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Oral History: Articulating Personal Experience  

Howard Junker Oral History shares a lot with storytelling and memoir, although it is usually concerned with public...not private...events and themes. Nonetheless, it aims to articulate personal experience; it does not rely on documentary evidence. Its primary tool is the interview, which means it takes two: the interviewer and the “subject” — and really there’s a third, the editor, who shapes the material into an enduring product. Students will explore all three roles. We will study the history and technique of oral history on YouTube and with readings in such classic texts as Studs Terkel’s WORKING and Jean Stein’s EDIE. We will share and shape our histories for our own immediate benefit, although if the resources and desires of the class suggest the possibility, we might try to produce a permanent record — a book or a video, or even a performance. Our aim is to explore the significant events and trends of our shared past and to enjoy drawing out our classmates and sharing our lives with each other. The weekly curriculum is flexible and adjusts to the students enrolled in this particular class. Each student will choose subjects to explore and have a chance to be the “subject” of other students’ explorations. Weeks 1-5: We would begin with the classic shared moment: the death of JFK...and move on to other key events and trends, for example, the Civil Rights Movement and Beyond; 9/11; growing up in The Old Days; immigrating to San Francisco; First Love; Hopes and Dreams. Week 6: Explore the desires of the class of what to do with the content produced in class. Howard Junker has been Editor of literary magazine ZYZZYVA for 25 years. He is the author of an 18- volume metamemoir, A TOTAL JUNKER as well as being a. contributor to Art in America, Esquire, The Nation, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and other publications. His teaching includes Metamemoir at the Fromm Institute where he has also taught Oral History.

 

  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at San Francisco State University
    835 Market Street, Sixth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103
    Phone: (415) 817-4243 Website: olli.sfsu.edu