Classics Podcasts

[Note Jan 16, 2017: I am happy to report that my list of classically themed podcasts has now been blown out of the water by David Meadows, aka @rogueclassicist]

Surprisingly few academics have learned how to podcast – but it’s a great way to reach a wider audience. A recent article in The Guardian makes the case for the medium, and offers some how-to advice:

Todd Landman, “Podcasting is perfect for people with big ideas. Here’s how to do it.”  The Guardian January 13, 2016.  https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2016/jan/13/podcasting-is-perfect-for-big-ideas

Here is a list of classics podcasts ( I would appreciate notice if you know of others!):

Jessica Hughes and Elton Marker, Classics Confidential. Interviews with classical scholars on various subjects, since 2010. The producers are members of the Department of Classical Studies at The Open University.  https://classicsconfidential.co.uk/2016/12/12/senses/

Ryan Stitt, The History of Greece Podcast. By a self-confessed “enthusiastic amateur.”  http://www.thehistoryofancientgreece.com/

Rhannon Evans, Emperors of Rome. Dr. Evans is Lecturer in Ancient Mediterranean Studies at La Trobe University, Melbourne https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/emperors-of-rome/id850148806

Alessandro Conti, Semones Raedarii. https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/sermonesraedarii “Podcast Latinum incisum dum autoraedam moderor. Loquor prolixe et mendose de arte docendi. Interdum etiam fabulas narro.”

Jeff Wright, Trojan War: The Podcast. “History’s most awesome epic.” Retelling of Trojan War mythology with comment on matters mythological.  http://trojanwarpodcast.com/

Chris Francese, Latin Poetry Podcast. http://blogs.dickinson.edu/latin-poetry-podcast/  a series of short Latin passages, discussed, translated, and read aloud.

Lantern Jack, Ancient Greece Declassified. http://greecepodcast.com/ “a podcast about making the Classics accessible to everyone.” “Lantern Jack” is a graduate student in ancient philosophy.

Alison Innes and Darrin Sunstrum, mythTake. https://mythtake.blog/ Scholarly informed discussions of mythological heroes and topics. Alison Innes is a journalist with an MA in classics from Brock University, in Ontario. They also maintain a list of humanities podcasts.

Nowadays podcasting is a highly developed and diverse medium, widely enjoyed as recreation be people as they exercise, walk, travel, go about housework routines, etc. This is an audience hungry for new content, eager to explore new ideas, and interested in all sorts of things. For my podcast I did a series of 5–10 minute recordings on Latin metrics, close readings of interesting passages, and whatever I was reading or thinking about at the time. I felt that the podcast medium was ideal to discuss Latin pronunciation and metrics, which are passions of mine, but also to bring across Latin poetry as a performance art. I never focused on grammar or translation as I would have in a classroom setting, but tried to foster appreciation and aesthetic enjoyment. I kept the tone informal, warm, and conversational. My model has always been Karl Haas, the classical music radio host, who used to make the world of classical music sound like the most welcoming, wonderful place, and who could effortlessly pronounce half a dozen languages. With him you always felt like you were getting the benefit of a lifetime of experience and wisdom in the presence of a true humanist.

There are now a variety of podcasts on classical topics, many especially on Greek mythology and history, and Roman history. None of them is overwhelmingly successful, or up to the Karl Haas level, and suffice it to say there is room for a lot of innovation and improvement in this medium.

I’m a journalism student from Australia, who also learnt Latin in high school (read at poetry competitions too) and I have desperately been trying to find someone who still reads it. Your site is perfect.

I have been teaching myself Latin over the last 8 years and I really enjoy your podcasts! I hope we’ll be getting some new updates soon!

Many of the comments I got on my podcasts were urging me to get off my duff and produce more, or noting problems in download. This is not the place to get into the mechanics of podcasting. Suffice it to say that it is well within the technological competence of most classicists, and there are several good how-to guides to be found on the internet. The most gratifying aspect of podcasting is that it gets you in touch with a whole audience of like-minded enthusiasts and autodidacts out there who really appreciate hearing from somebody with some expertise. They often show their appreciation by leaving comments or voting in various podcast awards competitions.

Success in the medium, as with much teaching, requires a conversational style, a sense of humor, and an ability to tell stories. It’s important to have fun with it, not to be turgid or pedantic.

Podcasting principles:

  • Be conversational. Imagine talking to your mom.
  • Tell good stories.
  • Be enthusiastic. Enjoy yourself.
  • Listen to other podcasts.
  • Always respond promptly to comments.
  • Buy a Snowball microphone ($50 US)

If you have thoughts about what makes an effective podcast, or know of any classics ones that I missed, please leave a comment!

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  1. Pingback: Podcasting in Classics: Thoughts on the Current Conversation – Alison Innes

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