California State University, Fullerton

News Categories

CSUF News Service

Historian Explains History on New Cable Show

'Big History' Ponders a Broader Perspective to How We See Things

Oct. 29, 2013 | Updated Nov. 7, 2013

Blond-haired man in blue dress shirt

JonathanB. Markley

Download Photo

Jonathan B. Markley, associate professor of history, will be answering questions and explaining how things like salt, horses and secret codes affect historic events on several programs of "Big History" premiering Nov. 2 on the History Channel H2.

The 16 half-hour programs "create an interconnected panorama of patterns and themes that link history to dozens of fields, including astronomy, biology, chemistry and geology," according to the series website. Actor Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") is the program narrator.

"Big history is just how you zoom out and see how the big picture works," Markley says in a promotional video about the program. "You go from the Big Bang to the present and try to figure out what it all means.

"Big History is an exciting field, where a lot has been happening in the last few years," he explains. 

"The Chronozoom Project that started at Berkeley has been working to create a platform that allows you to put the whole history of the universe on a single Web page, and really exciting things have been happening there since Microsoft Research got on board with the project," he added.

"Last, but not least, the Big History Project, funded by Bill Gates, has been developing a high school-level Big History course and have 70 schools in stage two of a pilot program, and they want more. The new "Big History" show on the History Channel is just one aspect of this exciting new field."

Markley, who was involved in a 2011 History Channel program "History of the World in Two Hours," has been working with the production company, Flight 33, since last year, being interviewed on a wide range of subjects. He also recently flew to New York for additional filming.

A member of the CSUF faculty since 2006, Markley's research focus is on Chinese historiography, Chinese foreign relations and the Han Dynasty China. He is currently working on a book about the history of grass, which includes all cereal crops like wheat, corn and rice, and how grass has influenced the world.

The first two programs, "The Power of Salt" and "Horse Power Revolution" are available on the website. "Gold Fever" and "Below Zero" premier Nov. 9, followed by "Defeating Gravity" and "Megastructures" Nov. 16 and "Brain Booste" and "World of Weapons" Nov. 23.

Tags:  Academics & ResearchCampus UpdatesTitan Pride