Symposium – Oral History, Narrative Interviewing and the Self

Oral History, Narrative Interviewing and the Self
24 October 2014
Newcastle University

A half-day symposium organised by the Research Centre for Film and Digital Media and the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University.

This half-day event is aimed at postgraduate students, early career and established researchers in the Humanities and Social Sciences. It focuses on the methodological and conceptual approaches and techniques required for the study of oral history narratives. The event will combine presentations and papers with ‘active listening’, giving participants experience of the techniques and practices for working with oral history material and space for discussion of the methodological, conceptual and disciplinary challenges this material generates.

Researchers working on the history of the recent past have increasingly turned to oral history material to explore questions of narrative, memory and subjectivity. Central to the theory and practice of oral history is the ‘life story’ approach, a narrative device through which the subject constructs the self and links biography with social context. This material presents us with a number of possibilities and challenges. For researchers of visual cultures and media histories what is gained and lost when ‘the text’ shifts from the visual to the spoken word? For sociologists and historians what part does visual material play in memory work? And how can we bring oral material into closer dialogue with traditional archival source materials?

This interdisciplinary symposium draws together speakers from history, sociology and film and television studies to discuss the theory and practice of oral history in the light of these concerns. Speakers include Lynn Abrams, Professor of Modern History (Glasgow University) and Penny Tinkler, Senior Lecturer in Sociology (Manchester University).

Places are limited and participants are asked to register for the event. Once registered you will receive a confirmation email and a short extract to read in preparation for the symposium; this is a participatory event and its success relies on dialogue and open exchange. There is no charge and light refreshments will be provided.

For further information about the symposium please contact Sheila Heppel ( or Dr Melanie Bell, Senior Lecturer in Film, Newcastle University (

For information about the ‘History of Women’ research project visit the project website at

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