All the way back in 2005, the Oxford Dictionary declared “podcast” its Word of the Year in the United States. Although this pronouncement was a bit preemptive, podcasts have nevertheless experienced a surge of popularity in the recent years. Today, you can find a podcast on practically any topic, including history. During this semester you will be both listening to podcasts and producing your own in an effort to gain literacy in an increasingly important medium for interpreting the past. You will host your own podcast “show” with a title, tag-line, etc. and will produce two podcast episodes from a season over the course of the semester, each worth 15% of your final grade. Each of these episodes need to follow the conventions and formatting of real-world podcasts, including intros, outros, and advertisements (see below for more details). Download the rubric for this assignment.


Podcasts are not produced in a vacuum. For many shows, their success depends on both getting listeners and getting advertising revenue. To help you understand this dimension of podcasting, you will be trying to advertise your own show on other podcasts while also generating advertising revenue by incorporating advertisements into your own podcast. To facilitate this, each of you will produce a 15-second advertisement for your show and then use a $100 fictional marketing budget to try and “buy” spots to run the ad on other shows. You have two goals. First, you want your own advertisement to appear on as many other shows as possible. Second, you want to receive as much advertising revenue as you can by negotiating the sale of advertisement spots on your own show. Extra credit for the final semester grade will be given to the student who: a) buys the most spots for their advertisement on other podcast episodes, or b) ends the semester with the most advertising revenue from other students. You have full latitude to negotiate these transactions in any way you choose, but keep in mind that you’ll need to strike a balance. You need to include at least one advertisement per episode, but airing too many ads will take away from the listener’s experience and negatively impact your grade. See a breakdown of information you need to include when you submit your episode.

Post advertisements to the Slack #podcasts channel by Tuesday, 1/22 by 5:00PM.

Submission Guidelines

Each podcast episode should include an introduction to yourself and the show, at least one advertisement (see below), and a brief outro at the end. Along with the podcasts themselves, you will be submitting a Word document that includes several things. First, a detailed outline of your episode that you write prior to recording. This does not need to be a word-for-word script, but should consist of organized notes about the points you want to make along with the full transcriptions of any quotes you want to use. Second, a works cited list of any external sources you consulted. Third, a tally of how many other shows ran your ad, how much money you spent for each of these placements, how much of your marketing budget remains, and how much revenue you received from running ads on your own show.

Each episode should be submitted as follows:

  1. Podcast in MP3 format (<50MB file size) with the file named either: YourLastName_Podcast_1.mp3 or YourLastName_Podcast_2.mp3 (ex. Blevins_Podcast_1.mp3).
  2. Word document that includes a written outline of your episode, works cited, and advertising tallies. The file should be named either: YourLastName_Podcast_1.docx or YourLastName_Podcast_2.docx (ex. Blevins_Podcast_1.docx).

Podcast Episode #1: Slavery (15%)

In your first podcast episode you will be focusing on the topic of slavery in the United States through a close analysis of one of two films: 12 Years a Slave (released in 2013) or Twelve Years a Slave: Solomon Northup’s Odyssey (released in 1984). Both of these are available either at Snell Library Course Reserves or can be rented/purchased online (ex. 2013 version and 1984 version). Although both films cover the same subject, they were made roughly three decades apart and are quite different. 12 Years a Slave is one of the most realistic depictions of slavery that has ever appeared in a major motion picture. It is also one of the most viscerally disturbing, with graphic scenes of violence that include beatings, murder, and rape. Twelve Years a Slave: Solomon Northup’s Odyssey was broadcast on public television and is therefore less graphic (at least for many modern viewers). You can choose between these two options depending on your own preferences and tolerance for this kind of material. If, however, you feel you won’t be able to engage with either of these sources, please let me know and we can come up with an alternative source.

Regardless of your choice, you will be producing a 6-7 minute podcast episode that offers a brief introduction of the film before zeroing in on a particular scene. What does it tell the viewer about slavery in the antebellum United States? What is the director trying to accomplish or convey with this scene? What sort of stylistic strategies do they use to convey their message? Who is their intended audience? Are they successful? Your podcast needs to focus on the historical dimension of this scene while providing context and additional information for your listener.

Submit file to:

Deadline: Sunday, 1/27 by 5:00PM.

Podcast Episode #2: The Civil War (15%)

In your second podcast, you will analyze a popular culture artifact related to the Civil War. It is up to you what you select (art, music, television series, film, novel, video game, etc.). You will select a specific theme from this piece and record a close analysis of it. A summary of the pop culture artifact is not sufficient. For instance, a student analyzing “Gone with the Wind” wouldn’t just give a recap of the film, but might choose to look at how Union troops are represented in the film. Much like your first podcast episode, you should offer a brief introduction to the piece of pop culture before zeroing in on your particular historical theme. Analyze the song’s or movie’s (mis)representation of historical people, events, and/or topics based on discussions, lectures, assigned readings, and additional research. Your podcast episode should be 8-10 minutes in length.

Submit file to:

Deadline: Sunday, 3/24 by 5:00pm.