Foto: Matthias Friel
Please follow the "comment" link above for more information on comments, course readings, course requirements and grading.Historians of Africa pioneered the methodology of oral history in the 1960s in the anglophone academy, thereby opening a field of study that subsequently spread across history sub-disciplines. This course charts the evolution of debates about the theory and practice of oral history from the collection of classical oral traditions, through oral histories, to individual life histories. The course confronts ethical questions around writing history based on oral sources and tackles the very practicalities of doing oral history. The relationship between orality and memory is an important theme as is the connection between orality and literacy. Questions on which students will be reflecting for the duration of this course include but are not limited to: What is oral tradition? How can I analyze oral tradition? Does oral history tell us about the past or the present? How can I interpret sifting and constructed memories? Is there a danger that individual lives fail to adequately represent processes, movements, or broader experiences, and if so, how might this be overcome? Or do individual lives provide insights I would otherwise not be able to locate? Students will walk away from this course with a theoretical understanding of oral history as well as with first practical experiences. The course takes place in presence.
Students in the Master of Contemporary History should take this course as an exercise course and not as a seminar.
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