because history just ain't what it used to be

Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

A Great Week

In thanks on February 26, 2010 at 16:59

Thank you to all of our readers and commenters for a great first week!

We hope that you are enjoying our blog and we look forward to bringing you lots to think about over the next few months. We welcome suggestions and would love to hear what sorts of things you would like to discuss on the West Civ Proj blog!


Opinion: History as a Cycle

In Opinion on February 25, 2010 at 11:54

by Elise Adamson

Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says “History is a cyclic poem written by Time upon the memories of man.”

Though the actual occurrences may be different, the cause or the reason is often the same. War, revolution, imperialism, and social movements have similar sources and origins that cause them to come about and connect to each other. Knowing how these events relate allows an understanding of how history transpires and correlates.

Because history is made up of patterns that shape the world we live in.

The motivating forces that repeat in the cycle of history determine human actions that later become events and major parts of history. The cycle continues to go on and on and the forces in the cycle will always be the same.

“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9

The repetition continues as the years roll by. The cycle proves itself as the truest explanation of history.

The Right to Go for the Gold: Women in the Olympics

In History on February 24, 2010 at 17:18

by Jen Kreis

Women have had their fair share of struggles and battles throughout the past. From having limits on occupations and rights, being discriminated against, and being labeled and stereotyped, women have been through many hardships throughout history. Women used to be known as only being the ones to take care of the children, cook, clean, and serve others. Women did not always receive proper education. We know that women are no longer looked at in this way, and there have been many big changes for women. Women were able to act in theatre in 1660, gained the right to vote in 1920, and were allowed to be in the military in the 1940s, so it was just natural for women to gain the right to compete in the Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games first began in Olympia in the year 776 BC. This was the year when the names of the winners were first recorded, but the actual games began at least 1500 years beforehand. Only free men from any country or city who spoke Greek could compete in these sports. Women were not allowed to participate in these Games. They were thought to be second-class and it would not have been acceptable for a woman to compete in these Games ( Women were forbidden to watch the Games, and if they were caught doing so, they would be killed (

In Ancient Greece, unmarried maidens were able to be a part of the Heraea Games. These ancient Games were dedicated to the goddess Hera. They date back as early as the sixth century BC. These were the first recorded women’s athletic competitions that were help in the stadium at Olympia. Heraea originally consisted of only foot races. The majority of the competitors and winners were Spartan girls. When competing, their hair was supposed to be down so that it could flow behind them. Short tunics were worn and all girls ran barefoot (

The champions would win olive crowns, cow or ox meat, and the right to dedicated statues inscribed with their names or painted portraits of themselves on the columns of Hera’s temple. The competitors in these games were dressed like men. It is said that the Heraea Games were started because the Olympic Games became very popular (

In the 1880s, Baron Pierre de Coubertin of France wanted to revive the ancient Olympic Games and create modern Olympic Games. Only summer sports were included at the beginning ( Coubertin, along members of the International Olympic Committee, opposed women’s participation in the Olympics and only included them so that they could applause the male athletes’ awards. “During the nineteenth century, a common belief was that men were naturally aggressive and competitive and women were emotional and passive, making men better suited for strenuous exercise and sports.” Doctors became involved by arguing that because of the energy women expended on reproductive functions, “minimal energy was left for physical, psychic or intellectual endeavors” (Ibid). Later in the nineteenth century, physicians decided that some physical exercise in small doses could aid women’s health and their ability to bear strong children. Walking and a few recreational sports such as croquet, archery, and skating were the main activities that women were allowed to participate in.

By the end of the century, a few middle and upper class women participated in tennis and golf. Around the same time that this was occurring, “changes such as industrialization, urbanization, the women’s reform movements, and an alteration of the restrictive clothing women wore brought more women into the leisure sports world were taking place, which led to their inclusion in competitive sports.” Women lacked the international support to be fully included in the Olympics, but they did get a foot in the door through leisure sports. The first female participants of the Olympics were the nineteen women who competed at the 1900 Games in Paris. Women were allowed to compete in tennis, golf, and yachting, although none participated in yachting. Women began to earn their place in the Olympics, sport by sport, and event by event (

The 1912 Games in Stockholm saw the first appearance of women swimmers; and in 2004, women’s wrestling joined the Olympic program. At the turn of the millennium, over 40 percent of the athletes at the Games were women, the largest proportion of female participants in the history of the Olympic Games! The only sports that women cannot compete in during the Summer Games are boxing and baseball. Softball, synchronized swimming, and rhythmic gymnastics involve only women (

Today, there are many famous women who participate in the Olympic Games. A fair share of these women compete for the United States of America. Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin are known for being great in gymnastics. Liukin is the 2008 Olympic individual all-around gold medalist, the 2005 and 2007 world Champion on the balance beam, and the 2005 World Champion on the uneven bars. Liukin is tied with Shannon Miller as the American gymnast having won the most World Championship medals ( Johnson is the 2008 Olympic women’s balance beam gold medalist, the individual all-around silver medalist, the 2007 all-around World Champion, and the 2007 and 2008 U.S. all-around champion ( One woman we have been hearing a lot about during the 2010 Winter Olympics at Vancouver is Lindsey Vonn. She is an American alpine ski racer, who is the first American woman to win the gold medal in downhill. She has become the most successful American woman skier in history (

After all that women have gone through to be included in the Olympics, they definitely deserve their spot in the Games and have proved it by doing so well. Women bring a different dimension to the Games and people definitely love to watch them. Many women who compete in the Olympics have made history and future competitors will continue to do so. It was no mistake to allow women to join in on the Olympics, and that has been made evident by the great impact they have made.

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Thought for the Day

In Thought-for-the-Day on February 23, 2010 at 08:54

by Becca Kotula

The Harappan civilization was one of the most developed civilizations of its time, but still ended up falling. Though archaeologists are proposing theories, no one knows for sure why this happened.

Just because a civilization is on top does not mean that it is safe from everything.

Opinion: History is Made by ‘The People’

In Opinion on February 22, 2010 at 21:32

by Mackenzie Rayburn and Elise Adamson

History is created by ‘the people’.

History is the events of the past. The people are a group of individuals and they are what create history. The people elect leaders and what the leaders do is what makes up history. It takes a group of people for events to occur. Not many things occur with just one person.

Individuals and the People make up history. The difference between the two is that individuals are recognized in history while the People are not. Alfred de Vigny says “History is a novel for which the people are the author” ( The names in history are usually leaders and those in power. The question is, what power do those leaders have without the people under them?

Alexander the Great would not seem so great if he had been by himself up against 240,000 Persians. It was not Charlemagne alone who conquered other kingdoms, but also the men who fought alongside him that made Charlemagne’s dream a reality. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the faces of the protests for African American civil rights; King was marching, protesting, and boycotting with other people at his side; he didn’t change history alone.

People elect leaders who create history. This is a mark in history that people create. For example, a group of U.S citizens elected Obama for president; this is a part of history and that history was created by a group of people. Although history may be about one person, the history was created by a group of people.

For laws to be, they have to be passed by people first. That makes creating a law a group effort. All the people had to work together to create this. As the quote “There is no I in team” suggests, there is not one person who is the leader. It takes a group of people for things to occur.

Inventors may think of the idea on their own but they are going to use other people’s help throughout the way. They may also use other people’s ideas.  No one person can make history. One person may make one event, but all the events that occur will make up history. That is pulling together.

History is created by the people, not by individuals; it takes a group effort for things to happen. Every person who has done something important in history has used the help of others. Not one person can do it all.