Contemporary Storytelling: Revived Traditional Art and Protean Social Agent

Daniel Joseph Sobol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contemporary storytelling has constructed itself as a compound of tradition-based performing art and a social agent in a variety of applied fields. Beginning as a folk revival movement in the mold of the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s, storytelling generated a network of festivals, concert series, and guilds in the 1970s and 1980s, promoting a romantic image of the storyteller as solo artist with traditional associations and contemporary messages. More recently, this artistic thrust has been complicated by the articulate emergence of applied storytelling in a range of mainstream domains, including education, business, health care, and law. At the same time, the limitations of the nostalgia-driven ethos of revivalist performance have become increasingly evident and artistically constricting. This essay briefly surveys the artistic reach and limitations of storytelling as a contemporary performing art form, then explores the historical, theoretical, and practical implications of these evolving, multiple, and interdependent roles for the contemporary storytelling artist/practitioner.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-133
JournalStorytelling, Self, Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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