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).

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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 practice-led 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).

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ID Code: 41939
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: oral history, fiction, steered monologue, Biographic Narrative Interpretative Method, interview, creative writing
ISSN: 1444-741X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Creative Writing (incl. Playwriting) (190402)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > OTHER STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190999)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY (210000) > HISTORICAL STUDIES (210300)
Divisions: Past > Schools > Creative Writing & Literary Studies
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Ariella Van Luyn
Deposited On: 08 Jun 2011 22:23
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2011 01:56

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