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

This is the seventh 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 – REVEALED
  • Part 5 – History – REVEALED
  • Part 6 – Languages/Linguistics – REVEALED
  • Part 7 – Philosophy/Ethics – TODAY

Philosophy is the study of how humans as a whole and as individuals think of the fundamental truths of life in general and abstract ways. Ethics is governance of oneself or a people through decided moral principles to affect behavior.

While usually answering the questions of “Why am I here?” and “Where am I going?,” Philosophy can delve into thoughts specific to an art form such as storytelling and how we weigh its importance.

So here is a view that people can agree or disagree –

Storytelling is a parent art form, and all other arts flow from it.

The most memorable and powerful art connects to story in some way– whether a direct narrative or creation of memories that connect somehow to the experience. A favorite song. A moving movie. A dynamic dance. Think how story was part of those memories.

Sometimes, the children of storytelling forget to recognize the parent.

With Story Crossroads, we are pleased that the art of oral storytelling shapes and leads all other art forms featured on stage. We have had story musicians, story dancers, story visual artists. We prefer to call our performing artists as “story artists” rather than the traditional “storyteller.” This philosophy connects to Linguistics (see part 6).

When part of a music event, theatre gathering, or dance exposition, storytellers sometimes are swept aside or not featured in the same way as the musicians, actors, and dancers.

Our philosophy is that “story” is center stage and any other art form combined can enhance the overall experience. Though, we honor “pure” storytelling as powerful to engage audiences on its own.

People will have differing philosophies, and we welcome other views.

Knowing someone’s view does not mean we need to change ours. Though, it can help us find what we have in common so we can build from there.

At times, we can discover errors in our thinking and start over in our foundational thinking.

Now, add to those feelings on how to use technology. This ever-evolving and screen culture means we need to re-examine long-held philosophies.

Even in 2016, an article was dedicated to what seemed unthinkable of digital storytelling, oral storytelling, and the humanities. As there is storytelling and digital storytelling, there is also humanities and digital humanities. Technology has the perception of being emotion-less or “cold” when the arts and humanities have passions and actions that range from “warm” to “hot.” The piece is entitled “Digital storytelling: New opportunities for humanities scholarship and pedagogy” by John F. Barber with Ray Siemens (Reviewing Editor).

As for Ethics, the storytelling world would benefit from studying Bok’s Model created by Sissela Bok.

I studied Communications Marketing at Brigham Young University. During my Ethics class, the professor allowed me to do my paper on Storytelling Ethics and led to this discovery.

Steps for Bok’s Model:

1. Consult your conscience/gut feeling
2. Seek experts and people who have gone through similar circumstances
3. Discuss problem with those involved or could be affected, directly or indirectly

Samplings of Storytelling Topics that Require Ethical Decision-Making:

  • Copyright and Permissions
  • Credit to Sources
  • Offensive Story (anything has potential to be offensive)
  • Censorship of Story
  • Adaptations of Tale (personal, folktale, literary, etc.)
  • Proper Research of Tale
  • Telling Story Outside Your Culture

Back in 2009, I wrote a blog post that detailed how each of those storytelling topics would be like when using Bok’s Model. I was then approached in 2019 for this piece to be reproduced for “The Museletter,” a publication by Northeast Storytelling (NEST). Interestingly, there were hardly any edits I needed to make as this model is as relevant today as it was in 2009. Though, copyright and permissions have come center-staged as we record and live-stream. Digital releases are important to be respectful of the story producer as well as for the storyteller. We provide a free digital release template for anyone to adapt and other free resources here.

So ponder on how you justify or reason your actions. Consider how others determine their decision-making. Be respectful of how people believe while still communicating how you feel. Be brave.

We did 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.

Starting June 22, 2020, we will have a 9-part Blog Series called “Reawakenings & Reflections” to focus on each of the 9 days of the National Storytelling Network’s CONNECTED Virtual Conference & Festival.

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