CFP: OHS Annual Conference- Beyond Text in the Digital Age? July 2016

Posted on 13/11/2015 by


Beyond Text in the Digital Age? Oral History, Images and the Written Word
University of Roehampton, London
8th July 2016- 9th July 2016
Keynote Speakers: Professors Mary Larson, Alessandro Portelli, and Anne Valk

Raphael Samuel’s essay ‘The Perils of the Transcript’ (1972) drew attention to the limitations of using written versions of oral history interviews. The standard practice of transcribing or at least summarising interviews, and then selecting quotations from those texts for exhibitions, articles and books based around such interviews, meant the auditory dimension of oral history was for decades notoriously underused. Digital technologies, however, and especially the internet, make the “raw” and “cooked” materials – audio and video oral history interviews as well as extracts – much more readily available, as Michael Frisch and other commentators have observed. Does this signal the death of the written text?

The conference will investigate the extent to which the written word is redundant in oral history. Should we still transcribe or even summarise? What is the status of textual representations of our interviews in the digital age? We also want to revisit the relationship between oral history and text more broadly. Another conference theme will therefore explore the challenges and opportunities of using oral history recordings, and the various ways in which interviews can be used effectively alongside other kinds of text – diaries, letters, novels, maps, photographs, films, and social media, for example – from collection, through archiving to dissemination. What benefits or problems do we encounter? We are also keen to explore fictional forms of oral history, such as Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey.

In addition, we encourage sessions on new technological developments, including re-use, mash-ups, social networking, and the new ethical and legal challenges all this brings.

HE Strand: This conference will also be the first to include a strand to develop the OHS HE network, and we welcome proposals to discuss any aspect of teaching and learning oral history in HE. If you would like to discuss your ideas please contact Jenny Harding:

We invite proposals on related themes, such as the following:

archiving oral history interviews with other texts, eg. diaries, photographs (from storing and cataloguing to making accessible to wider audiences)
ethical implications, advantages and disadvantages of online access to recordings
interpreting and working in more integrated ways with other texts
exhibiting or otherwise disseminating oral history interviews alongside other texts
oral histories of writers, and readers (eg. to cover memories of reading, being read to, and participation in reading groups)
oral history and life writing
oral history and fiction
oral history and social media
folklore and oral history
All proposals for oral history-based contributions, including papers, panels, presentations, workshops, posters and displays should be submitted by 18 December 2015 to

Max. 250 words.

Organising Group
Amy Tooth Murphy, Shelley Trower, Padmini Broomfield, Anne Gulland, Hilary Young, Sarah Pyke, Emily Mercer, Daliany Jeronimo Kersh.

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