Story-Centered Interviews: A Fresh Approach for Historians and Writers
A Workshop in 2 Parts: Thursday, Nov. 2 | Thursday, Nov. 9, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Leelanau Historical Society
Munnecke Room, 203 E. Cedar Street, Leland, Michigan 49654

What makes a great interview? Historians have traditionally treated oral interviews as sources of information. But what if we treated interviews not as ways to find out what people know, but to find out who people are?

In this workshop hosted by the Leelanau Museum, instead of treating interviews as sources of often-unreliable factual information, we’ll approach interviews as invaluable, even sacred opportunities for people to tell us the stories that explain who they are and the lives they have lived. We’ll put a priority upon humanistic and journalistic approaches over those of social science, focusing not on the “informant” but on the person. Instead of going into an interview with long lists of fact-soliciting questions, our preparation and practice will rely upon careful listening and the sympathetic pursuit of the stories people use to make sense of their lives. 

This workshop will have two parts:

Part 1 (Thursday, November 2): We’ll first outline what we mean by “a story,” as well as some practical ways to identify and elicit interesting and revealing stories. 

Part 2 (Thursday, November 9): We’ll then dive into the available techniques to record interviews, to produce high-quality recordings suitable for many different uses. We’ll demonstrate why you’ll want always to aim for broadcast-quality recording. We’ll also illuminate the differing demands of recording audio vs. video, and offer recommendations for equipment.
You’ll come out of the two-part workshop with useful examples of interview approaches, lists of recommended equipment — and, I hope, with a new approach to (and fresh enthusiasm toward) your future interviews. 

RSVP 231-256-7475 or [email protected].

DANIEL STEWART is a Leelanau County-based writer and historian. He has studied at Hampshire College and the Salt Center for Documentary Studies, and has a PhD in History from Temple University. He has published in academic journals and presented at conferences from Colorado Springs to London; has published essays and fiction in literary and historical publications including Dunes Review, Bear River Review and Fishtown Preservation; performs as a storyteller; and is currently finishing a memoir and a novel. He is a past president of Michigan Writers, Inc., and leads the consultancy History by Design, where he focuses upon coaching and workshops for personal narrative projects

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