Erin Conlin attended the national Oral History Association Annual Conference and presented a paper titled “Incorporating Oral History,” on a panel titled “Beyond the Interview: Oral History Education in the 21st Century.”
Conlin's paper focused on how she uses oral history in her introductory U.S. history classes (HIST 196).
She discussed how an oral history project enables students to create connections between the past and present and encourages them to examine how “average” people live through, and create history. In Dr. Conlin's class, students conduct an interview with a (preferably more senior) family member or friend, then consider the major themes discussed in class as well as those they identified in their interviewees’ lives. Using these themes, students develop interpretive projects like podcasts or mini-films that challenge them to think and process information like historians.
The project encourages students to reflect upon how people’s individual experiences can support or challenge our understanding of traditional national narratives. It also helps students situate themselves and their family/friends within that national story, and to understand the role we all play in shaping history and historical understanding.
Conlin encourages students to share their projects beyond the classroom by participating in the spring 2016 History Conference, which will be held Feb. 17 in the new Humanities and Social Science Building.
She hopes that IUP faculty, staff, and students will attend to learn more about our unique student body and the diverse experiences that shape our families and communities.