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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Storytellers' reports of the good work of storytelling
by Peerless, Cathy Bufflap, Ed.D., University of Hartford, 2014, 550; 3620411
Abstract (Summary)

Storytelling is often experienced as profound and transformative. Scholars view storytelling as both human essence and essential to human survival. This exploratory, qualitative study explored contemporary storytellers' reports of the good work of storytelling using the GoodWork Project (GWP) (Gardner, Csikszentmihalyi, and Damon, 2001) as the conceptual framework. Guided by the GWP this study examined cultural controls, social controls, individual standards, and outcome controls that impacted storytellers, their practice and good work.

This study applied the methodology of Gardner, Gregory, Csikszentmihalyi, Damon, and Michaelson (1997) and Gardner et al. (2001) to answer the primary research question, What do storytellers report regarding the good work of storytelling as conceptualized by the GWP (Gardner et al, 2001)? The unit of analysis was professional storytellers representing a population that that has not been studied any detailed and disciplined way. The cohort of a 12 storytellers, 3 men and nine women represented African American, Appalachian, Jewish, and Native American storytelling traditions. The protocol instrument consisted of inquiries in nine areas about their experiences, professional work, personal values, beliefs, opportunities and responsibilities relevant to storytelling.

The author conducted an in-depth one-on-one interview with 12 exemplary storytellers, all creative leaders. The complete interview was digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Storyteller responses comprised the data. The researcher hand-coded the content by hand, identifying eleven themes and GWP subtopics. For further data analysis, NVivo 10 text-analysis software was used. These steps categorized interviewees' statements according to richly interlinked motifs and ideas, which permitted the author to verify nodes showing the data's correspondence to the GWP conceptual framework.

Seven conclusions emanated from the findings describing storytellers' good work. The oral tradition, dedication to serving others, personal values, trust in storytelling community, culture and cultural heritage, and the paradox of technology impacted storytellers' good work. All of the storytellers interviewed and the overwhelming majority of contemporary scholarly literature agree with the argument that this dissertation develops, which is threefold: the human connection is at the heart of the power of story; second, the social environment for creative expression underlies the capacity of storytellers to do their professional work; and third, the opportunity to benefit other people, communities and support their own culture, also form critical features of storytellers' good work.

This study contributes to the view of storytelling as an art form and a leadership skill. It addresses the ethical questions of the use of stories and storytelling in business or corporate settings. This study described professional storytellers' experiences navigating complexities of the storytelling profession in today's highly technological and rapidly changing environment.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Case, Karen
Commitee: Bray, Paige, Clark, Barbara
School: University of Hartford
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Folklore, Educational leadership, Teacher education
Keywords: Building community, Communication art, Cultural traditions, Oral tradition, Power of story, Preformance art
Publication Number: 3620411
ISBN: 978-1-303-90856-9
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