This is the second of seven parts on disciplines/elements of Humanities that can be found in the Art of Storytelling. This is also a countdown to virtual “The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities” on Saturday, June 20, 2020 from 9:00am-10:30am MDT.
Storytelling meets Humanities, Elements Within:
- Part 1 – Archaeology – REVEALED
- Part 2 – Communication/Interpretation – TODAY
- Part 3 – Cultural Studies
- Part 4 – Folklore/Folklife
- Part 5 – History
- Part 6 – Languages/Linguistics
- Part 7 – Philosophy/Ethics
Communication can involve the Humanities as well as the Social Sciences. When focused on Humanities, communication involves one-on-one human interactions to as large as local, national, and international communities. Interpretation centers on the meanings that individuals and groups place on that communication no matter on the original intent.
Storytellers are constantly communicating through verbal and nonverbal ways. The audience, in return, shares nonverbal through far-off gazes and possibly remembering a different story or having the lips curl up in an attempt not to laugh. The verbal sometimes comes in the form of “encore” or “Your story reminded me of when….”
Usually, oral storytelling is a live in-person experience ranging from 20-30 audience members to as many as thousands at one time. Lately, storytelling has mainly been done virtually so as to be connected as human beings while adhering to the safety of others through health mandates.
Many storytellers and audience members are within a grief cycle–denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Wherever someone is in this grief cycle, the responses from that affected person has direct influence on their tone and attitude all types of communication. While there are many types of communication, usually we use verbal, nonverbal, written, and visual.
A storyteller, used to more verbal/nonverbal cues, has been forced to rely on the written word (in the form of use of chat boxes during a Zoom meeting) and visual (smart use of the Zoom screen).
Storytellers are used to receive nonverbal during the middle of a performance and verbal/sound through applause at the end.
People have had to find other ways to express gratitude or reflections during performances.
Some people struggle to make short and related comments using the chat box and interpret the interaction as rude. These people prefer to write a comment at the end, if they choose to write anything at all. Meanwhile, the storyteller is questioning if what they performed made any kind of impact.
Several storytelling colleagues have felt exhaustion and depression after performing through virtual means rather than the usual boost in energy and excitement from live and in-person performances.
Yet, the year 2020 is not the only year where people to adjust and debate on how best to interact with each other. What about when cell phones became mainstream? Texting? Can we go farther back in history? What about when we had the Gutenberg Press and the written word became common and was used beyond people connected with the clergy? And what of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics?
The Humanities allow us to study these interactions and see how we can improve how we communicate with each other.
Richard Emanuel, PhD, believed that of all the disciplines of Humanities, the most important one was Communication. He wished for college students to have “Fundamentals of Oral Communication” as part of general education curriculum and worried what will become of our current students if not offered.
People are more crude and rude than ever before, and he may not be far off in the wish. Now, he stated this in 2007 though this feels as relevant in 2020…or beyond, for that matter.
Interestingly, the Storytelling Masters offered at East Tennessee State University used to be housed in the Education Department and has switched to the Communications Department. While at Brigham Young University, I studied and received my Bachelors in Communications Marketing with deliberate means of linking to the art of oral storytelling.
Some teenagers reflected on how communication has changed for them since quarantine of this year. They made some fascinating discoveries that you can read here.
So take a look at the way you and others around you communicate and resulting interpretations. Be mindful and resilient.
We will be doing this 7-part Blog Series on Storytelling and connections with the Humanities as a countdown to our next adventure--join us on Saturday, June 20, 2020 from 9:00am-10:30am MDT from your computer- The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. Our panelists, as pictured above, are: Dr. Caroliese Frink Reed, Sheila Arnold, Darci Tucker, and Brian “Fox” Ellis. We are grateful to funding from Utah Humanities.