Storytelling meets Humanities, Elements Within–Part 4 of 7 – countdown to The Big Why

This is the fourth 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 – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – Cultural Studies – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Folklore/Folklife – TODAY
  • Part 5 – History
  • Part 6 – Languages/Linguistics
  • Part 7 – Philosophy/Ethics

Folklore is beliefs, customs, and stories of a community passed on orally from generation to generation. Folklife is the traditional patterns and behaviors for a particular community.

You bump into modern-day folklore all the time and can reflect on what that means for times past and for people around the world.

Consider these examples of folklore and folklife:

  • Poetry
  • Proverbs and Sayings
  • Songs and Music
  • Superstitions
  • Myths, Legends, and Epics
  • Folktales

Richard M. Dorson, author of Folklore and Folklife: An Introduction, taught that a folklorist needs to understand “literary uses of folklore,” explore “relationships of folklore to culture,” and finally delve into “historical validity of oral tradition.”

Many times, a storyteller could unintentionally place their modern-day meaning upon a story outside of their culture.

The Maori oral traditions have been analyzed by Western modes and contaminates the original intent for the past two decades. Joe Pere, a Tuhoe tribal scholar, said, “Our repositories are the people that we cling to; there is no deviation; whatever they’ve said, their word has been transmitted down to us.” He said that rather than specific techniques to drive the development of those repositories, they were a “sacred mission of transmitting information.” More of this can be explored in the book “Rethinking Oral History and Tradition” by Nepia Mahuika, published in 2019.

When not researched and developed in a proper manner, a storyteller is at risk of cultural misappropriation. The best blog series on this particular topic is by international storyteller Donna Washington with links to the following parts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five.

Now twist and turn some thinking to how that folklore can impact and influence the Western way of life. In “Africana Folklore: History and Challenges,” author Sw. Anand Prahlad said that “no other body of material has had more impact on the development of cultures in the western hemisphere than Africana folk traditions and, consequently, that this should lead to a highly developed field of study that complements other conventional academic areas.”

With “The Big Why Panel,” two of our panelists, Dr. Caroliese Frink Reed and Sheila Arnold, have degrees in African American studies and can confirm what Sw. Anand Prahlad stated.

So study what is “everyday” to you and the patterns that you hold important. Think of the stories that link to who you are as a person and how you heard those stories–from parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents.

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.

See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

3 thoughts on “Storytelling meets Humanities, Elements Within–Part 4 of 7 – countdown to The Big Why

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