A Brief History of Storytelling: From Primitive Dance to Digital Narration

A Brief History of Storytelling: From Primitive Dance to Digital Narration

Recep Yılmaz, Fatih Mehmet Ciğerci
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5357-1.ch001
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The aim of this chapter is to examine the history of storytelling. This brief history includes the concept of storytelling from myths to the digital era. In the first part of the chapter, the origins of storytelling in primitive communities and its development in later periods are examined. In the second part of the chapter, the development process of digital storytelling is explained. According to this, traditional storytelling has gained a new form called digital storytelling which started with a workshop in 1993 by Dana Atchley. One year later, the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) was established in Berkley, CA. The Center for Digital Storytelling has organized workshops and partnered with organizations around the world to hold projects on story facilitation, digital storytelling and other forms of digital media production and since 1993, it has helped more than 20,000 people to share their own stories. Though the digital storytelling movement started in North America, it has also spread in Europe, Australia, Asia, Africa and South America. The movement has found a place in the world of today.
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The Origin And Development Of Storytelling

Primitive Art and Its Features

History of storytelling is as old as human history. Since human understanding is largely related to storytelling -especially in relation to the concept of 'relocation', which means being able to refer to events belonging to a different time and place than ongoing communication- it will be the right approach to look at the first narrative examples. The greatest contribution to the study of the primitive communities’ understanding of the world is to present the living principles of today. Ethnographic data have a significant contribution to this issue, which has entered the subject of anthropology. Nevertheless, despite the fact that primitive peoples were got in touch in the 15th and 16th centuries, there was little interest in the subject. Even so, at that time, scientists were ridiculous in debating whether the locals were human or not. Until 1512, the Church defended the idea that these “strange creatures” were not human. The most important element that affects primitive artists was social and geographical (Haviland, 2002, p. 102, Örnek, 1995, pp. 160-162).

In the course of time, the knowledge acquired through the advancement of science fields revealed the characteristics of these communities day after day. The most striking characteristic of the art was that artistic work was a social act beyond individuality in these societies. The primitive artist who remained under the influence of the first social circle and then the geographical circle did not have aesthetic aims. The social environment drew the boundaries of the artist's social function. The artist was not able to go out of the way of the community's thinking. Primitive art was a ritual or socially oriented field, and this situation affected not only the artist but also the artist. So, the purpose of the primitive artist was the same as the purpose of society and it is hardly a matter of the artist to do art at his / her own discretion. Those who placed orders to the artist were members of the society, such as family rector, tribal chief, clergy or secret society members. That is, primitive art served institutional and social purposes before personal purposes. The primitives believed that mythic ancestors, deaths, sacred animals and plants, extraordinary powers and supernatural beings had an effect on people's lives either positively or negatively. All sorts of troubles and victories and abundance were considered to be a manifestation of the will of these persons who were superior to the ordinary people. To get along well with mythic ancestors was dependent on so many things, such as organizing ceremonies and keeping their memories alive, except for the victim and the devotions. This situation showed and reflected itself in the way of making sculptures, masks, and busts of the ancestors and blessing them. In this way, basic artistic subjects were determined. The main subjects that primitive artist works were ancestors, gods, totem animals' emblems, symbols, figures and masks. In this respect, the member had a significant contribution to the regular attendance of the material and spiritual affairs of the community. The overriding meaning that principals assigned on the artificiality was that there was no other meaning order, because there was no writing and art was the most natural expression tool and a common idol. The artist portrayed the past, legends, ancestors, mythical heroes of this ritualistic field tribe, and thus had an important function in daily and holy life. From the point where we find the most important criterion of understanding the concept of art of the principals, it is from the point of putting their own facts in the center (Frazer, 1962, p. 17, Müensterberger, 1955, pp. 10-19, Örnek, 1995, pp. 160-162).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Multimedia: Any types of application using and combining graphics, still or animated images, text, video and/or sound.

Digital Stories That Inform or Instruct: Digital stories conveying instructional material in different content areas like medicine, science, technology, social sciences, art, language education, etc.

Digital Storytelling: The modern way of traditional storytelling using in which digital media together with images, music, voice and narrative is used to create media-rich stories to tell, to share, and to preserve.

Analogue Media: Mass traditional massive devices which display activity in unidimension, such as newspapers, radio, and television.

Personal Narratives: A type of digital story in which a storyteller tells significant event and experiences in his or her life besides giving information about the culture and the environment where the storyteller lives.

Digital Media: General name for communication means which has emerged with the development of communication technologies includes characteristics of analogue media and combines them with digital methods.

Digital Stories That Examine Historical Events: Digital stories, either real or fictitious, about an important historical figure or event or a discovery.

Relocation: It means being able to refer to events belonging to a different time and place than ongoing communication.

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