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Episode 101: John Demos, How Historians Write About History


How do historians write about the people, places, and events they’ve studied in historical sources?

We continue our Doing History: How Historians Work series by investigating how historians write about history. Our guide for this investigation is John Demos, the Samuel Knight Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and an award-winning historian.

About the Series

Doing History episodes will introduce you to historians who will tell you what they know about the past and reveal how they came to their knowledge.

Each episode will air on the last Tuesday of each month in 2016.

This series is part of a partnership between Ben Franklin’s World and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Episode Summary

In this episode, we explore how historians write about history with John Demos, the Samuel Knight Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and an award-winning historian.

During our conversation, John reveals what the new social and new narrative schools of history are and what it’s like to write about history in those genres; How John decides whether he should write a book about his research topics; And, how John approaches writing and has developed his writing skills over time.

What You’ll Discover


Links to People, Places, and Publications


Mentioned Episodes 


Time Warp Question

In your opinion, how will the historians research and write about our present day given the huge volume of emails, tweets, and other internet communications we engage in? How will they use this type of digital evidence to write the historical narratives of the future?

Questions, Comments, Suggestions

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