Photo by Joseph Barrientos

Everyone loves a good story

When the TriangleSCI Advisory Board met last year to plan the theme for SCI 2017, the idea of “scholarly storytelling” quickly emerged as a favorite. In academia we’ve developed practices over centuries for how scholarship should be communicated, mainly with peer scholars in mind, and full of signifiers that only knowing readers will understand. We even sometimes look disparagingly upon attempts to write for and engage with a more “popular” audience, forgetting that scholarly communication doesn’t mean only communicating with other scholars. Humans are “storytelling animals”, and narrative forms have the potential to engage broader and more diverse audiences, and to help activate scholarship in different ways.

So for this year’s Scholarly Communication Institute, we invited teams to think about the potential for using storytelling techniques in their scholarly practices, and to put together projects that attempt to answer questions like these:

  • When much of the public gets information (and misinformation) from sources that already use narrative forms, and base their understanding of the world on the stories they learn in this way, how can scholars break through to help facts and nuanced perspectives to take hold?
  • Can we expand our understanding of “scholarly communication” to include narrative methods that may be better able to reach more diverse audiences, and to engage them as stakeholders and not just recipients of information?
  • How might academics use storytelling to build bridges with constituencies that normally don’t feel connected to universities, and who may even feel antipathy to them?
  • How could new technologies be used to engage broader publics in deeper ways?
  • How can scholars use the storytelling techniques of fiction writers, journalists, filmmakers, photographers, visual artists, musicians, and game designers to effectively and accurately convey scholarly information?
  • What can be done to prevent this from being perceived as simply diluting the authoritativeness of complex research?
  • How do we know when we’ve crossed the boundary from information to persuasion? When is crossing that boundary a bad thing, and when is it a useful thing?
  • Can we diversify the ecosystem of scholarly communication without disrupting constructive symbiosis?

Many teams submitted proposals, and six were invited to attend the Institute in November, at the Rizzo Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. You can read about their projects here, and follow along and join the conversation using the #TriangleSCI hashtag. In November the SCI 2017 cohort will be creating their own stories, and we’ll share them here as they emerge.

[Photo by Joseph Barrientos used under Unsplash free license]

Where does the food on my plate come from? How we can understand and change the global food system through storytelling

This is the sixth and final in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2017, and their projects. This one was submitted by Anneli Sundin.

Oil palm worker

The context

For SCI2017, our team comes together to develop empowering narratives around the issue of sustainable food and the soulful, life-giving properties that food could represent. Food is essential for every human being and bound up with culture and relationships. Food engages people and can evoke strong emotions, memories and creativity, and is closely related to well-being and lifestyle. Yet in the Western world and in rapidly developing regions, food has become merely a habit, often an unhealthy one, and consciousness and caring has been lost. Many people rarely make a connection with our environment and the enabling conditions it provides for food production. People rarely think of where the food comes from, its quality, the resources involved and complex structures in place to produce different types of food. The awareness of the impact that food production can have on farmers and their livelihoods is generally low. Furthermore, people in parts of the world that are becoming more affluent are increasingly adopting a diet which entails a high intake of animal-based products and processed food while eating less plant-based food such as vegetables, pulses and grains, which are often more resource efficient and where production is associated with lower emissions. At the same time as we deforest new tracts of land for cash crop production, much of the food is wasted, with huge implications for soil loss, climate change, and household economies (Garnett, 2016).

In short, our global food system is riddled with paradoxes that directly relate to the challenges of the recently established Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In some parts of the world and social groups, there are crises of obesity and non-communicable diseases related to overconsumption, and in others the crisis is one of famine and malnutrition (SDG #2). Whilst this is linked to lifestyle and distribution of wealth, there are huge inequalities related to food consumption (#10). We produce enough calories to feed everyone in a sustainable way, but our dietary choices are leading our planet to degrade alarmingly, undermining our ability to meet the food needs of the future (#6, #14, #15, #12). Moreover, there is a chronic shortage of research on the consequences of the chemicals used to grow and preserve our food (#2), even whilst people spend hours on social media hungry for information on the latest health food trends. Actors enter the global food system with vastly different positions of power, and the consequences of that imbalance for labour, livelihoods and the planet are difficult to make visible in the choices we make at the supermarket (#1, #10, #8). These paradoxes are caused by a complex system, in which actors are increasingly disconnected from the food all the way from the farm to the fork.

Sustainable Development Goals

We need to transform the way we communicate science

In this era of ever growing specialisation and information-overload, the role of the science communicator has never been more important. Not only is there a challenge in making sense of research for the general public, there is also increasingly a need to focus on translating the science between specialised disciplines to help interdisciplinary collaborations succeed. Furthermore, in the area of agriculture and food sustainability there is also a considerable challenge in the disconnect between actors, in terms of perspectives, motivations and even worldviews. Communicating complex science, portraying the different perspectives and finding the stories that can help build common ground is of critical importance if we are to move forward creating a more sustainable food future. It is difficult to bring these three elements together in one coherent, balanced and engaging narrative. We therefore need to try new tools that can create connections while breaking through the information-noise and the siloed thinking we easily turn to when we are confronted with complex issues. We believe storytelling could be an important tool in our toolbox when working to create a deeper understanding among the public.

In parallel, conspiracy theories and narrow-minded group thinking are prevalent in society today. We live in a time where disinformation and so called ‘alternative facts’ is a rising problem. The truth can easily be distorted using narratives describing cause and effect. We know that predisposed opinions can go viral if communicated powerfully and are told by master storytellers. Hence, on one hand, academia and science communicators need to construct engaging stories for their target audiences. On the other hand, they need to ensure that scrutinised evidence back up these stories and avoid crossing the boundary where the story becomes an act of persuasion. We know so much that people are more likely to listen to facts and statistics if these are embedded in a good story (Duarte 2010). For people to make sustainable and healthy choices based on science-informed knowledge, academia need to become better at telling the science through stories.

Storytelling to promote sustainable change

Are the effects of the food system so massive and disconnected that they cannot be addressed by any one group of people? What power do actors, including the citizens, have to alter a system whose side-effects of contamination, pollution, undernourishment, and obesity appear as a price needed to be paid? Where do people, and their desire for healthy food and a liveable planet, find the space for change?

We want to be able to, easily and effectively, use storytelling to engage and (re)connect actors in the food system to the rural and natural environments supporting food production. Humans have been using narratives since ancient times. Today storytelling is used in many different contexts in society, and also more commonly used within the science and humanities as a qualified tool for communicating research (Dahlstrom 2014).

The team wishes to explore how storytelling can be a useful method to get consumers more aware of where and how food is being produced, at what environmental and social costs it is being produced, distributed and wasted and how best to convey the complexity, the way issues are interlinked, as well as the ways forward for in global food system sustainability. People’s understanding of scientific data and complex problems can be significantly enhanced if told through a narrative. Therefore, we think it is down to the storytellers and science communicators to digest the complexity in the food system in a way that enables the public to build an increased awareness and sense of connection. Engaging this group can help raise the issue of sustainable healthy diets and hopefully make other actors understand the leverage they have, as consumers, food industry or civil society representatives and as policy-makers, to make a change for a food system that better works for people and the planet.

The Team Members

For SCI2017, we aim to bring together a team with a diverse set of experiences and motivations to achieve positive change against the backdrop of the SDGs through our professions, interests and practices. The team comes from different cities in Europe, mainly Sweden (Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö) and Spain (Barcelona), where most of us are active in the sustainable food movement and healthy living. This will provide an opportunity for sharing experiences and learning from using storytelling in science, digital media and social media tools.

 

Ragnhild Larsson – the storyteller who loves thinking outside the box

Ragnhild is an independent journalist and storyteller specialized in science communication.
After more than 25 years experience of writing articles for Swedish papers and magazines, about working life and environmental issues she is now focusing on how to communicate science using storytelling. Her aim is to help scientists to cut through the noise and create impact with their research using different types of storytelling.
So far she has produced several digital science stories and short films on behalf of the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, The Hasselblad Foundation, Chalmers University of Technology, University of Gothenburg etc. Ragnhild also facilitates workshops where the participants produce their own digital stories using a method developed by Joe Lambert at Storycenter in Berkeley California. Among the customers are Wallenberg Academy Fellows and researchers at Royal Institute of Technology.
Recently she wrote a chapter about her experiences communicating science using digital storytelling in the book, Digital Storytelling in Higher Education, International Perspectives, that will be launched at Palgrave Macmillian in May 2017.
Becoming more and more concerned about climate change, she decided to launch a podcast about climate change in September 2015, “Klimatpodden”, where she interviews researchers, activists and entrepreneurs who engage to create a more sustainable world in different ways.
It is obvious that food production and what we eat affects the climate to a large extent. Therefore, it would be a great opportunity to explore how to use storytelling, together with this competent team from different disciplines at the Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute, with the aim to make people more aware of these issues and in the end to create more sustainable eating habits and food production.

Anneli Sundin – the science communicator and food lover who’s aiming to create sustainable change

Anneli joined the Stockholm Environment Institute in 2014, and is now working dynamically with science communication and stakeholder engagement. On the side, she is also coordinating activities by the newly established network of science communication in Sweden: Forskom (together with team member Ragnhild!). Anneli has a background in environmental science and sustainability, and have a broad understanding of concepts linked to resilience. In her studies and work, she has had opportunities to explore and understand climate change impacts on smallholder farmers in Eastern and Western parts of Africa.

Not only does she have a passion for reducing poverty and inequalities, and promote a sustainable food system, but also in how to effectively communicate research in fun, creative ways that results in long-lasting impacts. In terms of storytelling Anneli recently submitted a scientific paper on the benefits of including storytelling in research for increased stakeholder engagement, but she is eager to expand her skillset and learn as much as possible on the topic.

At the Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute, she hopes to gain a lot of hands-on tips and insights around how storytelling can be used as a communications tool. In return she anticipates that the team and herself will be able to contribute with nuanced perceptions of society’s often complex sustainability challenges.

Marie Persson – Knowledge broker working to create interdisciplinary dialogue and action on sustainable food systems

Marie is the Communications and network development officer at the Oxford University based Food Climate Research Network (FCRN). The FCRN focuses on science communications for interdisciplinary dialogue, knowledge exchange and collective action. She has five years of experience working with communications and knowledge exchange as well as research uptake on sustainable food, and she is becoming more and more eager to find new ways of creating engagement around and action on both Agenda 2030 and the Paris climate agreement. She works to facilitate interdisciplinary exchange between the very wide group of stakeholders involved in the food sustainability debate by, for example, connecting farmers with soil scientists, economists and aid workers in forum discussions to share experiences and create common ground. She is curious about exploring approaches used by other disciplines (e.g. arts, design, gastronomy) as well as new forms of communications (e.g. storytelling) to create understanding, engagement and a stronger connection to the food on our plate. She hopes that SCI2017 at Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute will provide discussions, tools and insights that can help her and the team create impactful communications that show the real value and importance of sustainable food to ensure human and planetary wellbeing.

Diego Galafassi – A PhD candidate and artist based in Stockholm.

Mobilising areas of film, performance, installation, participatory action research, anthropology, whole system approaches, Diego is looking at how transformative knowledge can be nurtured in the context of climate change and poverty alleviation.

In coastal Kenya and northern Mozambique, Diego has been researching the role of stories and narratives in processes of transformative learning. In the Iberian Peninsula, through EU-project Impressions Diego is exploring how artistic practices, like theatre, film, and immersive environments, may contribute to the development of shared visions and support the development of integrated solutions in the context of high-end climate change.

Watch a short film from his work in Impressions: https://vimeo.com/219431632

What excites him the most in terms of food, is that it has a direct connection to Earth. Everyday more than once we sit and eat Earth, it makes us and we make it. He looks forward to interacting with his team members and the rest of the institute, and exploring storytelling as a means to reach change in food sustainability.

Jackie Turner – the former media producer who now researches food security

Jackie had her first food sustainability “eureka” moment while living on a corporate banana plantation near the Panamanian-Costa Rican border during her undergraduate thesis at the University of Michigan.  She realized that many people have no idea that bananas “do not grow on trees,” literally and metaphorically, nor that the process for producing them is destructive to both human health and the environment.

After completing a Bachelors of Art in each Environmental Studies and Film Studies, she moved to Los Angeles, hoping to tell stories about sustainability in documentary films and television.  After years of producing short films and editing for reality television, the harsh truth of that corporate banana-growing system still echoed. She began (and recently finished) a Masters of Science at Imperial College London, focusing her research on Ethiopia’s “false banana,” a reported climate-resilient crop, and its potential to provide nutrition to millions of Ethiopia’s low-income rural population.

Based on her experience in the media industry, Jackie remains convinced that narratives are the best way to connect people with ideas, and she believes that finding ways to tell stories about food security, food sustainability, and food sovereignty are crucial to the ongoing larger narrative of how we will continue to feed the world in the years to come.  She will be returning to Costa Rica in 2018 to film a full-length feature documentary about alternative and sustainable forms of banana production.  She is excited to be part of the team and learn from the Triangle Scholary Communication Institute about the role storytelling can take in science communication.

Josefin Vargö – Experience Designer who uses food as a tool for interaction

As a Curator, Experience and Food Designer Josefin designs time, the connection and experience between people. By framing and constructing forms of interaction with our different senses, she design new ways of experiencing a situation and matter.

She develops interdisciplinary sociocultural projects and her work plays with the interaction of our different senses. Food is often used as a material and meals as the designed experience, because it has the ability to reflect and express our attitudes about society in terms of time, money, social movements and resources and has the ability to naturally initiate social behaviour. Regardless of what is served, the act and importance of eating is something we all share and have common, triggering conversation and connections between people.

In her project The Living Archive’ she has collected peoples sourdough starters, the story behind them and asked people to describe its value. ”What she is designing is precisely the nature in which knowledge and emotions are exchanged between people. Contained in the sourdough culture are the essential knowledge and ideas for our desire to live; our relationship to food, the global food crisis, the environment, our health. She leads us to consider diverse ways of being.” — Curator Noriko Kawakami & Ikko Yokoyama

Underverk is a Stockholm based experience design platform she co-founded in 2013 together with journalist Jonna Dagliden. They felt it was important to show design beyond the object, to present projects in which design facilitates new interactions. They noticed the shift from a more industrial and product based design to the more critical, social oriented and experience based design was underrepresented in Sweden and decided to fill that gap.

Together with meal ecologist Ayhan Aydin, Josefin runs Aydin & Vargö. A Stockholm-based gastronomic design studio. We creates sensorial meal experiences and installations based on a holistic food system.

In November 2017 she is attending a collaborative artist residency at Flux Factory, New York together with artists and curators Louise Hobson, Sam Perry and Will Owen. Together they will examine artistic strategies within food politics, societal culture and commute.

Their focus will be the diverse culinary culture of the 7‐train, which is known for being one of the most international train rides in the world. The 7‐train runs between Flushing Main Street (Queens) and 34th street (Manhattan), travelling through neighbourhoods of communities from Spain, Italy, Mexico, India, Ireland, Romania, Thailand, Nigeria, China, Turkey. It’s a World tour. By investigating the diverse culinary cultures, they will use ‘food’ as a tool for debate and reflection on politics, economy, history, and ethics related to migration, multiculturalism and interculturalism.

Outreach and follow-up

We have many exciting plans for how we can reach out about the conference.

First of all, be sure to follow us on social media! There, we will share key messages, great tips, photos and videos emerging from the forum.

We will write blog articles that will be posted on our organizations’ websites, such as weADAPT.org, fcrn.org.uk, sei-international.org, SIANI.se and Forskom.org. Our aim is to reach out in public media too and narratively summarise our key messages in an op-ed for both Swedish and UK press, such as in one of Sweden’s largest daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter and The Guardian in the UK. We will also write for the Swedish web magazine Curie devoted to the world of research (established by the Swedish Research Council) and aim to publish a post in The Conversation which is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public. We will gather inspiration and reflections for producing one or more episodes of the Swedish podcast Klimatpodden, linked to the topic of global food systems sustainability.

Due to our expertise and interest in digital visual stories, we plan to use the Exposure tool or similar with which you can tell beautiful and engaging stories with your photos. We will bring our cameras to SCI2017 and make sure to bring back lots of interesting photos and videos from the event! These we will use and blend with a variety of food systems related photos to connect to our topic.

After the forum, as an important capacity building activity, we are also planning to facilitate a workshop in digital storytelling where the participants, from our networks back at home, create their own stories on the topic of food system sustainability. The stories could be produced by both researchers, food producers and food consumers. The workshop will work as a platform for us to be able to share what we have learnt at SCI2017 and for the participants to better understand how storytelling can help them in their daily work aiming for sustainability in our common food system.

References

Dahlstrom MJ. (2014). Using narratives and storytelling to communicate science with non-expert audiences. PNAS, 111 Suppl 4:13614-20. http://www.pnas.org/content/111/Supplement_4/13614.abstract

Duarte N. 2010. Resonate – Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.

Garnett T. 2016. Plating up solutions, Science, 353 (6305), pp. 1202-1204.

[ Edited on 6 September to reflect a change in two of the team members. ]

[ Oil palm image by CIFOR used under CC BY-NC-ND license. Sustainable Development Goals image from the United Nations, used under terms defined in the UN web site.]

A New Digital Publishing Framework for Exploring and Reflecting Non-Textual Cultural Narratives

This is the fifth in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2017, and their projects. This one was submitted by Harriett Green.

Photo of yarn and bowls in a market

The advent of digital content expands the scope of the stories told by researchers, and in particular, visual, audio, and moving image data formats open opportunities for scholars to share research findings on non-textual artifacts of study. Research conducted on Traditional Cultural Expression (Pilch 2009) face unique contexts and challenges in the digital realm: Scholars narrated partial histories of culture through flat texts, and such research was and is often without participation of the peoples and concern for their traditions. But with digital technologies, scholars can collaborate with communities in the telling of stories through non-textual formats.

But how do we attend to the particular needs of non-textual formats in research publications, and respect the cultural traditions framing these knowledge networks? Initiatives such as the Mukurtu Project have laid the groundwork for this area of research, and as Kimberly A. Christen (2012) notes of this work, “Examining indigenous systems of knowledge circulation and indigenous mobilizations of digital technologies widens the frame of digital analysis, redefines the contours of digital sociality, and loosens the stranglehold of open access models on the way we imagine information circulation.”

Collaborative New Framework

Our collaborative project “A New Framework for Sharing and Reflecting Non-Textual Cultural Narratives” seeks to build upon this work by exploring how researchers, cultural heritage institutions, designers, and communities can collaborate to design frameworks for digital publications that reflect community-embedded research focused on cultures with non-textual modes of Traditional Cultural Expression (TCE).

The project will use a case study approach to explore the penumbra of political, social, and cultural issues surrounding the creation and transmission of Traditional Cultural Expressions in cultural traditions with an oral and performative aspects to their knowledge networks. The case selected for study is collaborator Camee Maddox-Wingfield’s “Digitizing Diaspora Dance Identities.” This project is an evolving scholarly work in digital humanities and Black Studies that critically incorporates dynamic digital media, research in the African diaspora, and non-textual formats of Traditional Knowledge that resonate with flexible elements of storytelling and performative narratives.

Photo of 3 women working on a collaborative painting

Guiding Questions

We anticipate that our team’s contribution to Triangle SCI will be through our development of a guiding framework of technical design and publication policies for building a research narrative that attends to the non-textual and sensitive cultural traditions of performance.  We seek to answer these questions:

  • How do we design research publications with cultural heritage artifacts to be accessible and contributable by the involved communities?
  • What are the particular functionalities needed for building publications with audio and visual cultural data?
  • What are the key elements to be exposed publicly and to be curated internally with TCE digital artifacts?

The activities of our project especially will focus on examining the rights management issues for preparing TCE artifacts in audio and video formats for digital publication, drawing upon the work of the Mukurtu Project’s Traditional Knowledge licensing (Anderson and Christen 2013); developing workflows for a researcher to build data archives of cultural performance with community input; and developing design principles for “story-showing” in digital publications that reflect the context of a cultural community’s specific storytelling traditions.

Through the creation of a technical design and policy framework for digital publications focused on non-textual cultural knowledge networks, we will grapple with meta-issues such as cultural commodification.  As such, our work will have implications for other works of scholarship that engage with performative modes of TCE and Traditional Knowledge.

Our Team

Our team will bring together multiple disciplines and perspectives:

Sara Benson will provide a legal and copyright policy expertise for the discussion of rights surrounding cultural heritage and knowledge sharing with a baseline level of discussion beginning with the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee for IP’s studies and Draft Articles for the Protection of Traditional Cultural Heritage.  She will shed light on questions of legal ownership of cultural heritage and, relatedly, how the community should appropriately be consulted about the publication of the work given their related legal interests in the history of the bele dance movement.

Camee Maddox-Wingfield will contribute her expertise as participating dance ethnographer researching bèlè performance in Martinique. She has accumulated a rich body of digital dance data and aims to build a digital dance archive as well as a multimedia book project. She particularly hopes to explore how the digital mapping of dance and movement data, particularly those documenting Black diaspora dance communities, can be curated for public engagement. She also aims to develop strategies for publishing research on African diaspora dance traditions in digital platforms such as Scalar, in which visual data collected through ethnographic research methods (i.e. video footage and photographs) can accompany the written analysis. The team’s efforts at Triangle SCI will work with her research project aims and data archive as a case study for building a framework for digital publication of ethnography with non-textual data at the heart of the publication.

Brad Tober will contribute expertise on how design holds the potential to empower the recipient of information communicated via non-textual cultural knowledge sharing. In particular, Brad will consider how multi-modal representations of non-textual cultural knowledge (i.e., audio, video, and 3-D models) can offer consumers of such knowledge heightened control over their engagement with it, potentially leading to a greater (and more personalized) understanding of cultural identities and traditions. Brad will build upon his previous strategic contributions to Women in Print (http://womeninprint.press.illinois.edu), a digital publishing initiative that (in part) examined the role of supplemental multimedia technologies in offering “fresh insights into the reception history of books written by women.”

Harriett Green will provide the expertise in building sustainable framework for digital publishing, and share her knowledge on building policy and access infrastructure for digital publishing. As the project manager of the Mellon Foundation-funded project “Publishing Without Walls,” Green has firsthand experience in researching and developing infrastructure, policies, and workflows for library based digital publishing of multi-media publications and open access journals.

Our collaboration will weave together expertise in graphic design, copyright, digital publishing, and anthropology to build a case study and framework for digital publishing of scholarship on Traditional Cultural Expression.

Photo of colorful prayer flags

References

Anderson, J. & Christen, K. (2013). ‘Chuck a copyright on it’: Dilemmas of digital return and the possibilities for traditional knowledge licenses and labels. Museum Anthropology Review. 7(1-2), 105-126.

Pilch, J. (2009). Library copyright alliance issue brief: Traditional Cultural Expression. http://www.librarycopyrightalliance.org/storage/documents/issuebrieftce.pdf

Christen, K. A. (2012). Does information really want to be free?: Indigenous knowledge systems and the question of openness. International Journal of Communication. 6, 2880. http://ijoc.org/ojs/index.php/ijoc/article/view/1618

[ Top image by Julian Mora used under Unsplash free license. Middle image by Tim Acker used under TK Non-Commercial License. Bottom image by Igor Ovsyannykov used under Unsplash free license.]

Story Structure and Storytelling Performance Techniques to Translate Scholarly Work

This is the fourth in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2017, and their projects. This one was submitted by Brian Sturm.

Photo of man shining a flashlight into the night sky

In the last decade, “story” and “storyteller” have become immensely popular concepts in a wide variety of contexts. Corporations have adopted the term for marketing products (content marketing), organizational branding (transmedia storytelling), and management strategies.  Fiction writers, movie producers, and video game designers are acclaimed as “superb storytellers.” Even scientists, however tentatively, are seeking to co-opt the words as they try to find ways to make science more accessible.

Story has gained prominence in popular culture since the “storytelling renaissance” in the US began in 1980 with the establishment of the National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling (now known as the National Storytelling Network).  Scholarship suggests that humans are wired to think in story (Fuller, 1991); that story improves comprehension, memory, literacy, meaning, motivation for learning, and engagement or involvement (Haven, 2007); and that people experience stories as if they were real (Sturm, 2000), leading to increased empathy and connection with each other (Manney, 2008).

In short, storytelling and story structure are immensely powerful communicative tools, and it is timely that the Institute is addressing their value in fostering scholarly communication.  The primary challenge for this working group is to answer the question, “How can we use storytelling techniques and story structure to help translate scholarly productivity and dissemination into a more accessible and memorable format?”  We view “productivity and dissemination” broadly, so that it includes: research articles, conference papers and presentations, research posters, as well as face-to-face and online teaching.

This working group is dedicated to designing a workbook of options to help scientists in different disciplines understand the processes involved in applying story structure and performance techniques to their work.  We intend to start with broad-stroke brainstorming sessions to capture the wealth of ideas our diverse backgrounds provide, and then focus on designing templates and processes for academics to follow that will help them translate their scholarly work into formats that harness the power of story.  Different disciplines have different expectations for their “products,” so we envision needing to develop different options for each, as one story or structure will not serve all disciplines.

Working Group Participants

We have assembled a team that builds on many of the strengths of collaborative teams.  The members are interdisciplinary, with expertise in folklore, linguistics, music performance, music and storytelling therapy, and library and information science.  All of the members are seasoned performers in their areas and combine to bring both the academic/theoretical and practical lenses to this endeavor. All members are published authors of scholarly work.  They bring a diversity of perspectives and an established record of pertinent, scholarly communication to this group.

  • Ruth Herbert, PhD – Ruth is Head of Performance in the School of Music & Fine Arts at the University of Kent, UK.  She is a music psychologist and performer with diverse research interests in the fields of music in everyday life, music, health and wellbeing, music and performance psychology, phenomenology, evolutionary psychology and ethology. Her book, Everyday Listening: Absorption, Dissociation and Trancing is published by Routledge (2011). From 2012 to 2015, Ruth led a 3-year nationwide study of young people’s listening as a British Academy Fellow at Oxford University. She is currently co-editing a book on music and consciousness for OUP and has published many academic papers. Ruth shares a scholarly interest in modes of experiential engagement with Brian Sturm.  Her real strength to this working group is her unique approach to “music as story,” her knowledge of the “absorbing power of music,” and her perspective on assessing the relevance of the templates we hope to develop to disciplines outside the knowledge of the rest of the group.
  • Rob Parkinson, MA – Professional storyteller, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and author, Rob has over thirty years’ experience working in all sorts of performance and workshop contexts in the UK and internationally. He is a former Chair of the (English) Society for Storytelling. Rob is also a widely experienced therapist and the current director of The Brief Therapy Centre in Tonbridge, UK, where he has trained many professionals in the use and relevance of stories and storytelling approaches to therapeutic change.  He is the author of acclaimed Transforming Tales: How Stories Can Change People. (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2009) and several other titles on the practical skills and the relevance of storytelling to many forms of communication.
  • Monica Sanchez, PhD – Monica is a former linguistics professor at Brock University in Canada, whose interest in storytelling spawned the International Conference on Storytelling in 1999, the proceedings of which resulted in Storytelling: Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Perspectives (2002). Monica also brings a unique perspective that will help broaden the applicability of our proposed templates; of all of the disciplines represented in this working group, linguistics is the most like mathematics, and her expertise in analytical thinking and her training in argumentation will help broaden and deepen the group’s thinking and the dissemination of the results.
  • Kay Stone, PhD – Kay is a renowned folklorist and storyteller from Canada. She taught storytelling and folklore classes at the University of Winnipeg for nearly 30 years, and is the author of several books on story, including Some Day Your Witch Will Come (selections from her scholarly articles), Burning Brightly: New Light on Old Tales Told Today (interviews with modern North American storytellers), and The Golden Woman: Dreaming as Art. She has written extensively about women in folktales and feminist approaches to folklore, and has expertise in modern oral narration.
  • Ruth Stotter, MA – Ruth is from California and is the former director of the Dominican University Storytelling Program, where she designed curriculum and supervised six faculty members. She has been a self-employed teacher, author, and storyteller for the past 35 years, and is the recipient of the National Storytelling Network’s Oracle Lifetime Achievement in Storytelling award (2011).  She brings a wealth of folkloric and storytelling knowledge to the group, and is the author of About Story: Writings on Stories and Storytelling, 1980-1994, and its sequel, More About Story: Writings on Stories and Storytelling, 1995-2001.
  • Brian Sturm, PhD – Brian has researched the immersive power of storytelling and narrative worlds for nearly 20 years.  He teaches storytelling and public library work with children in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and he brings that unique perspective to the group.  His research explores engagement in narrative environments of all kinds (digital, performative, and print), and he has recently developed a course in storytelling and social equity. He is the co-author of The Storyteller’s Sourcebook, 1983-1999 (Gale, 2001), a motif index to children’s folktale collections. He spent one month in Thailand in 2002 as a Fulbright Scholar sharing stories and providing workshops, where he helped develop a children’s literature doctoral curriculum for Mahasarakham University, and recently concluded a 27-day lecture & workshop tour of eastern China.

Photo of a man sitting in front of a wall of paintings

Dissemination and Follow-up Activities

Our workbook will be available on the open web and may lead to a book contract eventually.  To accomplish this, follow-up work will continue amongst the group, and we will seek to bring in other scholars from unrepresented disciplines (such as the sciences) to flesh out our initial ideas.  Depending on the composition of the groups accepted to the Institute, this working group may provide a completely unique set of perspectives for the Institute as a whole.  Collaborations function best when those working together provide myriad lenses on the issues, and this group certainly does so.

References

Fuller, R. (1991). The primacy of story. In Context, 27, 26-28. Available: http://www.context.org/iclib/ic27/fuller/

Sturm, B. (2000). The storylistening trance experience. Journal of American Folklore, 113, 287-304. Available: http://www.jstor.org/stable/542104.

Haven, K. (2007). Story proof: the science behind the startling power of story. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

Manney, P. J. (2008). Empathy in the time of technology: how storytelling is the key to empathy. Journal of Evolution and Technology, 19, 1, 51-61. Available: http://jetpress.org/v19/manney.htm

[ Photos by Dino Reichmuth and Beata Ratuszniak used under Unsplash free license. ]

Telling Medieval Stories

This is the third in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2017, and their projects. This one was submitted by Brandon W. Hawk.

Image from an illuminated manuscript - Weltchronik

If storytelling matters in our own contemporary context, then so too do stories from the past. Unfortunately, premodern tales often remain obscured or misrepresented.

For example, in the twelfth century, the English monk Thomas of Monmouth (fl.1149-1172) fabricated a story about Jews kidnapping and murdering a boy named William. This fiction, now known as the “Blood Libel,” continued to be told in various forms throughout the Middle Ages (see “The Prioress’s Tale” in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales); and it survives as a “zombie lie” even up to our own time, where it is still retold, often as history. As propaganda fodder for the far-right, however, the (mis)understanding of the Middle Ages evoked by contemporary retellings of the Blood Libel is racist, bleak—and completely misses much of what the medieval period has to offer to contemporary culture.

Our working group is comprised of a team of medievalists (academics, public scholars, journalists, activists) who want to engage the public with stories from the Middle Ages. Collectively, we want medievalists to be seen as public scholars by other public scholars.

During the Institute, we want to create a new roadmap toward public writing where we can deploy our academic skills for the widest possible audiences. We want to be recognized as storytellers who tell old stories that matter, and tell them to the twenty-first century. We want medievalists to plot to carve more space out of the mainstream media. We want to imagine the next type of The Toast, and to lay the groundwork to make it happen.

Our working group includes a cross-section of people who identify as medievalists, at various stages in their careers, working with different storytelling media to engage the public by telling medieval stories. Some of us are teachers and researchers in higher education, but some of us also have experience as journalists, public scholars, social media mavens, and consultants for film, television, and radio. Notably, all of the participants on this team are actively engaged in social media, especially through blogging and tweeting. One of our goals is to bring our interdisciplinary and inter-experiential voices together to learn from each other and to find new modes of storytelling in our own work and with others interested in similar pursuits.

We hope that participating in the Institute can develop a network and team among ourselves and reaching out more broadly, so that we can collaborate and speak more loudly together as medievalists even as we tell more diverse stories.

We are also curious what we might learn about so-called “futurists”—scholars apparently hired by think tanks, companies, and governments to write white papers that imagine future conditions, technologies, and their impacts on society and government. Modernists are usually offered such work, but we feel strongly that medievalists, those of us who study the origins of the very nation-states and technologies in question, are uniquely suited to such scholarly communication.

In all of this, we want to get better at teaching the narratives of the Middle Ages as contested ground both in medieval and modern contexts. From telling our stories, we want to forge connections between the premodern and contemporary, encompassing the longue durée, about violence across religious identities and histories of race; the unravelling of the myth of the “white” Middle Ages and “white” Western Civilization; untold histories of technologies leading to the so-called “digital age”; questions about gender and sexuality—none of which are by any means new in our contemporary era.

Some of our goals raise obvious questions and challenges:

  • What do we mean when we talk about telling medieval stories to the public?
  • What does it mean to be academics using more popular storytelling media?
  • How (and why) do we enact scholarly communication as medievalists, for the public, and through diverse storytelling media?
  • How do we break in?
  • How do we do it accessibly?
  • What new models of publication need to be established to achieve our goals?
  • What can we bring to the public to show them medieval subjects matter?

There are some obvious answers to these questions, but also some less obvious answers that we want to work through in a network with others who are asking similar questions.

Medievalists, like medieval people, are all about networks. The Tale of Audun from the Westfjords poses one example, about a poor, resourceful, Icelandic merchant driven by luck to sail to Greenland, spend all of his money buying a captured polar bear cub, sail around Europe with the bear hustling kings, create a network of contacts from his experiences, and ultimately gain widespread reputation and enough wealth to settle into early retirement back in Iceland.

While fictional, the example is representative of the types of networks that pervaded the medieval world. Without networks, people went nowhere.

Our group at the Institute will capitalize on expanding our network: this is one of the substantive takeaways for us. We want to use our time at the Institute to create a plan for not only reaching the public through scholarly communication but also reaching others with the same goals. We will identify who else will take part in our plans; who will invite us to write in their networks; who will collaborate with us to shape the narrative of medieval studies going forward—not just our own group’s narrative. Our connection, our mesnie, our group of well-willers will expand, and our opportunities will grow, as will the patronage we can extend in turn. This profound reciprocity of networking is precisely what is missing from contemporary far-right understandings of the Middle Ages.

We suggest that scholarly communication needs to get a little more medieval.

Image from an illuminated manuscript - A Dragon and a Farmer with a Club

Team Members

Brantley L. Bryant is Associate Professor and Department Chair of English at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California. His research and publication has examined medieval literature and history, medieval afterlives in popular culture, and engagement with scholarship on social media. Bryant’s most recent project is the Open Access Canterbury Tales, which aims to bring professional scholarship on Chaucer’s work to a broad new audience through open access formats. He is also creator of popular social media projects Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog and Chaucer Doth Tweet (with over 68,000 followers), parody-tribute accounts in which a Chaucer persona writes about present day events in a version of Middle English. Bryant’s work engages with the crucial issue of telling the story of scholarly research to a broad public.

Brandon W. Hawk is Assistant Professor of English at Rhode Island College. As an early career apasionado, he wants to share his own obscure interests with anyone who will pay attention. Hawk has contributed to academic collaborative blogs like Modern Medieval and the History of Christianity Blog, and he continues to post regularly on his own site, brandonwhawk.net. Recently, he is especially interested in translating and presenting underappreciated medieval subjects for all types of readers; some examples may be seen in his translations of Old English literaturehis project about Judith, and his work on the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew.

Kathleen E. Kennedy is Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University- Brandywine where she teaches English and History classes. She is a first-generation college student from a rural area who earned advanced degrees in two fields and eventually tenure in Medieval Studies. Storytelling is her lifeline, since as a perpetual outsider it falls to her to explain why she isn’t like the people she lives and teaches among. She is always asked to explain her difference and she always answers with a story (or two). She has written about the mainstream media’s need for storytelling by rural people for the LARB. She tells medieval stories to the mainstream media too, reminding Game of Thrones fans over and over that medieval history was frequently more humane (and more diverse) than our modern fantasies of it. (In)famously, Kennedy tells the story of the discovery of calculus to humanities audiences, and they love it every time.

Dan Kline is Professor and Chair of English at University of Alaska Anchorage. He specializes in Middle English literature and culture, literary and cultural theory, and digital medievalism, and his research concerns children, violence, and ethics in late-medieval England and neomedievalism and digital gaming. He has published chapters in (among others) the collections Mass Market Medievalism (MacFarland, 2007) and Cultural Studies of the Modern Middle Ages (Palgrave, 2007). He edited Medieval Children’s Literature (Routledge, 2003), the Continuum Handbook of Medieval British Literature (Continuum, 2009), and Digital Gaming Re-Imagines the Middle Ages (Routledge, 2014), and co-edited, with Gail Ashton, Medieval Afterlives in Popular Culture (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012). He is the author/webmaster of The Electronic Canterbury Tales.

Stephen Yeager is Associate Professor of English literature at Concordia University in Montreal. His current research explores the role of scholarly medieval studies and popular medievalism in the joint evolution of programming languages, internet protocols, videogames, and digital humanities methodologies. Before beginning his academic career he was online editor for Philadelphia and Boston Magazines, and he has been interviewed on the subjects of online education and Tolkien’s medievalism for MacLean’s magazine and CTV News respectively.

[ Post edited on October 3 to reflect a change in the composition of the team, as one participant listed earlier is no longer able to attend. ]

[ Images from the J. Paul Getty Museum, used under CC-BY license from the Getty’s Open Content Program. Sources linked from images above. ]

Using Storytelling to Share Research in a Time of Mistrust

This is the second in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2017, and their projects. This one was submitted by Franny Gaede.

For the 2017 Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute, our group will look at how storytelling techniques, specifically those used in journalism and folklore studies, can be used to help combat anti-intellectualism faced by scholars and reporters. This idea came from discussion about current information culture (i.e.: “alternative facts” and “fake news”), how scholarly research has been mis- or underrepresented in news media, and how “bad science” and retractions have promoted public distrust of scholarship.

Man reading a newspaper in a doorway

Institutions of higher education are often characterized as bastions of liberalism, which in a politically charged environment will hinder academics’ ability to communicate effectively with the public. This perceived politicization affects the research output of colleges and universities and the ability of the news media to cover research-based stories as they compete for the attention and confidence of their audience. Democratization of information has exacerbated this to some extent. The reduction or elimination of gatekeepers has enabled scholars to engage in disseminating their research but has also contributed to the spread of misinformation and made evaluating information far more difficult.

Scholars have also expressed concerns about sharing their work widely for fear that it will be misinterpreted (see The Heartland Institute’s 500 Scientists with Documented Doubts of Man-Made Global Warming Scares, featuring a number of scientists who later came out protesting their inclusion on the list suggesting their research had been misinterpreted)1, 2 or targeted for grant revocation (see HR 5155, proposed legislation prohibiting the NEH from funding the Popular Romance Project and similar projects.) Still other scholars show a lack of interest in sharing their work with the public as  they report believing the people who need access to their work – other researchers – already do; this, in turn, can help reinforce the idea among the general public that these researchers are elitists locked in their ivory tower.

We intend to approach this problem from the perspectives of educators, folklorists, journalists, librarians, and researchers. Our proposed solutions will involve the use of personal narratives to help make real people the face of the issue at hand and help add empathy to discussions about research and scholarly output. We’ll focus on supporting researchers, librarians, and other involved parties who use or want to use popular/populist platforms like blogs, Twitter, Instagram, and podcasts and offer primers on different methods for evaluating impact.

Our goal with this approach is, as stated in the Call for Proposals, “build bridges with constituencies that normally don’t feel connected to universities, and who may even feel antipathy to them.” We would like to engage these constituencies using storytelling techniques borrowed from journalism and folklore and ideas gleaned from popular “edutainment” and popular science entities, including I Fucking Love Science, lol my thesis, TED Talks, and the VlogBrothers’ Crash Course series. We also want to look at entities engaged in repackaging complex topics, such as eLife Digests, Vox, News in Slow, and Thing Explainer to consider how plain-speaking in scholarship can encourage engagement.

The team includes scholars engaged in research on fairy tales, digital humanities, social justice, sex education, experiential learning, digital storytelling, scholarly communication, and diversity in news, among other research interests. We hold positions ranging from tenure-track faculty to blogger to full-time librarian to alt-ac scholar, having worked in newsrooms, classrooms, and libraries. Between our collective interests and our collective experience, we have the necessary perspective to productively engage in our proposed topic at TriangleSCI and successfully produce the toolkit outlined below.

Newspaper stand in the snow

Team Members

Franny Gaede. Scholarly Communication Librarian at Butler University, liaison librarian for the Department of Modern Languages, the Department of Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, Honors, Global and Historical Studies, and First Year Seminar. My particular research interest is social justice and open access and I work mostly with faculty and undergrads. I feel strongly that accessibility to research ought to include accommodations, access, and readability. You should not need a PhD in a subject to be able to read about it! In addition to my deep interest in scholarly communication, I am an amateur designer with many feelings about fonts, a keen observer of the tech industry, and a five-time participant in National Novel Writing Month.

Jeana Jorgensen. Alt-ac scholar (currently a lecturer at UC Berkeley; home base is adjuncting at Butler University). I research gender and sexuality in fairy tales, narrative folklore more generally, digital humanities, dance, body art, queer and feminist theory, and the history and cultural reception of sex education. My college courses span folklore, anthropology, and gender studies, focusing on teaching students to identify the intersections of cultural context, narrative, and identities. I also blog at Patheos.com and Conditionally Accepted, and have guest blogged widely, contributing to my mission of scholarly outreach.

Ashley Rosener. Grand Valley State University liaison librarian for the School of Social Work, the School of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration, and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy. I work with both undergraduate and graduate students and regularly provide instruction, both in the classroom setting and through workshops for students and faculty/staff. I work with students and faculty one-on-one, helping them find reliable sources for their assignments and research. I also maintain the library collections (books, journals, films, databases, etc.) for my liaison areas. I bring to this group my expertise as a liaison librarian alongside a passion for and engagement in scholarly communications issues.

Teresa Schultz. Teresa Auch Schultz is the scholarly communications and copyright librarian at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she advocates for open access of scholarly articles and other work among the UNR community. Previously, Teresa worked as a reporter for local newspapers in Indiana for 10 years. Teresa is interested in new forms of scholarly communication, such as open access, and how research can be made accessible to everyone, not just academia in the Western Anglo world. Her background as both a scholarly communications librarian and journalist will help contribute a knowledge of how researchers work and what motivates them and how that fits with traditional storytelling methods used by journalists to communicate to the public.

Jessica Sparks. Jessica Sparks is a former political reporter from Indiana who transplanted to the South. With a bachelor’s in journalism and a master’s in digital storytelling, she has served in several roles for news organizations. In 2013, Sparks was part of the first cohort of the International Center for Journalists “Back to the Newsroom” fellowship, where she worked for the Wall Street Journal. Her research areas include journalism, gender issues, diversity in news and newsrooms, and social media. At Savannah State University, Sparks teaches undergraduate mass communications courses focusing on writing, news reporting, research methods, and basic design principles.

Amanda Starkel. Information Commons and eLearning Librarian, Butler University. As Information Commons and eLearning Librarian, I manage the students and staff who run our service point in the library. Our program is focused on experiential learning and includes assessed student learning objectives and peer teaching.  I also maintain traditional liaison responsibilities such as instruction, assessment, collection management, and outreach. Before Butler, I served as Interim Director and Instruction Librarian at Defiance College. My expertise is in user services and information literacy instruction, but I excel at thinking creatively to solve problems and offer broad academic experience to this group.

Output

Our intended output is a toolkit that will include the following items:

  • Breakdown of different storytelling genres, including classical folklore genres and pop culture examples to help users harness generic associations and aid them in making certain points or reaching specific demographics
  • Advice for researchers on building pre-made video news releases, interactive infographics, and podcasts, including guidance on using humor, emotion, and personal narratives to encourage understanding, empathy, and sharing (i.e.: how to go viral)
  • Unbranded, editable Creative Commons-licensed templates to be used on social media to share research

[ Photos by Thong Vo and Matt Popovich used under Unsplash free license.]

Digital Storytelling and the Future(s) of Multimedia Scholarship

This is the first in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2017, and their projects. This one was submitted by Hannah McGregor.

Introduction:

In this era of pervasive digitization, political polarization, and media saturation, the academy needs to foster—and value—narrative practices that contribute to genuine public engagement with questions of what it means to be part of a public. The problems facing democratic society right now are not technological problems, but rather narrative chasms amplified by technological platforms and digital communications systems. Symptomatic of this development are the profound gaps between those trained to think critically about culture, art, or philosophy—those within les sciences humaine (the human sciences) who investigate what it is to be human, alone and together—and the general public (whatever that means). We are all increasingly bombarded with stories told by vested interests, in exchange for money, data, clicks, and eyeballs. But these platforms and channels are focused on cultivating attention and generating money rather than a functional democracy, social justice, or even the old standard of the philosophically ‘good’ life.

Effectively telling the stories of our research and of our teaching is crucial to a functional society. We have no illusions as to how the traditional work of the arts & humanities is viewed by the public, a perception that such work is at best unnecessary and at worst malicious. Recent calls to eliminate via non-funding the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities in the United States of America only underscore the urgency of this discussion, and how far from a social consensus on such work we have found ourselves through systemic inattention, perverse incentives, and cultural/institutional inertia.

This working group, while we cannot solve these problems in their entirety, believes that changing these entrenched narratives is not only possible, but can be undertaken constructively with joy, with empathy, and with excitement.

Guiding Questions:

  • How can scholar-teachers integrate existing digital media platforms and activities into current practice for more effective research, teaching, and community building? (“What would an academic podcasting or a podcasting network even look like?”)
  • What frameworks are in place for assessing and rewarding these practices within colleges and universities, scholarly societies, and funding agencies? (“Can I submit five years of internet radio broadcasting to my tenure committee? Should I?”)
  • In what way do our choices of what to build and deploy in research and teaching change those practices? (“What does constructive, pedagogical interaction in a multiplayer first person shooter video game even mean? Can e-lit prompt us to rethink our subjectivity in a way that printed works cannot?”)
  • How can we begin working with these vectors of activity to build better societies, from our classrooms to our regions to our world? (“Is what we are doing online actually impacting what we do in our communities? How do we ascertain if it is? How can podcasting, digital gaming, and internet broadcasting come together for social change?”)

Objectives:

Our overarching objective is to begin a conversation amongst ourselves but also, crucially within the wider SCI community, on how multimedia digital objects, storytelling and narrative, and building better societies intersect. Bringing a working group as diverse as this one together—compounded by the varied viewpoints we are sure the SCI will bring together as a cohort—we hope to use this as an opportunity to begin a conversation.

  1. PodcastingSCI: Several of our group have longstanding interests in sound design and public outreach using recording & broadcasting technology. PodcastingSCI will be, in essence, a ‘live’ record of activities at SCI and the always impressive group that will gather in North Carolina. We are partly inspired by the approach of the #dariahteach group in Europe which has, in order to give fuller discussion to digital humanities pedagogy, produced a series of video interviews with experts in the field:
  2. Public-Facing Multimedia Casebook: Those wishing to integrate public-facing digital multimedia content into their everyday intellectual practice often face difficulty finding examples or successful models. Our group plans to compile a casebook documenting how these moments have played out in our own teaching & research. Containing at least sections addressing our own working group (electronic literature, games, broadcasting, podcasting, social media outreach), this will be an extensible output; contributions from other SCI attendees will be actively sought, onsite or after the event, and it has the strong possibility to extend even further. Documenting practice in emerging areas is vital to ensuring their propagation, and the Antigonish2 group (http://antigonish2.com/) has committed to hosting this resource; the “evolving anthology” model used by the Modern Language Association with their volume Digital Literary Studies (https://dlsanthology.mla.hcommons.org/) is another possible publication model.
  3. Best Practices and Guidelines: In the course of our work, we anticipate that a discussion of best practices and guidelines for doing this kind of intellectual outreach well will naturally emerge. Drawing on both the input of other SCI attendees (gained through podcast interviews) and real-world case studies (drawn together in our casebook collection), this document is intended for scholar-teachers interested in public-facing, digital multimedia scholarship in a variety of institutions.
Screen shot from Dene Grigar and Stuart Moulthrop’s Pathfinders multimedia Scalar book

Dene Grigar and Stuart Moulthrop’s Pathfinders multimedia Scalar book was recently recognized in The Academic Book of the Future project produced by Marilyn Deegan for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) and the British Library.

Our Team:

Our international and interdisciplinary working group consists of six teacher-scholars with distinct expertise in scholarly storytelling, including games, electronic literature, digital radio, podcasting, and social media. We also share a collective investment in student-centred and practice-based teaching, and a concern with how innovative pedagogy can help to break down the walls between the university and the public. We are largely based in Canadian higher education, and nearly all group members work in regional, student-centred universities rather than R1 institutions. Some have held administrative roles in large research projects and led or taken part in international academic organisations. Some are early-career scholars based in professional disciplines, while others bring to this group extensive experience in education practice and policy—with the reality, of course, that all group members bring some combination of many of these profiles. This working group represents a new collaborative enterprise for all of us, one that pushes us to reframe our scholarship in the light of larger conversations about digital storytelling and multimedia scholarship.

  • Alyssa Arbuckle (http://www.alyssaarbuckle.com) is Assistant Director, Research Partnerships & Development, in the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ETCL) at the University of Victoria. In this role she works with the Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) group and assists with the coordination of the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI). Arbuckle is also an interdisciplinary PhD student at the University of Victoria, studying open social scholarship and its implementation (planned completion 2019). Her previous studies at the University of British Columbia and University of Victoria have centred around digital humanities, new media, and contemporary American literature. Currently, she focuses on open access, digital publishing, and how text lives online, which will directly influence her engagement with this working group.
  • John F. Barber (http://www.nouspace.net/john/) currently teaches in The Creative Media & Digital Culture program at Washington State University Vancouver. His scholarship, teaching, and creative endeavors focus on digital archiving / curation and sound+radio art. John developed and continues to curate the Brautigan Bibliography and Archive (brautigan.net), an online, interactive information structure known as the preeminent resource on the life and writings of American author Richard Brautigan. He also runs Radio Nouspace, which is both a repository and a laboratory supporting his research, scholarship, teaching, and creative practices regarding radio, sound, and listening as closely connected with communication, creative endeavor, literacy, and social justice. As a repository, Radio Nouspace collects and organizes information and resources. John brings to our working group a historically-grounded understanding of radio and digital broadcasting, as well as the ways those technologies can structure communities of interest around particular figures, issues, and topics.
  • Dene Grigar (http://www.nouspace.net/dene/) is Professor and Director of The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver whose research focuses on the creation, curation, preservation, and criticism of Electronic Literature, specifically building multimedial environments and experiences for live performance, installations, and curated spaces; desktop computers; and mobile media devices. She has authored 14 media works such as “Curlew” (2014), “A Villager’s Tale” (2011), the “24-Hour Micro E-Lit Project” (2009), “When Ghosts Will Die” (2008), and “Fallow Field: A Story in Two Parts” (2005), as well as 52 scholarly articles. She also curates exhibits of electronic literature and media art, mounting shows at the Library of Congress and for the Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) and the Modern Language Association (MLA), among other venues. As Director of an academic program in a seemingly always new field, Grigar has had to find ways to credential faculty, demonstrate scholarly viability of collaborative research, and develop assessment documents that evaluate excellence. She brings 25 years of teaching experience in higher education to our working group.
  • Hannah McGregor (https://hannahmcgregor.com/) is an Assistant Professor in the Publishing program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, where her research and teaching focuses on the histories and futures of print culture and new media in Canada, with a focus on Canadian middlebrow magazines, and podcasting as both self-publishing and public pedagogy. Hannah is also involved in research projects on scholarly podcasting and on inclusivity and accountability in Canada publishing. For this working group, her interests in the intersection of feminism and new media, particularly the challenges facing women in digital spaces, is most relevant. With collaborator Marcelle Kosman, she makes Witch, Please (http://ohwitchplease.ca/), a feminist podcast about the Harry Potter world. They have spoken about their public pedagogy and fandom in a variety of venues, including the feminist journal Ravishly, CBC Edmonton AM, the Edmonton Journal, and at various fan and entertainment expos around Canada.
  • Jon Saklofske (http://socrates.acadiau.ca/courses/engl/saklofske/about.html) is a Professor at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. His specialization in the writing of the British Romantic period and continuing interest in the ways that William Blake’s composite art illuminates the relationship between words and images on the printed page has inspired current research into alternative platforms for open social scholarship as well as larger correlations between media forms and cultural perceptions.  Jon is a longstanding member of the Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) project, and is exploring ways to incorporate virtual environments and game-based stories into research and teaching.  Other research interests include environmental storytelling in Disney theme parks, the critical potential of feminist war games, and representations of agency and self in video games.
  • Bonnie Stewart (http://bonstewart.com/) is an educator and social media researcher fascinated by who we are when we’re online. Coordinator of Adult Teaching programs at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Founder/Director of the media literacy initiative Antigonish 2.0, Bonnie explores the intersections of knowledge, technology, and identity in her work. Community capacity-building and professional learning are the focus of her current research, which considers the tensions of networked and institutional practices in higher education. Bonnie writes and speaks about networked scholarship, digital strategy, leadership, and massive open online courses (MOOCs) around the world, and her work aims to enact the open, participatory, and collaborative ethos that it examines. She blogs ideas at http://theory.cribchronicles.com, and does her best thinking out loud on Twitter as @bonstewart.