Experiential Learning for History Students: Oral History (HIST*3560) | College of Arts

Experiential Learning for History Students: Oral History (HIST*3560)

Code and section: HIST*3560*01

Term: Fall 2020

Instructor: Femi Kolapo


AD-S Virtual:

This course will be taught online in a Synchronous format on the following scheduled day(s) and time(s):

MW    11:30 am - 12:50 pm

Details provided by instructor: For the first half of the semester, we will have 1.5 hours/week of lectures and discussions. I will be providing either commentary over power point slides or lecture notes for the remaining 1.5 hours of asynchronous class time. We will conclude the lecture portion of the course by Week 6. The second half of the semester is when students will conduct the substantive oral interview. An appropriate portion of class hours will be designated for conduct of the oral interview assignment. The remaining class hours will be shared between CourseLink Discussion posts of paired student reflections and synchronous class time discussions.

Course Synopsis:

The oral interview is common to the journalist, the lawyer, and the historian. However, it is only with the oral historian that the oral interview transforms into oral history; becoming a methodology used by the historian to better understand past human experiences as well as a source of evidence for that history. First, the course will introduce students to the conceptual foundation of the oral history and to the ethical, legal, and professional requirements for properly conducting and using oral interviews. Second, it will engage students in conducting oral interviews using the guidelines to which they would have been introduced. Third, it will engage them in a reflection on their experience conducting oral interview and producing source evidence for historical analysis.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Upon completion of this course students should be able to:
  • Categorize and evaluate ethical standards that are required in planning and conducting oral history interviews.
  • Conduct oral interviews in accordance with oral history best practices
  • Apply current best practices to transcription of oral history interviews.
  • Validate the usefulness of oral history for the understanding of the past
  • Assess the professional uses and significance of oral history, i.e., its employability prospects.

Method of Evaluation and Weights:

Midterm 25%
Oral interview dry run [5 mins. with a colleague/or professor] 05%
Substantive oral Interview (15-20 mins, e.g., with a family member) 30%
Reflection (pair of two reflects on 2 sets of colleagues’ interviews, which they post to CourseLink Discussion board as well as discuss it during class times) 20%
Final Exam (Reflective essay on the course & on conducting oral interviews) 20%

Texts Required:

  1. Donald A. Ritchie, Doing Oral History (Oxford Oral History Series, 2014).
  2. A set of supplemental readings either through Ares, the University of Guelph’s online Course Reserve system or on CourseLink.

* Please note:  This is a preliminary web course description only.  The department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description.  The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.