Expected and Unexpected


With the end of summer naturally comes the time for some part-critical, part-rose-tinted-and-sentimental reflection. What have I done the past few months, from the planned to the completely unexpected? As it so happens, oral history falls into both categories for me this time around.

This summer is an important stepping stone in the documentary-making process — we move from doing and processing interviews to considering the larger narrative that we want to tell. Our team’s summer assignment was to read all the transcripts we’d amassed and pick out all the explanatory, moving, or otherwise noteworthy stories. This is something that I’ve done every summer since becoming a WILL intern, and I always enjoy this activity, but I have to say I relished this year’s story picking rounds especially, since I have been (and will continue to be) so involved in this project.

That was the totally planned part of my summer oral history involvement. What I didn’t expect was how much this project has inspired me to pursue outside research on the topic of the right to marry, defining marriage in general, and related subjects like women’s rights, gay rights, and sexuality. (“Pursue outside research” is a fancy way of saying that I decided to read some really great books on these subjects. It’s really not as studious as it sounds.) Many of these topics are ones that I’ve been interested in for a long time, and some are ones I have a very personal interest in, but I’d never before felt like I’d done much honest-to-God reading on this stuff. The bonus is that I actually had tons of fun with this, as I ended up really getting sucked into learning more about certain things. I really am much more confident now going into this next year, and it’s a very powerful feeling.


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