Traditional storytelling in a digital world
: the transformative power of storytelling across media

  • Deborah Maxwell

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    I see stories. At the bus stop, in the pub, even on Twitter. It's how we communicate. This thesis is no different. It tells lots of stories, how you hear them depends on the reader as much as the writer. One of the stories in this book is of my own personal journey from a lowly PhD student to a fully fledged member of the storytelling community in Scotland. The personal narrative is woven throughout the text as a series of reflections and diary extracts. Another story is the development of Blether Tay-gither, the local Dundee-based storytelling group which was set up during the course of my research and continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Blether Tay-gither gave me my ticket into the storytelling world, validating my credentials.The main tale however, is that of storytelling in contemporary, technological society. What does it mean to be a storyteller? Why would someonebecome a storyteller? And what possible relevance could it have to today's society? These questions are answered largely by the tellers themselvesthrough a series of interview snapshots and discussions. What is not addressed by them, though, is the relationship between storytelling and digital technology, or new media. Whilst storytellers are not inherently anti-technology, they are not in general, avid consumers of digital media. Yet by comparing a set of characteristics for storytelling and new media (generated through extensive participant observation), and developing a lens for reflection, the connections between them can be probed. These connections are proof in and of themselves of the continued relevance and need for engaging stories and strongly suggest that creative technology-enabled storytelling experiences would be well received. A set of such creative hybridised storytelling environments was developed by introducing young designers to traditional stories and storytelling techniques, allowing them to generate a range of innovative prototypes. This case study is examined in some detail and the reflection tool used to consider the success of each conceptual idea.
    Date of Award2010
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorCatriona MacAulay (Supervisor) & Thomas Inns (Supervisor)

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