Classical Studies
CLA 9-264-2010

Women in Antiquity


Oral Interview Project


Martha pounding yams for lunch

Nigerian Women Interviewed

 

Name

Status

Urban vs. Rural

Education

Age

1

Martha

Domestic Staff

Urban

Medium

33

2

Haggai

University Administrator

Urban

High

51

3

Ruth

High School Student

Rural/Urban

In progress

16

4

Zarau

Village: Widow

Rural

Low

70?

5

Martha B.

Village: Mother

Rural

Low

30

6

Hakuri

Village: Girl

Rural

In progress

15

7

Damaris

HIV+ Second wife

Rural/Urban

Medium

29

8

Racheal

Completing University Degree

Urban

High

33

9

Joy

HIV+ Divorce

Urban

Medium

21

10

Dorcus

University student

Urban

High

29

11

Thomas

Male Driver

Urban

Low

41

12

Mary

Bature Missionary

Urban

High

55

Interview questions

Glossary of Nigerian Terms

Photos of the women

More photos from Nigeria (Katrina Korb)

 

Name

Status

Urban vs. Rural

Education

Age

1

Dorothy

 

rural

high school

78

2

Emilina

married 2x

 

2 yrs prep. school

70

3

Sandy

married

   

62

4

Dorothy F.

married

 

M.Ed.

79

5

Cathy

married 2x

 

college

70

6

interview

married 2x

 

high school

87

7

Jeanette

married

 

college

82

8

Arlene

married

 

MA

82

9

Margie Lee

married

small town

college

76

 

Goals of the project

  • get to know a grandmother, aunt, or older woman (older than 60) and her experience growing up as a woman in an earlier era
  • Recognize similarities among women from different cultures, eras, and geographical locations
  • realize that individual women, even in a particular culture, experience the world in different ways and that they do not all share the same world view
  • begin to hypothesize the reasons for cultural patterns
  • recognize the importance of particular factors in a woman's life (e.g., education, positions of authority, legal rights, ownership of property, female-to-female relationships) in shaping their experience
Part 1: Preparing for an oral interview

Read quickly through 4-5 of the Nigerian women interviews above to get a sense of how interviews may have different emphases, evoke personal responses and anecdotes, and reveal different types of experiences, based on the personality, sense of decorum, and life story of the woman. Then read the interview questions and think about how you might phrase your own questions to get at this information and how might you follow up on these questions and develop a connection with the woman you plan to interview.

Part 2: Write up the interview

In 3-4 pages (single-spaced), type up a select transcript of the interview. Use both your notes and the recording to try to capture the flavor and highlights of the interview. Direct quotations and anecdotes are good ways to capture the personality of the women interviewed. Many interviews have an introduction that provide the background information and a hook to pull the reader in or an overview of what makes this person special. The rest of the interview can be organized by themes or chronologically or as the interview unfolded, whichever makes the most sense. Due: 2nd Friday

Part 3: Analysis of the Interviews

After reading all the Nigerian and American interviews, choose either the American women interviewed or the Nigerian women to analyze. First, what patterns do you see running through the interviews? These could emerge from basic demographic information, occupations, daily routines, special occasions, or values that the interviewees have toward their husbands, children, or women friends. Second, what reasons do you see for these patterns? How are these women's lives shaped by structures and values of their society? How do they resist (or not) those constraints? With whom do they bond and find support? What questions would you like to answer but don't have sufficient knowledge to answer. Due: Third Wednesday

As you review the patterns, be sure to think about these women's lives in context: who are family and friends? How does these women take part in the events of her family and friends? Some information you may wish to consider:

  • legal status (e.g. slave, freedwoman, freeborn)
  • class
  • ethnicity
  • age (child, adolescent, matron)
  • health
  • wealth
  • education
  • occupation
  • life cycle
  • family, relationship with natal
  • marital status (unmarried, married, divorced, widowed)
  • husband, children, and household slaves, relationship with
  • women to women relationships
  • women to men relationships
  • typical day (when and where)
  • public life
  • leadership
  • religion
  • ideal vs. reality

Bring your notes to class and be prepared to identify the patterns and reasons for the patterns. Be sure to document all your major points by quoting from the interviews and referring to theoretical perspectives that we have read or discussed in class.

Part 4: Letter to Woman Interviewed

As you interviewed an older woman and got to know her better, you undoubtedly discovered her interests, attitudes, and experiences as a woman growing up in the early to mid 20th century. You also asked her if there were any aspects of the lives of ancient women or 21st century Nigerian women that she wanted to know more about. In this stage of the project, it is time for you to respond to her with a long letter that answers her questions and responds to her interests, attitudes, and experiences.

In writing this letter (4-5 pages, double-spaced), it is important to have a clear outline of where the letter is going and a clear way of unifying what you are saying, all the while not being too formal or pedantic. Remember, this is a letter to someone you know and care about! Write it so that she will find it interesting, informative, and responsive to her life. By referencing her experiences, you can then segue into a discussion on the same topic as experienced by ancient women or by Nigerian women.

Part 5: Critique of the Project

Now that you have worked through the first four stages, it is time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the project. In 2-4 pages, think about how the interview went, what you learned from it, and how it might have been better. Then think about what you learned, finding similarities (and differences) in the lives of women from different eras, cultures, experiences, backgrounds, and geographical locations. Finally, re-examine the article by Amy Richlin, "The Ethnographer's Dilemma," and situate yourself within the various epistemological and attitudinal frameworks that she lists. Has your position changed since the beginning of the course? Why or why not? In short, why should someone study women in antiquity?

 

Maintained by: classical_studies@cornellcollege.edu Last Update: May 26, 2010 11:43 am

Professor John Gruber-Miller
CLA 9-264-2010
Women in Antiquity

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