Thursday, November 29, 2012

Oral History Project

 Students in the curatorial studies course (ART 302, offered every fall) develop an oral history project that focuses on a person close to them. Our website for the course is here.

This project was inspired by a few resources and individuals. First, the famed journalist and chronicler of people, Studs Terkel, author of the interviews collected and entitled Working

Studs Terkel, an oral historian extraordinaire

Cleveland author, Harvey Pekar, did a graphic novel interpretation that both revived and spread interest in Terkel's work and approach.

Always a Clevelander, Harvey Pekar (of American Splendor fame)
In developing this project, I also was informed by the approach of a faculty member at Case Western Reserve, my alma mater. Dr. Gladys Haddad, professor of history and American Studies and chronicler of the Western Reserve, hosts a blog and journal entitled Regionally Speaking. An oral historian extraordinaire, Haddad kindly shared her course materials from a recent seminar that she taught with Dr. John Bassett (Case, English Department). For this project, their students were charged with the task of interviewing a graduate of the Flora Stone Mather College for Women, the sister college of the Adelbert College for Men at Western Reserve University (Case's predecessor). 
Flora Stone Mather Collge, on the historic Case campus
And, of course, inspiration came from the StoryCorps project, an independent non-profit that encourages listening to one another as "an act of love."
Wouldn't you love to have the StoryCorpsMobile come to our neighborhood?
Foremost in this project was the transition for the students from curating objects (such as objects from the GC archives) to virtual curation. This topic is taken up by McTavish's essay in Janet Marstine's New Museum Theory, a book that we've discussed on this blog previously. 

As you might suspect, I could go on and on about this project. So, if you're interested in hearing more from me, do let me know. But, at any rate, the interviews are featured on this site (follow the link). Take a listen and let us know what you think. We hope that you enjoy them!

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