HC301H - Interviews, Field Notes, and Cognitive Mapping

Professor: Christopher Michlig

4.00 credits

  • CRN 15696: Monday & Wednesday, 2:00-3:20pm @ CHA 202

This course will begin by exploring the ubiquitous presence of interviews in our modern, globalized society. Interviews are encountered as media content through television, radio, social media, print media, and more. Interviews often serve as a primary method for information gathering in fields such as law enforcement, hiring, therapy, social research, journalism, and oral history. While the form and function of interviews have a history in the social sciences at both methodological and conceptual levels, in the context of cultural and literary studies, questions about the interview's nature often present it as a complex genre of its own.

In this course we will engage in three key research activities: conducting interviews, taking field notes, and creating cognitive maps. Each of these activities will be given equal emphasis. Conducting interviews will allow us to gather firsthand information and explore the dynamics of interviewer-interviewee interactions. Taking field notes will help us sketch, collage, and capture observational details and contextual insights that may not be evident in the interviews alone. Creating cognitive maps will enable us to visually organize and interpret the relationships between our environment and our perception and experience of it.

We will experience a wide range of textual and audiovisual content and raise practical questions. For instance, who had control over the editing process? What was the interviewee's level of participation? What were the intentions and boundaries of the interview? What stories are being told and how? 

The final project will consist of planning, conducting, and editing an interview into a final form, supplemented by field notes and cognitive maps. Through these activities, students will gain hands-on experience and critical insights into the power dynamics, ethical considerations, and narrative possibilities inherent various approaches to field work.