Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Graduate News History

Former Clements Fellow Andrew Torget prepares to break a Guinness World Record in teaching the longest lesson

Chronicle of Higher Education

Originally Posted: July 26, 2018

On August 24 at 9 a.m., Andrew Torget will take the podium in a University of North Texas auditorium, clad in a suit and armed with 500 pages of notes. Forty-five students will be seated in front of him, notebooks — no laptops! — at the ready.

He’ll open his notes, clear his throat, and begin his lecture. If he’s going to successfully teach the longest recorded history class ever, he won’t be able to stop, aside from occasional brief breaks, for the next 30 hours. At least 10 of his students will have to stick it out, too.

Torget, an associate professor of history at North Texas, is gunning for an official Guinness World Record — for longest history lesson. What will the class cover? Texas history. All of it, he says, “from cave people up until last week.”

It’s a crazy idea, though maybe not as crazy as the professor in India who, in 2014, set the current Guinness record for “longest marathon lecture.” (He talked about scientific computation for 139 hours 42 minutes 56 seconds.)

But Torget is the kind of person who would voluntarily sign up to run a 200-mile relay race — and then do it again, several times. He’s always looking for a new challenge, always looking to push his limits. On top of that, he says, it’s for a good cause.

Last year Torget and his two children, ages 8 and 10, were looking up Guinness World Records. Naturally, the kids were wondering what records they might be able to break. Longest fingernails, perhaps?

He was also thinking about the university’s Portal to Texas History, a vast online archive of digital resources about the American Southwest. UNT Libraries, which maintains the portal, received a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2015. To get the support, the library needs to raise $1.5 million to match the grant, and so far it has collected $768,000.

What better fund-raising tactic, Torget reasoned, than a Guinness World Record attempt? So he came up with a plan: The library could “basically make a spectacle of me as a way of raising awareness and support for the portal.” READ MORE