Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When I was a young woman, my idol was Studs Terkel. When I read Working for the first time my mind just blew up out of my head. Not because of any of the stories really, but because I found out that someone's job was to wander around with a tape recorder and listen to people. (Or at least that's how I imagined it.) Later I read Underground by Haruki Murakami, as well as several other books of oral history, loving them all. Sure you wonder about editing and transcription with those books, but I can suspend my disbelief to extract the magic in those stories. Committing to listen to an unedited recording has even more rewards. Luckily I get to do that in one of my classes this semester.

Speaking of class, I will be in one when this free event is going on, but you should go and tell me all about it:
“What is Oral History?”
Ronald J. Grele, is the former director of the Oral History Research Office. He is author of Envelopes of Sound: The Art of Oral History as well as numerous articles on the theory and method of oral history. He is a past president of the Oral History Association, and was a founding member of the Executive Council of the International Association of Oral History. He writes and lectures widely on oral history and the nature of historical consciousness. Grele will talk about the theoretical origins of oral history as a field and practice. Mary Marshall Clark, current director of OHRO, will comment on recent developments in oral history theory and practice.

Sept. 16, 4:10 – 6:00pm
RSVP at site. Not sure if it's required, but that's a good bet.


Sara said...

I was assigned to read one of his books in high school. It was about WWII and it was really long, so I remember starting off resenting it. But a couple of the people he interviewed were such sassy badasses. There was a lady who told this story about being quizzed by a shrink in order to enlist with some rigorous outfit, and just to see how much she would put up with, the shrink asked her if she was pregnant, and she said, "I wasn't when I came in here." There was another guy who claimed conscientious objector status because he didn't want to get bossed around. Today WWII is always depicted as a war that people saw to be worth fighting. To me the book was amazing because it really showed the range of people's experiences and attitudes.

Carrie said...

That's what so important about oral history to me. They often challenge the institutional memory of an event or time. Pre-Internet this was extremely important, and is still important for different reasons.