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Oral Narratives

Semester and Year FA 2014
Course Number WRTNG-UG1341
Section 001
Instructor Nancy Agabian
Days Mon
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Units 4.0
Level U
Foundation Requirement


In this workshop, we’ll explore how oral tradition – through performance, interviewing, and oral history – can inform the craft of written stories. From ancient epic poetry to the authors of This American Life , students will consider how storytelling has given way to printed narrative, and vice versa, as they first develop their own autobiographical monologues and then write the narratives of others. Through the reading of monologues, interviews, and oral histories in various formats (poetry, performance text, literary journalism, memoir, archive, theatre, video and film), students will consider the motives for placing spoken or spontaneous language down on the page to read as a permanent text. Journalistic interviews with a family or a community member will inform an assignment to write a profile, as students determine how to best represent their own voice alongside the speech of their subject. We'll also use oral history methodology to collect the accounts of a small group of people; students will then use transcriptions of their interviews to inform a historical piece in a genre (or mixed genre) of their choice: poetry, nonfiction, or performance text.

Course Type

Advanced Writing Courses (WRTNG-UG)

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New York University
Gallatin School of Individualized Study
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