591 Traditional Narrative and Storytelling Fall
As human beings, all of us tell and listen to stories. Often, we use words to tell about our own exploits, the deeds and misdeeds of family members, the strange and inexplicable adventures of others, and the journeys of some rather magical, once-upon-a-time characters. Sometimes we tell stories through things such as quilts and carvings and embroidery.
Whatever our medium, the aim is the same: to hook the audience and entice them into traveling along, into listening. As writer Susan Lowell reminds us, "Storytellers, like apostles, are fishers of men [and women]."
What is the call of stories? Why do we peer into the fireside and listen? How do storytellers succeed? What makes a good story? How can we use stories in our lives and in our life's calling? What happens when we truly listen to and experience living tales and traditions as they’re performed?
After all, during protests and revolutions, people have often used traditional materials to carry their messages. And, when individuals have reached for larger personal freedoms and fought to publicly express issues of their own racial, gendered, and sexual identities, they have often turned to telling their tales and singing their songs. What compelling ideas lie within performances of traditional tales? How have people used their stories to create a sense of self and a sense of place for themselves? How do people subvert, reject, transform the negative judgments they receive? In this course, we'll practice several ways of understanding what lies beneath the deceptively simple surface of traditional stories.
you'd like to read some this summer, here are books we'll be using for
-- Morgan, Kathryn. Children of Strangers.
(Family narratives of an African Am family from Virginia and Pennsylvania,
by a folklorist and family member)
To see my most recent syllabus, please go to my classweb site at <classweb.gmu.edu>
Photo: Vasalisa by Bilibin.