HST61007: Oral History
Module Leader 2020-21: Andrew Tompkins
'Oral sources tell us not just what people did, but what they wanted to do, what they believed they were doing and what they now think they did'. Alessandro Portelli
Oral testimony has established itself as a vital source for historians of the modern world, but its value is still widely contested. This module introduces students to the practice of oral history and the debates surrounding it. We will examine the different ways in which historians have used oral testimony and how this evidence has shaped our understanding of the past; explore the relationships between memory, narrative and meaning; and introduce students to the ethics and practicalities of interviewing. The module will equip you with the tools to conduct your interviews, and to use oral history testimony critically and sensitively.
This module aims to:
By the end of the module, you should (be able to):
|Seminar hours||Tutorial hours||Independent Learning|
The module will be taught in five, two-hour classes. The two initial sessions will introduce the key debates around oral history, and discuss the ethics and practicalities of it. (LOs 1, 3). In the following three session, students will identify, discuss and evaluate different ways in which historians have used oral history evidence. (LOs 2, 4). Students will also have an opportunity to practice interviewing each other, to take the first steps in developing useful skills (LO3). The classes will enable you to share knowledge, debate controversial issues and listen and respond to the views of others in a structured environment. You will, in addition, have individual tutorial contact with the module leader to discuss your written work for this module (LO5).
|Assessment||% of final mark||Length|
You will prepare a 3,000-word paper critically assessing the ways in which historians have used oral history evidence in relation to a particular topic or field (LOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
- Donald Ritchie, The Oxford Handbook of Oral History (2012)
- Robert Perks and Alasdair Thomson, The Oral History Reader (2006)
- Paul Thompson, The Voice of the Past (fourth edition, 2017)
- Donna DeBlasio and Charles Ganzert, Catching Stories: A Practical Guide to Oral History (2009)
- Alessandro Portelli, The death of Luigi Trastulli and other stories. Form and meaning in oral history (1991)
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