Benji de la Piedra Awarded Oral History Thesis Prize

Editor's note:

This piece was originally published by the Oral History Master of Arts program at Columbia University.

September 26, 2016

Benji de la Piedra has been awarded the 2016 Jeffrey H. Brodsky Oral History Thesis Prize for his thesis "That Something Else’’: Botkin, Portelli and Ellison on Democratic Pluralism and the Dialogical Encounter.

The selection committee offered the following remarks about de la Piedra's thesis on Ralph Ellison and the Federal Writers’ Project:

Benji de la Piedra (2014) drew upon his studies in literature, sociology, and history to create an interdisciplinary thesis that is grounded in fiction and history. His work not only illuminates the work of Ellison to point out the limits of white liberalism, but suggests new ways to broaden the frame of oral history to enter conversations around identity that are salient in our times.

This thesis exemplifies the great potential of oral history to contribute to national and political dialogues about identity, much in the same way that Jeff Brodsky’s thesis did.

Benji de la Piedra explains an interview legal release with Jean Gordon, former member of the Little Rock School Board and founder of the Arkansas chapter of Women's Action for New Directions. Credit: Sebi Harrigan-Labarca
Benji de la Piedra explains an interview legal release. Credit: Sebi Harrigan-Labarca

The Jeffrey H. Brodsky Oral History Thesis Prize is given to one student annually whose thesis makes an important contribution to knowledge and most exemplifies the rigor, creativity, and ethical integrity we teach our students. We are pleased to recognize Benji de la Piedra’s contributions to advancing the field of oral history.