Is This Thing On? How History Podcasts Can, and Should, Change the Discipline

AHA Session 35
Thursday, January 4, 2018: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Executive Room (Omni Shoreham, West Lobby)
Andrea Elizabeth Milne, University of California, Irvine
Liz Covart, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
Nate DiMeo, Radiotopia
Cody J. Foster, University of Kentucky
Andrea Elizabeth Milne, University of California, Irvine

Session Abstract

Over the past five years—in no small part thanks to the massive success of Serial—podcasting has become one of the most effective and accessible platforms for public engagement. History is arguably the most successful genre in podcasting, with some shows boasting listenership in the millions. Meanwhile, enrollment in history classes is dropping around the country, as are the number of students declaring history majors. As graduate students are well aware, the number of job postings have gone down too. NEH funding is under attack, and an increasingly desperate cohort of recent graduates are scrambling to articulate the usefulness of their research to the “real world.” Something is wrong with this picture.

This roundtable brings together public historians and some of the top history podcasters in the country to discuss the power and potential of podcasts to change the way historians communicate our craft, both in and beyond the classroom. Nate DiMeo, creator of the Peabody-nominated narrative history podcast The Memory Palace, will share his podcasts’ success story, and suggest ways to use his creative work in the classroom. Ben Franklin’s World creator Liz Covart, Ph.D., will discuss the “Doing History” series she co-produces with the Omohundro Institute, now entering its second season. She will also discuss the costs of podcasting and how historians can create self-sustaining podcasts. Ph.D. candidate Cody Foster will discuss his experiences creating and producing LongStoryShort as a graduate student, and the ways podcasting impacted his academic career; he will also make suggestions for departments interested in integrating podcasting into their undergraduate and graduate classes. Chair and commentator Andrea Milne, Ph.D., will discuss the pedagogical benefits and drawbacks of using podcasts for instruction and assessment, and suggest techniques for integrating this exciting new medium into both K-12 and college classrooms.

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