assignment 3: oral history video composition

Assignment Overview

printable version of assignment (.pdf) (note: changes to schedule are reflected below)

In their Introduction to the second edition of The Oral History Reader Perks and Thompson (2006) note that when one engages in the practice of oral history she is also challenging traditional notions of the construction of history. Correspondingly, by challenging history she is also challenging traditional conceptions that reliable research is the investigation of written texts found in libraries, databases, and archives. Later, in their opening words to Part I, they announce that human beings are now “in the middle of a fourth, dizzying digital revolution in oral history and its outcomes are impossible to predict” (p. 8). They describe this revolution as being a result of the proliferation of information technologies-email, the Internet, digital recording devices-and the potential for ubiquitous access to interviews. In short, “the future of oral history . . . has never been so exciting, or so uncertain” (p. 8).

With Flip Video Cameras in hand (or on tripod) we are going engage that exciting uncertainty by composing video oral histories of individuals whose voices on important social issues might never have been recorded, preserved, and broadcast to a world eager to watch, listen, learn about what others think and do. Our videos will not be about people, though we will learn about them through their interviews. Rather, the videos will explore a particular issue as understood by the people you interview. The distinction is subtle, but important. When conceiving of your issue, think in broad strokes at first but then narrow down to local specifics. We discuss this in great detail in class.

This ten-week assignment will challenge our critical thinking, reading, writing, and composing skills. It will test our patience and bring us thrills. It will ask us to think visually and aurally. We will explore in depth questions writers of written texts often take for granted (or never have to think about), especially those relating to time, transition effects, sound, silence, blanks, color, among many others.

Subjects and Research

Our subjects can be family members, colleagues, community members, strangers, and/or experts in a field relating to your issue (the only subjects off limit are fellow students [unless absolutely necessary due to the issue being considered]). Due to the time constraints of the semester, it will be better if you have a relationship of some sort with your interview subjects prior to beginning the project. That relationship can be as close as a family member or as minor as belonging to the same church. The key will be finding subjects who have lived experiences directly relating to the issue you wish to explore.

The fact that we conducting interviews does not preclude us from engaging in more traditional modes of research. Indeed, oral history presentations depend on it for evidence to support and enhance statements uttered by interview subjects. Interviews also require a substantial amount of traditional research about the particular issue you are investigating, the organizations your subjects might be a part of, and so on. The more prepared we are the better listeners and questioners we will be, and the more effective we will be at helping the subject articulate their memories.

Assignment Due Dates

Our final product will be an 8 – 10 minute idea-driven mashup of video, audio, and still images that makes a point(s) about an important social issue. Due to the complexity of the project we will be going through three overlapping stages:

  • Preparing the Oral History Study (2/23 – 3/25): this stage includes completing the following:
    • March 2: video proposal due (3 – 5 minutes)
    • March 9: list of potential subjects due
    • March 23: IRB Proposal, Consent Form, and Training Certificate due
    • March 25: potential interview schedule due on wiki
    • March 25: final interview schedule due on wiki
    • April 13: two-page researched topic summary with bibliography due on wiki
      This should be a brief summary of the major contemporary thoughts on the subject of your oral history project by important scholars and practitioners in that field. Because this is a summary do not use quotation at all. Parenthetical citation, however, should be used throughout. Only scholarly and other reliable resources can be cited. Shy away from doing basic Web searches using Google and Yahoo! and so forth. Use the library databases. Google Scholar may be used, as well. Your bibliography must have 12 resources: 3 must be books, 7 must be journal articles, 2 can be from other reliable sources. At least half of the resources should be cited in your topic summary. Paper should be equivalent to 2 double spaced pages, using Times New Roman font size 12, with 1″ margins. Bibliography is in addition to the 2 pages of text. Use APA citation format for parenthetical and bibliographic resources. Post paper to oral history wiki when finished on a new wiki page and put in your folder; do not upload the document.
  • Conducting the Interviews (3/23 – 4/15): this stage includes completing the following:
    • all interviews
    • follow-up interviews
    • signed consent forms
    • detailed notebook in paper/on wiki that records the subject name, number of the interview with the subject, date, time started, time completed. location of interview, type of interview (formal or informal), questions asked, topics covered, questions for follow-up interview, file name of the digital file
  • Composing the Video (3/23 – 4/27): this stage includes completing the following:
    • April 13: test photo story of 5 photos
    • April 15: first video draft due (2 – 3 minutes) on YouTube and embed in wiki
    • April 16-17: 30 minute conferences with Dr. Wolff
    • April 20: digitized primary documents and screen shots
    • April 20: music selections
    • April 20: second video (5 – 6 minutes) draft due on YouTube and embed in wiki
    • May 4: final video due (8 – 10 minutes) on YouTube and embed in wiki

Final Video Requirements

With the final oral history video composition we want to maximize viewers’ understanding of the context of the video, ensure that they know the video is an oral history, and increase the possibility that the videos will appear in any search for an oral history. As a result, please complete the following:

Creating the Final Video(s)

  • Compose and add a title that has the phrase “Video Oral History” or “Oral History Video” in it. For example, “The Immigrant Experience: An Oral History Video.” Please see me if you have questions about a title
  • If you are breaking your video in half, add a title page to the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half that states that the URL for the First Part or Second Part is located in “this video’s description or by going to”
  • Because the work is IRB-approved, we need to have a more restrictive copyright license than used in the YouTube project. You have a choice of what can be added. You can create a title page at the end of the movie that reads, simply, “Copyright by username [add a line break, then] All Rights Reserved.” This means that no-one can do anything with the video. Or, you can select the most restrictive Creative Commons license: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives. If you choose the Creative Commons license, please add the image that I created on the Creative Commons License page
  • Add credits that include the following:
    • “title” (if known), photographer (if known) and URL for all images found online
    • artist, “song title,” and album title for all music used
    • “title,” show, air date, and URL for any video you have embedded in your video
    • special thanks message to your narrators (do not refer to them by name)
    • Written and Directed by username
    • Link to all oral history videos from the class:

Uploading the final video(s)

  • Upload the video to your YouTube channel, the Oral History Video Archive, and embed it in a new page on your wiki
  • Place the complete title of your video in the form field when uploading the video
  • In the Description form field, add the following text:
    • start the first sentence with the title followed by “presents” (or similar word). For example, “‘The Immigrant Experience: An Oral History Video’ presents the story of one woman’s journey from a childhood in Ukraine. . . .” Follow that sentence with a brief description of what the viewer can expect to see in the video.
      • if this is the first part, say so and add a link to the second part. If it is the second part, say so and add a link to the first part of the video. These links should be added after you have uploaded both videos. To do so, go to the video and edit the description by adding the link URL.
    • state that the project was completed for “Writing, Research, and Technology, Spring 2009, taught by Dr. Bill Wolff, and received IRB approval. The video is [specify how you have copyrighted the video (see above for details)]. Information about the course and assignment can be found at: https://williamwolff.orgcourses/wrt-spring-2009/. A complete archive of class’s oral histories is located at”
    • state that the video was shot using the Flip Ultra video camera and edited using Windows Movie Maker and Photo Story 3, iMovie, or Final Cut Pro, whichever you used.
    • state the artist and song title for any music you have used (you do not have to do the same with images)
    • For the video that is uploaded to, write that you (via your username) are the creator and add a link to your YouTube channel
    • Please use paragraphs and complete sentences
  • Add at least the following tags: “rowan” “rowan university” “oral history” “oral history video” and multiple tags relating to your topic, such as “pets” “animal shelter” “economy” (these tags will increase the likelihood that the video will be found when searching that subject matter.
  • For the category, select Education.
  • Make the video public and allow embedding and comments

Now sit back and appreciate the great work you have done this semester!

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