When we think about incorporating an oral history component in teaching, we’re often thinking about oral history projects in which students plan and conduct interviews. This is an invaluable avenue for student engagement, as evidenced by so many of the course materials, teacher and student reflections, and Library readings on this True Stories blog. When it comes to identifying the advantages of oral history for interdisciplinary undergraduate education, it’s also important to think about analyzing oral histories that are already up on the internet. Fantastic oral history projects and collections proliferate across the Web. How can we harness their power in classroom teaching?
During a unit on Helena Maria Viramontes’ Under the Feet of Jesus, I assigned students to put the novel in conversation with oral histories available at the Chicana Por Mi Raza Digital Memory Collective. The novel centers on the experience of a family of Mexican and Mexican-American farm laborers in the fields of California; the Digital Memory Collective centers on Chicana feminism, which has roots in migrant worker rights movements. Therefore, the novel and the oral histories valuably contextualize each other.
In response to these Chicana Por Mi Raza Blog Post Guidelines, students wrote blog posts on our course blog to analyze oral history testimony and practice putting it in conversation with course literary texts and themes. The guidelines walk students through the process of “close-listening” to an oral history, applying critical close-reading skills we prize in the literature classroom to oral history as a unique category of narrative. Students noted a host of meaningful connections between the novel and the oral histories, ranging from framing of family dynamics to the interweaving of Spanish with English narration. You can read through the students’ blog posts here.
On Friday, April 22, 2016, the [True] Stories Project and the Latina History Project at Southwestern University co-sponsored a webinarwith Gabriel Daniel Solis, Executive Director of the Texas After Violence Project. Solis discussed his experiences with and reflections on oral history as a mode of social justice practice. If you couldn’t tune in for the webinar, access the complete video recording below.
Please join us for a webinar on Friday, 4/22, at 10 AM CST/11 AM EST with Gabriel Daniel Solis of the Texas After Violence Project. Solis will talk about his experiences with and reflections on oral history as a mode of social justice practice. Solis’s bio and details for joining the webinar appear below.
Gabriel Daniel Solis is the Executive Director of the Texas After Violence Project. Prior to returning to the Texas After Violence Project, where he previously served as Project Coordinator and Associate Director, Solis worked as a post-conviction mitigation investigator for the Texas Office of Capital and Forensic Writs. Gabriel was also a researcher at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and coordinator of the Rule of Law Oral History Project at Columbia University. He has conducted research on policing, mass incarceration, the death penalty, and the effects of violence and trauma on families and communities. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Texas at Austin.
Topic: Webinar with Gabe Solis of the Texas After Violence Project
Are you an instructor who is interested in potentially planning a class oral history project? Dr. Laura Senio Blair, Professor of Spanish at Southwestern University, recommends the source “Conducting Interviews” in Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide by Donald A. Ritchie to introduce students to best practices for interviewing oral history narrators. She developed the following project plan/workflow to facilitate an oral history project in her class:
1st assignment: students listened to oral histories (conducted in Spanish) and wrote summaries of 5 stories to turn in as a homework assignment
The [True] Stories project aims to support classroom-centered, multidisciplinary, and collaborative oral history curricula for undergraduates at three Liberal Arts Colleges (Rollins College, Davidson College, and Southwestern University). Check out our About page for more details on the project. Follow our project blog below to see how oral history is playing a role in teaching and learning at all three campuses.
See our Events Calendarfor upcoming True Stories webinars, speaker events, and grant documentation deadlines, as well as oral history training, conference, and publishing opportunities.
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