Course Requirements

Journals – 15%
Local History Podcast Episode – 25%
Research Blog Post – 25%
Family History Film – 35%


Course Materials Needed:

  • Subscription to (you can share a password if you’d like, feel free to exchange information via Blackboard or in our first class)

All course reading / listening / watching assignments are linked to in the syllabus, which is on Blackboard as well as on our course website:


Academic Honesty: Plagiarism and cheating are serious offenses, and will be treated thus. Please see the official Mercyhurst definition of and policies surrounding Academic Honesty.

Mercyhurst Writing Center: The Writing Center can be found in 200D Hammermill Library in the Center for Student Excellence. It is a great place for assistance on your writing assignments. Call 824-2303 or stop in to schedule a one-on-one appointment with one of the student Writing Consultants. They can offer you feedback on your essay at any stage of its completion.


Course Schedule

Week 1:

Jan 18: Introductions


Weeks 2-5 Podcasting Local History

Jan 25: Introduction to Podcasting.  

Feb 1: Research & Scripting.

Complete this free three hour Poynter Institute, “Writing for the Ear”

  • Due: Script drafts, complete with citations.

Feb 8: Editing.

  • Due: Man on the Street Interviews, musical score, audio effects. We will spend this class period editing in Hindenberg.

Feb 15: Present Episodes, Peer Critique, and Scheduling of Episodes

In-Class Journal: What did you learn about Erie/Mercyhurst history that surprised you? In your peer review group, which episode did you like the best, and why? What did they do well, and what could they have done better? How do you think your episode compares with theirs in terms of the research, the production and effects?


Weeks 6-9: Blogging Researched History

Feb 22: Introduction to History Blogging.

[Divide the class into two groups: Historical Fiction Stories // Research Posts. Topic selection.]

In-Class Assignment: Primary Source narration. Follow the instructions posted on our class website.

Mar 1: Research & Writing.

SPRING BREAK – Mar 5-11 

Mar 15: Peer Review.

  • Due Monday Mar 13 by 12pm: Blog Post Drafts (mock it up in a Google Doc, including the images you will put in the final draft). Send to your Writing Group by 12pm on Monday March 13. Then bring comments on your group member’s drafts to class on Wednesday.

In-Class Journal: After reading your group members’ blog posts, what was most effective in their draft, and what needed the most work? Summarize the point/plot of each draft you read in 1-2 sentences. How did you think your conveyance of the story compared to theirs?  How will you revise your post?

Mar 22: Research Presentations.

  • We will put our blog drafts into WordPress in class.
  • You will each need to speak briefly about your final post—what your thesis was if you wrote a traditional research piece, and what the plot was if you wrote fiction—and then describe how you addressed the peer review critiques in your final draft.

In-Class Journal: How does writing a blog post differ from writing a traditional research paper? What did you find to be the most challenging? What do you wish you had done differently in the preparation, writing, editing, and final production? 


Weeks 10-16: Filming Family History

Mar 29: Introduction to Film Making, Family History, and Oral History Collection

  • Due: Ronald Blumer, “So You Want to Make a History Documentary?”
  • In-Class Assignment: Make a plan for your documentary. Who will you interview, and when? Send emails or make phone calls to schedule interviews. Where are your family photos? Contact a family member who would know and make a plan to digitize. Start researching your family using and

Apr 5: Storyboarding & Narration Script Writing

In-Class Assignment: Make a 10 second video on a topic of your choosing. Post the link to your finished video in this week’s journal slot.

Apr 12:

  • DUE OVER BREAK: Oral histories. You should have a total of six hours of oral history interviews with family members.

Apr 19: Narration Recording & Final Cut Pro  

  • Due: Narration Script & Storyboard. Determine the story you want to tell about your family history – whether the specific story of a single family member or the overarching story of your family. You will need to block out the film components before you start putting it all together, and create a script for you to record in the studio. Narration recording will begin during class on Wednesday.

Apr 26: Editing.

  • Due: High-res images of the subject material for your video (family photographs, images from your research, etc) & Studio Time.
  • All Narration Recording must be completed by the end of class on April 26.

May 3: Editing.

In-Class Journal: How does the art of storytelling through film differ from audio (podcast) and written (blog) storytelling?

May 10: Video presentations.

  • Due: Final projects uploaded to Vimeo and embedded on the Class website.