Storytelling, More Than Just Fairytales In The American Southwest

As we start our journey to Arizona and Mexico to document the subculture along the American/Mexican border I truly hope to become a storyteller.

When the word storyteller is used many mental images come to mind, but the one that is always most prominent in my mind is the grandpa in the film The Princess Bride. In this film the grandpa reads a mythical story involving “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, (and) miracles” to his (somewhat) sick grandson.

Though, by this standard, I am not the quintessential image of a storyteller I am participating in the Backpack Journalism program to Arizona and Mexico to better understand the skills needed to responsibly tell others’ stories. The fictional character of the grandpa in The Princess Bride demonstrates the success of storytelling. For him, the story is already there, all the grandpa does is illustrate the book so that his grandson, who was originally reluctant to hear the story, empathizes with the plot and characters. That is what we are trying to do in the next five weeks. Through this experience I hope to gain more knowledge on genuinely telling other people’s stories in a way that allows for the audience to be interested in the process and outcome of the story. I want to work to be able to make conscious decisions that better a narrative.

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A scene from The Princess Bride, where the storytelling brings the book alive

This skill of constructing a narrative connects my collegiate studies. I am studying history, graphic design, and dance. At face value, these fields seem random and not intertwined. However, in reality, storytelling is truly one of the main things that unite these programs. History is the telling of certain narratives to support an argument and when done correctly uses narratives often forgotten or originally omitted. Graphic design is visual communication—telling a story without an emphasis on text. Lastly, dance is storytelling though physical movement. Storytelling connects my interests but its significance is much greater than that.

Storytelling allows for voices usually ignored to be heard, for forgotten stories to be shared, and when done right works to inform its audience on the truth while creating interest and empathy. I chose Creighton as a place to explore different mediums to present these narratives and on the Backpack Journalism trip to Arizona and Mexico I hope to work toward becoming a more skilled visual storyteller. I am participating in the Backpack Journalism program to Arizona and Mexico to start the journey to becoming my version of the grandpa from The Princess Bride (a storyteller).

2 thoughts on “Storytelling, More Than Just Fairytales In The American Southwest

  1. Liz, I love the way you weave together the idea of storytelling in all of those majors. I am excited to see how you bring these stories to life.

  2. Elizabeth, I love your tie in to Princess Bride – and it is a great one to have! Keep this mentality over the next few weeks! Wanting to share the stories you experience like this will come through beautifully in your participation in Backpack Journalism.

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