Category Archives: Popular Culture

May 24, 2013

7 Necessary Narratives for the New Digital Age

In the future, nearly everyone will be connected to the Internet and to each other, claim Jared Cohen and Eric Schmidt in The New Digital Age. Mass connectivity will transform our relationships, our governments, our work, our bodies and the objects around us.  But even these dramatic transformations will not change the fact that we …

December 15, 2012

Narrative for Survival: My Grandmother’s Story

Stories can save lives. In One Thousand and One Nights, Sheherezade uses her storytelling talents to end King Shahrayr’s plot to punish his unfaithful wife by punishing all of the women of his kingdom.  Having put to death the unfaithful Queen herself, the King embarks on a plan to marry a virgin of the Kingdom …

December 1, 2012

Intertextuality for Strategic Communication

The Power of Reference, Allusion and Quotation in Communication Two recent films, Skyfall and Anna Karenina, are made more intensely meaningful by their intentional intertextuality–their incorporation of previous iterations and interpretations of the story they are themselves telling.  Both offer insights into the ways communicators can benefit from the same kind of internal referentiality. The …

May 11, 2012

Hacker Narrative: Next Chapter in History of Civil Rights?

Peter Fein, self described Hacktivist, recently revealed he is a member of the group Anonymous,  a self-organized group that targets institutions that stand in the way of their vision of Internet freedom with Distributed Denial of Service(DDOS) attacks.  DDOS attacks are a way of effectively shutting down websites by  overwhelming them with traffic. For much …

January 21, 2012

The Form of National Myths

I was reminded of the tremendous elasticity of narrative forms when I recently visited the Denver Art Museum’s amazing American Indian art collection for the first time, by the  Haida storytelling pole near the entrance of the collection. The Haida is a native tribe of the Northwest coast of the United States and Canada and, …

December 28, 2011

2011: Year of the Protest Narrative

E.M. Forster famously distinguished events that are yoked only by their temporal order from those that we would consider a narrative (which he called “plot”), in which events are causally linked, with this pithy comparison: 1. The King died and then the Queen died (2 events tied only by temporal order) 2. The King died …

September 5, 2011

Communal Narrative on Parade at Annual West Indian American Day Carnival

In our social lives, narrative is not only something we tell but also something we perform. Public rituals like parades give us the chance to chronicle our communities in physical space and display the symbols and activities that define us. The words of George Fitch in Colliers Magazine in 1913, testifying to the popular pleasures …

May 22, 2011

The Psychology of Conspiracy Theorists

Conspiracy Theories are Narratives on Steroids Conspiracy theories are narratives on steroids. In a story, the plot moves forward when one thing causes the next.  In a conspiracy theory, cause is an outsized malignant force that knows everything and controls all events. Nothing happens randomly, all events are tied to the larger purpose of an …

May 2, 2011

Transmedia Storytelling Goes Beyond Entertainment

Transmedia Storytelling, according to media psychologist Pamela Rutledge in Psychology Today is “the new standard for 21st century communication:” Transmedia storytelling uses multiple media platforms to tell a single, coherent story or narrative that unfolds across time. Each media piece-whether it’s a website, novel, video games, mobile apps, or a film-provides different points of access …

April 7, 2011

“Adjustment Bureau” Adjusts Individual Lives to Fit Institutional Narratives

The Adjustment Bureau is a film about narratives, and about who has the power to tell them.  Based loosely on the  1954  Philip K. Dick short story, “Adjustment Team,” it tells of the story of the effort by one man (played by Matt Damon) to wrest control over his own life from larger forces. Meanwhile, …