Assignment 7

Oral History Project

For this assignment, your task is to capture a bit of Korea’s oral history.  Choose an adult you know who is over 70. Set aside some time to meet with this person, and then interview them about their life.  Then, take this interview and condense it down into an essay of 2-3 pages focusing on a particular event or theme from this individual’s life.

A couple of things to note:

Please do not pick random strangers.

Give yourself a couple hours for the interview; remember, the best material will come from a long, honest conversation.  Take the time to earn their trust and don’t be in too much of a hurry to get to a specific point.

If your subject has a good story that you already know about, it is fine to try to get them to talk about it, but resist the urge to guide too much.  Listening can often yield you more than asking questions, so give them time to speak honestly.

Once you’ve collected all of your information (either in a notebook or on a tape recorder/smart phone), set aside some time to mull over everything that was said.  Remember Terkel’s analogy of the gold mine; you’ll have to sift through lots of dirt before you can find that nugget of truth.

You are welcome to approach your essay in several formats.  Consider whether you want to remove your voice entirely (like Terkel), or let your voice show.  You can list questions and answers out clearly, or you might have your voice intercede occasionally as Morris did in “The Fog of War.”

As you may have noticed, you should think about setting the necessary time aside now, so that you will have opportunities to listen and think.  The final product will be due Thursday, November 15 in class.

Here are two sample essays from previous years: Autumn Breeze and Wedding Day


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