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The Art of the Interview

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Columbia University, Knox Hall

606 West 122nd Street

New York, NY 10027

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This is a workshop for those interested in exploring some of the potential literary uses and inherent literary qualities of oral history. Situated on the border between fiction and nonfiction, the oral history interview asks to be held to a high literary standard. Participants will be introduced to interviewing techniques that tend to lead to rich, anecdotal testimony. We will focus on how certain dynamic elements of fiction-- the use of language that appeals to the senses, the use of dialogue, the development of characters, the rendering of scenes– can be successfully incorporated into the oral history interview. Participants will complete in-class writing assignments and will have an opportunity to conduct in-class interviews.


Gerry Albarelli is author of Teacha! Stories from a Yeshiva (Glad Day Books, 2001), chronicling his experience as a non-Jew teaching English as a second language to Yiddish-speaking Hasidic boys at a yeshiva in Brooklyn. He has published essays, poems and stories in numerous anthologies and reviews, including Acoma, The Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories, Global City Review, The Breast, and Fairleigh Dickinson Review. Albarelli has worked on numerous oral history projects for the Columbia Center for Oral History and has taught courses that explore literary uses of oral history in the Columbia Oral History Masters Program.

*For our oral history workshops, please pay what you can. We suggest $25 for students, recent graduates, or others who are financially constrained, while we suggest that professionals and those with more resources should pay more. All profits from these events go towards our annual merit scholarship for an OHMA students.

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Columbia University, Knox Hall

606 West 122nd Street

New York, NY 10027

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