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Jan 24 | OHMA Spring Open House

  • Columbia University, Knox Hall 509 606 West 122nd Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

Please join us for an Oral History M.A. program open house on Thursday, January 24, 2019, 6:30-8:30, 509 Knox Hall. Refreshments will be served.


  • Information session

  • Learn about our Future Voices Fellowship

  • Meet OHMA students and alums

  • Presentation by OHMA Alumni Carlin Zia

  • Mini-interviewing workshop, taught by OHMA Director Amy Starecheski

OHMA is the first program of its kind: a one-year interdisciplinary Master of Arts degree training students in oral history method and theory. Our graduates work in museums, historical societies, advocacy organizations, media, the arts, education, human rights, and development. OHMA is also excellent preparation for doctoral work in fields like anthropology, history, journalism, and American studies or professional degrees in law, education, or social work. 

Jointly run by the Columbia Center for Oral History Research, one of the preeminent oral history centers in the world, and INCITE, a lively hub for interdisciplinary research in the humanities and social sciences, OHMA connects students with the intellectual resources of a major research university, and with the intimate society of a small cohort of talented students.

During a year at OHMA, students learn the skills of digital audio and video production and editing, digital archiving, oral history project design and interviewing, and both historical and social science analysis. Working with an OHMA faculty member, each student is guided through the process of creating a thesis or capstone project. Past projects have taken the form of academic and creative essays, film and audio documentaries, performances, exhibits, and multimedia websites. OHMA students also have access to elective courses taught anywhere within the University and exclusive oral history internship opportunities.

Prospective students are also welcome to meet with the OHMA director or sit in on our classes leading up to the open house. Please send us an email ( to connect and plan your visit! 

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At this open house, Carlin Zia will present her OHMA thesis work. Carlin and her now-92-year-old Chinese-born grandfather started recording his life story over the phone in June 2016 and, in sharing and reflecting on his experience of, among other things, education, geopolitical conflict, (im)migration, and history, quickly developed the provisional title An Uncertain Journey. As she continued this work and excavated her understanding of (and position in) it, Carlin realized that she was on one of her own. The resulting thesis, Uncertain Journeys, is a self-reflexive epic poem in an invented form that explores and renders some Laundry List Big Ideas like race, class, geography, and assimilation, some specifically oral historical goodies like intersubjectivity and silence, and some sleepers like legacy and most of all love. In this presentation Carlin will share a few page spreads of transcription and/as poetry, discuss form, and reflect on process.

Carlin came to OHMA from a literature background, having graduated with distinction in English from Yale College. She brought with her a love of words and narrative and writing, and diversified her languages at Columbia to include more audio/visual mediums. (You can check out some of her work from OHMA’s fall 2017 semester Documentary & Visual Storytelling elective here and here.) Since finishing her OHMA coursework, Carlin has been supporting this year’s cohort as a Teaching Apprentice, and freelancing as a film editor and videographer for Facing Whiteness, a collaboration between Columbia’s Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) and the documentarian Whitney Dow, creator of the “Whiteness Project.”

Please review our admissions page for further information leading up to our priority deadline on Wednesday, March 1 and RSVP to our Eventbrite event page if you are able to join our open house.

We are looking forward to reviewing your applications and meeting you in person on the 24th!