Please note revised dates, which are highlighted in red.

Two-Day Oral History Workshops

Friday 27 May and Friday 17 June



Please register in advance on Ticketsource here

Join here for workshops on Teams 


CMNH is pleased to offer two bespoke oral history workshops led by Dr Lucy Newby, Visiting Research Fellow:

Workshop 1: ‘Unheard Voices?’ New Approaches to Critical Listening in Oral History Interviews

Dr Lucy Newby

Friday 27th May 1pm-3pm

Oral historians often explore what are described as ‘marginalised histories.’ They engage with experiences of the past that have gone largely unrecorded in the historical record, or which are subject to ongoing erasure in popular memory culture. But these forms of public erasure also have far-reaching consequences in the space of the interview. They affect not only what is spoken of the past (producing silence or uncertainty), but also what is in turn ‘heard’ and (mis)understood by the listener, and what makes its way into subsequent historical interpretation.

In this interactive workshop, we will explore new approaches to ‘critical listening’ in oral history interviews. This technique involves being more aware of our own presence and power in oral history conversations, and of the intersubjective distance between speaker and listener. We will explore the very different forms of listening that take may take place, both throughout the interview conversation, and once we turn off the recorder. We will consider the conditions of possibility created through our own lines of questioning and acts of interpretation, and how we might reflect these more explicitly in the written outcomes of our research.

The workshop would suit anyone (students, community practitioners, oral historians) with an interest in the themes of ‘listening’ and ‘power dynamics’ in oral history interviewing, and particularly those working with ‘marginalised voices’.

Content and timings for workshop 1:

13:00-13:10: Introduction

13:10-13:30: Approaching marginalised histories—what does this mean for memory?

13:30: (10 min break)

13:40-14:00: Critical listening: an introduction

14:00-14:20: Interactive task—re-design the interview guide

14:20: (10 min break)

14:30-14:50: Interactive task—interviewing with critical listening

14:50-15:00: Reflexive evaluation

15:00: End

Workshop 2: ‘Unsettling Conversations’: Navigating Difficult Subjects in Oral History Interviews

Dr Lucy Newby

Friday 17th June 1pm-3pm

Oral history interviews often require us to explore ‘difficult’ subjects. Whether we are researching large-scale historical events, community memories or intimate, personal stories, we are likely at some point to record an unsettling conversation. This might be because of silences surrounding the past produced without or within the space of the interview. It may be because a line of questioning has simply provoked unexpected emotions (fear, anger, distress). Or it may be because of the ‘intersubjective’ distance between speaker and listener.

In this interactive workshop, we will explore some of the complex issues associated with navigating difficult subjects in oral history interviews. We will consider the various contexts in which these may arise, and some of the techniques we can use to respond to them as interviewers. In particular, we will consider how we can be more reflexive at each stage of our research practice, and how political, ethical and personal considerations can shape our role in the interview and in subsequent interpretation.

The workshop will suit anyone (students/community practitioners/oral historians) with an interest in the themes of reflexivity, emotion, and relational practice in oral history interviews.

Content and timings for workshop 2:

13:00-13:10: Introduction

13:10-13:30: Difficult subjects—an introduction

13:30: (10 min break)

13:40-14:00: Tricky interview dynamics—and what to do about them

14:00-14:20: Interactive task—evaluate your own positionality

14:20: (10 min break)

14:30-14:50: Interactive task—reflexive interviewing

14:50-15:00: Reflections

15:00: End

Lucy Newby is a critical oral historian with a particular interest in the themes of power, hearing, and recognition in oral history interviews. She has conducted previous oral history research on the underexplored area of youth culture in conflict, and has written widely on the theory and practice of oral history—particularly the act of critical listening.

Contact Address: