Current Courses

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, English, 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.

Fall 2020

Oral Documentary Workshop

Instructor: Tiffany Naiman
Fall 2020, Fridays 10:00-11:20
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

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Instructor: Jonah WIllihnganz
Fall 2020, Tue/Thur 4:30-05:50pm
4 units, WR-2

Love is said to be the key to everything from psychological development to achieving social justice. But as renowned psychologist Erich Fromm said as far back as the 1950s, love appears to be disintegrating in modern society. This may be partly because most of us don’t in fact understand it very well. It may be true that, as the Beatles say, All You Need is Love, but it also seems, as Lady Gaga says, we Don’t Know What Love Is. This class gives students an opportunity to take a deep dive into the nature of love—its history, its practice, and how it has been studied.  We will look at all types of love, from familial and brotherly to romantic and spiritual, and you will be introduced to conflicting ways it has been defined (a drive, an emotion, an orientation to the world, etc.), functions it has often been given (reproduction, kinship, finding ultimate truth, etc.), and ways people have cultivated it (service, therapy, spiritual practice).  The course will also introduce you to how various disciplines such as anthropology, biology, psychology, and art approach a complex experience such as love.  

Meeting the Moment: Inner Resources for Hard Times

Life 105
Instructors: Andrew Todhunter and Jonah WIllihnganz
Fall 2020, Mondays 4-5:20 pm
1 unit

In the face of social, economic, environmental, and public health upheavals, many of us are experiencing an unprecedented degree of uncertainty, isolation, and stress affecting academic and day-to-day life. Challenging times ask us, in a voice louder than usual, to identify sources of strength and develop practices that sustain and even liberate. In this experiential, project-oriented class: Explore practices to find true ground and enact positive change for self and community; Cultivate natural capacities of presence, courage, and compassion; Develop resources to share with one another and the entire Stanford community.

Winter 2021

Creating Counterstories

Instructor: Jonah Willihnganz
Winter 2021, Time TBD
4 units, WRITE-2
Counterstory is a method developed in critical legal studies that emerges out of the broad “narrative turn” in the humanities and social science. This course explores the value of this turn, especially for marginalized communities, and the use of counterstory as analysis, critique, and self-expression. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we examine counterstory as it has developed in critical theory, critical pedagogy, and critical race theory literatures, and explore it as a framework for liberation, cultural work, and spiritual exploration. This course will share some lectures and workshops with its companion course, Counterstory in Literature and Education, but this section satisfies the WRITE-2 (PWR2) requirement, so students will focus more intensively on the story creation and writing process.

Sound and Vision: The Rhetoric of Music Documentaries

Instructor: Tiffany Naiman
Winter 2021, Tuesday and Thursday 8:30-9:50 a.m.
4 Units





Spring 2021

It’s the Freakiest Show: David Bowie’s Intertextual Imagination

English 14Q
Instructors: Tiffany Naiman
Spring 2021, Monday Wednesday 10 am – 11:20 am

David Bowie’s career began in the early 60s with a mix of folk, rock, and psychedelia; he then helped define an era with his performance of a gender bending, glam rock alien prior to engaging with German expressionism and minimalist electronic music; in the ‘80s, he brought a generation to the dance floor with chart topping hits before turning to drum ‘n bass and industrial music for inspiration; he finished his life as an enigmatic but engaged artist releasing poignant albums until his death. Through these many transitions, Bowie had a constant – he was a voracious reader – a practice that informed his work throughout his life. 

In this class students will explore the place of literature in the work of musician, actor, and visual artist David Bowie. They will consider how Bowie’s work embodies, questions, critiques, and engages with “the literary.” This course will focus on the relationship between Bowie’s artistic output and work by other artists, both canonical and Avant Garde such as Andy Warhol, Iggy Pop, W.B. Yeats, T.S. Elliot, and William Burroughs. It will involve close readings of song lyrics and comparative reading of albums with literary forms such as the novel, poetry, and critical essay. We will also consider how Bowie’s music was fueled by and in turn inspires new relationships between music, literature, cinema, and theater.

Bowie’s work easily adapts from text to other media including film, painting, and theater. Thus, the story of your research will be no exception: in communicating your findings, you will consider how different modes—writing about your work and presenting it orally—give you varied opportunities and means to persuade.

This course fulfills the second-level Writing and Rhetoric Requirement (Write-2) and emphasizes oral and multimedia presentation.

Fight the Future: Speculative Fiction and Social Justice

Instructors: Jonah Willihnganz and Shannon Pufahl
Spring 2021, Wed 2:30-3:50
3 Units, WAYS-Ce
Imagining the future has been one of the most important ways humans have assessed their present. In this salon-style seminar we’ll focus on modern speculative fiction as social critique, especially of regimes of patriarchy, racism, and capitalism. The first three weeks will be devoted to the work of Margaret Atwood, who will visit the class. The remaining seven weeks will explore other speculative fiction, broadly defined and across era and geography, that also engages with oppression and freedom, sex, love, and other dynamics of power. Guest lecturers will discuss the work of authors such as Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, Franz Kafka, Philip K. Dick, Ursula LeGuin, and others. No prerequisites. Space limited. Apply by March 12 (link coming.)