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Why Storytelling

September 7, 2008

I forget how I got onto this topic. I met with Bill M. in early January this year to sound him out on the thesis route.  He had me attend OISE library on a mission to read ONLY the methods chapters of 5 master’s theses.  I ended up selecting about 2 master’s and 3 doctoral theses. 

At that point in time, I really had little idea what a thesis was.  My first observation was that the doctoral thesis is bigger than the masters, by about 2:1. My second finding was a doctoral thesis by Foster (2000). I found the title intriguing; at the time I was interested in understanding binary opposites. After reviewing the thesis, I became quite interested in storytelling, and have pursued this subject since.  Eight months in, I am still fascinated, and have so much more to learn! The hard part is condensing my findings and interests into a masters thesis: I have a tendency to go off on tangents.

My reading travels have taken me quite some distance, I think. I have over 40 references in place in my draft to date (1st three chapters), and have reviewed at least as many more articles and books. Today was very sucessful. I have struggled with the use of the word ‘storytelling’ as thesis title or primary concept, as the connotation suggests an element of fiction (Nair, 2003 – thanks WIlliam for this resource), and fiction does not seem to mix well with academic research and writing, at least IMHO. Today I was most fortunate to discover the term Experiential Narrative, and have located a valuable number of resources in the work of Carola Conle, OISE. I have posted some of these below, if anyone needs to have a look. 


Conle, C. (2000). Narrative inquiry: research tool and medium for professional development. [Electronic version]. European Journal of Teacher Education. 23(1), 49-63.

Conle, C. (2003). An anatomy of narrative curricula. [Electronic version]. Educational Researcher. 32(3), 3-15.

Conle, C. (2007). Moral qualities of experiential narratives. [Electronic version]. Journal of Curriculum Studies. 39(1), 11-34.

Conle, C. & Boone, M. (2008). Local heroes, narrative worlds and the imagination: the making of a moral curriculum through experiential narratives. [Electronic version]. Curriculum Inquiry. 38(1), 7-37.

Foster, A. (2000). Nature storytelling: the importance of binary opposites. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved June 3, 2008 from 

Nair, R.B. (2003). Narrative gravity: conversation, cognition, culture. New York: Routledge







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