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2009 | 43 | 39-60

Article title

MEMOIR WRITING COMPETITIONS IN ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH (Kogumisvoistlused parimusliku ajaloo uurimises)


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Oral history traditionally involves the research of oral interviews. The article raises the question of how the starting points of research change when memories are not told in an oral interview but are presented in written form. Finnish oral history research tradition involves collecting material by means of open competitions, in the course of which voluntary contributors send their written memories to the archive. Relying on experience derived from the study of written texts, the author first analyses how both the 'situation of remembering' and the 'instrument' for recording memories affect the process of remembering. The article introduces two methods that permit the systematisation of heterogeneous text material obtained as a result of memoir writing competitions. Extended genre analysis gives the researcher an opportunity to describe literary features that are characteristic of the texts. The form that the writer has selected also provides clues about how to interpret the content and information about the writer's attitude towards his or her task. The article observes the multiple themes in the text by employing narrative analysis. Writing competitions are usually targeted at the general public. Contributions sent to the competition can be associated with different communities. Therefore the collected material can be quite sporadic, which is not characteristic of oral interview texts recorded in a community of researcher's choice. The texts of writing competitions enable researchers to determine the range of approaches and points of view rather than to study the beliefs of a specific community.


  • Jyrki Poysa, Finnish Literature Society SKS, Joensuu Folklore Archives, PL 111, Joensuu 80101, Suomi


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Publication order reference


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