Tell Tales and Signs: An Exploration of Methods of Historiographic Research and Representation
Elizabeth Ann Hunter
Thesis DT 3.5 1990 H945
vii, 76 leaves; 29 cm.
"Tell Tales and Signs" is an experiment in historiographical representation. The goal of this project is to present the theme of work in African-American history by focusing on the personal stories of African-American women two generations removed from slavery. Looking at both the nature of African-American women's autobiography and the traditional setting in which the life story is communicated, this project explores one way in which African-American history can be represented utilizing primary source materials and drawing upon traditional African-American systems of cultural expression (or what Roger Abrahams describes as the "poetics of [the]community") to inform the presentation of these materials. Through a unity of content, and form in addition to a recognition of the intentions of an autobiographer, one can make the "object" of research more active in the historiographical process.
This project began with the desire to produce a work of scholarship that is "accessible" to those outside of academia-to explore the relationship between scholarship, the acquisition of knowledge which is usually achieved through the study of texts and classroom exchange, and action or knowledge and being. I am neither questioning the power of scholarship, nor contending that scholarship and praxis are mutually exclusive. However, in utilizing different media to tell a history, I hope to challenge the effectiveness of traditional "book and classroom learning."
In brief, to achieve the goal of accessibility, I decided to one, present the material in such a manner that a large cross-section of people could experience it, two, use more direct sources to perform my research than the textbook, and three, use modern media technology to aid in the presentation of this material. "Tell Tales and Signs," therefore, consists of both a written discussion of scholarly debate around the issues of historiography and autobiography, and African-American studies, to name a few, and an audio-visual presentation of the life stories of five African-American women.