One of the features I plan for the blog will be my “YouTube of the Week.” I will share many of the videos that I use in my course on the history of the Soviet Union and the post-Soviet world from 1945-present with just a few comments on how I use them. Teaching such recent history allows me to take full advantage of the multi-media available on the web. I use the videos for two reasons. First, I find their entertainment value helps refocus students in the middle of a long class session. Second, though, I use them for their ability to make a point about the history that I am teaching in a way that I cannot through words alone.
This week’s video is one many of you probably have seen, and it is the runaway favorite of my students each semester. It is a sand animation artist on one of those metastasizing reality shows–“Ukraine’s Got Talent”–creating a moving piece of performance art with themes around World War II. No video, no words, no images make clearer the continued importance of that war in the former Soviet Union than this one. The students will (or should) take particular notice of the emotional reactions of audience members. It’s a much longer video than I usually use, but it is worth every second.