Five Minutes With Studs Terkel

"Five Minutes With Studs Terkel," presented by the Loyola University Department of Communication. An edited piece that explores Terkel's thoughts on oral history and the country's inclination to forget the past.

00:00Copy video clip URL Tape begins with a black screen leading into a ten second countdown.

00:13Copy video clip URL The video begins with an introduction compiled from a number of archival pictures of Studs Terkel.

00:43Copy video clip URL The interview begins with a tight close-up of Terkel talking about the benefit of having both book smarts and street smarts. “I like the combination of the book and the street both. The fusion of both. The street alone as knowledge won’t do it, because there’s a great wisdom imparted down through the ages in knowledge. We should be aware of that and have that with us as part of our arsenal for living. I hate the word arsenal. It’s war-like, part of our baggage for living.”

01:05Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel how he began collecting oral histories. Terkel responds, “I think it’s an oral journalist is what I am. Historian is more scholarly in nature, and, just curiosity about what makes the human species tick.” Terkel goes on to say that he seeks out ordinary people for his interviews. “Individuals are those I seek out. The individuals are ‘ordinary people,’ so-called, but every person, every ordinary person has extraordinary possibilities.”

01:42Copy video clip URL Terkel tells a story about a blue-collar factory worker and an academic stiff. He compares the two to each other by analyzing both of their morning routines. Terkel emphasizes the fact that good stories are all about details. To illustrate the story being told, the videomaker combines short clips of some of the story elements while Terkel speaks about the two individuals.

03:38Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Terkel to talk about the “national loss of historical memory,” a term that was coined by Terkel in his book The Great Divide. Terkel responds to the question by describing what he means by the term in great detail. “The loss of memory. A lack of sense of history. Something I call a ‘collective Alzheimer’s disease.’ … History’s one of the most important courses of all. I mean true history. History that deals with those non-celebrities I was talking about, not just the presidents and generals who are memorialized in the books, but how about those anonymous ones, who made everything go.” This lasts for the remainder of the video.

05:42Copy video clip URL The credits roll and the video ends.



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