The contemporary storyteller in context: a study of storytelling in modern society

  • Patrick Ryan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Professional storytellers and their work over the past three decades have been acknowledged as a field worthy of study by many scholars. While drawing from traditional sources and abstract concepts concerning what is traditional storytelling, contemporary storytelling practitioners' methods often focus on stories and the act of telling devoid of contexts and the evolution of storytelling in modern society. They rely on out-dated terminology and methods which folklorists have long since abandoned. Similarly, contemporary storytellers and storytelling enthusiasts neglect the past and current influences arising from literature, performance art, and new electronic media in the formation of their identities and their work. This thesis draws upon current theories in performance, folklore, literature and cognitive science to understand some manifestations of contemporary storytelling. Literary criticism and folklore, particularly, are beginning to make extensive use of cognitive theories to develop a more useful critical language for analysis. The thesis makes use of interviews with professional and traditional storytellers, video and audio recordings of professional and traditional storytellers' performances, and a journal recording and analysing the student's own experiences as a professional storyteller.
Date of Award2003
Original languageEnglish


  • Storytelling

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