What does ‘oral history’ mean for our project?

As articulated in Lynn Abrams’s Oral History Theory, oral history is a creative, methodological tool of research that involves analyzing “not just what is said, but also how it is said, why it is said and what it means” (1). As a three-way conversation between the interviewee, researcher, and the culture introduced by their shared intersubjectivity, the practice of oral history refers to information and stories shared, in addition to the larger meanings created by interviewees through reconstructions of experience.

While I was reading Abrams’s book, I noticed that the Literature & Professional
Life project is unique from traditional oral history frameworks. While the archive project absolutely relies on reconstructions and reflections of the past, our research is deeply invested in the present. The project primarily seeks to understand the “prism of the present” (Abrams 7) as a product of past experiences and encounters with English. It is this exciting departure from most oral histories that I will explore further by reviewing Digital Oral History and Charlton et al.’s Handbook of Oral History.

Abrams, Lynn. Oral History Theory. New York: Routledge, 2010. Print.