Category: Series

Series: The Triad Narrative Identity and Anime Fandom

This blog and my research, is devoted to transformational storytelling. At the core transformational storytelling research is the simple question, “why people respond so strongly to stories?” If we can find these answers, we can create stories that teach, heal, call to social action, and transform lives.

One great way to explore the connection between humans and stories is to explore groups who have observable, passionate, and strong connections to a specific cannon of stories. Many such groups come to mind: novelists, folklorists, storytellers, and fans. Fans pose an especially interesting case because they so often adopt elements from stories and integrate them into daily life, in effect living out the stories they love. Is that not exactly what we are looking to investigate?

As I have discussed in another mini-series about storyworlds, there are many different ways we integrate elements of story into our personal identity narrative. This series is an in depth exploration of one small group of anime fans and a general look at the larger world of anime fandom.

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Series: Narrative Identity Introduction

This mini-series looks at how we integrate elements of stories into our personal identities, literally letting stories transform who we are. We look at the storyworlds that grow up around stories, narrative identity, and create a basic framework to analyze further.

If the goal of this blog is to explore research into transformational storytelling, then we must look a more than just the stories themselves. Human beings are social, and we interact with stories in social ways. We also incorporate elements of stories into our own identities. This mini-series introduces these ideas and lays out a bare-bones method for analyzing the social context by which we engage with stories and integrate bits of them into our identity.

I propose an analytic framework that lets us look at how people integrate pieces of stories and storyworlds into their personal identities. This is an important step if we want to understand why this works and how we can create transformational stories.

Let’s move past the scholar-speak and make it really simple for a moment.

A person (the actor) loves a story (any story). They take bits of that story (narrative resources) like a character’s trait, a turn of phrase, or a fashion choice and integrates the bits into their own performance (they use the phrase in everyday life). Someone else (the audience) see the actor performing this, connects it to the story and understands what the actor is trying to convey.

The research is pulled from my Master’s Thesis in Cultural Anthropology where I did an ethnographic study with a group of anime fans, but don’t get bogged down in the anime of it. A football game is a story. A band has a story. Televisions shows. All these things develop storyworlds through which we shape our personal identities and interact with others.

Series Contents

  1. Storyworlds
  2. Triad of Narrative Identity
  3. An Ethnographic Example

Series: Individual Differences, A Primer

Individual Differences in Education and Storytelling

As we march through a series on Educational Storytelling, it occurs to me that a basic understanding of Individual Learner Differences will be important. Everyone is different: we learn differently, enjoy different things, and respond to different elements in different ways. If we truly want to create stories that are transformational for a lot of people, we must learn to borrow theory and methods from those who teach diverse students every day.

Simply put: until we understand how people learn and learn differently, we can never craft stories that teach individuals effectively.

So, this short mini-series introduces concepts important to Individual Differences in Instruction and Storytelling. These short posts are meant to be foundational, just starting point toward topics like Differentiated Instruction, Intelligence, Learning Styles, Cognitive Development, and Multimodal Storytelling.

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Series: The Hero’s Journey

See Also: Chart Comparing Different Versions of the Hero’s Journey

If you ask any twenty people why they enjoy stories, you”™re likely to get a hundred answers. Another, closely related question: what is a story? Another hundred answers. From all that mess (with few exceptions) will arise some common themes about what stories are and why they drive us to spend so much time with fictional characters in made-up universes. The common elements of good stories: character, plot, setting.

We knew that. Characters doing things in a time and place. The way those elements are constructed, the dance they weave around each other, separates forgettable tales from timeless classics. There are other important elements: voice, tone, motifs, themes, and the rest. But these stand on the shoulders of our three basic pieces to every good story puzzle.

The Hero”™s Journey is one way to weave characters, plot, and setting. It is not the only way. It may not be the best way. The magic of the Hero’s Journey arises from its primality; its universal basicness. Joseph Campbell spent his lifetime investigating myths from all around the world, distilling patterns he found from all civilizations into some common principles. Carl Jung, a prominant psychologist, built upon this these patterns by likening this journey to facets found deep in the human psyche and cultural memories.  This isn”™t some kooky metaphysical idea, it”™s basic psychology.

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Series: The Basics of Educational Stories

My research is largely devoted to transformational storytelling. That can mean many things: stories for education, therapy, counseling, moral instruction, identity management, and on and on and on. What’s more, the concept of stories that transform lives (like everything else in scholardom) has the potential to be very esoteric, theoretical, and abstract. These facets of any research are important, but I do not which to do research for research sake. If transformational stories are to change lives there must be practical applications with models and methods for applying them.

To that end, I am beginning a new series entitled The Basics of Educational Storytelling. Largely derived from my master’s thesis, The Value and Principles of Educational Storytelling (which can be read here), this series hopes to lay the foundation for an educational storytelling model regardless of setting and medium.

Specifically, we will explore the value, history, theoretical foundation, and basic use cases for educational storytelling as well as common elements of engaging storytelling.

I will describe Five Guiding Principles and explore the differences between teaching social-oriented principles (values, identity, etc) and process-oriented principles (math, science, etc).

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