How Present is the Past? An Interview with my Roommate

During the process of interviewing my friend and roommate using the survey questions from Roy Rosenweig and David Thelen’s Presence of the Past, it became apparent that certain aspects of the interview were successful. My chosen co-narrator is someone that I have lived with for a year-and-a-half, and have known since we were both freshmen at Auburn University. This level of familiarity with my interview subject allowed for conversation to flow naturally between us, guided by the questions from the survey. However, our familiarity made it difficult for the process to remain professional, and we occasionally found ourselves straying from the assigned questions.

Facets of the interview process that I found to be less than successful were the questions that asked the subject to rank either how connected they felt to the past or how credible they thought certain sources were on a scale of one to ten. When answering the questions, my co-narrator would often respond with similar or the same numerical ranking for different subjects. However, when asked if she could explain further, her answers revealed that she felt markedly different toward subjects that she had ascribed the same or similar numerical rankings. Perhaps the questions could have been asked to the same effect without the numerical rankings.

This interview is the first time I have formally interviewed anyone. I think that my chosen subject was perfect to practice survey questions with, because our familiarity with one another allowed for our conversation to go beyond the assigned questions. This familiarity was distracting at times, but overall was an advantage to this interview process. I look forward to the opportunity to conduct interviews in the future, and will utilize what I learned during this process.

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