History professor Michael Kazin’s audience for his course “United States History Since 1865” grew from 69 to thousands Feb. 24 when C-SPAN recorded his lecture for a national audience.

The lecture will air May 4 as part of the network’s “American History TV” series, which broadcasts 48 hours of history programming each weekend. In addition to lectures, the program includes interviews with historians and book discussions.

“The goal is to have someone who is interested in history learn something and find the class interesting,” C-SPAN producer Russell Logan said. “The idea is that we can get these snapshots from around the country of what it’s like to sit a day in a college classroom. We’re hoping that it comes across as having something of an authentic feel and that it’s different [from] a public event.”

According to Arts and Sciences Communications Officer Maggie Moore, it is not uncommon for C-SPAN to film history classes at Georgetown; the network asks several times a semester to cover lectures on the Hilltop.

Once a professor has given permission, the Office of Communications coordinates with C-SPAN to arrange the logistics for filming. Students are informed prior to the filming and are accommodated if they do not want to be on camera.

As part of the same series, C-SPAN broadcasted a lecture about emancipation and the enlistment of black soldiers from associate history professor Chandra Manning’s course “Civil War and Reconstruction History” last spring.

“There are big cameras looking at you, but after a while you stop noticing them because the students are still there, and I talk to them the way I normally would,” Manning said. “That is what [C-SPAN] is going for. They want to try to capture, so far as they can, how a classroom usually runs. That’s the idea behind the program.”

According to Logan, C-SPAN chooses Georgetown professors because of their familiarity with the network.

“We know that they are interesting to listen to and are good speakers,” Logan said. “We are looking for people who are considered good classroom lecturers.”

Kazin, who said he has appeared on C-SPAN two dozen times throughout his career to deliver lectures and discuss his books, chose his lecture on cultural conflict in the United States in the 1920s for last month’s filming.

Besides having to hold class in a different location and remain still while lecturing, Kazin said that the film crew did not disturb the class.

“I think it’s a great service, especially for people who want to learn about American history, so I’m happy to help them,” he said.

Matt Dever (COL ’16), a student in Kazin’s course, said that class proceeded as usual.

“The most difficult part was simply remembering to go to the [Intercultural Center] auditorium instead of the usual classroom,” he said. “The camera crew simply made sure we were all front and center, and I was not bothered by their presence. … It felt like little more than a regular lecture, just in a different location.”

But Manning said that some aspects of classroom lectures can get lost on television.

“I don’t believe the interactive-style lecture … that I use translates all that well to a taped format,” she said.

Nonetheless, Dan Stewart (COL ’13), a former student in Manning’s course, agreed that filming these classroom lectures is worthwhile.

“I think that the topic of my class is of strong interest to many people not attending classes here at Georgetown,” Stewart said. “Making it accessible on a grand scale is something that we should be doing.”

Because C-SPAN aims to air a variety of lectures, it will not film anything else at Georgetown for the “American History TV” series this semester.

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