HM SS 245 - Stories and Storytelling 


People of Northern communities have relied on the telling and retelling of stories to transmit significant cultural understandings such as cosmology, ecology, spirituality and social norms. This course will examine the ways in which cultures of the North have used oral narratives throughout time and what functions such narratives serve today in the modern world. Traveling across the top of the world, we will become familiar with a variety of cultural groups who inhabit northern places and come to understand how geography has shaped both identity and the art of storytelling. We will read, listen, watch and share our own stories as we dive deeper into oral traditions. This course will culminate with an original production for the Sterling community.

      Stories and Storytelling

      Spring 2013

Instructor: Laura Beebe            Home phone: 586-2296

Office Hours: Monday mornings 10:00-2:00, Thursdays 1:00- 2:30, or by appointment    


  • The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
  • Living with Stories: Telling, Retelling, and Remembering by William Schneider
  • The Social Lives of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the Yukon Territory by Julie Cruikshank
  • Photocopied articles will be passed out periodically
Course Format: This course will be taught through various teaching methodologies including discussions, lectures, film, written cultural profiles and story reflections, as well as the development and performance of an original theatre production. The variety of teaching methods are intended to serve a diversity of learning styles.

Course Objectives: 
  • An understanding of the distribution, significances and commonalities of traditional boreal and tundra cultures 
  • An appreciation of knowledge systems imbued in the oral tradition 
  • A demonstration of awareness and responsibility when engaging in Indigenous stories 
  • An ability to critically examine and articulate theories and methodologies specific to scholarly discourse in oral sources 
  • An ability to learn through engagement of self-directed research and development of original ideas 
  • An appreciation for the various ways in which stories shape, define and guide our lives 

Class Attendance and Participation                                                    30% 
 active, informed participation (including all lectures, discussions, story performance, etc., on time, alert, well-read and ready to engage)
Engagement in performance Assignments and Short Writings        50% 
2 Movie Reaction Papers- 2 pages each,   Creation Story- 2-3 pages,   Trickster performing story, Mask making 
Critical Essay                                                                                        20% 
6-8 pages with 1 peer review and 2 reviews with instructor 

Course Policies: Students are expected to attend all classes or make prior arrangements with the instructor if class is missed, arrive to class on time prepared to learn and to participate to their fullest abilities. This course will require students to work creatively and collaboratively with peers. In doing so students are expected to be respectful and stay actively engaged. All assignments are to be turned in at the start of class on assigned days.