Storyknowing describes a series of activities, workshops, articles and conferences explores how we know in and through story.
For two years between 2013-15, the International Centre for Arts and Narrative has been running regular storytelling workshops with different community and school groups of various ages and backgrounds.
All our workshops began with a story. Whether we were working with a primary school or a community group, whether the participants were 6 or in their 60s, we would begin by explaining that we were interested in narratives and how people listened and responded to stories. Then, with everybody sitting in a circle, we would share a story.
Early on in the process we decided to use only a small number of stories, often working with the same story over several months. This enabled us to gather an understanding of the range of similar and different responses to the same story. When we changed the story – and to date we have used just three – it was to test our emerging insights within a different narrative. The stories were from the folklore tradition and we selected stories that contained a degree of ambiguity and the possibility of choice or multiple perspectives. All of the stories engaged with major themes (loyalty, the environment, community, faith) but not in a manner that offered an answer to them.
Drawing on ideas about narrative developed by people such as Walter Benjamin, Jerome Bruner and Dwight Conquergood we argue that through the process of (re)telling the stories participants have developed a particular kind of embedded knowledge that we have termed ‘storyknowing’. This is part of what Lyotard describes as a ‘strange brand of knowledge’ (1984: 21) whereby the listener may not be able to consciously articulate what they know outside of the story.
In April 2016 ICAN hosted ‘Storyknowing’: a symposium and festival on storytelling and theatre with young people.
In November 2016 Research in Drama Education will publish an article emerging from this project, titled ‘Storytelling, Story-retelling, Storyknowing: Towards a Participatory Practice of Storytelling’.
For further information about the workshops visit the ICAN website.