A Meeting Minute: Oral History Workshop and TEI Module

Meeting Report: July 14, 2020

by Craig Carpenter (MA student, SoundBox Signals Season 2 Co-Producer) and Amy Thiessen (Project Manager)

On July 9th a number of SpokenWeb UBCO team members joined an Oral History Workshop—facilitated by Steven High, Mathieu Aubin, and Samuel Mercier—as a part of the online SpokenWeb Summer Sound Institute (SSI). In this blog post SpokenWeb team member and MA Candidate, Craig Carpenter, reflects on the workshop and we give you a glimpse into what might be up next in the meeting minute blog.

The recent Oral History workshop was engaging and a great introduction to the vast field. SpokenWeb’s esteemed Prof. Steven High opened the workshop differentiating Oral History from the discipline of ethnography. Oral History, High explained, is not just a research method but exists outside of academia as a space where community is being built. In Oral History we are looking at the dialogical relationship between the past and the present and always bouncing back and forth in time. A good interviewer understands the interview as a workspace that is not clean-cut, said High. The oral historian, he explained, approaches history in the context of a life and comes into an interview with a list of guide questions but does not hold too dearly to those questions. Most importantly he said the interviewer while approaching the interview with intentionality should be flexible and aware that the interviewee will come into an interview with their own intentions. High touched on the difference between interview types and reviewed some reflexive strategies for the interviewer. 

Former AMP Lab affiliate Mathieu Aubin (Ph.D), now a Horizon postdoctoral fellow at Concordia, shared his own experiences with oral history interviews that stressed the ethics of care required by the interviewer and led to some lively discussion. We also had a brief introduction to the work of SpokenWeb team member Samuel Mercier and some of his experiences that led to further examination of the challenges of interviewing subjects when you don’t share their perspective. 

Upcoming for our team: in partnership with the University of Exeter DH Lab we are working on the final stages of our second badged module, Introduction to TEI. The badge design work, by Yasaman Lotfizadeh, is well on its way and in the next few weeks we will be moving towards transforming the module into a self-paced, badged format through the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS). 

Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) badge design draft by Yasaman Lotfizadeh