This assignment is worth up to 40 points.
For the next several weeks we will model Anna Deveare Smith’s methodology as exemplified in Fires in the Mirror. The assignment is broken down into several steps. You will have 4 weeks to complete this assignment; complete each step weekly so you stay on track.
Week 7: Topic & Questions
choose a topic,
contact a person you want to interview about that topic,
develop interview questions.
Topic: For your topic, pick something that’s useful or meaningful to you. You can pick a topic that’s related to your Constructive Action, your business plan, a need in your community, your proposed future career, or anything that’s useful or interesting to you.
Questions: In our forum this week, post 5-10 well-crafted questions you want ask your interviewee. Questions should be open-ended (i.e. avoid “yes/no” questions). Remember, ask one question at a time to allow the subject to respond. Don’t avoid complex issues, but let your subject speak openly about the topic. Don’t lead the interviewee and avoid moralizing with your wording: stay as neutral as possible in your language.
For example, consider the difference between the following two questions:
1) Don’t you think that littering really makes our streets look ghetto?
2) Can you tell me a little bit more about what you think littering does to the sense of community here in our neighborhood?
The first question is a closed-ended question that is leading. Further, the term “ghetto” is a highly charged term that has a long history and means different things to different people. There’s very little the interviewee can do with the question, as it already assumes the person’s position on the issue.
The second question is open ended, invites the speaker to think about what the issue means to them, and asks them to contextualize the issue in a larger context, i.e. what “community” means to them. But the question is not overly complicated, and what the subject decides to respond to will indicate where their interests lie.
Please post your questions before you conduct your interviews so that you can get feedback on your interview questions.
Week 8: Conduct Interview
Plan to conduct your interview (30-45 minutes) this week. Make sure you schedule your interview ahead of time as everyone’s schedules are busy.
You must record this interview (video or audio). Emailing questions will not suffice for this assignment. (For a rationale about this requirement, please reread the Introduction to Fires in the Mirror.)
Week 9: Transcribe Interview
Begin transcribing your interview. Transcribing is a laborious process, so please carve out a chunk of time to complete this assignment on time and well. A 30 minute interview will probably take you at least 2 hours to transcribe.
Your transcript will be at least 3-4 pages. You don’t have to transcribe the “pleasantries” at the beginning of the interview; if your interview ends up being longer than anticipated, transcribe the sections you think are most important and/or interesting.
For help with formatting and transcribing your interview, please see the “Format for Transcribing Your Interview.”
Week 10: Transform Transcript into Monologue
You will create a monologue from the transcript. Reread the interview. Using your interviewee’s words, create a monologue. You don’t have to use all of their words. In fact, you shouldn’t. Use what you think are the most interesting parts. Look for anything that might also sound poetic. If you want an example, look back at the monologues from Fires in the Mirror. Smith created monologues based on the interviews she conducted. This is the creative part of the assignment. The only rule is that you use only the words and sentences of the person you interviewed.