The gift of storytelling may be one of life's most powerful—and envied—skills. A story well told can make us laugh, weep, swell with pride, or rise with indignation. A story poorly told can be not just boring or uncomfortable, but positively painful to experience. Humans seem to be fundamentally hard-wired for stories—they’re how we record both the monumental events of life and the small, everyday moments.
The oral storytelling tradition is as old as language itself. Throughout history, stories have primarily existed in the verbal realm, preserving and passing knowledge across generations before being canonized in print. This was true of the ancient epics, and it’s true today. Your family history, your company’s history, the stories you tell that define and shape your identity—these are all stored in your mind and shared through your actions and words.
And being a gifted storyteller has its advantages: A well-crafted narrative can keep the people, values, and life lessons you hold dear alive and give you the power to influence your children, your employees, and others.
There are many reasons we relate and respond to stories. We’re often drawn to:
- what or whom the story represents;
- how the story reflects a core part of who we are (or who we want to be); and
- what the story could be—because we don’t like the reality of what the story is.
Format: DVD | 24 lectures | 31 minutes per lecture
Your Professor: Ph.D. Hannah B. Harvey
Dr. Hannah B. Harvey is an award-winning professor, an internationally recognized performer, and a nationally known professional storyteller. She earned her Ph.D. in Performance Studies/Communication Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was also a teaching fellow. While teaching at Kennesaw State University, she received an Honors Program Distinguished Teacher award and an Alumni Association Commendation for Teaching Impact. As a performance ethnographer, Professor Harvey develops oral histories into theatrical and solo storytelling works that highlight the true stories of contemporary Appalachian people. Her ongoing fieldwork with disabled coal miners in southwest Virginia culminated in a live ethnographic performance of their oral histories, Out of the Dark: The Oral Histories of Appalachian Coal Miners, earning her a directing award from adjudicators at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in 2007 and three year-end awards from professional critics in 2005. Her written research has been honored by the American Folklore Society and been featured in Storytelling, Self, Society, of which she is managing editor. Professor Harvey has delivered award-winning performances and has conducted workshops at festivals and universities in the United States and around the world. She has performed as a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival in Tennessee; received accolades for her performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland; and led intercultural workshops at the University Hassan II, Ben M'Sik, in Casablanca, Morocco.
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