News, On Campus

History Department Opens New Podcasting Studio

The Boston College history department officially opened its podcasting studio on Thursday, which Dana Sajdi hopes will become a fundamental part of the department.

“The point is to institutionalize podcasting as a part of the history department,” Sajdi, an associate professor of history, said. “I’m hoping that podcasting will become a part of the history department’s DNA.”

Sajdi received two grants in May that she used to create the podcasting studio, which will help BC students adapt to the new technological age, she said.

“I am a firm believer that the print regime and books and papers, it’s only a matter of time before they stop being the main sources or the main media of knowledge transmission,” Sajdi said. “I firmly believe that we are moving to different ways of producing knowledge, and I want our students to be pioneers in that domain.”

According to Sajdi, students draw more value out of a podcast than a textbook reading.

“History is not written as textbooks, and it should not be understood as textbooks,” she said. “And so it dispels the idea which I’ve always tried to dispel with students that history is not about dates and names of political rulers. History is basically an investigation of the past through clues and fingerprints.”

Sajdi said the studio will allow her to record a new podcast series to further support the History I Core course Podcasting the Ottomans—an elective course that currently uses the Ottoman History Podcast to examine the history of the Ottoman Empire.

In this course, Sajdi said she required textbook readings in addition to the podcast to familiarize students with dates and key events, helping them gain more from the weekly podcasts they listened to.

“[The students] didn’t want to just listen to podcasts, because they needed some framework to put it together, and so I found several [students] who were really enjoying the intellectual exercise of juxtaposing the reading with the podcast,” Sajdi said. “I think the combination and juxtaposition between the two will allow you to think in different ways.”

Sajdi also discussed a new podcast series with graduate students who will analyze various primary sources as part of independent study with Sajdi.

“We’re producing together another series called ‘History at the Source,’” she said. “Each of the graduate students will start with one primary source from their research, and we’ll make an episode about it.”

The studio will host another series where graduate students will interview professors who recently published books, Sajdi said.

“It’s called the ‘New Books’ series,” Sajdi said. “We have a few students who are graduate students who are participating in that by interviewing history professors [in] the department who have just published books.”

Sajdi also hopes to launch another series centered around the life stories of students with unique perspectives and stories.

“I really would love to see a new podcast series for BC students called ‘Your History,’ in which each of the students tell us their specific history and experiences, showing some kind of historical significance to their lives.”

Selim Kolat, MCAS ’25, said he appreciates the studio’s Ottoman Empire and Turkish style.

“I really like the studio because first of all, it’s very personalized to me because I’m Turkish, and this is a very Turkey [and] Ottoman Empire–based studio. … I’m excited to record here,” Kolat said.

According to Calvin Czapko, MCAS ’24, podcasting’s surging popularity reflects how knowledge might be shared differently in the future.

“I think the history department will have its own, I think every department will have their own podcasting studio for [undergraduate] majors to come in and share their relevant experience and knowledge, and I think this is going to be a developing force for colleges in the future,” Czapko said.

Featured Image by Vikrum Singh / Heights Editor

April 10, 2022