Sunday, August 2, 2015

7 Questions With Liz Covart, History Communicator

 Liz Covart is a blogger, podcaster, author, and historian specializing in early American and colonial history.  Her podcast is called “Ben Franklin’s World.”

1.       How and/or when did you get you hooked on history?

 I became "hooked" on history by being surrounded by it. As a child, my parents always took my brother and I to museums and historic sites. Growing up in New England we had a lot of choices, but my parents didn't limit us to our home region. Rather than spend our vacations on the beach, my parents planned trips around museums and historic sites. We would fly into a major U.S. city, rent a car, and drive from museum to national park to historic site for a week or more before we flew home. 

2.       What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

As a professional historian I get to research, think, write about, and convey history each and every day. The study of history is part of who I am and how I look at the world. 

On a side note, even though I have grown, married, and moved out of my parents' house, I still look at vacations as opportunities to explore history. Last year, I took my partner Tim on a "French and Indian War Tour," a 7-day cruise from Boston around the Canadian maritime provinces and down the St. Lawrence River. We stopped at Grand Pré, a former Acadian settlement; Fortress Louisbourg, the gateway to New France; the Plains of Abraham, site of the battle that led France to surrender New France to Great Britain; And, the site of the Charlottetown Conference, which led to Canadian confederation. 
3.       How is history a part of your professional life and career?   Why is studying/knowing history important?

History is my professional career. I love searching for answers to my questions about the past in the archives. I also love to share my passion for history with others. I became a "history communicator" instead of a college or university professor because I want to convey history to as large an audience as possible. I believe that understanding history can help us affect a better future. We like to think that we are new and novel because we live in the 21st century, but in reality, nearly all world problems are variations on past problems. A good understanding of history provides us with the inspiration we need to innovate solutions for the challenges we face today. History can tell us what ideas fixed past problems, which ideas did not, and why ideas met success or failure. Additionally, history tells us who we are and how we came to be who we are.

4.       What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

My favorite period is the American Revolution. I love to research, write, and talk about what happened in North America between 1750 and about 1815. 

5.       How did you get into making podcasts?

I listened to podcasts long before I decided to make a podcast. Ben Franklin's World: A Podcast About Early American History began because I wanted to discuss and explore early American history with people who love it. I also believe that my fellow historians need to interact with non-historians more because very few people outside of the historical profession know about their interesting and important work. Podcasting has allowed me to bring their important work to a history-loving public who cares about the past and wants to know more about it.

6.       What would listeners hear in your podcasts?  What sets them apart from other podcasts?

Ben Franklin's World is different from other podcasts in that it offers accessible conversations with professional historians. Listeners get to meet an historian, learn more about their research, and explore the early American past from many different vantage points. 

The show takes a wide view of "Ben Franklin's World." Franklin's life spanned most of the 18th century, which is the focus of most episodes. However, we also explore aspects of the 17th and 19th centuries, the world that gave rise to Franklin and the world he inspired. Additionally, the show doesn't limit itself to the 13 colonies or what is now the United States. Franklin was a man of the world so we discuss aspects of what may be considered Canadian history, Caribbean history, European history, Asian history, African history, and South American history.

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