crc  .  syllabi collection  .  alumni syllabi  .  history  .

   Course Title    Narrative and Identity
Lecturer    Daniela Koleva
Institution    University of Sofia
Country    Bulgaria


  1. Aim of the course

    Oral history has established itself as a research genre only recently in Bulgarian social science. As a technique for gathering information it has long been applied but hardly ever critically scrutinized. Departing from an understanding of oral history as "conversational narrative" (Portelli), the course aims to explore its potential and its limits in respect to subject and methodology. The objectives of the course are:

    1. to explain to students the specifics of oral history and mapping out the scope of its applicability;

    2. to develope their interviewing skills and their awareness of the impact of the interview situation on the final outcome;

    3. to examine and critically evaluate different methods of analysis and interpretation;

    4. assessment of the critical potential of the interpretation of personal narratives;

    5. situating the interpretation of oral history narratives in broader theoretical contexts.

  2. Role of the course in the overall degree curriculum

    The course is designed for 3rd- and 4th-year students. It introduces in the curriculum a topic, which has been the subject of research of faculty and students from the Department for History and Theory of Culture since 1994, thus responding to the need to integrate teaching with research and practical work. Therefore the course will rely on the existing archive of life-history interviews collected in 1994-99 at the Department, covering a period of roughly 60 years and focusing primarily on everyday life and memories of political events.

    The course follows the recent orientation of the Department towards a more differentiated approach to students' interests and encouraging their individual work. It fits into the interdisciplinary curriculum in History and Theory of Culture and is an attempt at bringing it closer to the content and mehods of European university curricula.

  3. Methods used

    1. Lectures. The lecturing is limited to one synoptic lecture at the beginning of each of the three modules (see Course content) and a brief lecture on each topic, summarizing the main points and providing broader context for the discussion.

    2. Class discussions on:

      1. Mandatory texts. These are in Bulgarian only, as knowledge of English is not a prerequisite for the course. Most of them state important theoretical and methodological issues.

      2. Key texts. These are fundamental texts, which have not been translated into Bulgarian but should be introduced nevertheless. Summaries and comments on them by students with good command of the respective language (English in most cases) are to supplement the mandatory texts and stimulate the discussion.

      3. Case studies. Several scholarly papers in Bulgarian and in foreign languages are suggested for discussion on each topic. Each student is expected to read one of them and comment on it in class in relation to the topic under discussion.

    3. Practical work. Each person is required to conduct an oral history interview. The topic(s) and the chioce of interviewees should be planned in the framework of a larger project (ideally one's M.A. thesis). A workshop is envisaged where interviewing experience will be shared and discussed.

    4. Project paper. It should contain an interpretation of the interview refering to one (or more) of the interpretative frameworks discussed in class and its evaluation from the point of view of a larger project. Papers will be presented and discussed in a workshop.

    5. Two workshops. The first one will focus on the preparation and conducting of the interview, as well as the problems encountered in the interview situation. The second is designed as a presentation, critique and defence of project papers.

      Grading:

      Attendance, participation and comment on key text/case study . 50 %

      Interview and paper . 50 %

      Eight students will be selected on the basis of performance and motivation, whose summer field practice will be supported logistically and financially.

  4. Course content

    The course consists of three modules:

    The course consists of three modules:


    I. Oral History as a Research Genre.

    Week 1. Introduction. Synoptic lecture: Oral History between history and memory; between testimony and myth. Historiography of Oral history. Main topics and tendencies. The interdisciplinary character of Oral history.

    Required readings: C. Prochanson, "Illusion of contemporaneity", in Sotsiologicheski Problemi, 1998, No 3-4.

    Key text: Alessandro Portelli, "What makes oral history different", in R. Perks and A. Thomson (eds.) The Oral History Reader. London: Routledge, 1998, pp.63-74.

    Week 2. Concepts and issues. Orality and writing; content and performance; truth and rhetoric; "fact" and "fiction". Peculiarities of different oral-historical "genres" (life stories, folklore narratives, thematic interviews, memories of important events, judicial testimonies). The dialogical character of Oral history.

    Required readings: Daniel Bertaux, "The biographical approach: methodological value and perspectives", in Bulgarski Folklor, 1993, No 2, pp.18-19.

    Key text: Elizabeth Tonkin, "Structuring an account: the work of genre", in id. Narrating Our Pasts: The Social Construction of Opal History. Cambridge University Press 1992, pp. 50-65.

    and/or: Alessandro Portelli, "Oral history as genre", in id. The Battle of Valle Giulia: Oral History and the Art of Dialogue. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press 1997.

    Case studies:

    D. Koleva, "Life histories – mode of use", in D. Koleva, R. Gavrilova, V. Elenkova (eds.) The setting sun in front of me again. Sofia: LIK, 1999, pp. 7-30.

    Petar Vodenicharov, "The silent self of the Bulgarian peasants in their autobiographies", in Balkanistic Forum 1995, No 3, pp. 73-86.

    Dorotea Dobreva, "Narratives about the socialist village. Coping with the past and the present by means of narratives", in Bulgarski Folklor, 1997, No 5-6, pp. 4-27.

    Alistair Thomson, "Anzak memories: putting popular memory theory into practice in Australia", R. Perks and A. Thomson (eds.) The Oral History Reader. London: Routledge, 1998, pp. 300-310.

    Peter Friedlander, "Theory, method and oral history", in R. Perks and A. Thomson (eds.) The Oral History Reader. London: Routledge, 1998, pp. 311-319.

    Week 3. Oral history and political memory. Liminal and dissiding experience, testimonies and "speaking from below". Memory and forgetting. Compliance and resistance. The postcommunist war of interpretations. The relevance of Oral History to the study of communism and the transition period.

    Required readings: Tsvetan Todorov, "Abuses of memory", in Leteratura, 1996, No 12, pp. 3-14.

    Paul Ricoeur, "Political Memory", in I. Znepolski (ed.) Paul Ricoeur: philosophy facing the challenge of change. Sofia, 1998, pp. 24-40.

    Key text: Alessandro Portelli, "The death of Luigi Trastulli: memory and the event", in id. The Death of Luigi Trastulli and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History. Albany: SUNY Press, 1995, pp.1-26.

    Case studies:

    Alexander Kiossev, "The impossibility of narrative (An essay on life in injust institutions", in I. Znepolski (ed.) Paul Ricoeur: philosophy facing the challenge of change. Sofia, 1998, pp. 193-217.

    Svetla Petkova, "'Endangered' identity (on narratives collected in the village of Galata, Teteven region), in Bulgarski Folklor, 1998, No 1-2, pp. 68-84.

    Luisa Passerini, "Resistance to the language of totalitarianism" and "Laughter", in id. Fascism in Popular Memory. Cambridge University Press 1987, pp. 74-80, 85-93.

    Ina Dietzsch, Irene DÚllig, "The German self and the German other: everyday life before and after the 'reunification'", in Communicating Experience. Proceedings of the IX International Oral History Conference, Goeteborg 1996, pp. 270-277.

    Irina Scherbakova, "The Gulag in memory", in R. Perks and A. Thomson (eds.) The Oral History Reader. London: Routledge, 1998, pp. 235-245.

    Tsvetan Todorov, "La memoire devant l'histoire", in Terrain, 1995, 25, pp. 101-112.

    Week 4. Oral history and everyday life. Family history. Gender and women's history. Modernization and life career. Life history and life course. The democratic character of Oral history.

    Required readings: Daniel Bertaux, "Family genealogies and revolution" – Sotsiologicheski Problemi, 1994, No 3.

    Key text: Luisa Passerini, "Mythbiography in oral history", in P. Thompson and R. Samuel (eds.) The Myths We Live By. Routledge 1990, pp. 49-60.

    Jean Peneff, "Myths in life stories", in P. Thompson and R. Samuel (eds.) The Myths We Live By. Routledge 1990, pp. 36-48.

    Case studies:

    Anastasia Pashova, "'Magic is a bad thing, but it's pretty common among us': Magic as a communicative form in the everyday communication of Bulgarian muslims", in P. Vodenicharov, K. Popova, A. Pashova (eds.) "I Would Like the Person to be Always Pleasant and to Make Moabet". Speech Behaviour and Life Worlds of Bulgarian Muslims in the Gotse-Delchev and Razlog Regions. Blagoevgrad, 1998, pp. 233-249.

    Dolors Comas D'Argemir, "The family life-cycle: social conditions and cultural notions of women in Catalogne (Spain)", Bulgarski Folklor, 1994, No 6.

    Tatyana Kmetova, Biographical accounts about life in immigration, Bulgarski Folklor, 1994, No 6.

    Ventsislav Dimov, "The 'becoming' of the extrasensor (Observations on Bulgarian extrasensors' life stoires)", Bulgarski Folklor, 1994, No 6, pp. 42-47.

    John Byng-Hall, interviewed by Paul Thompson, "The power of family myths", in P. Thompson and R. Samuel (eds.) The Myths We Live By. Routledge 1990, pp. 216-224.

     

    II. Oral History as a Research Method.

    Week 5. Synoptic lecture. The narrative interview as a qualitative research method. Comparison with the structured and semistructured type of interview. Gestalt interview and psychoanalytic session. Journalistic interviewing and oral-history interviewing. Preparing for the interview. Basic interviewing techniques. Transcribing and storing the interview.

    Dr. Diana Iordanova (recently defended her dissertation) and Ph. D. student Yuriy Valkovski share experience in interviewing.

    Key text: Paul Thompson, "The interview", in id. The Voice of the Past, Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 196-216.

    Week 6. Autobiography as claiming self-identity. The "invention" of one’s past and oneself in biographical narrative. Construction of a desired and vindicated identity. The speaker's position on the border of public and private. Life stories as "lie stories"?

    Required readings: Anthony Giddens, Modernity and Self-identity, Polity Press, 1991, ch. 3.

    Key text: Joan Sangster, "Telling our stories: feminist debates and the use of oral history", in R. Perks and A. Thomson (eds.) The Oral History Reader. London: Routledge, 1998, pp. 87-100.

    Case studies:

    R. Gavrilova, "Pronominal Identity", Bulgarski Folklor, 1998, No 1-2, pp. 60-67.

    Valentina Ganeva-Raitcheva, "Biography and images of religious identity", in Bulgarski Folklor; 1998, No 1-2, pp. 48-59.

    Petar Vodenicharov, "'You simply need to be accepted normally, to be real': Names and identities of the Bulgarian muslims in the Gotse-Delchev and Razlog regions", in P. Vodenicharov, K. Popova, A. Pashova (eds.) "I Would Like the Person to be Always Pleasant and to Make Moabet". Speech Behaviour and Life Worlds of Bulgarian Muslims in the Gotse-Delchev and Razlog Regions. Blagoevgrad, 1998, pp. 250-277.

    M. Elchinova, "Life story as a self-presentation", Bulgarski Folklor, 1994, No 6, pp. 17-27.

    Florian Blumer, "'Hats off!' - social differences and staging in lifetime-stories", in Communicating Experience. Proceedings of the IX International Oral History Conference, Goeteborg 1996, 878-884.

    Smaranda Vultur, "Staging identity", Paper presented at the international conference Talking History, Sept. 1999.

    D. Koleva, "Tradition in the construction of self-identity in life histories", Auto/biography, VII, 1-2, 1999, pp. 27-34.

    Week 7-8. Workshop. Interviews due. Listening to excerpts of interviews and discussion of interview experiences.

    Week 9. Power relations in oral-history interviewing. Ethical issues. The dialogical character of oral history. The co-authorship of its product.

    Key text: Alessandro Portelli, "Tryin' to gather a little knowledge: some thoughts on the ethics of oral history", in id. The Battle of Valle Giulia: oral history and the art of dialogue. University of Wisconsin Press, 1997, pp. 55-71.

    Case studies:

    Kathleen Blee, "Evidence, Empathy and Ethics: Lessons from Oral Histories of the Klan", in R. Perks and A. Thomson (eds.) The Oral History Reader. London: Routledge, 1998, pp. 333-343.

    Jane Mace, "Reminiscence as literacy: intersections and creative moments", in R. Perks and A. Thomson (eds.) The Oral History Reader. London: Routledge, 1998, pp.333-343..

     

    III. Interpretation strategies and the "making of history".

    Week 10. Synoptic lecture: Different interpretive frameworks. "Realistic" and "non-realistic" approaches and the kind of questions they answer. Oral history as supplementary method. Mapping out its "own territory". Evidence of past reality or semantic and communicative reality sui generis.

    Required readings: Luisa Passerini, "Introduction" in id. Fascism in Popular Memory. Cambridge University Press 1987, pp. 1-16.

    Key text: Paul Thompson, "Interpretation: the making of History", in id. The Voice of the Past, Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 234-265.

    Week 11. Hermeneutical and phenomenological approaches and their theoretical frameworks. Temporal structures and narrative structures. Psychoanalytic perspectives. The task of "living with the truth" and how we cope with it. Revelations and limitations of psychoanalysis.

    Required readings: Kristina Popova, "Analysis of the life history. The biographical method of Gabriele Rosenthal", in Bulgarski Folklor 1994, No 6, pp. 82-86.

    Liliana Deyanova, "Memory between time and narrative", in I. Znepolski (ed.) Paul Ricoeur: philosophy facing the challenge of change. Sofia, 1998, pp. 164-179.

    Key text: Paul Ricoeur, "Approaches towards personality", in id. Prochiti, Sofia University Press, 1996, pp. 51-66.

    Case studies:

    Petar Vodemicharov, Kristina Popova, "'I was not afraid of death, I was afraid of the electricity': human body facing the institutions", in Bulgarski Folklor 1998, No 1-2, pp. 85-91.

    Petar Vodemicharov, "Women, language and power. Discourse analysis of Bulgarian modernizations during the 30ies and the 60ies", in P. Vodenicharov, K. Popova, A. Pashova (eds.) My Dossier, Pardon, Biography. Bulgarian Modernizations (30ies-60ies) – Ideologies and Identities. Blagoevgrad, 1999, pp. 229-273.

    Monika Schmitz-Emans, "ErzÊlen als Selbstbehauptung und GespensterbeschwÚrung", in BIOS. Zeitschrift fßr Oral History und Biographieforschung, 1996, No 1.

    Week 12. "Micro"-analyses in history, sociology and social anthropology. From autobiography towards historiography. How can large-scale processes be understood starting from the perspective of (auto)biography.

    Required readings: Jaques Revel, "Micro-analysis and the construction of the social", in Sotsiologicheski Problemi, 1996, No 3, pp. 63-79.

    Liliana Deyanova, "Sociology as a photographic enlargement" – Bulgarski Folklor 1994, No 6, pp. 28-31.

    Key text: Elizabeth Tonkin, "Memory makes us, we make memory", in id. Narrating Our Pasts: The Social Construction of Oral History. Cambridge University Press 1992, pp. 97-112.

    Case studies:

    Diana Iordanova, Rethinking the Concept of Change. Results and methodological reflexion on the fieldwork in a small local community (Ph. D. dissertation);

    Dorotea Dobreva, "Time rhythms and the use of time in the everyday working life of a socialist village. The example of a mountain village.", Paper presented at the conference Talking History, Kiten 1999.

    Dorotea Dobreva, "Working on the collective farm. Official norms and actual behaviour in a Bulgarian mountain village in the 1950's", Bulgarski Folklor, 1997, No 3-4, pp. 71-103.

    Petar Petrov, "Parish fair in Radouil. The socialist transformation of a religious feast", Bulgarski Folklor, 1997, No 3-4, pp. 104-129.

    Kristina Popova, "Was it God that has crreated them like that? The men born in 1920 in the village Teshevo", in P. Vodenicharov, K. Popova, A. Pashova (eds.) My Dossier, Pardon, Biography. Bulgarian Modernizations (30ies-60ies) – Ideologies and Identities. Blagoevgrad, 1999, pp. 274-292.

    R. Gavrilova, D. Koleva, "Stability and mobility – family and kinship structures in modern Bulgaria (the case of Iskar)", MS.

    Week 13. Life-history narrative as a theoretical or rhetorical construct. Bourdieu's socioanalytical framework. The limits of the method.

    Required readings: Pierre Bourdieu, "The biographical illusion", in id. The Practical Reason, Sofia: Critique & Humanism 1997.

    Key text: Hans-Christoph Koller, "Biographie als rhetorisches Konstrukt", in BIOS. Zeitschrift fßr Oral History und Biographieforschung, 1993, 1.

    Case studies:

    Albena Georgieva, "Narrative as a way to construct personal past", in Bulgarski Folklor, 1997, No 5-6, pp. 48-58.

    Michael Mitterauer, "From collecting relics to window display. About the individualizing of treasures", in Gifts and Treasures – Spiritual Continuity on the Balkans, Blagoevgrad, 1998.

    Katherine Borland, "'That's not what I said': interpretive conflict in oral narrative research", in R. Perks and A. Thomson (eds.) The Oral History Reader. London: Routledge, 1998, pp. 320-332.

    Week 14-15. Workshop. Presentation and discussion of project papers.

     

    Recommended readings:

    Arendt, H. The Human Condition. Bulg. edition 1997.
    Beck, U. 1986. Risikogesellschaft. Auf dem Weg in eine andere Moderne. Suhrkamp.
    Berger, P., Th. Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality. Bulg. edition 1996.
    Bertaux, D. 1997. Les recits de vie. Perspective ethnosociologique. Paris: Nathan.
    Bloch, Ì. 1995. "Memoire autobiograohique et memoire historique du passe eloigne." - Enquete, 2.
    Boehme, G. 1990. Lebensgestalt und Zeitgeschichte. - BIOS. Zeitschrift fuer Biographieforschung und Oral History, no. 2.
    Boehme, G. 1994. Sense and counter-sense. On the deconstruction of stories. - Studia Culturologica, 3.
    Bornat, J. 1989. Oral history as a social movement. - Oral History, 17, 2.
    Bude, H. 1985. Der Sozialforscher als Narrationsanimateur. Kritische Anmerkungen zu einer erzaehltheoretischen Fundierung der interpretativen Sozialforschung. - Koelner Zeitschrift fuer Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 37.
    Bochev, St. 1999. Belene. A Saga of Concentration-camp Bulgaria. Sofia: Bulgarian Science & Culture Fund.
    Butler, R. 1963. The life review: an interpretation of reminiscence in the aged. - Psychiatry, 26.
    Coleman, P. 1986. Ageing and Reminiscence Process: Social and Clinical Implications.
    Crapanzano, V. 1984. Life-Histories. - American Anthropologist, 86.
    Deyanova, L. (ed.) 1997. The Spirit of the Annales. Sofia: Kritika & Humanism.
    Deyanova, L. 2000. The Contours of Silence. Traumatic Places of the Collective Memory. Sofia: Kritika & Humanism.
    Finnegan, R. 1996. Oral Traditions and Verbal Arts. London: Routledge.
    Giddens, A. 1991. Modernity and Self-Identity. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    Huyssen, A. Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia. Routledge 1995.
    Halbwaks, M. Collective Memory. Bulg. edition 1996.
    Kohli, M. 1985. Die Institutionalisierung des Lebenslaufs. Historische Befunde und theoretische Argumente. - Koelner Zeitschrift fuer Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 37.
    Koller, H.-C. 1993. Biographie als rhetorisches Konstrukt. - BIOS. Zeitschrift fuer Biographieforschung und Oral History, no. 1
    Lachmann, R., A. Haverkamp, eds. 1993. Poetik und Hermeneutik 15. Memoria. Vergessen und Erinnern. Mßnchen: Fink.
    Nash, C. (ed.) Narrative in Culture. Routledge 1994 (1990).
    Nassehi, A. 1994. Die Form der Biographie. Theoretische Ueberlegungen zur Biographieforschung in methodologischer Absicht. - BIOS. Zeitschrift fuer Biographieforschung und Oral History, no. 1.
    Nora, Pierre. 1984-1993. Les lieux de memoire. Gallimard, Paris / I., La Republique, 1984; II. La Nation, 3 vol.1986; Les France, 3 vol.1993.
    Ong, W. Orality and Literacy. Routledge 1999 (1982).
    Perks, R. and A. Thomson (eds.) 1998. The Oral History Reader. London: Routledge.
    Rhiel, M. and D. Suchoff (eds.) The Seductions of Biography. Routledge 1996.
    Ricoeur, P. 1983 - 1985. Temps et Recit. T.I 1983, T.II 1984, T. III 1985. Seuil, Paris.
    Thompson, P. 1988. The Voice of the Past. Oral History. Oxford University Press.
    Thompson, P., C. Itzin, M. Abendstern. 1990. I Don't Feel Old. The Experience of Later Life. Oxford University Press.
    Vodenicharov, P., 1999. Language, Gender, Power. Blagoevgrad: South-west university press.
    Watson, R. (ed.) 1994. Memory, History and Opposition under State Socialism. Santa Fe, NJ: School of American Research Press.



   crc  .  syllabi collection  .  alumni syllabi  .  history  .