Workshop on Writing History for a Mass Audience

14 09 2009

On 19 October 2009, the Network in Canadian History and Environment will be hosting a workshop at the University of Western Ontario for Canadian history graduate students on writing for a popular audience. Graduate students are invited to sign up for this workshop in order enhance their writing skills and develop a proposal for an article to pitch to a newspaper or magazine editor.  There will be a public lecture that evening by MIT’s Harriet Ritvo, president of the American Society of Environmental Historians. Ritvo will be discussing her new book, The Dawn of Green: Manchester, Thirlmere, and Modern Environmentalism (Chicago University Press, 2009).
If you are interested in participating, please contact Adam Crymble.

I think that this is a wonderful initiative! I was recently looking that the history shelves in my local big-box bookstore and was struck by the paucity of books on Canadian history. There were plenty of books on US, British, and other histories, however. I think that fact so few books on Canadian history are consumed by the public has something to do with fact so many Canadian historians don’t know how to write for a mass audience. Historians such as Sean Wilentz, Simon Schama, Sir Martin Gilbert, Alan Taylor, Linda Colley, and Sir David Cannadine have shown that it is possible to write for a mass audience while still maintaining scholarly rigour. Sadly, few Canadian academic historians have been able to bridge the gap between scholarly and popular historical writing. (One of the few honourable exceptions to this generalization in Western’s Jonathan Vance, whose books do indeed grace the shelves of mainstream bookstores).

Hat tip to Sean Kheraj.


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5 responses

15 09 2009
seankheraj

Andrew:

Thanks for the re-post on this story. Hopefully we’ll get more graduate students to sign up for this workshop.

Nice site, by the way. I’ll have to add this to my links.

16 09 2009
andrewdsmith

thanks. like your podcasts. When you publish the next one let me know so that I can post it to the blog.

21 09 2009
seankheraj

Will do. I just uploaded the next episode. It should be up in iTunes later today or tomorrow. I’ll have links and such on my blog and the NiCHE site soon.

21 09 2009
Adam Crymble

Hi Andrew,

I just wanted to note since you mention Jonathan Vance, that he’s agreed to say a few words at the workshop. Maybe some of his skills will rub off on those involved and in a few years you’ll have more Canadian selections at your local bookstore.

Thanks for the publicity and I hope we can make a few small inroads into bringing those who study Canadian history to the mainstream.

21 09 2009
andrewdsmith

That’s great news. Best of luck with this event. Send me an update about how it turns out.

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