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Building an Archive of Language, Identity, and Diaspora: The Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project

February 7 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Presented by Christa P. Whitney, Director of the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project.

How does one create an archive? What is oral history? What is informed consent? How can archival work be simultaneously reparative and generative? In this workshop, we’ll dig into the practical and theoretical aspects of creating a digital archive—specifically, an oral history archive about a language and culture with presence around the world: Yiddish. Christa P. Whitney will draw on her experience of traveling extensively and building a digital oral history—the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project—since 2010 to present key aspects, challenges, and delights of digital recording, digital archives, and the face-to-face relationship building that underpins it all. We’ll explore oral history theory, interviewing techniques, workflows, editing and curation, and much more.

This seminar is in conjunction with the screening of the film Ver Vet Bleybn? (“Who Will Remain?”) co-directed by Whitney, on February 7 at 7 p.m. in the UWM Union Theatre

Christa P. Whitney is the director of the Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project, a growing collection of more than 1,000 in-depth video interviews about Yiddish language and culture with people of all ages and backgrounds. Originally from Northern California, Christa discovered Yiddish while studying comparative literature at Smith. She has studied Yiddish language at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, the Workers Circle, and the Yiddish Book Center. For the past ten years, she has traveled near and far recording oral history interviews, while also managing a video archive and producing documentary films and web features about all aspects of Yiddish language and culture.

The film and seminar are presented by the UWM Stahl Center for Jewish Studies in partnership with Jewish Museum Milwaukee.

Co-sponsors are UWM Center for 21st Century Studies; departments of English, Film, Video, Animation & New Genres, Global Studies, and History; programs in Creative Writing, Film Studies,  Museum Studies, Russian and East European Studies; Honors College; and UWM Libraries.