what is reading storytelling?
Storytelling has been part of my regular teaching for just over a decade, with a course by that same name and a Storytelling Festival every spring. Here's the latest iteration of the course description:
Fundamental principles of the art of storytelling including techniques of adaptation and presentation; content and sources of materials; methods of learning; practice in storytelling; planning the story hour for school and public libraries and other public information settings; and audio, video, and digital media. 3 undergraduate hours. 2 or 4 graduate hours.
I'm revitalizing this blog as a space to talk about a new topic, bit by bit, as I develop new post-tenure research directions, finally off the "clock." That topic is: reading storytelling.
By "reading storytelling," I mean several different but interrelated things.
First, I mean “reading” as in not just listening and hearing, but also recognizing story as story and teller as teller in the moment. This is the first step to thinking about narrative function in any situation. Stories flow so seamlessly in and out of our daily lives that it can be tricky to catch the beginning-middle-end structure. So, first and foremost, I mean to investigate how storytelling pops up in our daily lives, from formal to informal, from storytelling festivals to casual conversations. While "reading" may seem like an odd metaphor for this, I hope this metaphor emphasizes that we have to activate our senses to catch stories as they flow by. It's as though life were a Barthesian writerly text, and one has to be an active "reader" to identify storytelling.