SERIOUS PLAY: ORAL HISTORY AND THE ART OF STORY 
Beginning spring 2019, developed and co-taught with Liza Zapol  
Columbia University Oral History Master of Arts Program 


In this course, OHMA students will deepen their exploration of core tensions in the practice of oral history through close readings and creation of narrative art in a range of genres and forms, including writing, performance, film*, visual art, and sound. What do we do, as oral historians, makers, and scholars, when our responsibilities to narrators are in tension with responsibilities to “the story” — to historical truth, or narrative effectiveness, or an artist’s aesthetic choices?  What lines are marked by conventions of genre, and how do those compare to lines drawn by the ethics of oral history? When are these lines crossed, to what end, and to whose benefit? Who benefits from the telling of any story? Who is a narrative accountable to? Ultimately, whose story is it? How can an oral historical lens hone our contributions – critical and creative – to contemporary culture and scholarship, and how can such work engage the ongoing dialogue within our field around what oral history is, and can be?