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Storytelling Traditions of South Asia and the Middle East

Seminar Leader:
Deven Patel


Since 2004, an event known as World Storytelling Day has been celebrated globally every year on the March Equinox (around March 20). Wikipedia notes that the “significance in the event lies in the fact that it is the first global celebration of storytelling of its kind, and has been important in forging links between storytellers often working far apart from each other. It has also been significant in drawing public and media attention to storytelling as an art form.” What is the future of the art of storytelling? To what extent will our students carry the stories of the past into the new imaginative worlds of the future? This course began with the foundational storytelling traditions of the premodern worlds of the nations which now comprise the regions of Asia and the Middle East – covering
the classic storytelling traditions composed in Sanskrit, Arabic, Chinese, and Persian. We carried this understanding of the past to engage with how storytelling continued into the modern world – and in its new languages – and what the future may hold for this fundamental of all human art forms. In addition to the stories themselves, of course, we considered theories of narratology, their relationship to religious and secular forms of life in these regions, and how to tell apart distinct forms of storytelling (myth, folklore, novelistic, sonic, graphic and visual storytelling).

Unit TitleAuthor


Dawning of A Sunrise

Valerie Adams
Keywords: Critical thinking, Drama, ELA, fables, folktales, frame story, frame tale, Middle East, multi-intelligence, narrative, pair, Personal Identity, poetry, Reading, share, short stories, South Asia, storytelling, think, writing

Exploring Culture and Storytelling with Fairy Tales

Cher Baylor
Keywords: Culture, fairy tales, social studies, storytelling

The Hero’s Journey in The Conference of the Birds and The Name Jar

Paul Dale
Keywords: reading comprehension, storytelling, vocabulary

Student Personal Stories: Another Step to Unleashing Lifelong Learning

Nora Karasanyi
Keywords: Animal Farm, Canterbury Tales, critical readers, critical writers, fables, frame story, lifelong learning, Middle East, motivation, personal frame stories., South East Asia

Digital Passport: Exploring geography through folktales and digital storytelling

Tia D. Larese
Keywords: folktales, Geography, stories, storytelling

Storytelling for Language Acquisition

Patricia Rich
Keywords: Asian literature, Foreign Language, language acquisition, storytelling

Tell Your Truth: Showing Your Story Through Symbols

Katherine Steiner
Keywords: Culture, Middle East, South Asia, stories, symbols, Visual Art

Legends, Folktales and Urban Myths in Latinx Cultures

Gabrielle Tompkins
Keywords: folktales, latin culture, legends, storytelling, urban myths

Celebrating Cultures of the World Through Reading and Writing Folktales

Katherine Volin
Keywords: cultures, folktales, Reading, storytelling, writing

Chasing Cinderella: Following One Story Around the World

Phyllis Zimmer
Keywords: cinderella, Culture, PBL, Philadelphia, stories

Resonant Subcellular Narrative Nonfiction

Margaret Osman
Keywords: Biology, Joseph Campbell, STEAM