Narrative Podcasting as Scholarship

AHA Session 139
Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media 2
Friday, January 7, 2022: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Galerie 6 (New Orleans Marriott, 2nd Floor)
Liz Covart, Omohundro Institute
James Ambuske, Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington
Abigail Mullen, George Mason University
Deepthi Murali, George Mason University
Kristofer Stinson, George Mason University
Liz Covart, Omohundro Institute

Session Abstract

Over the past year, many people have joked that the pandemic has turned everyone into a podcaster. Historians have gotten into podcasting just like everyone else, as we’ve looked for new ways to disseminate scholarship and instigate conversations about our work without being able to go places. History podcasts take a number of forms, from the casual discussion amongst historian friends, to the interview show, to the scripted narrative.

Podcast and radio listeners are familiar with the narrative form because they’ve listened to shows like This American Life, Throughline, or 99% Invisible. But not very many historians create this kind of podcast themselves. The process of creating a narrative podcast requires just as much scholarly rigor as writing a piece that is meant to be read. In addition, narrative podcasting helps historians to think about narrative, structure, and details in a new way. Narrative podcasts can also reach a much wider audience than more traditional forms of scholarship. In this session, we will discuss the benefits and challenges of narrative podcasting for scholarly work.

The audience for this roundtable panel is anyone who is interested in getting involved in narrative podcasting, or anyone who listens to narrative podcasts and wants to know how they're made.

In this roundtable, four scholars will consider how narrative podcasting has transformed their understanding of narrative, the challenges of doing narrative podcasting as scholarship, and the process of taking something from an idea to a finished narrative podcast.

Jim Ambuske will discuss how an initiative at Mount Vernon can be turned into narrative, what the challenges are for this process, and the steps the team at Mount Vernon has taken in order to make the series happen.

Deepthi Murali will address how narrative podcasting can allow for experimentation in the narrative form, through experiments she has done with her podcast Masala History. Some forms of narrative are more successful than others, and she will discuss the challenges of telling complex stories in an audio form.

Kris Stinson will discuss the ways in which he has grappled with the narrative form as a graduate student just starting to work on his own major written work, while working as a producer on the podcast Consolation Prize. He will talk about how writing for podcasts has helped him understand the narrative form in a different way than he has previously considered.

Abigail Mullen will discuss the practical aspects of narrative podcasting, and the historiographical challenges of creating a narrative podcast. She will discuss how the team at Consolation Prize selects episodes, and what kind of research and crafting goes into each episode. She will also consider how to think about podcasting in terms of academic achievement for graduate students, contingent faculty, and TT faculty.

Ed Ayers will chair the panel. He has been deeply involved in podcasting for some time, as well as being considered one of the foremost digital scholars of the American Civil War era.

See more of: AHA Sessions