Students create online concert to carry on art of storytelling

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ripped from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, University of North Texas student Melodie Franklin tells of her longing for the city in a poem, "Home Not Home."

Her story and others are available now in an online storytelling concert, created by graduate students in the UNT School of Library and Information Sciences. Creating Ripples … Making Waves: A Storytelling Concert about Transformation can be viewed indefinitely at http://courses.unt.edu/efiga/CreatingRipplesMakingWaves/.

The 16 students in the Advanced Storytelling Class at UNT, which was taught on the Internet, recorded themselves via digital video telling personal tales or reciting classic tales, such as "The Gift of the Magi." The storytelling concert is the seventh such concert produced over the last several years by students of Dr. Elizabeth Figa, assistant professor of library and information sciences.

Franklin says she and her classmates started the class as fairly inexperienced storytellers, but they worked together with the hope of encouraging others to carry on the art of storytelling.

"Anyone can tell a story," says Franklin, who took the class via the Internet from Baton Rouge and graduated last week with a master's degree in school and youth librarianship from the UNT School of Library and Information Sciences. "We hope that people will see these stories, be inspired and want to tell a story of their own."

The web site includes a description and age rating for each story, as well as a biography of each student. The stories are categorized by themes. The theme of "Recent Ripples: Personal or Modern Tales" includes such stories as Jennifer Torkkola's tale, "How Boredom Made Me a Bride," about boring summer days in Paris, Texas, that led to meeting her Australian husband on the Internet. Tales themed as "The Waves of Once Was: Historical Stories" feature long-ago people and places teaching valuable lessons. Stories and myths under the theme of "Endless Eddies: Timeless Tales" revolve around the consequences of our choices.

"Storytelling does not end in childhood," says Dawn Seymour, one of the students in the class. "Teens and adults benefit from hearing stories not only for entertainment, but also to help in understanding the world and contextualizing relationships."

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