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Columbia University’s Oral History and Storytelling Workshop

Columbia University Oral History Master of the Arts (OHMA) invites you to our 2019-2020 workshop series on Oral History and Storytelling. All events are free and open to the public. Most events are videotaped and may also be viewed at a later time through OHMA’s Youtube channel.

All participants are welcome. If you need special accommodations, please contact Rebecca McGilveray at or (212) 854-4106.
When: Thursday, March 5, 2019

Where: Knox Hall 509, 606 W 122nd St, New York, NY 10027

Carlin Zia and her now-93-year-old Chinese-born grandfather started recording his life story over the phone in June 2016. In sharing and reflecting on his experience of, among other things, education, geopolitical conflict, (im)migration, and history, they quickly developed the provisional title An Uncertain Journey. As she continued this work and excavated her understanding of (and position in) it, Carlin realized that she was on one of her own. The resulting thesis, Uncertain Journeys, is a self-reflexive epic poem in an invented form that explores and renders some Laundry List Big Ideas like race, class, geography, and assimilation, some specifically oral historical goodies like intersubjectivity and silence, and some sleepers like legacy and most of all love. In this presentation Carlin will share her experiments in transcription and/as poetry, discuss form, and reflect on process.

Carlin Zia came to OHMA from a literature background, having graduated with distinction in English from Yale College. She brought with her a love of words and narrative and writing, and diversified her languages at Columbia to include more audio/visual mediums. (You can check out some of her work from OHMA’s fall 2017 semester Documentary & Visual Storytelling elective here and here.) Since finishing her OHMA coursework, Carlin has been supporting the 2018-19 and 2019-20 cohorts as a Teaching Assistant, freelancing as a film editor and videographer, and consulting on qualitative data collection and analytics with the Education for Persistence and Innovation Center at Teachers College. Her thesis, Uncertain Journeys, won the 2019 Jeffrey H. Brodsky Oral History Award, given to one student annually whose work makes an important contribution to knowledge and most exemplifies the rigor, creativity, and ethical integrity that OHMA teaches its students.

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