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Storytelling meets Humanities, Elements Within–Part 5 of 7 – countdown to The Big Why

This is the fifth 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:

History is the study of past events, which can involve people or things, though always involves people when linked with Humanities.

People argue whether or not to remember the past. Some say that if history is not acknowledged, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes and miss the successes. Others feel that history needs to be erased and remade into something more inspiring.

We have people asking to defund or abolish the police. While many agree that “reform” is the more positive approach, we can also look to what has happened in history when the same cries were made.

The rise of Nazis was caused by getting rid of the police and relying on self-regulation. While extreme when compared to current events, any history is possible to be repeated.

Meanwhile, there are mindsets and actions of racism within policing that causes harm, abuse, and sometimes death of innocents.

How does one weigh one historical account or event with another on how to choose what to do for the present that ultimately affects the future? History and what to do about that history has always been complex.

We do have the repeating battle in society on the supremacy of science. No matter what you believe in regards to climate change, this exchange of words–and sometimes blows–has been about many science-related research.

Receive a hint of this cycle through the article “On the Historical Relationship Between the Sciences and the Humanities: A Look at Popular Debates That Have Exemplified Cross-Disciplinary Tension” by Benjamin R. Cohen. He highlighted four moments in history: Huxley-Arnold debate of 1880s of “excommunicating” science from the humanities due to science’s coldness to emotions, science education reformation in the 1920s (Britain-based yet also America-influenced) on progressive education, the two-culture debate of the 1960s of scientists versus literary scholars, and science wars of “recent years,” which was close to the turn of the century.

People on both sides had valid points as well as the people we never heard that had a mixture of ideas as compared to a set view.

Storytellers who specialize in historical storytelling have what Brian “Fox” Ellis said, is a “warts and all” approach. He continued that there are many parts of history that are “white-washed.” Rarely is something all good or all bad. Sheila Arnold and Darci Tucker take care in giving voice to either silent ones–such as a maidservant–to a “villain”–such as a loyalist spy” to twist how we think of things. We are happy to have all three of these storytellers on our panel on June 20.

With such focus on big historical events, people could feel that their own lives–their personal history–is not worthy of attention.

From “Meaning Over Memory: Recasting the Teaching of Culture and History,” the author Peter N. Stearns said it was important to “look beneath the surface in historical analysis.” He continued, “Emphasis on ordinary people thus follows in part from a desire to provide key groups with an understanding of their own history and a valid sense of their own past identity and importance. It follows, also, however from a firm belief that ordinary people count in shaping society as a whole.”

Storytellers often choose the “everyday” people to share “then one day…” when the normal changed and there was no going back to what it used to be–for good or for ill. Many storytellers recognize the need to tell personal and family stories from the stage to show that one unique experience can be universal despite the differences in details.

So discover more than one side to any historical event or issue from individual and society standpoints. Choose to look beyond your instinctive view and be willing to listen to the silent or opposing voices.

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.

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