HISTORY 800: Oral History
Spring 2005

Professor Pam Mack
Hardin 122

class meetings: Mondays 4:40-7:25, Hardin 230


This course not only teaches techniques for doing oral history, it also discusses issues raised by oral history.  We will talk not only about how to conduct and record interviews, but also about such topics as the reliability of memory and the perspective of the person interviewed.  Students are encouraged to do projects that will become part of their master's theses.


Classroom oral history project 20%
Thematic Essay 20%
Course project: written report 40%, oral report 10%
Class Participation 10%

Classroom Oral History Project:  Each student will interview a fellow student in class on Jan 24.  Three products must be handed in:
Feb. 7   Transcript
Feb. 14   Narrative
Feb. 21  Reflections on the process

Thematic Essay:  Each student will take a controversial issue in the field of oral history and write a paper of about 5 pages discussing that issue.  This should be partly a discussion of the literature and partly a personal reflection.  Suitable topics include: how much to edit, giving the subject narrative control, interviewing someone of a different gender/ethnicity, the reliability of memory.  Many others can be found in the reading, particularly in the Oral History Reader.  Due March 14.

Final Project:  For the final project, each student will do an oral history project in an area of their own interest.  The final report must include both a discussion on the interviewing process (with transcribed portions of interviews as examples) and at least 5 pages of historical narrative based on the interviews.  Oral reports of the project will be give April 18 and 25, written reports are due Monday May 2.

Class Participation: This course will demand a high level of participation from the students.  The students will be required to both read the material and discuss it in class.  If these two things are not done, the class will not work, and this will be reflected in everyone's grade.  It will also make the class incredibly dull.


Donald Ritchie, Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide (Oxford Univ. Press)
James Mellon, Bullwhip Days: The Slaves Remember (Grove Press)
Jacquelyn Hall et. al., Like a Family (Univ. of North Carolina Press)
Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson, The Oral History Reader (Routledge)
Elizabeth Tonkin, Narrating Our Pasts: The Social Construction of Oral History (Cambridge Univ. Press)
Studs Terkel, Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Troubled Times (New Press)
James Young, The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning (Yale Univ. Press)


Jan. 17: Holiday--no class.  Please visit the Blackboard discussion board and introduce yourself

Jan. 24:  Read Doing Oral History before class and bring a tape recorder to class (please email pammack@clemson.edu if this is a problem for you). 

Jan. 31:  Read  Like a Family, part one.  Transcript of in-class interview due

Feb. 7:   Read Like a Family, part twoReport on in-class interview due.

Feb. 14:  Read Bullwhip Days.  Reflections on in-class interview due.

Feb. 21:  Read The Oral History Reader sections 1 and 2

Feb. 28:  Read The Oral History Reader sections 3 amd 4

March 7:  Read The Oral History Reader section 5

March 14:  Read Narrating Our Pasts.  Thematic Essay due.

March 28: Read Hope Dies Last.

April 4: Read The Texture of Memory parts I and II

April 11: Read The Texture of Memory parts III and IV

April 18: no class

April 25: Reports on projects, longer class meeting with pot luck

May 2: Final Project due