Autobiographical Storytelling

Autobiographical storytelling is a broad genre within storytelling. The genre encompasses many forms of storytelling such as the stories that we tell on a daily basis, oral history projects, digital storytelling projects, live storytelling in which the performer narrates a story from their own life, and many more. I found two video clips that demonstrate some of these examples of autobiographical storytelling. It is a particularly powerful genre because it can be used to achieve many ends, like recording an eye-witness account of history, it can be used as a pedagogical tool or for social justice, or as part of a healing process. While there are many types of autobiographical storytelling, for the most part they share a common goal, which is to tell the story that you need to tell.

-Hannah

The first clip is from The Moth, a live storytelling organization in New York City.

This second clip was made right around the corner from Hampshire, at the Yiddish Book Center’s Oral History Project.

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4 Responses to Autobiographical Storytelling

  1. Rachel Siegel says:

    I find the need for autobiographical storytelling extremely pressing. Often used as a form of “applied storytelling” autobiographical storytelling can be used for many different purposes. As Hannah mentioned, some of the most prevalent include social change, creating social awareness and traumatic healing. When watching the video’s provided what really stood out to me was in the clip from The Moth, in New York City. The stories that these teenagers were telling, of such small and relatable instances were chilling. They told stories of being discriminated, and bullied, revealing the pain they really felt when they were in these situations. The sort of pain that we as society tend to ignore, we brush it off as adolescence and move on. These are the pivotal moments that are shaping these teenagers, and the art of storytelling itself has given them the ability to unleash the reality of these issues onto a greater social consciousness. Both the act of sharing these stories, and listening to them is beneficial to the healing process. Many listeners are going through the exact same thing, just waiting to hear that the teller made it out okay.

  2. Megan Howard says:

    I really admire the confidence those people in high school had in sharing their stories. Some of them were in 9th grade and they got up on stage and told their stories. I think it takes a lot to tell anyone, not to mention a room full of people your personal life story. I have a hard time not closing off or becoming self conscious when I go to tell the stories that mean the most to me. I think that work shop must have done lots of trust building within the group. I am fairly certain that if I trusted my group of listeners, or even just a few of them, I could say what I want and “need” to say in my stories.

    I think the second half to this problem is my openness comfort level, and the fact that once we tell a story it has been released into the world and we have little control over where how or when it is repeated. I feel more private about the words I speak than the pictures I paint. I think it is because I take comfort in the fact that not everyone will understand my language of paint expression, most people will understand my words.

  3. I found the first video very motivational. It really demonstrates how much power a story has. What you said Hannah “to tell the story that you need to tell” is completely true. Telling a story seems to have so much power and give the person telling it a kind of release. In the video, even though the kids had some bad experiences, they all seemed happy to share their story.

    Also if anyone have any trouble viewing these videos in safari, copy the link to chrome I found that worked.

    Joseph

  4. Jake H. says:

    It’s intriguing to me that you (and the people in the first video) have labelled autobiographical storytelling as the opportunity for you to tell the story that YOU NEED TO TELL. This brings me to consider EVERY story that someone tells as a story that they personally NEED to tell. I think that one’s storytelling repertoire or even just the one story they ever take the time to tell can become autobiographical in itself, even if it is not directly about them. I am beginning to feel that one’s choice in story content as well as the style in which the stories are told are autobiographical. Each person is drawn to the stories they tell for some reason that relates to something about who they are as an individual. I think that compiling and analyzing the story and form choices of a storyteller can create a biographical understanding of a person and can, in essence describe as a whole their life message, their goal, their way of contributing and defining themselves in the world and the communities they inhabit.

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