Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Melinda Whalen

Mary Gates Research Scholar, Winter 2021

 Research Project: War and Peace, Art and the Red Army: The Evolution of the Soviet Cultural Scene During and After WWII

Project Description: This project uses non-traditional media–poetry, films, and fiction–to examine the development of Russian culture and identity following WWII via the representation of topics such as Russian nationalism, the relationship between honor and death, public opinions on self-preservation vs. the greater good, faith in leadership, and criticisms of communism.

What have you learned throughout your research project?

The project thus far has been enriching academically but also has forced me to examine my own biases towards Russian culture and reevaluate my perceptions of war, death, and resilience. Reading war testimonies can be a difficult emotional experience, but learning to dampen the discomfort with empathy and compassion is as much a part of the process as the research.

What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?

Research should be fun! Mentally exhausting as well, but also still fun! Your topic should excite you and motivate you enough to dig deeper to satiate your own curiosity rather than out of sheer obligation. Everyone has their “thing” — you just have to find it.