Twitter project will mark 100th anniversary of assassination that sparked World War I

Wed, 06/11/2014

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Christine Metz Howard
KU News Service
785-864-8852

Lawrence – On June 28, the event that unleashed World War I and forever shaped history will unfold through 140-character tweets in an elaborate e-reenactment featuring more than 25 historical figures and multiple languages.

Students, staff and faculty at the University of Kansas, as well as local community members, have taken on the Twitter personas of significant and minor participants in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which occurred 100 years ago in Sarajevo, on June 28, 1914. These characters will tweet as though the events were occurring in real time.

Twitter users can follow along through the hashtag #KU_WWI, which will provide dozens of historical perspectives – ranging from world leaders to members of The Black Hand terrorist group – on the assassination that launched Europe into total war. For those not on Twitter, a Twitter feed will be on the Center for Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies and European Studies websites.

The Twitter project is a chance for the university to use social media as a tool to engage different academic skills and academic units from across campus in the study of a single, historical event.

“The project is exciting because its success is driven purely by the talents and skills of KU students and our local community,” said Adrienne Landry, outreach coordinator for CREES. “I have been so overwhelmed and appreciative of the many different academic units and community organizations that have come forward to support this project.”

Throughout the spring, participants have been developing scripts and crafting tweets. While the bulk of the action will occur from 9:30 a.m. to noon June 28, historical characters have already started tweeting as officials discuss security measures for Ferdinand’s upcoming visit and assassins begin plotting to kill the Archduke. Thanks to KU foreign language classes, select tweets have been translated into German, Bosnian and Serbian.

The Twitter project, organized by the CREES, is one of many events that will be part of KU’s four-year-long commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the war. Those events, coordinated by the KU European Studies Program, include lectures, classes, exhibits and conferences on World War I. More information can be found online at european.ku.edu/wwi-tribute and on the KUWWI commemoration blog kuwwi.com.

On June 28, participants representing the event’s main characters will be tweeting from the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. The museum, which begins its own centennial commemoration with programming through 2019, will stream the tweets for those visiting.

"The Great War set the foundation of the 20th century by spearheading technological advancements, so it's fitting that we use a 21st century method of communication to engage and encourage people to learn history in a new way," said Lora Vogt, National World War I Museum curator of education. "The National World War I Museum is proud to serve as the host site for this event as we commemorate the centennial of the outbreak of the war."

Among the project partners is Slavic languages and literatures lecturer Marta Pirnat-Greenberg, who had her intermediate Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian language students translate the tweets into Bosnian and Serbian. The project required her students to learn about the events leading to World War I as well as to master subject-specific vocabulary and the appropriate style of discourse to use for the translations.

“Equally exciting for students as creating the tweets in Bosnian and Serbian was using their language skills in the medium that is part of their everyday communication in English, as well as the prospect of showcasing their language work,” Pirnat-Greenberg said.

College students aren’t the only ones who have benefited from the project. Diana Bailey’s fifth-grade class at Deerfield Elementary School in Lawrence has been researching characters and writing posts for Twitter. Bailey said she was amazed by how quickly the students integrated their social media savvy, such as the use of hashtags, with a historical event. One of her favorite examples was a tweet from Ferdinand’s wife, Duchess Sophie Chotek. “Oh no, we missed our turn. #NotAgain #WorstDriverEver,” it read.

“The students love to get involved in historical research, and when you combine 21st century technologies, they excel,” Bailey said.

Project partners include the KU European Studies Program, National World War I Museum, KU departments of Germanic languages and literature and Slavic languages and literature, Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center, Center for Global and International Studies and University Honors Program.

CREES is designated a Title VI National Resource Center for the study of Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia by the U.S. Department of Education.



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The Washington PostWed, 09/17/2014
It’s KU Family Weekend and there's a lot happening on the Hill. Take a look at some of the events on campus – all Jayhawks are welcome to join. FRIDAY - 1:30 pm: Tee off for the 2014 Gale Sayers and Scot Pollard Golf Classic at Alvamar Country Club, benefiting KU School of Education - 7:30 pm: School of Music 15th Annual Collage Concert at the Lied Center - 7:30 pm: SUA Campus Movie Series – The Parent Trap (1998) in Woodruff Auditorium at the Union SATURDAY - 7:30 am: 2014 Dr. Bob Run 5K Event - 9 am: Marching Band’s Band Day kicks off with a parade running 7th Street to South Park (followed by massed band rehearsal in Memorial Stadium) - 12:00 pm: School of Engineering Family Day kicks off in the Eaton Hall Atrium - 12:30 pm: Official KU Weekend Family Tailgate - 12:30 pm: Party on the Patio at the School of Education - 2:30 pm: ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS! BEAT CENTRAL MICHIGAN! - 7:30 pm: SUA Campus Movie Series – The Parent Trap (1998) in Woodruff Auditorium at the Union SUNDAY - 7:30 pm: SUA Campus Movie Series – The Parent Trap (1998) in Woodruff Auditorium at the Union More information on all KU Family Weekend events: http://bit.ly/1qcsGFb
KU Goldwater Scholar to research Huntingon’s, Alzheimer’s diseases Ryan Limbocker, KU’s 56th Goldwater Scholar, plans to focus his research at KU on such neurodegenerative disorders as Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s diseases (see more at http://bit.ly/1nIP2bL). Limbocker, a senior majoring in chemistry, is from Overland Park, Kansas, and plans to pursue a doctorate in analytical chemistry. The Goldwater Scholarships are the nation’s premier undergraduate awards to honor academically gifted students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.


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