Sunday, July 6, 2008

German Cultural History - podcast review

I have saved the best until the last. Here is an amateur podcast I am going to follow bit by bit. It only started recently (last May) and the maker, a student of history, may run out of time continuing to make the podcast, but even after five episodes, I have learned so much more about the early middle ages than I have in other podcasts, this alone will keep me going.

The podcaster, who operates under a pseudonym, shows a very wide knowledge and enthusiasm, for the the subject which seems to go, at least for the time being, much wider than German Culture. We have gone back in time way beyond the German unification, Luther, Frederick Barbarossa. We have started with Germanic peoples, before the Romans conquered Gaul. Only then, Tacitus can begin to write about Germans - that wide, almost nondescript range of tribes north of the Rhine, that, as they spread, will span from Iberia to the Black Sea, from Iceland to Sicily and continue to be multi-charactered and faceted (if you can say such a thing). Yet, our host doesn't fear that breadth and neither depth, so that we get to learn about the Gothic language and about Arian Christians - to name but a few subjects.

This is the kind of range I like, but there are some drawbacks to accept with the (Medieval) German Cultural History podcast (related blog, feed). The episodes are monologues of around thirty minutes that do not seem to be scripted and are entirely improvised. Hence, it is not always easy to see the structure and one may feel the host occasionally overlooks a remark he had wanted to make. Furthermore, the sound is of low quality. So this is no easy listening, but personally I take that unconditionally on account of the intellectual quality.

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