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Thirty Years of Field Work in 'Bloody Harlan' County

Sept. 30, 2013

black and white book cover showing a miner wearing a helmet.

The cover of Alessandro Portelli's book "They Say in Harlan County: An Oral History," published last year by Oxford University Press.


Historian, folklorist, activist and author Alessandro Portelli will present "Harlan County, Kentucky: Thirty Years of Field Work" Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Cal State Fullerton as the 2013 Hansen Lecture in Oral and Public History. The free, public talk is sponsored by CSUF's Center for Oral and Public History.


Tuesday, Oct. 8, 5:30 p.m.
Titan Student Union, Portola Pavilion
Cal State Fullerton, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, 92831


Portelli, professor of American Literature at the University of Rome-La Sapienza, is author of the 2012 book "They Say in Harlan County: An Oral History," which is based on his research into the heart of the Kentucky coal fields, its history and culture. He also is author of "The Order has Been Carried Out: History, Memory and Meaning of a Nazi Massacre in Rome" and "Battle of Valle Giulia: Oral History and the Art of Dialogue."


"Alessandro Portelli is an internationally renowned oral historian and folklorist," said Cora Granata, associate professor of history and associate director of the Center for Oral and Public History. "For decades he's done significant field work both in the United States and in Europe, and he plays a prominent role as a public historian advising political leaders in Italy. I decided to invite Portelli to come to our campus to speak because of the large impact his work has had on our students," she said.


Granata directs an oral history project and teaches a course by the same name: "From Hitler's Europe to the Golden State," and for both she trains students in oral history methods. "We then collect interviews with Europeans who experienced World War II in Europe and later migrated to California. For that class, all students read Portelli's groundbreaking oral history book, 'The Order Has Been Carried Out: History, Memory and Meaning of a Nazi Massacre in Rome.' "

Granata has organized a conference panel for the Oral History Association's annual meeting in Oklahoma City Oct. 9-13, where three CSUF students will present the results of their research from the oral history project. Portelli will serve as the panel's commentator.


The Hansen Lecture series was created by the University's Center for Oral and Public History in honor of Arthur A. Hansen, CSUF professor emeritus of history and retired center director.

More Info:

Kathy Frazee, 657-278-2941 

Media Contact:

Pamela McLaren, 657-278-4852 

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