Liars, Damn Liars, and Storytellers: Essays on Traditional and Contemporary Storytelling (Hardcover)

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Joseph Sobol is one of a select few contemporary scholar-practitioners to chart the evolution of storytelling from traditional foundations to its current multifarious presence in American life. The years since his classic The Storytellers’ Journey: An American Revival (1999), have brought seismic shifts in storytelling circles. Essays gathered here move between cultural history, critical analysis, and personal narratives to showcase the efforts of traditional and contemporary storytellers to make their presence felt in the world.

The book begins with an account of recent changes in the storytelling landscape, including the growth of a new generation of urban personal storytelling venues sparked by The Moth. Next is a suite of essays on Appalachian Jack tales, the best-known cycle of traditional American wonder tales, and an account of its most celebrated practitioners, including close encounters with the traditional master, Ray Hicks. The next set examines frames through which storytellers capture truth—historical, legendary, literary, oral traditional, and personal. Stylistic differences between northern and southern tellers are affectionately portrayed, with a special look at the late, much-loved Alabaman Kathryn Tucker Windham.

The final section makes the case for informed critical writing on storytelling performance, through a survey of notable contemporary storytellers’ work, a look at the ethics of storytelling genres, and a nuanced probe of truth and fiction in storytelling settings. A tapestry of personal stories, social criticism, and artistic illuminations, Liars, Damn Liars, and Storytellers is valuable not only to scholars and students in performance, folklore, cultural studies, and theater, but also to general readers with a love for the storytelling art.

About the Author

JOSEPH SOBOL is a professor of storytelling in the Faculty of Creative Industries at University of South Wales, Cardiff, and director of the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling. He previously led the graduate program in storytelling at East Tennessee State University.

Praise For…

"Joseph Sobol is both a respected scholar and a storytelling performer with a superb style of writing that flows from his storytelling background. In many respects, this book is a continuation of his significant study The Storytellers’ Journey: An American Revival. There have been major changes in the storytelling field since, and Sobol is one of the few scholars who can understand and chart them."
—Jack Zipes, author of The Irresistible Fairy Tale

"Sobol takes us to meet the people, visit the scenes, and hear the voices of storytellers past and present. His writing is vivid, engaging, generous, and intimate. This collection is a gift to the storytelling world."
—Annette Simmons, author of The Story Factor

"No one has ever told so well the story of the story. Like any great yarn-spinner, Sobol gives us enthralling characters: Ray Hicks at his home on Beech Mountain, Kathryn Tucker Windham hunting the Alabama redhorse fish, Spalding Gray, and dozens more. But he also never loses sight of the core question of his tale: what is the magic in stories that give them such sway over our lives?"
—George Dawes Green, novelist and founder of The Moth

"With the sensitivity of an artist and the startling insights of a wide-ranging scholar, Joseph Sobol illuminates a century of storytelling performers and movements. Thanks to Liars, Damn Liars, and Storytellers, we are closer to understanding this enduring, protean art form and to finding the critical language to describe it."
—Jo Radner, past president, American Folklore Society, past chair, National Storytelling Network

“Joseph Sobol is the rare writer who delights in both the grounded life-lessons of story and the aerial vantage points of scholarship. As a significant participant in the storytelling revival as well as a pioneering painter of the cultural landscapes in which storytelling has its part, Sobol gives contemporary storytelling the integrating lenses it needs: one eye on the ground, one eye on the vista. His sharp mind and compassionate heart let him see what others often miss in the transformative, triumphant and sometimes heartbreaking story of storytelling in our lifetime.”
—Doug Lipman, storyteller and author, The Storytelling Coach


Product Details
ISBN: 9781621905646
ISBN-10: 1621905640
Publisher: Univ Tennessee Press
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2020
Language: English

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