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History professor attempts to set world record with lecture

History professor attempts to set world record with lecture

History professor attempts to set world record with lecture
August 24
14:15 2018

UNT history professor Andrew Torget will attempt to set a Guinness World Record by teaching for 24 hours beginning on Aug. 24.

The lecture will be held at the UNT Union Lyceum and live-streamed on the Portal to Texas History website. If completed, this will be the world’s longest history lecture.

Torget hopes the world record will help UNT Libraries raise funds to support the Portal to Texas History, an online resource providing free access to materials with information about Texas history.

“I will be teaching all of Texas history, from cave people until last week, in a single, nonstop marathon session,” Torget said in an email. “We are doing this to raise awareness and support for the Portal to Texas History, a massive and wonderful online archive of historical documents related to Texas history.”

The portal is run by the UNT Libraries, and the record attempt is an effort to draw attention to the portal and encourage people to donate money to keep it around.  UNT Libraries received a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2015. To continue receiving support from the grant, the library needs to raise $1.5 million to match the grant. So far it has collected $768,000.

“I’ve been interested in attempting a world record ever since I was a kid,” Torget said. “Reading the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ with my friends always fired our imaginations about what might be possible in setting a record. Now my own kids are doing the same with the Guinness books, and watching them reignited my interest in attempting a record.”

A four-hour lecture for Maymester is the longest single lecture Torget completed. Torget mentioned this record attempt would stretch his vocal chords beyond where they have been before, and there were logistical challenges involved in preparing for the lengthy lecture.

“I’ve been practicing lecturing for long periods to prepare my throat,” Torget said. “I’ve also given up caffeine (which dries your vocal cords), kept up my running and prepared my notes and PowerPoint slides. As it stands, I have about 500 pages of lecture notes and about 1,600 PowerPoint slides. I’ve been working hard on reviewing and preparing all of that material in advance.”

A team at Willis Library has been working to ensure they meet all the documentation requirements set by Guinness and have logistics planned carefully for both Torget and the students during the attempt. They’ve also planned to ensure that they all will have enough to eat and drink for the duration of the lecture.

Students will only be able to bring along notebooks, no laptops. At least 10 of his students will have to stay engaged and awake by the end of the lecture for the attempt to count. They must pay attention, answer questions and not just simply stare.

The Guinness World Record organization will have two independent witnesses rotating every four hours. A time-stamped video will also be sent to Guinness for authentication.

For every hour they complete, Torget and the students will get a five minute break. Torget will officially set the record at the 24 hour mark if all requirements are met.

“He took a subject that most find boring and turned it into something people came to class eager to learn,” said Ryan Vargo, director of operations for UNT Women’s Basketball. “I think the attempt is awesome for him in his personal development and for us as a university.”

Students who have had Torget in other history classes believe the lecture will be successful.

“He is unafraid to challenge the commonly held beliefs and misconceptions about events of the past,” UNT alumnus Baron Samedi said. “I believe that people like Professor Torget bring it to life for those whose experiences in history classes have left them uninspired. I think this record-setting lecture will bring due recognition to real Texas history, the impressive digital archives of the UNT library system and Andrew Torget.”

Featured Image: Courtesy UNT

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Cory Allen

Cory Allen

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