Is It Important to Practice Storytelling Style Among Modern Students?

Teachers often give tasks on storytelling in the classroom. Types of storytelling methods depend on interaction, communication, gathering, and sharing information through writing with your reader. Practicing the storytelling genre helps to organize students’ thoughts, analyze life situations, and study peoples relationships.

Contrary to any other form of literature that requires only individual involvement, storytelling is the most popular way of sharing thoughts in the classroom. Reading short story literature as Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” or Ernest Hemingway’s “Cat in the Rain,” students can understand the extensive possibilities of this writing style and learn it themselves. When students read samples on this topic, they get the right idea of how to work with academic works and upgrade their writing skills. This sample from AnswerShark shows the student an example of proper writing and citing. At this writing service, you can get writing help and also find many samples on other different topics.

Storytelling as a New Literature Genre

The popularity of storytelling in modern society is an interesting phenomenon. As this genre has roots in the past, it implicates and reflects deeper processes that have occurred in contemporary Western cultures such as globalization, detachment, and the loss of stable communities. To explore and to understand the increasing demand for storytelling, from listening to podcasts to gathering at storytellers’ festivals, it is essential to look at its origins and history as a form of literature. Storytelling is rooted in such essential forms of literature as folklore and myths, and it gives a clue to understanding its popularity today.

Storytelling became a new trend over recent years: people gather to listen for a narrative told by storytellers who dedicate their profession to this form of art. Being multidisciplinary, this activity includes elements of performance, literature, theater, and many others. This format is rooted in the deep past, and it is interesting that it gains new actuality within modern times. To understand why storytelling has been popularized again, it is essential to look at its context, origin, as well as at the changes this genre has developed today.

Storytelling is an ancient genre which takes its start in folklore and myths. Folklore is, perhaps, the first form of narrative in human history as stories that are retold by various people to each other, absorbing elements from a different culture and constantly changing, producing new literary genres (Zipes). Interest in this form of literature appeared in the work of thinkers of Romanticism, who studied folk culture in combination with individual consciousness. With the rise of Eurocentrism, the study of narration has become a bridge to the understanding of archaic cultures and the development of anthropology. The first folklore studies were “from the beginning intimately associated with emergent Romantic nationalistic movements in which zealous scholar-patriots searched the folklore record of the past not just to see how people had lived in by-gone days-the principal interest of the antiquarians—but primarily to discover ‘historical’ models on which to reshape the present and build the future” (Wilson 819). Folklore is often considered to be a product of some natural human need to create and to communicate; although an individual comes and leaves the world alone, “we are born, we live, we die among others: we are, all of us, members of society. That universal duality, the unity in being of the personal and social, is, at its peak, made sensate in creative acts. Those acts are called, depending upon one’s presuppositions about social class, folklore or art” (Wilson 9). A myth is a form of folklore that was also developed to share information for educational and communicative purposes. “Myth is identifiable … by the extent it explicates and even founds the cultural understanding of a group” (Townsed 194). A myth helps to construct the community’s identity and “plays a special role in organizing culture” by reflecting social relationships in a society (194). It has occurred in various fields of art, but, according to Townsend, “that is not to say that these are the only context where we find myth. An obvious addition to the list would be the psyche of the man himself” (192). Sharing stories with others is a way to find understanding and to arrange a community over a set of actual problems. The feeling of loneliness and separation inspires people to make art that would allow them to reach each others’ intimate feelings. Folklore is also a way to explore and configure the world: “It is this human need to combine words, sounds, colors, shapes, and movements into aesthetically satisfying patterns that separates us most clearly from the rest of the animal kingdom and makes us most like God” (Wilson 13). Today, traditional folklore art has returned in the form of contemporary storytelling, recalling those essential human needs to feel a connection with one another and to create.

Contemporary storytelling is a complex field composed from various elements. It includes performance, literature, and sometimes musical and theatrical methods (Sobol 122). One of the examples of this format is Ted Talks, a project within which people share stories from their life on different topics. People try to share a message by describing their personal experience, from suffering from mental disorder to surviving political pursuit. Another famous example is the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast presented in the form of a radio program for the fictional town of Night Vale; it was created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, voiced by Cecil Baldwin, and published by Commonplace Books. The podcast comes out on the first and the fifteenth of every month and consists of “news, announcements and advertisements” of the town located in the desert somewhere in the Southwest of the United States. There are whole festivals of storytellers in the USA; they may tell traditional tales of their culture, recall their own memoirs, or share original texts (Sobol 127). In general, the traditional art of storytelling is characterized with a necessity to “learn and interact with all individuals in their immediate, native culture’s surroundings, which should include far more non-storytellers than other tellers” (Ryan 65). Authentic forms of storytelling are aimed at gaining community wholesomeness and celebrating the uniqueness of its narratives. Today it is also often used for its psychotherapeutic and pedagogic benefits. For example, teachers create classrooms where children learn through narratives; it helps them to develop various skills and to socialize (Rainville and Gordh 76-77). Parts of modern Western storytelling events are constructed in a way where there are a speaker and a silent audience: “The rationale for revival festivals, guilds, clubs, concerts, recordings and so on was that these drew attention to storytelling, raising its status as an art form. These were means to celebrate, teach and disseminate information and good practice” (Ryan 66). However, there are other formats where people are able to give feedback to the storyteller and contribute to their story as well. Consequently, storytelling is a form which implicates the purpose not only to distribute some information but to teach and to connect the teller’s message to practical lives of the listeners.

Such a format has exceptional traits that attract people by providing them with unique experiences. Storytelling is an experience which differs from more accustomed ways of perceiving stories, such as reading, as it constructs a unique atmosphere in which the story is perceived. The task of those who tell a story is to grasp the audience’s attention and dip listeners into the narrative, which can require a special setting and techniques. Therefore, storytelling requires a high level of attention to the details. Walter Benjamin had pessimistic views on the future of this form of art: “Less and less frequently do we encounter people with the ability to tell a tale properly. More and more often there is embarrassment all around when the wish to hear a story is expressed. It is as if something that seemed inalienable to us, the securest among our possessions, were taken from us: the ability to exchange experiences” (1). Benjamin saw the reason for the decay of storytelling in the devaluation of the direct experience; people become alienated from the events in their surroundings, do not communicate and share, achieve information from the detached emotionless mass media, and they become indifferent and amorphous (1-2). Telling the story, on the contrary, supposes a complete involvement of the listener which makes it a form of direct experience in which the subject can feel their engagement within the narrative and fulfillment emotionally and intellectually in order to improve their life. Perhaps, the growing popularization of this genre comes from an overall feeling of social isolation and detachment. Many social researchers today admit that society becomes more and more individualistic, producing the feeling of loneliness. Modern technologies, such as social media, make communication highly mediated, dividing people from each other drastically, declining the communities, and focusing on constant self-presentation (Franklin 344-347). According to Ram Singh, globalization forces people to study and work abroad and lose connection with their friends and families (110). “The lonely person constantly suffers from numerous tyrannies of life: (1) the tyranny of self… (2) the tyranny of things… (3) the tyranny of people… (4) the tyranny of goallessness …” (Singh 111). Storytelling is a format that allows people to gather, interact, communicate, and share, contrary to any other form of literature that requires only individual involvement. Taking into consideration the overall individualistic and alienating state of modern society, the rise in the popularity of storytelling as a genre is not surprising. As well as folklore, fables, epic poetry, myths, or other archaic forms of oral narratives, storytelling became an opportunity to mix entertainment with informativeness and connectedness. People seek connection with each other and arrange such a sharing activity to gather in a collective practice that would be unique and directly related to their experience.

Contemporary storytelling begins in the archaic forms of literature that were aimed at sharing and connecting. It is a complex and multidisciplinary genre which has elements not only from literature, but music, theater, and performance. Popularization arises due to the general state of loneliness and detachment which characterizes modern society. It provides people with the feeling of connection and gives them unique and direct collective experiences, gathering them together around some common question, story, or problem. Modern storytelling is still an unexplored field, and it opens up the possibility of a further study on human culture.

Works Cited

Benjamin, Walter. “The Storyteller: Reflections on the Works of Nikolai Leskov.” Slought Foundation, Slought Foundation, slought.org/files/downloads/events/SF_1331-Benjamin.pdf.
Franklin, Adrian S. “On Loneliness.” Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography, vol. 91, no. 4, 2009, pp. 343–354. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40405862.
Rainville, Kristin Nicole, and Bill Gordh. “Prekindergarten through Grade 1: Toward a Narrative Classroom: Storytelling, Media, and Literacy.” YC Young Children, vol. 71, no. 4, 2016, pp. 76–81. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/ycyoungchildren.71.4.76.
Ryan, Patrick. “The Storyteller in Context: Storyteller Identity and Storytelling Experience.” Storytelling, Self, Society, vol. 4, no. 2, 2008, pp. 64–87. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41949003.
Singh, Ram N. “Loneliness: Dynamics, Dimensions and Many Faces.” International Review of Modern Sociology, vol. 21, no. 1, 1991, pp. 109–120. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41420990.
Sobol, Joseph Daniel. “Contemporary Storytelling: Revived Traditional Art and Protean Social Agent.” Storytelling, Self, Society, vol. 4, no. 2, 2008, pp. 122–133. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41949006.
Townsend, Dabney W. “Myth and Meaning.” The Centennial Review, vol. 16, no. 2, 1972, pp. 192–202. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23738355
Wilson, William A. Herder, Folklore and Romantic Nationalism. The Journal of Popular Culture, 6: 819-835. 1973
Wilson, William A. The Marrow of Human Experience: Essays on Folklore by William A. Wilson. Edited by Jill Terry Rudy and Diane Call, University Press of Colorado, 2006. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt4cgkmk.
Zipes, Jack. The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales. 1st ed., Oxford University Press, USA, 2015.

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