Friday, August 14, 2009

History on the Air

This will come as no news to many, but a relatively new radio show features the talents of three prominent historians.

What a terrific way to get the larger public to think historically. The summary from the website runs:

BackStory is a brand-new public radio program that brings historical perspective to the events happening around us today. On each show, renowned U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh tear a topic from the headlines and plumb its historical depths. Over the course of the hour, they are joined by fellow historians, people in the news, and callers interested in exploring the roots of what’s going on today. Together, they drill down to colonial times and earlier, revealing the connections (and disconnections) between past and present. With its passionate, intelligent, and irreverent approach, BackStory is fun and essential listening no matter who you are.

See also this interesting piece on the History Guys that appeared in the Chronicle, Jeffrey R. Young, Drive-Time History, With a Dry Sense of Humor, 20 July 2009.


Lisa Clark Diller said...

And those of us who don't do American history sigh with jealousy over people whose work is actually seen as related to everyday life.... My connections with current events usually start with: "okay, let's go back about 500 years...." at which point I've lost my audience entirely.

Randall said...

You have a point. I wonder if anyone has written a book or article treatment about the relative accessibility of modern history.

The litmus test could be in enrollments. My course on America in the 1960s will probably be a better draw than a course on Medieval Spain.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you both on thisone- I've had a related discussion with deparmental colleagues before about handicapping student evaluations through proximity to perceived relevance to student lives and interests.

Few people want to hear, for example, the historical roots of the complicated relationship a country like Honduras has with constitutionality, going back to the Napoleonic invasion of Spain in 1808/1809.