Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Memory Palace - history narration

History is not only about facts, it is also about narrative. And so, history podcasts, no matter how many facts they need to relate to, they must forge them into a narrative. Narration, in turn, is an art. There are narration podcasts such as the fictional podcasts Namaste Stories, 7th Son and New World Orders, or like podcasts that retell existing tales such as the Celtic Myth Podshow and Forgotten Classics and there are narration podcasts that apply narration in a particularly artistic way to history. One such podcast is the podfaded Your History Pocast and another one I just discovered: The Memory Palace (feed).

Host Nate DiMeo has a wonderful voice and style for this purpose. Soft, warm and slightly flat, that gives for a humane and modest atmosphere which allows for the history to get the greatest impact. You know the story that is being told is history, is true and so the mode of telling needs no added emphasis or dramatization to let the story's effect come through. DiMeo seems to understand this very well and the result is fantastic.

These episodes come out rather irregularly; one or two per month. They are very short, less than five minutes each. As off episode #7, a series has started about bad jobs. DiMeo describes the life of a nine year old that works in a mine in Pennsylvania in the nineteenth century as the first bad job. He makes a request to his listeners for more examples. This is an excellent podcast and I am eager to find out what comes next.

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Blood - Making History with Ran Levi

The Hebrew podcast Making History with Ran Levi took up the subject of blood. As it goes with a history of science podcast, step by step we learn how the secrets of the blood were unraveled and also how the blood actually works.

What is particularly attractive to this podcast is its very Israeli nature. Ran Levi relates every subject, no matter how serious and heavy-minded with a tad of irony, with quips, puns and witty side remarks. It makes the show intelligent, serious and at the same time fast-paced, sharp and not taking itself too seriously.

More Making History:
Myths and pseudo-knowledge,
What goes up, must come down,
Douglas Adams,
Sophie Germain,
Max Planck.

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