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.

Storytelling meets Humanities, Elements Within–Part 6 of 7 – countdown to The Big Why

This is the sixth 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 – TODAY
  • Part 7 – Philosophy/Ethics

Languages are verbal, written and/or visual ways for humans to communicate. Linguistics is exploring the unique aspects, nuances, and behaviors due to language expressed by humans.

Over 6,500 languages are spoken and used in the world today. Languages can come and go depending on how hard preservation and perpetuation is sought. Every language has a beauty and history to it. Though, you may be curious as to the 20 Most Spoken Languages in the World.

While we have offered American Sign Language interpretation since the beginning, there are at least 134 other sign languages. This blog post put together by Gemma Matheson compares several alphabet sign languages.

Story Crossroads has two storytelling academic series with one being called “Language of Story.” Each year, we have focused on a different language/culture and how it relates to oral storytelling. So far, we have explored American Sign Language (Dr. Dale H. Boam), Portuguese (Dr. De’bora Ferreira), German (Dr. Jeff Packer), and will do Hungarian in 2021 (Dr. Csenge Zalka).

As storytellers and story producers of events–or no matter your background–we encourage more than one language to be featured. Look into bilingual or multi-lingual opportunities. Reach out to foreign language teachers and have youth develop pieces. See who learned English as a second language and inspire people to tell stories in their first language. Be creative.

Linguistics is fairly new as a discipline, emerging more in the early 1900s. Yet, linguistics as always existed and has had influence over a society that impacts from economics to politics to education and with cultural studies.

The Storytelling Masters Program at East Tennessee State University has a class entitled “Storytelling Linguistics” that used to be known as “READ 5190” when housed under the Education Department. While taking this course, classmates posted different linguistic situations. Though this was back in 2009, I was “wrestling with words” on what to call what has now been deemed “Story Crossroads.”

I have Karl Behling to thank on permission to use “Story Crossroads,” his fantastic idea at our inaugural Community Planning Meeting in June 2014 with 28 community leaders ranging from education to civics to the arts.

We will eventually be called “World Story Crossroads” for once every four years with the “off” years being “Story Crossroads.”This is when we are more global as a 6-day event representing the 6 major continents.

Discover the debates on what words to use and reasoning here. Note that I decided that “World Story ______________” was definite at that time.

At the end of this piece, I also explained some history of words: practice, rehearsal, premiere, festival, exposition (expo), conference, venue, stage, slam, and fringe.

Through the University of Luxembourg, a study was published involving bilingual children and how their oral and literary competency improved through storytelling. Though, the best results were when oral storytelling was practiced at the nursery school and at home. While not using the word “linguistics,” the teacher basically told her students to draw upon “their entire linguistic repertoire.” Discover more at the article “Storytelling at home and at the nursery school: A study of bilingual children’s literacy practices” by Claudine Kirsch.

So discover another language. Understand how language has evolved. See how you feel when one word, phrase, or language compared to another. Choose to celebrate the differences and what unifies us in the language of story.

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.

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:

  • Part 1 – Archaeology – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Communication/Interpretation – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – Cultural Studies – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Folklore/Folklife – REVEALED
  • Part 5 – History – TODAY
  • Part 6 – Languages/Linguistics
  • Part 7 – Philosophy/Ethics

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.

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.

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

This is the third 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 – TODAY
  • Part 4 – Folklore/Folklife
  • Part 5 – History
  • Part 6 – Languages/Linguistics
  • Part 7 – Philosophy/Ethics

Cultural Studies is discovering how people find what it means to be human through art, literature, beliefs, and much more throughout the world. As such, cultural studies tend to build the need of social justice and equality.

By the 1960s, the world was more aware of itself in what was called “globalization.” More cultures, than ever before, were exposed to each other. Besides transportation and technology that made interactions easier, many social and civil rights movements occurred during this time. You can read more about this globalization within this book available online called “Lines of Narrative: Psychosocial Perspectives” and edited by Molly Andrews (Professor of Political Psychology) Amal Treacher, Shelley Day Sclater, and Corinne Squire in 2000.

A more recent article in 2015 called “The Science of Storytelling: Perspectives from Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, and the Humanities” labeled the 1990s as the “Decade of the Brain” of when more research and funding focused on mapping the brain and how it was affected by several factors including storytelling, films, and literature. Art naturally comes about from cultural views and expressions.

Although referencing literature rather than oral storytelling, Paul B. Armstrong, author of “How Literature Plays with the Brain,” said that neuroscience had the ability to share how “art changes human experience as it reorders our perceptions and engages our emotions.”

Storytellers must choose what they will NOT say when performing more so than what they ACTUALLY say. Storytellers do not have the time, nor the inclination, to reveal every fact or detail depending on if the story is based on true events or are fantasy-based yet informed by cultural views. Thus, story structure and word choice is how storytellers mold and present themes and cultures to other people.

There is a culture wheel image that is lovely at this article published through Medium. How many parts of culture do you find yourself, as a storyteller, telling about? Geography affects culture the most, though boundaries and lines are drawn and re-drawn every day. Sometimes, those lines feel nonexistent due to the Internet. Yet, after Geography, comes the beliefs, which can mean from a spiritual/religious standpoint to how people feel about sexuality or gender issues.

Most importantly, as we see with current events today, we have ethnicity and how we treat each other. During the Civil War, a new constitution was written for the Confederate States Constitution had strong language on the superiority of the white race. This was effective from March 11, 1861 until the end of the Civil War. Many would say that this feeling has been beneath our society even today. Why are there white supremacy groups today? What drives them?

Now, think of what drives the people that go on peaceful marches and talk of Black Lives Matter. What drives them?

Understanding how these ideas are formed create the story of our society. How do we have that “happily ever after” with feelings that are either constant or evolving?

Storytellers often choose one or more perspective in telling a story. The more perspectives shared, the greater the view and understanding no matter the disagreements or agreements.

So take a look at the many cultures that you participate in–whether by birth or what you have chosen along the way–and discover creative ways of thinking by learning from your culture as well as cultures around you.

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.