British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Writers and poets in their own words: American audio archives on the Gateway

Learning on Screen’s Gateway includes over 2,000 websites relating to moving image and sound materials. These have been subdivided into over 40 subject areas. To suggest new entries or amendments, please contact us by email or telephone (020 7393 1500).

Faulkner at Virginia: An Audio Archive
William Faulkner was writer-in-residence at the University of Virginia in 1957 and 1958. During those two years he gave two addresses, read from eight of his works, and answered over 1400 questions from audiences made up of various groups, ranging from UVA students and faculty members to interested local citizens. These sessions were recorded on reel-to-reel tape recorder and now over 28 hours worth of material from the archives have been digitised, catalogued, transcribed and made freely available in QuickTime format.

Users can browse or search the collection by keyword but anyone seriously interested in exploring the collection will benefit from reading the contextual essay which gives a detailed account of Faulkner’s residence at UVA, the background to the recordings, information on audio quality (which is understandably uneven given the limitations of the technology of the time), transcription methodology, links to essays, photographs, cartoons and a selection of letters from the Faulkner collections at the UVA library.

A curated Clips section presents a selection of highlights from the collection, consisting of over 230 of Faulkner’s responses to audience questions. Most of the questions refer specifically to the novels (nicely illustrated with images of first editions), but Faulkner also has interesting things to say about his career (including writing in Hollywood for Howard Hawks), his opinions of other writers, including James Joyce, Albert Camus and J.D. Salinger and his views on the South and the Civil Rights Movement.

Harry Ransom Center Multimedia Page
The Harry Ransom Center is a library, archive and museum based at the University of Austin, Texas. Its mission is to advance the study of the arts and humanities by acquiring, preserving, and making accessible original cultural materials. Amongst its holdings are over 36 million literary manuscripts as well as a smaller collection of film and television materials. The centre’s multimedia page features an eclectic selection of videos, including talks by writers, features on aspects of conservation, and films about selected artefacts and objects held in the Center’s archives.

Also available is the Mike Wallace Interview collection. Wallace was an American journalist noted for his direct interviewing style, whose programme ran from 1957 to 1960. He donated the show’s footage, on 16mm kinetoscope, to the Ransom Center in the 1960s. A wide range of notable personalities submitted themselves to Wallace’s probing, hard-hitting approach, including Henry Kissinger, Frank Lloyd Wright, Diana Barrymore, Jean Seberg, Gloria Swanson, Aldous Huxley and Margaret Sanger. The 65 interviews are freely available to view (five are audio only) and come with full transcripts.
This resource is an interactive archive and exhibition space devoted to Jack Kerouac and connected topics, particularly relating to Lowell, Massachusetts, the city of Kerouac’s birth and childhood. There is a nice selection of audio recordings, taken from a large of collection of Kerouac-related material owned by the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The recordings feature contributions from Kerouac’s childhood friends, as well as fellow-writers William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, covering subjects such as Kerouac’s sexuality, the idea of the ‘vision quest’, religion, childhood, life on the road, and, less obviously Kerouac’s similarity to the Fonz from the television show Happy Days.

A small selection of video clips feature Professor Todd Tietchen discussing the first part of The Town and the City, as well as a clip of Allen Ginsberg speaking at UMass Lowell. The audiovisual resources are complemented by links and a bibliography.

Walt Whitman Archive
Resource which aims to make the work of Walt Whitman freely available to researchers, scholars and general readers. The Pictures and Sound section of the site includes audio recordings of Professor Eric Forsythe reading ‘Poets to Come’ and the 52 sections of ‘Song of Myself. Also available is audio of a 36 wax cylinder recording, thought to be of Whitman himself, reading four lines of his poem ‘America’.

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