On Wednesday, a film crew arrived on campus to tape Assistant Professor of Africana Studies Brian Purnell's "The Wire": Race, Class, Gender and the Urban Crisis." The course will be featured on C-SPAN's "Lectures in History" series on an upcoming Saturday.

Purnell's course was inspired by David Simon's television series, "The Wire," and the changing demographics of postwar American cities. The class explores different aspects of the urban African-American experience during the late 1960s to the end of the 20th century. Students use "The Wire" as a text to study American cities.

"I picked this class not as 'that class on 'The Wire' but because I knew that Dr. Purnell could teach me the history behind the present society that 'The Wire' looks to critique and address," said Neli Vazquez '14. "If you have taken a class with Dr. Purnell, you know that his passion and knowledge for his area of expertise combined the hilarious down-to-earth way in which he lectures make his classes irresistible."

"Lectures in History" selects professors throughout the country, filming classes and screening them on C-SPAN's American History TV division. With 90 lectures presently recorded, the weekly episodes focus on different historical topics, ranging from the nuclear arms race to the Seven Years War.

The program has featured a variety of professors, who hold positions at community colleges, Ivy League universities, small liberal arts colleges, and military academies.

C-SPAN's American History producer Logan Russell explained that the show chooses lecturers by word of mouth, using references to determine who would be a good subject.

"Everyone is recommended in one way or another. It could be fellow professors—at the same school or elsewhere—who have seen a public lecture by the person or know of a person's reputation as a good classroom lecturer," said Russell. "We then do due diligence, researching the person on the web, even watching an online video of the person speaking if that is available."

A former colleague at Fordham University recommended Purnell's name to the series' producers. The producers then approached Purnell and requested to tape his class.

Purnell's lecture, entitled "The Origins of the Urban Crisis", concentrated on the issues that affected northeastern and midwestern cities, between the late 1960s and 1980s.

The first part of Purnell's lecture focused on African-Americans in cities, up until the 1940s, while the second part centered on the conditions that created the urban crisis. The final part of the lecture detailed the aftermath of the crisis.

Students noted that the addition of a microphone at the front of the class was "awkward," and only one student asked a question.

"Dr. Purnell is a fantastic and engaging lecturer so it was really exciting to hear that C-SPAN was going to be filming his lecture," said Jaqueline Su '12. "Having C-SPAN there did put a bit of a damper on class participation since we had to go to the microphone to ask or answer questions, but overall it was a good experience."

Indeed, at the end of the day, Purnell was pleased with the final result.

"Getting taped was a little nerve-wracking, but it went really well," said Purnell. "I'm glad I did it."