"The authors have two goals. The first is to offer rich qualitative data about what occurs when rural students, in partnership with university students, work on extended projects with topics of their own choosing. The second is to argue that such self-chosen and directed projects—authentic literacy projects—can actually have an effect on rural outmigration and rural residents’ desire and ability to improve their own communities. Both goals are important and timely."—Kim Donehower, coauthor of Rural Literacies
"This is a book to treasure. Most compelling are the voices of students as they question their elders and friends in order to re-imagine and re-dedicate themselves to a place they thought they knew. Read this book, savor this book, use this book."—Eli Goldblatt, author of Writing Home: A Literacy Autobiography
"A rich, compelling example of community literacy partnerships, The Arkansas Delta Oral History Project details how college and high school writers can work together to investigate their communities, develop persuasive representations, and engage in local social action."—Robert Brooke, professor of English, University of Nebraska
In rural America, perhaps more than other areas, high school students have the ability to contribute to the revitalization and sustainability of their home communities by engaging in oral history projects designed to highlight the values that are revered and worth saving in their region. The Arkansas Delta Oral History Project, a multiyear collaboration between the University of Arkansas and several public high schools in small, rural Arkansas towns, gives students that opportunity. Through the project, trained University of Arkansas studentmentors work with high school students on in-depth writing projects that grow out of oral history interviews.
The Delta, a region where the religious roots of southern culture run deep and the traditions of cooking, farming, and hunting are passed from generation to generation, provides the ideal subject for oral history projects. In this detailed exploration of the project, the authors draw on theories of cultural studies and critical pedagogy of place to show how students’ work on religion, food, and race exemplifies the use of community literacy to revitalize a distressed economic region. Advancing the discussion of place-based education, The Arkansas Delta Oral History Project is both inspirational and instructive in offering a successful model of an authentic literacy program.
David A. Jolliffe is professor of English and the Brown Chair in English Literacy at the University
Christian Z. Goering is associate professor of English education at the University of Arkansas.
Krista Jones Oldham is a special collections librarian at Haverford College in Pennsylvania.
James A. Anderson Jr. is assistant professor of English education at Lander University in South
6 x 9, 296 pages