Oral History: theories and methods


Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:
1) Understand and analyze the most important theories, debates and key concepts of oral history and memory, with an interdisciplinary perspective;
2) Point out the key aspects of the relation between oral history methodologies, history and memory;
3) Construct the outlines of an oral history project;

4) Evaluate the significance of oral history projects;

5) Develop an independent and critical thinking approach to the subject of this course

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Catarina de Castro Laranjeiro


Weekly - Available soon

Total - 56

Teaching language



Available soon


Anderson, K. and Jack, D. <Learning to Listen.>In The Oral History Reader. Robert Perks and Alistair Thomson, eds. London: Routledge, 2003.
Hartog, F. (translated by Saskia Brown). Regimes of Historicity. Presentism and experiences of time. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015

Lowenthal, David. The Past is a Foreign Country - Revisited. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Morrissey, C. T. <On oral history interviewing> In Perks, Robert and Thompson, Alistair (ed). The Oral History Reader, London and New York: Routledge, 2003.
Portelli, A. <What Makes Oral History Different?> in Portelli. The Death of Luigi Trastulli. [also in Oral History Reader] Pozzi, P. <Oral History in Latin America,> Oral History Forum dhistoire orale 32 (2012)
Richie, D. A. <Setting up an Oral History Project>, Richie, Donald A, Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide, New York Oxford University Press, 2003

Teaching method

The course has a first seminar-style session with an overview of the conceptual framework of the relations between memory (individual, collective and social), history, historiography and the role of different agents in the construction of an official narrative. It will be followed by a period of in-class Q&A.
Each session of the course, with the exception of the first, will start with the discussion of the mandatory reading assignment, followed by a group debate. In every session case studies and practical exercises are the most important learning activities.
Student’s presentations are an important part of the “hands-on” approach and the in-class debate that is the ground root of this course.

Evaluation method

Método de Avaliação - 1. Student participation:(35%), 2. Oral presentation(30%), 3. Essay (35%)

Subject matter

1. Uses of memory: theoretical framework
History and memory. The public uses of history and memory.
2. What is oral history?
Oral History: definitions, theoretical debates, contemporary questions. The uses of oral narratives in public history. 3. Listening: a practical approach and methodological questions
The Interview: good practices.
Interpreting oral narratives: form and content.
4. Different Voices
The process of production of hegemonic memories. Other voices and different approaches.
5. The construction of an oral history project.
Memory and different communities: From local to global.


Programs where the course is taught: