WRD 531: Digital Storytelling (Winter 2022)

Course Description

WRD 531 introduces the principles and techniques used to create digital personal experience narratives (DPENs) and to circulate these narratives for organizational or community-building purposes. We begin with a prototypical DPEN genre, the digital story; you will make your own digital story and learn about the values that inform traditional digital storytelling practice. We next investigate other common DPEN genres—including profiles, testimonials, and stories crafted from interviews—learning how these texts are produced and to what ends they are used. Through your work in WRD 531, which includes engaging with academic and practitioner readings in seminar discussions and written reflections, completing digital production exercises and projects, and conducting online research on DPENs, you will gain confidence in your ability to conceptualize and execute meaningful, professional, and ethical digital storytelling projects in organizational and community settings.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Create a polished digital story that demonstrates intermediate-level knowledge about narrative script writing and revision, digital audio recording and editing, image sourcing, and video editing
  • Coax authentic and ethical stories from others, using a range of interviewing, listening, prompting, and editing skills
  • Apply theoretical concepts to the production and analysis of digital personal experience narratives
  • Summarize the landscape of digital personal experience narratives and DPEN practices in a sector or about a particular topic

Readings & Resources

NOTE: Those resources not linked below or indicated as available at the DPU Bookstore are available for download via DePaul’s Ares Course Reserves.

Abbott, H. P. (2020). The Cambridge introduction to narrative, 3rd edition. Cambridge University Press.

Dush, L. (2013). The ethical complexity of sponsored digital storytelling. International Journal of Cultural Studies 16(6), 627-640.

Dush, L. (2017). Nonprofit collections of digital personal experience narratives: An exploratory study. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 31(2), 188-221.

Fernandes, S. (2017). Charting the storytelling turn. In Curated stories: The uses and misuses of storytelling (pp. 16-37). Oxford University Press.

Ganz, M. (2011). Public narrative, collective action, and power. In S. Odugbemi & T. Lee (Eds.), Accountability through public opinion: From inertia to public action (pp. 273–289). Washington, DC: The World Bank.

Higgins, L.D. & Brush, L.D. (2006). Personal experience narrative and public debate: Writing the wrongs of welfare. College Composition and Communication 57(4), 694-729.

Jensen, J.C. (2015, May 7). The power of personal narrative. https://youtu.be/TuCUgD3Si-M

Kučerová, L. (2011). Editing procedures in Studs Terkel’s oral histories. Discourse and Interaction, 4(1), 51-66.

Lambert, J. (2018). Digital storytelling: Capturing lives, creating community, 5th edition. Routledge.

Meyer Foundation. (2014). Stories worth telling: A guide to strategic and sustainable nonprofit storytelling. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://meyerfoundation.org/impact/stories-worth-telling

Nelson, H. L. (2001). Narrative repair: reclaiming moral agency. In Damaged identities, narrative repair (pp. 1-35). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

NPR, Life Kit (2021, Nov. 18). Every family has stories to tell. Here’s how to document yours. https://www.npr.org/transcripts/1055128650

Vivienne, S., & Burgess, J. (2013). The remediation of the personal photograph and the politics of self-representation in digital storytelling. Journal of Material Culture, 18(3), 279-298.

Wright, A.L. (2020, Sept. 22). Ask better questions to build better connections. https://youtu.be/_gzfIf1w7A8

Yow, V. R. (2014). Recording oral history: A guide for the humanities and social sciences, 3rd ed. (chs. 4 & 7 (pp. 194-206). Rowman & Littlefield.

Assignments (each 25% of grade)

  1. Your Digital Story: Using the digital storytelling method devised by StoryCenter, you will craft your own 3-4-minute digital story on a personally meaningful topic of your choice.
  2. Short Paper Exploring a Digital Story of Your Choice: Using theoretical concepts learned in the course, you will perform a close analysis of a DPEN of your choice, exploring if and why the text is a story, what work it might do, and the process priorities that should guide work with the storyteller.
  3. Interview-Based Story: Using interview, listening, and story-shaping skills learned in WRD 531, you will interview one person and craft a story that either fits within an organization’s existing online spaces or serves as a prototype for content that will go in a new online space. Project deliverables include an interview transcript, a story (print, with at least two photos), and a Creative and Process Brief.
  4. Landscape Analysis and StoryBase Entries: This project asks you to conduct a ‘landscape analysis’ of DPENs and DPEN practice in a particular sector (e.g., higher ed, health care, religious orgs) or in the service of a particular advocacy cause (e.g., immigration reform, environmental justice) and to synthesize your findings in an online post for storytelling practitioners on Medium.com. As part of this task, you will also add at least five new DPEN collections to the StoryBase and make a short presentation to the class sharing your findings.