The Media and the Art of Storytelling: A Look at Four Films

Dr. Colleen J. McElroy,
Dr. Michael Faucette
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The storyteller is almost a mythic figure - part philosopher, part artist, part magician - a cultural role that provides a link to the past and a bridge to the future. Ancient storytellers have been viewed as seers, as sages, as poets. In contemporary cultures, much has been lost of this tradition due in large part to the media's emphasis on the value of entertainment and the comedic vein. In truth, storytelling is an art form that is spontaneous and organic, spanning generations, creating an intimacy with the audience, and making visible the invisible. With a shift in tone of voice or a flick of the wrist and shadowplay of fingers, villains come to life and heroes come to the rescue. Storytellers invite listeners to participate and employ their imagination. Technological advances allow the media to bypass the imagination, and present a fully formed pre-fabricated vision in which the viewer can be a passive consumer. In claymation, the animated figures are expected to perform according to costume. In storytelling, the listener reponds to the storyteller's suggested scenerio by imagining unseen worlds and the characters that inhabit that space. Each listener takes on personal guardianship of that imagined world, which then becomes a part of their experience. While an animated film can seem dated, storytelling is timeless. The storyteller, like the sage, can incorporate with some immediacy, current social issues that effect both adults and children in the community.

Keywords: storytelling, language, culture
Stream: Art in Communities, Audiences, Meaning and Representation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Media and the Art of Storytelling, The

Dr. Colleen J. McElroy

Professor of English and Creative Writing, Creative Writing Program
Department of English
University of Washington
Seattle Washington, University of Washington


Dr. Colleen J. McElroy lives in Seattle Washington, and is on the Creative Writing faculty of the Department of English at the University of Washington where she has taught for the past thirty-five years. Author of 14 books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, McElroy also is a folklorist, and as a Fulbright Scholar and a Dupont Distinguished Scholar has researched the oral tradition in a number of countries, including Madagascar, Vietnam, Sardinia, Cuba, Morocco, the former Yugoslavia, and the Cook Islands. Her text, OVER THE LIP OF THE WORLD: AMONG THE STORYTELLERS OF MADAGASCAR was a 2001 finalist in the PEN-USA-West awards. She has also received an American Book Award for her collection of poems, QUEEN OF THE EBONY ISLES. In addition to receiving tqwo Fulbright Fellowships, she has also received two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Rockefeller Fellowship. She is currently editor-in-chief of the literary magazine, Seattle Review.

Dr. Michael Faucette

Lecturer, Humanities Division
Seattle Central Community College
Seattle Washington, Humanities Division


Dr. Michael Faucette teaches in the Division of Humanities of Seattle Central Community College. He has taught humanities, language, and literature in the United States and abroad. His languages are Italian, Spanish, and French - in addition to English. Faucette's interests include the oral tradition and astorytelling in forms as diverse as folktales and opera. He has received numerous awards including the University of Arkansas at Little Rock International Center and Rockefeller Foundation Travel Grant to Guadalajara, Mexico. His teaching awards include the 1992 University of Washington Excellence in Teaching Award, 2002 Who's Who Among America's Teachers, 2004 Who's Who Among America's Teachers, and 2005 Who's Who Among America's Teachers.

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