Oral History Essay, upon memory used on television

Hey everyone,

I am writing you with the fond news of my essay subject. In the beginning of January I will give Graham the pleasure of reading how memory is used on television. (If one of you wants to read it as well, I can send you a copy off course!)

First, I will introduce Oral History, as it is ‘a new kid on the block.’ Than I will expand upon the advantages and disadvantages of the use of Oral History. Next, I will dive into memory and ‘truth.’ To clarify this I will use one or two case studies as television programmes. My hazard is always that I get lost in the details, that I want to tell everything about the most minor things.

I will use memory, because to me, it is the most interesting part of oral history. The selective memory tells a lot about a person. What are the silences, what does someone remember and why? And especially with editing, the television is a medium that uses and abuses memory for the good and the worse.
Oral history gives insights into the daily life of people, makes history more social. But it is contested terrain because of the memory. Memory is not traceable, and sometimes not factual. Does this mean it is unusable for a historic research?

And to conclude, I agree with Christine. How I enjoyed the experience of producing an oral history interview as well! Thank you, Graham.


Concerns and Hopes in interviewing Peter Pearson

Dear reader,

this Thursday will be a big day to me, as it I will be conducting my first interview.
I will be interviewing Peter Pearson, who retired at the age of 54, finishing a great career within the army which took him to all parts of the world. At the moment he has a few honorary jobs, for instance as Lieutenant of the Tower of London. As he had a short, but very intense career, I hope to learn a lot about him, and his visions on a range of topics.

To start, I hope to hear how the life within the army is and as he was in Bosnia and Albania in the height of the battle in the end of the nineties, I hope to hear his visions of life on a mission. How this differs from the papers, but also how this affected his personal life. Firsthand interviews of the army nowadays could complement knowledge of the army that already exists. Furthermore, it could give a insight into a fairly closed off institution and hence giving insight into another community in society.

During the interview, I hope that I will be able to listen carefully and follow Peter’s pacing. If I am flexible to his answers, set challenging questions and probe where needed, I hope to be able to create a narrative interview and not a dialogue – which I am used to in daily life.

Furthermore, silence is important to generate time to think and draw out a further comment. I am concerned I can not maintain my silence. If I interrupt Peter, or frequently repeat what he just said, I will probably lose his trust hence not being able to get the truth I would have otherwise obtained.

In general, I hope to pick up on important topics indicated by Peter himself and grab opportunities given to deepen major themes. This will hopefully prevent the interview from wandering off into irrelevant topics or moments where I put out leading questions by accident. I hope this will get me behind stereotyped generalizations and into detailed memories.

Well, even considering my hopes and concerns, I look forward to this interview.


Interview Topic, Stephanie de Rooij

I am planning on interviewing Peter Pearson, Lieutenant-General who’s service took him to all parts of the world, including the Far East, the Middle East and Africa. He commanded units all the way up from a platoon of 30 men to a command of over 3,500. In 2010, after his retirement , he became the 145th Lieutenant of The Tower of London. Last year he was appointed Governor of the military knights of Windsor.

His short, but intense period in the army brought him to many places. Hiërarchie-wise, geographically and mentally. To me, he is like a living example of a dream career in the army; receiving quite a few honours and now residing on Windsor Castle.

I would like to ask him two things, firstly, I would like to hear how life on the contemporary front is. He was stationed in Hong Kong before and after it was given to China. He served during the upheavals in Bosnia and Yugoslavia, he has been an intelligence officer in Brunei, so I wonder what has changed in warfare in the last 30 years.
         What were the world influences, the end of the Cold War, the different areas where he served on warfare? 

Secondly, I want to dig into contemporary history. I think he has enough to say about life, about war from an army perspective. He is not an average citizen, neither a leader who’s voice will be heard in decades of time. I think he will tell the story of his community, of the life in the army; abroad with the army. It gives me the opportunity to hear about another generation and make contact with another part of society. And not only for me; by interviewing him I will give a window for others to see as well. Therefore, I would like to deepen his time in Bosnie, to give that part of history a social component. We all know what happened, but how was it being there, while it happened.