Talking film with the Oral History Collective

We’ve been getting into movies lately…

Our Alison Atkinson-Phillips has been working with Leeds University to plan the Post-Work Mini Film Season (see bottom of the page for event listing) on behalf of Newcastle’s Labour & Society research group. The films shown explore the way ‘work’ has changed and the impact of deindustrialisation and neoliberalism.

In May, our regular Seminar Series is kicking off with a visit from Steve Humphries of Testimony Films on Tuesday 9 May. Although best known as a film-maker, Humphries is possibly one of the most prolific oral historians in the UK, basing his documentaries on detailed interviews with his sources.

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Reflecting on ‘Voices from the Picket Line’ Vox Pops

You may have heard that some UK universities, including Newcastle, are involved in a pensions dispute (see https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/newcastle-durham-university-strikes-begin-14323108 for just one of the Chronicle articles on this issue).

As oral historians, we are always interested in hearing people’s voices–literally as well as figuratively. We knew that the experience of 14 days of striking had been a significant one for many other those involved–we knew through our own informal conversations, through Twitter posts (see the #USSstrikes hashtag for some of this), and indeed through our own varied experiences. But when we decided, on Monday 12 March, that we would take our recording equipment the next day’s picket, we had no idea what was about to happen.

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Introducing our second Research Associate, Alison Atkinson-Phillips

Photo of Alison Atkinson-PhillipsAlison Atkinson-Phillips has joined Oral History @ Newcastle as our second Research Associate. Alison has come to oral history via public history, cultural studies, community development and a non-academic career in communications. Alison’s Twitter profile (@dralia_p) describes her as a ‘writer, researcher, renovator and procrastinator’. But with the renovations left behind in Bassendean (Western Australia) she is hoping she will have time for her other three favourite things.*

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Reflecting on a Life in Progress and the Stories of Oral History

Public Lecture All welcome. Admission free.
Register here

Launch of the Oral History Collective and Unit @ Newcastle
Wednesday 10 January, 5.30 pm
Curtis Auditorium, Herschel Building,
Newcastle University

Professor Alessandro Portelli
Professor of American Literature Sapienza, University of Rome
Alessandro Portelli has played a leading role in transforming oral history. Through a number of key studies, he has promoted an appreciation of oral history as a literary genre that throws light on the significance of subjectivity in history. By interpreting the themes and structures of eyewitness testimony, Portelli has consistently demonstrated new ways of understanding memory. In this lecture Portelli reflects on his work to date, illustrating his intellectual journey with reference to the stories of the personal, and the historical, victories and defeats that have inspired his critical contribution.

Being Human – Paths Across Waters: lost stories of Tyneside and the Caribbean’ Exhibition

When Dr Emma Coffield (Arts & Culture) and Vanessa Mongey (History, Classics and Archaeology at Newcastle UNiversity) heard about this year’s theme for the Being Human Festival  ‘Lost and Found,’ they knew that it was the perfect opportunity for working together. They set up an interactive exhibition ‘Paths Across Waters: lost stories of Tyneside and the Caribbean’ that charts the connections between the two regions at the Old Low Light Heritage Centre, Fish Quay, North Shields The exhibit aims to raise awareness of Tyneside’s international heritage and ask questions about the memories, objects and understanding of this history in the North East. Included in the exhibition is a storytelling booth designed by John Bowers, creating a live soundscape called Passages that explores people’s responses to the sea and to the paths of migration which connect the North East of England with the rest of the world.
The exhibition runs 9 – 26 November, 10am-5pm. Free entry and event series 17-25 November as part of the Being Human festival. A £2 entry fee will be in operation at other times.

Ben Houston’s on his oral history and photograhic exhibition:

Ben Houston, a member of the the Newcastle University Oral History Collective has a new exhibition opening at the Great North Museum on 7th October. The exhibition depicts elements of race relations and the civil rights struggle in Pittsburgh, USA, by combining the oral histories of black Pittsburghers (recorded by the Remembering African American Pittsburgh oral history project at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy) with historic photos from the world-class Charles “Teenie” Harris Archive held by the Carnegie Museum of Art.

We also feature Ben in the first of a number of occasional podcasts from Newcastle’s Oral History Collective.  Listen at: The Lug Podcast #1. You can also listen to an extract of one of the interviews from the exhibition. Here Sala Udin offers an overview of the key themes of the exhibition.

By using Pittsburgh as a case-study, this exhibition embodies one of the central messages of Dr Martin Luther King’s speech: that racism looms over our world and yet the thirst for freedom and dignity remains unquenchable.

The exhibition runs in parallel with the “Teenie Harris Photographs: In Their Own Voice” exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh which takes place from 29 July 2017 – 28 February 2018.

Poster Image: Charles “Teenie” Harris
American, 1908–1998
Elderly woman holding Pittsburgh Courier newspaper with headline reading “Reverend King Freed: Albany Tense” seated in armchair, July 1962
Black and white: Kodak Safety Film
H: 5 in. x W: 4 in. (12.70 x 10.20 cm)
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh: Heinz Family Fund, 2001.35.7018 © Carnegie Museum of Art, Charles “Teenie” Harris Archive


Our second researcher post – now advertised

Here below is the formal advert. But please go the University jobs website and search: work and After.

B89202R – Research Associate (Work and After)

School of History, Classics & Archaeology
Research Associate
Grade: F27 Vacancy Ref: B89202R

CLOSING DATE 23 October 2017

The University continues to build on in its commitment to oral history and has recently appointed a new Professor of Oral History. We are seeking applications for a post created to support the new Professor and to contribute to a growing programme of research relating to oral history. The post will include recording life history interviews that will provide new contexts to our understanding of memories of work, with specific attention to engineering in the first instance, as well as generating oral history data about the history employment, deindustrialisation and attempted regeneration in the North East of England since the Second World War. In addition, the project will investigate the relationship between visual representations of the past and memory. The successful applicant would also participate in the oral history unit’s other initiatives, including digital technologies and linking to oral historians beyond the university. The post is suitable to applicants skilled in oral history.

Main Duties and Responsibilities
1. To undertake literature reviews
2. To collect and analyse oral histories
3. To prepare oral history materials for archiving
4. To contribute to writing for publications
5. To contribute to preparation of funding applications
6. To contribute to the project’s public engagement agenda
7. To present results as required at local, national or international conferences
8. To engage with relevant stakeholders, including working with at least one community group in the region
9. To attend meetings and other events as appropriate
10. To identify, in collaboration with senior staff, and undertake a programme of professional development, including further training in oral history theories and methods and other transferable skills
11. To contribute to activities associated with the running and administration of the unit, or perform other duties, as required by the unit’s Director

Research Role Profile
As part of our commitment to career development for research staff, the University has developed 3 levels of research role profiles. These profiles set out firstly the generic competences and responsibilities expected of role holders at each level and secondly the general qualifications and experiences needed for entry at a particular level. It is unlikely that any single member of staff will be applying all these competences at any one time but he or she would be expected to display most of them over a period of time. Please follow this link to our Research Role Profiles

Newcastle University Oral History Collective
The successful applicant will join a rapidly growing and dynamic group of highly interdisciplinary researchers who are using oral history methods at Newcastle University. The wider grouping  includes colleagues from History, English, Archaeology, Media, Culture and Heritage, the Unit of Health and Society, the Business School, the Centre for Rural Economy, Geography and Education, Communication and Language Sciences. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to help build on Newcastle’s strengths in relation to oral history and to respond to some of the most important questions arising from the uses of oral history. This includes addressing questions relating to individual and collective memory, the relationship of oral history to biography and history, representativeness and generalisability, intersubjectivity, orality, social identity, and memory and ageing. We are also interested in the challenges of digital archiving, making collections accessible and reuse, and innovative uses of oral histories in communicating history to the wider public.
Oral history in Newcastle is in a particularly exciting phase of development. The University has made a substantial investment in oral history. As well as a Chair in Oral History, there is funding for two three-year Research Associate posts. This core team, based in History, will form a research focus not only for the wider University grouping, but with at least one community oral history organisation in the North East.
This Research Associate post is a newly created position to work with the Professor of Oral History, appointed in 2017, and a second Research Associate. The post holder will work both with the new Professor and with other staff on issues relating to oral history collection, analysis, archiving and dissemination. More specifically, the post holder will research the history of employment after 1945 using oral histories along with visual sources. Particular attention will be paid to engineering in North-East England. This post will be attractive to individuals who already have an interest and track record in research relating to oral history and the history of work, deindustrialisation and/or regeneration. Excellent knowledge and experience of oral history research designs, including archiving, is preferred. However, the post is open to candidates with proven strengths in oral history more generally.

Person Specification
Knowledge (including qualifications)
Essential

  • PhD in a relevant discipline
  • Undergraduate degree in a relevant subject
  • History of employment in post-1945 Britain

Skills (professional, technical, managerial, practical)
Essential

  • Excellent (written and verbal) communication skills
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality
  • Ability to work flexibly and co-operatively with others, but also to work independently
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • IT literate
  • Ability to prioritise key tasks
  • Ability to meet deadlines and to manage conflicting priorities
  • Innovative and flexible in approach
  • Ability to present results of analyses
  • Success in writing research papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals

Experience and Achievements
Essential

  • Experience in history of engineering or science or history of medicine, labour history or business history
  • Experience of oral history collection and analysis
  • Experience of carrying out research within agreed timelines, meeting project milestones and producing work to an appropriate standard
  • Experience of contributing to funding applications
  • Experience of collaborating with third sector and non-academic stakeholders

Desirable

  • Experience of using oral history in public history settings including in on-line and in museums
  • Experience in video oral history
  • Experience of using visual historical sources
  • Experience of working in social media
  • Experience in using oral history in relation to other data types
  • Experience of methods of co-production addressing questions of shared and sharing authority
  • Experience of archiving oral histories, especially born digital collections
  • Experience of developments in reusing oral histories
  • Experience of analytical (qualitative) and web page software
  • Success in securing funding for research