Public History is a rich and exciting discipline to teach, especially because it invites lecturers to offer less conventional assignments. As part of a seminar entitled ‘Napoleon vs. Bismarck. (De)constructing national heroes’ I taught last semester, I invited students to submit a podcast as a final work. By doing so, students had to approach their work differently. They had to question how we tell stories and learn how to create a narrative and discursive structure that works for a wider audience. In other words, they fully engaged with the ‘learning-by-doing’ approach, whose merits I have defended previously.
You will find below a selection of the works produced by the students. The topics and perspectives are varied, and the four examples show rather different approaches in dealing with the podcast format. For most of the students, this was the first encounter with audio production, but they brilliantly took on the challenge and produced convincing results.
A podcast selection by Richard Legay
Part 2: ‘Silcher-Denkmal’
by Caroline Darnbrook
This podcast is a case study of a statue of German composer Philipp Friedrich Silcher (1789-1860) in Tübingen. The statue by artist Wilhelm Julius Frick (1884-1964) was erected during the Nazi regime in 1941. Since the end of the war, there have been repeated discussions about how to deal with the monument, ranging from complete dismantling to removal of the militaristic attributes to leaving it as a testimony and memorial to the "art" of the Nazi era. A few months ago, the Silcher statue was vandalised with the phrase ‘Nazi Denkmal’. This was a renewed indication of public disapproval, problematising the historical context of Frick’s piece.
This podcast is an open discussion regarding the controversial statue of Silcher, exploring those contemporary perspectives. The podcast includes an interview with a local person who shares their thoughts and opinions regarding the statue. This captures an authentic interpretation of public history beyond traditional academia. The discussion concludes with an exploration of the various methods used to address controversial monuments. Some statues are removed by force or consensus; others are rededicated. Both actions, despite their differing approach, are reflective of contemporary sentiments. Public history is not only about dealing with the past – in doing so, it also shapes the present.
 Friedrich Silcher, in: Tüpedia, URL: https://www.tuepedia.de/wiki/Friedrich_Silcher#Denkmal, letzter Aufruf am 28.06.2022.
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