All Majors & Minors

Johanna Mellis

Johanna Mellis’s primary teaching goal is to help students find ways to connect to individuals’ stories in the past. Her courses emphasize the need to understand the different and sometimes difficult contexts that influenced people to make certain decisions and behaviors in their time. Honing the knowledge and tools to do this - such as through the use of oral histories - enables students to grasp how moments in our history impacts our everyday lives, as well as develop empathy for others who may hold different opinions. As an oral historian who received her training from the prestigious Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida, she is always seeking ways to incorporate oral histories and the study of memory in the classroom with students, regardless of whether she is teaching a course on World War I, sport history, or world history more broadly.

Johanna’s research focuses on the interactions between Hungarian athletes, socialist sport leaders, and the International Olympic Committee as a microcosm of relations between society, the socialist state, and international organizations during the Cold War. Her work focuses specifically on the the influence of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, which saw a mass defection of hundreds of Hungarian athletes to the West, on Hungarian socialist sport policy and the IOC. Her work demonstrates how an emerging set of norms of cooperation emerged within the context of Cold War international sport, during a time that is typically characterized by fierce competition and polarized geopolitics. A tacit understanding of these norms proved crucial to the everyday lives of Hungarian athletes, socialist cultural policy, and the development of the Olympic movement.


Visiting Professor




Fall 2018:

  • CIE 100
  • HIST-250A Martyrs, Victims, and Aggressors: Nationalism and Memory in European History
  • HIST-350A World at War: A Global History of World War I

Research Interests

Modern European and Central-Eastern European history
History of International Sport
Oral history
Memory Studies
Everyday Life

Recent Work

“Cold War Politics and the California Running Scene: The Experiences of Mihály Iglói and László Tábori in the Golden State,” Journal of Sport History (forthcoming, Fall 2018).

Review of The Olympic Games, the Soviet Sports Bureaucracy, and the Cold War: Red Sport, Red Tape by Jenifer Parks, Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies, Vol. 26 (2017), 99-102.

Review of Playing for Equality: Oral Histories of Women Leaders in the Early Years of Title IX, by Diane LeBlanc and Allys Swanson, Sport History Review, Vol. 48, No. 2 (November 2017), 202-203.

Review of Between the States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea During World War II by Holly Case, Alpata: Journal of History, Vol. VIII (Spring 2011), 112-113.