Thursday, January 5, 2023

From book and article authors to scriptwriters

I initially thought of Courtney Thorsson as the author of a book on Black women's writing, along articles on African American literature. The same with Keith Clark, Alisha Knight, Richard Schur, and others. 

But working on our podcast Remarkable Receptions created an opportunity where book and article authors could become scriptwriters. 

Scholars of African American literature write monographs, articles for scholarly journals and edited collections, book reviews, and conference papers. Surely we could also write podcast scripts, right? That question kept coming to me as I started forming the ideas that would become Remarkable Receptions.

Writing for listeners and a general public is different, I think, than the kinds of scholarly writing that people in our field typically do. It's common and sometimes expected to provide extensive citations in scholarly writing. But not so much in the kinds of scripts we were producing.

For scholarly publications, the assumption is that the majority of the audience consists of scholars. I assume that a podcast draws in far more general listeners.   

My co-editor Elizabeth Cali and I also realized that there are many specialized terms and ways of speaking that emerge in literary studies. So, for instance, we promoted our scholarly authors turned scriptwriters to mention books and novels rather than "texts," a pervasive term for publications in our field.    

We also encouraged our scriptwriters to think of themselves as storytellers more than is perhaps common in the field of American and African American literary studies. Many people who listen to podcasts are interested in stories and memorable people or characters.    

Thorsson is of course still an author, but now she's also a podcast scriptwriter. So are ClarkKnightSchur, and others.


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