Klines to offer eight-day Oral History Class

“My father taught the elephant to pick my mother up by the head by first introducing a bowling ball. He was the elephant trainer in a small traveling circus and my mother was a run-away dancer who joined his act on the road. I came along a year later. And that’s how I came to spend my first five years of life in the nine-by-nine front compartment of an elephant trailer traveling with the circus,” began a story folklorists Michael and Carrie Kline recorded in their kitchen in Elkins. They will offer their fifth annual class in oral history gathering from the evening of May 29 and then from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 30 through June 6. “Listening for a Change: Oral History and Appalachian Heritage” will focus on the folklife and life stories of Randolph and Tucker county people.

The early bird registration period ends March 19. To register and see prices go online and visit and scroll down to June. For more information email or call 304-636-5444.

The course opens with supper at the Klines’ May 29 and daily for eight days. It consists of class discussions, listening exercises, a field trip to a local farm and visits with guest speakers. Students will work in teams to interview local residents about their lives. The class will broaden appreciation for the richness of local life by exploring the vibrancy of spoken lore and oral memory. Learn to document life stories and community experience through the art of deep listening. This is the real secret to successful interviewing. Learning to listen without judgment or an agenda of your own is an adventure that can change lives.

Michael and Carrie Kline, folklorists, audio producers, singers and guitar players, met through a mutual love of the spoken word and song. Their production company, Talking Across the Lines: Worldwide Conversations, has recorded individual narratives and interwoven community-wide perspectives into engaging, award-winning audio histories. The intent of these documentary efforts is to give voice to West Virginia wisdom, expressive arts and cultural history.

The Klines are experienced teachers of oral history and Appalachian heritage. They are seasoned audio producers and public folklorists. Their courses have attracted students from various backgrounds, including social workers and carpenters, educators, museum directors, bus drivers and life-long learners. Some students come to West Virginia especially for the class, while local students season the workshop with potent flavors of their own, and the mixes make for exciting discussions. In addition to seeking out local students, Michael and Carrie Kline are open to ideas for recording local people.

See and scroll down to May 29, email or call 304-636-5444 for further information.