed political upheaval and wartime." Inspired by her Russian Culture class, she was excited to delve further into the lives of Russian and Soviet youth adding that, "Some of these stories are so fascinating, just to see how children were a part of the political landscape".

With the help of her mentor, Sidney Dement, Laryssa was able to compile her research over the summer and finish her miniseries, even proceeding to see her Collectivization documentary used as a teaching tool in Dement's Stalingrad class.

It was rewarding experience because on one hand I would be working pretty independently but I could always respond to [Professor Dement's] feedback and [that of] other professors in the history and education fields.