Oral History and the Elusive Story
This course explores memory, vanishing histories, and the connection between the written and the spoken story. We will pay particular attention to stories that have been traditionally ignored or neglected, as such stories provide the writer with an opportunity to create original and meaningful work. Students will conduct oral history interviews as a means of uncovering elusive and important stories. These interviews, in combination with research, will provide unusual access to stories that might otherwise remain opaque and remote. We will experiment with a variety of creative uses—documentary, fiction, creative nonfiction—of oral history. Students will complete one major writing project based on or inspired by interviews. The final project should reflect an attempt to find the form best suited to the retelling of a particular neglected story and most likely to make that story accessible to a wider audience. The class will conduct a series of interviews at Hour Children, an organization that supports women who have recently been released from prison. Students will create a series of dramatic monologues based on these interviews. There will be an end-of-semester staged reading of the monologues by professional actors, as well as an end-of-semester multimedia exhibit during which students will present conference work.