Accessibility statement

Storytelling as a Way of Bridging Cultural Divides

Wednesday 6 June 2018, 9.00AM to 2.00pm

An interdisciplinary workshop

Deadline for the submission of abstracts: 15 May 2018

The theme of this interdisciplinary workshop is inspired by recent studies which have shown that fictional and factual narratives profoundly affect the minds of readers: they evoke empathy, stimulate reader identification, and forge relationships between readers, characters, and the cultural communities on which they are modelled. Stories are an absolutely crucial aspect of human experience, and the process of creating an active response can have many positive effects. Storytelling can be used to integrate oral memories of communities into the lived experience of the present; it can provide the basis for respectful relationships between local inhabitants and the visitors to heritage sites; and last but not least, it can provide a dialogue space in conflict zones. Here is a great opportunity for the humanities to design projects that “use” stories as a means of generating openness to otherness.

The workshop explores the many positive effects of engaging creatively with stories, told in written and oral form, and in film as well as other media. It invites its participants to create initiatives that apply the principles of experience design in order to engender understanding and respect for cultural differences, without attempting to control audience responses. A further aim of the workshop is to initiate an interdisciplinary research project between the UK and the Middle East. Contributions are invited from colleagues working in the fields of literature, film and media studies, linguistics, cultural heritage, tourism, history, translation, development studies, peace studies, and related disciplines.


9.00-10.30: Session 1: 

  • Christa Knellwolf King: Research Aims and Potentials of the Workshop; a Concrete Project in Oman: "Presenting Intangible Cultural Heritage for Tourists”
  • Rebecca Lemaire: “Storytelling in the Field: Working with Refugees” 

11.00-12.15: Session 2:

  • Gweno Williams: “Modelling a multi-cultural society for Norwegian readers through stories in English”
  • Tudor Parsons: “Using Anecdotes to Teach Intercultural Competence"

13.00-14.15: Session 3:

  • Sofia Castiglioni: “Open Doors: The Role of Architectural Thresholds in Literary Texts” 
  • Janet Brown: “Living Tradition, Ceilidh Culture, Cultural Revival and Community Identity in the 21st Century”

14.15-15.00: Concluding comments and discussion of funding opportunities


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Christa is an Associate Professor of English literature at Sultan Qaboos University, Oman, and an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the University of York.

Location: Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building, University of York Heslington West Campus