J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Doing the History of the Concord March with Liz Covart

This is the anniversary of the British army’s march to Concord in 1775, and Liz Covart of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast has recently shared three items related to that event.

First, Liz interviewed me about The Road to Concord and how the Massachusetts Patriots’ effort to build an artillery force—and in particular the theft of the Boston militia train’s four brass cannon—led Gen. Thomas Gage to focus on Concord. You can download that podcast episode here.

Second, Liz wrote about the challenges of recreating the experience of Paul Revere’s ride in the audio medium. Here’s a sample from her essay:
There are many challenges in writing early American history in audio. One challenge is soundscape. Our twenty-first century environment is different from the eighteenth-century environment. Our buildings and spaces have different acoustics because of differences in building materials, construction techniques, and the built environment. Plus, in the twenty-first century, film, video, and modern radio have conditioned our minds to hear certain sounds differently than they really sound in nature. For example, think of the sound a bald eagle makes. Chances are your mind has conjured the call of a red tailed hawk, which is the call sound designers have used to stand in for the bald eagle in film and audio. (Admittedly, the call of the red tailed hawk is a bit more dramatic than that of the bald eagle.)

Narrative style and word choice are important when we write about history. The style we use in our writing positions readers inside or outside of the history we we want to convey. Choosing the right words when we write about historical people, places, and events determines how our readers form mental pictures and think about those people, places, and events. The same careful consideration of language must also go into how we portray early American history in audio.
And third, today we have the podcast episode that Liz was preparing as she wrote that essay: “Paul Revere’s Ride Through History.” It’s part of the “Doing History” series she’s producing in collaboration with the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, showing how professional historians practice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Huzzah both to you and to Liz --