Each year the Storytelling Project offers courses on story craft and practices, with special attention to how to use stories for personal and social change.  Courses are designed primarily for undergraduates and listed in departments and programs such as Oral Communication, History, Education, Theater and Performance Studies, LifeWorks, and American Studies. Register through Axess.  See also our Past Courses, many of which are offered in alternating years.


Oral Documentary Workshop

ORALCOMM 126
Instructor: Tiffany Naiman
Fall 2019, Fridays 10:30-12:20
1 Unit

This workshop will lead students through the process of turning interviews, archival tape, and other recorded material into an accomplished audio documentary suited for public radio and major podcasts. Students will learn how to build story out of their materials, design and create a script, edit and mix sound, and distribute their final product. Suited especially to students returning from summer documentary and oral history research projects. Instructor Permission Required


Tools for a Meaningful Life

LIFE 101
Instructors: Jonah Willihnganz, Andrew Todhunter, Fred Luskin, Gigi Otalvaro
Winter and Spring 2020, Tues/Thurs, 3:00-4:20 pm
3 Units, WAYS-CE

Explores the foundational skills for a meaningful life. Features lectures by faculty from across the university and labs for experiential practice. Draws on research and practices from fields related to psychology, philosophy, literature, and neuroscience, as well as wisdom traditions from around the world. Focuses on developing human capacities necessary for a meaningful life including; attention, courage, devotion, resilience, imagination, and gratitude. Exposure to these capacities influences personal growth and its development in communities.


Sound Stories

ORALCOMM 129
Instructor: Tiffany Naiman
Winter 2020, Weds. 9:30-12:20
4 Units, WAYS-CE

This seminar is designed for students interested in creating audio stories for radio, podcast, and other forms of sonic narrative. Students will examine the craft elements of the audio form, popularized by programs such as This American Life, Radiolab, and Serial including skills for interviewing, scoring, and audio editing, and will then produce their own documentary, memoir, or investigative story. This is a hybrid class, equal parts classic seminar and creative workshop. Students will work in small groups, learning how to develop material, choose an effective structure, blend dramatization and reflection, ground insights in concrete scenes, create a strong narrative arc, and manage elements such as characterization, description, and dialogue in order to create engaging stories with social impact. Recommended for students interested not only in podcasting but also creative nonfiction, documentary, film, and sound art. No prior experience with story craft or media required.


Documentary Fictions

Instructors: Jonah Willihngamz, Shannon Pufahl
Winter 2020, Wed 3:00-5:50
4 units, WAYS-CE
More and more of the best American fiction, plays, and even comics are being created out of documentary practices such as in-depth interviewing, oral histories, and reporting. Novels like Dave Eggers’ What is the What, plays like Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles, and narrative journalism like Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, all act as both witnesses and translators of people’s direct experience and push art into social activism in new ways. In this course students will examine the research methods, artistic craft, and ethics of these rich, genre-bending works and then create documentary fictions of their own. Readings will include works by Truman Capote, Dave Eggers, and Lisa Taddeo, as well as Katherine Boo, author of the award-winning Behind the Beautiful Forevers, who will visit the class. No prior creative writing or journalism experience required. Note: First priority to undergrads. Students must attend the first class meeting to retain their roster spot.

Introduction to Podcast Storytelling

ORALCOMM 127
Spring 2020, Fridays, 10:30-11:50
Instructors: Jonah Willihnganz, Jenny March
2 units, WAYS-CE

This introductory course is designed to teach you the fundamentals of creating stories for new media, especially podcasting. You will learn how to develop and produce pieces across a variety of genres, from memoir to reported pieces, and you will learn the entire process, step-by-step, from pitching and interviewing to scripting and audio (and sometimes photo and video) editing. The course combines a traditional seminar format with a practicum where we workshop work in progress for fiction and nonfiction podcasts produced by the Storytelling Project. Though we focus on audio stories, the craft skills you learn here are transferable to making stories for any medium, from print and performance to web multimedia and film. May be repeated for credit.


Fight the Future


Crafting Concept Albums: Big Tales, Small Grooves, and the Art of Musical Narrative

ORALCOMM 123
Instructor: Tiffany Naiman
Spring 2020, Weds. 9:30-12:20
4 Units

Cultures all around the world tell the stories of their history, beliefs, and identities through song.  The Greeks set their epic tales of love, life, and death to music, Renaissance composers followed suit, and popular music artists do the same today.  In this hybrid workshop-seminar, students will explore musical narratives by analyzing seminal concept albums and then producing their own single-story album through written lyrics. Students will examine how artists use craft elements such as setting, characters, and plot, cover art, and musical form and instrumentation, then apply that learning in their own productions. Creating music, beats, soundscapes, and artwork will be encouraged, but the final project need only be a cycle of recorded, spoken song lyrics.  We’ll focus in particular on narratives of race, class, gender, and sexuality and their social implications as we examine works from artists across musical genres—from classic and punk rock artists such as Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and Green Day; to hip-hop, pop, and EDM performers such as Beyoncé, Lupe Fiasco, Janelle Monáe, Daft Punk, and Kendrick Lamar. Students will work in groups to choose genre, develop a sense of place and time, select narrative structures, and craft lyrics. No prior experience in music or creative writing is required.