By Caitlin Tyler-Richards
Dearest readers, I am sorry to say that the time has come for me to say goodbye. I have had a wonderful time meeting you all, not to mention learning more than I ever thought I would know about the fantastic field of oral history. However, grant applications and comprehensive examinations are calling my name, so I must take a step back from tweeting, Facebooking, tumbling and Google plusing (sure, why not).
Fear not, we have found another to take my place: the esteemable and often bow-tie-wearing Andrew Shaffer. I chatted with him earlier this week and I already think he’ll make a wonderful Caitlin 2.0. (For instance, Andrew originally wanted to introduce himself with the lyrics from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Airtheme song. A+.)
* * * * *
So, Andrew, tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, Caitlin, I am a first year PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying gender and sexuality history in a modern US context. I’m originally from Illinois, but lived in San Francisco for three years before coming to Madison. There I received an MA in International Studies and worked at a non-profit that provides legal resources and policy analysis to immigrants and immigration advocates.
Do you have any interests outside of school?
Honestly? Not really… But when I’m not thinking about school, I sometimes read, go on walks, or explore all the exciting things Madison has to offer.
That’s a little sad. But since you love school so much, I bet you have exceptionally exciting research interests?
I’m really interested in the ways LGBT activists have responded to political and social changes, and how their efforts have impacted the everyday lives of LGBT communities. Because of the incredible diversity among LGBT communities, I use intersectional approaches to better understand how various segments of our community are affected, or even created by these changes.
Oh, awesome! Do you use oral history or interviews in your research?
Absolutely! I had the good fortune to take a class on oral history methods in college, and I fell in love with it right away. Since then, I’ve been involved with multiple oral history projects, and I think it is one of the best tools available to preserve a community’s memories. Because I study the very recent past, I’m lucky to be able to use interviews and oral histories extensively in my research.
You’ll fit in just fine here then — perhaps even better than I did. Speaking of, what are you looking forward to about this position?
I’m most looking forward to meeting and interacting with people who are using oral history to accomplish new and interesting things. The Oral History Review has featured some really great articles on things like using Google Glass for interviews, and using oral history to document the lives of people with schizophrenia. I’m excited to learn more about novel uses of oral history.
Thanks for noticing! I (and Troy) have worked hard to keep up with the latest trends in the field and to shine a spotlight on all the great work oral historians have been doing. Any concerns about taking over?
Definitely! Like most academic types, I find it easier to write 30 pages than 140 characters, but hopefully I’ll learn some brevity. You’ve done a really great job of preparing and sharing high quality posts through Oral History Review’s social media outlets, and I hope I can continue to provide an enjoyable experience for all of our followers!
I’m sure you’ll do great. Best of luck!
* * * * *
Andrew has already taken over all the social media platforms, so you should feel free to bombard him with questions at @oralhistreview, in the comments below or via the other 3 million social media accounts he now runs. He and I will also be at the upcoming annual meeting in October, so be sure to say hi — and goodbye.
Image credit: Cropped close-up of two hands passing a relay baton against a white background. © chaiyon021 via iStockphoto.