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A fictional tale of two interviewees and a surprising outcome

They were preoccupied with the accuracy of the information that interviewees provided and the reliability of memory. The shift that has occurred over the decades is towards greater interest in the narratives people compose about the past and the ways in which memory is socially, culturally and psychically constructed. Oral history today is less a quest for objective eye-witness accounts in which the narrator provides the historian with data for interpretation, and more a means to engage with experience, subjectivity, and historical imagination.

These days, while interest in an expanding range of such topics has flourished, oral history has become more methodologically reflexive. Questions now include such issues as how interviewees construct themselves through narratives that arise in dialogue with an interviewer, and how personal experience and public histories interact in the production of memory stories.

Oral history is widely regarded as an autobiographical practice rather than a social survey technique. Grele 2010 3However, while this intellectual refocusing is central to any discussion of the present state of oral history, it is important not to overstate it.

One approach did not displace the other; one was not wrong and the other right; they coexist alongside other approaches that have longer roots, such as the use of oral history for the collection of folklore. The argument is that the practice of oral history has pushed against the constraints imposed by the social science tradition from which it emerged. Understanding subjectivity rather than seeking objectivity has become important, and with it a need to address the interrelationship of culture and memory, in particular the ways in which personal and public accounts of the past feed off each other.

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Attention to the process of subjective narration has enhanced awareness that narrators undertake a life review when recalling a personal past, and that the narratives they compose may or may not be conducive to personal, psychic composure. The form that a narrative takes contributes to the meanings communicated by the narrator. So, too, does the subject position the narrator allocates to her- or himself.

Illustrations are drawn from oral history projects on aspects of the Second World War with which I have been involved. Recovery history 1 In contrast, in the USA the impulsion for oral history began earlier, in the 1950s, and came from p. As the founding father of British oral history, Paul Thompson, has written, the main influence was the new social history movement, which challenged the focus of mainstream history on political elites and economic trends.

Thompson 1978 1 The oral history movement demanded a reorientation of history, ending the neglect of the ordinary person by insisting that if records did not exist they would have to be created with the help of the new technology of the portable tape recorder. This approach was enthusiastically taken up by historians of social and political movements, by feminist historians, and by historians of members of ethnic minorities.

The histories recovered in this way included: The radical intention was to give a voice to the voiceless, to raise consciousness, and to empower those for whom there was now a place in written history. Criticisms included the accusation that oral history was unreliable because of the fallibility of memory, and that it was invalid because the a fictional tale of two interviewees and a surprising outcome interviewed were not representative of the wider population.

On the first of these, the distinguished radical historian Eric Hobsbawm decried oral history on the grounds that memory could not be a reliable medium for historical research. Hobsbawm 206 Defenders of oral history responded that all memory is not unreliable all the time. Thus Trevor Lummis argued that while short-term memory declines with age, so that it becomes difficult to remember what happened yesterday, long-term memory often improves.

Lummis Chapter 11 Paul Thompson added that the reliability of memory varies with the types of things remembered: Thompson 1978 In any case, argued the early defenders of oral history, oral sources do not have a monopoly of such problems; written sources bear the scars of partiality, inaccuracy, special pleading, and, frequently, physical disintegration.

In the 1970s, oral historians such as Paul Thompson, who undertook a large-scale project on Edwardian working lives, and Elizabeth Roberts, who researched the lives of working-class women in Lancashire from the 1880s to 1940s, strove for representativeness.

However well-intentioned, such endeavours faced major difficulties, relating to the sample and the questionnaire.

  1. But it was funny really when you think about it.
  2. Peter Coleman has observed that a strategy of reminiscence particularly oriented towards self-affirmation involves the repetition of stories that are satisfying to the narrator. Oh yes, well if not you weren't allowed anywhere you see.
  3. It satirized the incompetence of the part-time volunteer soldiers of the force while affectionately depicting the earnestness of the majority as well as the bolshiness and insouciance of the few. There are twentysomethings who have grown out of their Friends-style flatmates; middle-aged men and women who appear to have grown out of their families.
  4. A tale of two dusks - new beginnings written by keaton-furman-prower add to bookshelf if she doesn't have a family, then it's not that surprising that she became a bully maybe it was her way of coping with her life i see a humorous outcome to what velvet says. A tale of two murders search subscribe now log in 0 settings by focusing on grace's story, she echoes the major obsessions of her fiction.
  5. However well-intentioned, such endeavours faced major difficulties, relating to the sample and the questionnaire. It is not possible to obtain a statistically representative sample of any population in the past.

It is not possible to obtain a statistically representative sample of any population in the past. If one wanted to interview a representative sample of the workers at a particular factory in 1940, for example, one would be confronted firstly by the complications of collecting data on the social profile of all the workers at that time, and then by the difficulties of tracing those who fitted the sampling criteria, many of whom would have moved or changed their names, and by the demographic problem of differential survival rates since 1940.

This is linked to the other major problem, the questionnaire. Oral history is dialogic: The structured interview based on a standard questionnaire is not appropriate for the oral history interview.

Even though oral historians typically take a schedule of questions to an interview, they ask follow-up questions and prompt their interviewees to elaborate and explain what they mean. Different interviewees understand the same questions in different ways and the answers vary in length, complexity and ambiguity, meaning that the responses are not directly comparable. The interest of the interviewer in a particular subject, about which they know something and want to find out more, is constantly modified by the preoccupations of the interviewee with aspects of the past that are unknown to the interviewer.

  1. In both, Sadie depicted herself as subject to forces more powerful than herself that inflicted injustices and near disasters.
  2. Answer to a tale of two interorganizational isthe affordable care act also known as obamacare requires the creation of a tale of two interorganizational is why were there such different outcomes the two states started their projects about the same time.
  3. It satirized the incompetence of the part-time volunteer soldiers of the force while affectionately depicting the earnestness of the majority as well as the bolshiness and insouciance of the few.
  4. The adventures of huckleberry finn, by mark twain is a great example of a satire that twain uses to mock different aspects of the society the novel is filled. You look a bit weedy!

The dialogue can facilitate discoveries on both sides. Interviewees often remember things that surprise their interviewers, and sometimes surprise themselves. Oral historians test the validity of such evidence less to cast doubt on whether their respondents are telling the truth, than to find out whether this is an opportunity to revise the historical record.

This is done by seeking alternative sources, either similar, such as other oral interviewees, or different, such as documentary evidence, to corroborate testimonies. Putting questions derived from oral history to other primary sources frequently brings to light evidence that has been overlooked or distrusted because it was unexpected. The Home Guard was a volunteer, part-time, military force, recruited in the summer of 1940 to defend Britain against the threat of invasion and form the basis of resistance in the event of occupation.

Members of the Home Guard worked at their usual civilian jobs during the day, and trained and went on military manoeuvres in the evenings and at weekends. Since the Second World War it has been widely assumed that Home Guards were all men, an assumption underpinned by an official wartime ban on women joining the force.

A fictional tale of two interviewees and a surprising outcome

Weapons and ammunition in the charge of the Army or of Home Guards must not be used for the instruction of women. Summerfield and Peniston-Bird 2007. Oral history as recovery history is valuable and important not only for giving a voice to the voiceless, but also for challenging historical knowledge. The telling of experience is, according to post-structural theorists Joan W Scott and Judith Butler, the means by which subjects constitute themselves. Scott 1991; Butler 1990 Subjectivity is constructed through the language of the interchange in an oral history interview.

Recognising that oral history is about subjectivity demands attention to at least two further issues: Scholars argue that memory interacts with subsequent experience, and with ideological and cultural representations of both the present and the past, so that accounts of the past are never pure recall of life as it was.

Further, as Joan W. Scott has pointed out, accounts of experience cannot give direct access to social reality, because it is impossible to remember outside the language and discourses in which we make sense of our lives. Scott 1991 12Many accounts of the past are imbued with nostalgia, that is a longing for a time assumed to be better than the present. In oral histories of British experience in the Second World War, this is often expressed through comparisons between the supposed unselfish community spirit of wartime and the greedy individualism of the present.

Several of the men interviewed for the home defence project put this clearly. So that if I do think about the Home Guard I think of that feeling I had about, you know, all pulling together, all working together.

A fictional tale of two interviewees and a surprising outcome

Johnson 1982, 219 Both are possibilities, but both take the focus away from the original mission of oral history, to claim a place for the ordinary individual in history. The mediation is as much a part of the history under scrutiny as the memory.

The versions of the past communicated through family traditions and community cultures, as well as through education, religion, politics, and a wide variety of public media, influence the ways in which individuals remember and interpret their personal histories.

They are historical phenomena, which the historian can study, not only as such, but also in their inter-relation with memory and recall.

The Italian oral historians Luisa Passerini and Alessandro Portelli stress the interaction of ideology and collective memory within personal accounts. Her conclusion was that her interviewees had unconsciously buried the years between, when their agency was undermined a fictional tale of two interviewees and a surprising outcome their lives were compromised by the dominant fascist ideology, which had been all but expunged from collective memory. Thus members of the Home Guard, including those who spoke nostalgically of national unity and emphasized the togetherness of the Home Guard, also referred in the course of lengthy interviews to contradictory experiences of status, class and gender tensions in wartime: Individuals narrating their own accounts subsequently use elements of this generalised form in recalling their personal part in that war, and indeed find it difficult to speak outside it.

It satirized the incompetence of the part-time volunteer soldiers of the force while affectionately depicting the earnestness of the majority as well as the bolshiness and insouciance of the few. Perry and his collaborator David Croft selected and embroidered what they hoped were the funniest stories, crafting them into the format of a half-hour sitcom.

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See Summerfield and Peniston-Bird 2007 The success of the series, broadcast in eighty episodes from 1968 to 1977, with numerous repeats to this day, gives it considerable purchase on the popular imagination. All sorts of people involved in it, you know. The opportunist and the patriotic. She added some reflections on how the show might have been improved, as a comedy. This typically involves three features: This kind of life review is central to other types of autobiographical practice too, such as the memoir.

In the analysis of oral history interviews there is scope to explore it in order to understand more about the subject and his or her place in history.

Historians can deepen and build understanding of an individual by eliciting her subjective assessments of the value of her life, studying the sources of affirmation and denial in her account, and noting the continuities and contradictions in her comparisons with others and with her younger self. This was an organization set up to supply female labour to all branches of agriculture, which were being depleted of young men by recruitment to the armed forces and were under pressure to increase production due to shortages of food and raw materials in Britain at war.

The women of the Timber Corps worked not on farms but in remote forests, felling trees, preparing them for transportation, and loading them onto lorries to go to the mines and factories where they were used for war production. Oh yes, well if not you weren't allowed anywhere you see.

You got away with a lot with the uniform on. It was safer for one thing. If you were hitch-hiking or anything like that, you know. I had one man once, he said to me, he stopped, and I said, "Oh what have you stopped for? Were you going to ask for a cigarette? I'm stronger than you. You look a bit weedy! You've got to undress me. I don't mind, if you want to try, I'll come off best. So anyway, he said "Oh well, that's that. It was in the middle of the night, I do remember that.

So anyway there was a five-barred gate, so I sat on the five-barred gate, had a cigarette.

An analysis of huck in the adventures of huckleberry finn by mark twain

I could see in the distance a signal box and I thought "Oh well, nobody ever comes along this road, I'll make my way to the signal box! I wasn't - you know, it don't seem possible, does it? I'd be scared stiff now if I was left on a country road!

Anyway I suppose I finished my cigarette and sat there for a little while and he came back again. So I said, "Oh, are you going to try your luck now? So I said, "Oh, alright, as long as you promise not to start anything. But you had a lot of things like that and actually your uniform was, as I say, an insurance. Bartlett interview 152 22This is a story of a common wartime practice, hitch-hiking, which was a cheap and easy way to get around when there was both relatively little traffic on the road and plenty of goodwill among drivers especially towards anyone in uniform.

It is also a story of another common but less well recognized, and countervailing, occurrence: