That Something Else: Botkin, Portelli and Ellison on Democratic Pluralism and the Dialogical Encounter

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Lecture by Benji De La Piedra

This lecture will provide an introduction to the method, theory, and history of oral history, framing the Federal Writers' Project (Works Progress Administration, 1930s) as the movement's founding moment. It will then pivot to Ralph Ellison, who worked as an interviewer for the WPA before becoming a novelist. The talk will conclude with a discussion of how Ellison’s cultural theory of racial difference in American democracy is of great value to oral historians practicing in America today.

Benji de la Piedra (2014) is the 2016 winner of the first Jeffrey H. Brodsky Oral History Thesis Prize. Piedra's work not only illuminates the work of Ellison to point out the limits of white liberalism, but suggests new ways to broaden the frame of oral history to enter conversations around identity that are salient in our times.