The Voice of the Past: Oral History

The Voice of the Past: Oral History

The Voice of the Past: Oral History

The Voice of the Past: Oral History

Synopsis

In this revised edition of Paul Thompson's successful book, he traces oral history through its own past and weighs up the recent achievements of this international movement. He challenges myths of historical scholarship and looks at the use of oral sources by the historian. The author offersadvice on designing a project; discusses reliability of oral evidence; considers the context of the development of historical writing including it's social function.; and looks at memory, the self and the use of drama and therapy. This new edition has been substantially revised and updated andincludes an expanded discussion of narrative approaches and new technology used in the recording of information. Reviews from the second edition of Voice of the Past: Oral History 'Paul Thompson is a passionate and convincing crusader in the cause of oral history' The Times Educational Supplement 'It must be rare in modern academic life to replace your own unrivalled book after 10 years with an even better one, but he has done so. His new material on memory and the self, and on drama as therapy, should be read by literary critics in their infancy.' The Independent '...the first book to combine a theory of oral history, the technical processes involved, and a road map of where oral evidence fits into the landscape of western historiography.' American Historical Review

Excerpt

This is a book about both the method, and the meaning, of history. It is, first of all, an introduction to the use of oral sources by the historian. But the very use of these sources raises fundamental issues, and I have decided to take these at the beginning, moving step by step towards the more practical later chapters. At the same time, I have tried to write with many different types of reader in mind. Some may be more immediately concerned with how to write with many different types of reader in mind. Some may be more immediately concerned with how to design a project, and to collect and evaluate interview material. They will find practical advice in Chapters 6 (Projects), 7 (The Interview), and 8 (Storing and Sifting). There would be, indeed, good sense in starting from field-work. The practical experience of oral history will itself lead on to deeper questions about the nature of history.

These concern, first, the character of evidence. How reliable is oral evidence? How does it compare with the modern historian's more familiar documentary sources? These critical and immediate questions are confronted in Chapter 4 (Evidence). But they are better understood when placed within the wider context of the development of historical writing. Chapter 3 (The Achievement of Oral History) provides an assessment of recent writing and contribution which oral evidence has made in providing new perspectives and opening up fresh fields of inquiry. Chapter 2 (Historians and Oral History) pursues the question back into the past of history itself, exploring the changing approach of historians to evidence, from the original primacy . . .

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