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“Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .”: What scholars can learn from novelists – and journalists – about storytelling

by | Feb. 25, 2011, 12:28 PM

Watch video of the Feb. 24 talk by Adam Hochschild, author and journalist, titled “‘Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch . . .’: What Scholars Can Learn from Novelists–and Journalists–about Storytelling.”

Hochschild is an award-winning author of six books, including King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa and Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves. He has been a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, a commentator on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” and an editor and writer at Mother Jones magazine. His lecture is sponsored by the Art of Narrative Writing Seminar at the Warren Center, the Departments of History and English, the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, the Program in African American and Diaspora Studies, and the Max Kade Center for European and German Studies.

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Media Inquiries:
Missy Pankake, (615) 322-NEWS

  • As a professional storyteller and teacher of storytelling, I applaud you, Adam Hochschild! I took several concepts away from this video – concepts that, through your historical examples, you made clearer than I have ever heard.nnI especially appreciate these:nn – Finding and portraying a network of interconnected characters;n – Finding the moments of suspense and then switching “back to the ranch” at such moments;n – Dealing with the problem that your readers generally know already how the story will end (e.g., slavery will be abolished) but creating suspense about HOW things will unfold along the way;n – Looking for non-chronological ways to tell the story.nnIn addition, you exemplified an important concept (not one of the many you articulated) with your example of telling the story of WWI through an opposition, not between the warring nations, but between those who supported the war and those who opposed it. Are you familiar with Kieran Egan’s “Teaching as Storytelling”? In it, he talks about how to use a story-like structure to design educational units. He suggests finding a “binary pair” to structure a unit. This is what you did with your opposing parties in WWI.nnWell done! I hope to write an entry at about one or more of the excellent points you made.nnDoug Lipman

  • Great lecture! Incredibly important for historians…

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