An obsession with storytelling: conducting oral history interviews for creative writing

Van Luyn, Ariella (2011) An obsession with storytelling: conducting oral history interviews for creative writing. Ejournalist, 11 (1). pp. 29-44.

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Abstract

Anna Hirsch and Clare Dixon (2008, 190) state that creative writers' 'obsession with storytelling…might serve as an interdisciplinary tool for evaluating oral histories.' This paper enters a dialogue with Hirsch and Dixon's statement by documenting an interview methodology for a practiceled PhD project, The Artful Life Story: Oral History and Fiction, which investigates the fictionalising of oral history.

Alistair Thomson (2007, 62) notes the interdisciplinary nature of oral history scholarship from the 1980s onwards. As a result, oral histories are being used and understood in a variety of arts-based settings. In such contexts, oral histories are not valued so much for their factual content but as sources that are at once dynamic, emotionally authentic and open to a multiplicity of interpretations. How can creative writers design and conduct interviews that reflect this emphasis?

The paper briefly maps the growing trend of using oral histories in fiction and ethnographic novels, in order to establish the need to design interviews for arts-based contexts. I describe how I initially designed the interviews to suit the aims of my practice. Once in the field, however, I found that my original methods did not account for my experiences. I conclude with the resulting reflection and understanding that emerged from these problematic encounters, focusing on the technique of steered monologue (Scagliola 2010), sometimes referred to as the Biographic Narrative Interpretative Method (Wengraf 2001, Jones 2006).

Item ID: 24736
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: oral history, fiction, creative writing, interview, steered monologue, biographic narrative interpretative method
ISSN: 1444-741X
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2013 04:52
FoR Codes: 19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190402 Creative Writing (incl Playwriting) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft) @ 100%
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