Storytelling as Transdisciplinarity: An Experiment in First-Year Composition and Communication

  • Michael T. Smith
  • Jeffrey J. Evans


In The Myth of the Frontier, Joseph Campbell writes “the rise and fall of civilizations can be seen to have been largely a function of the integrity and cogency of their supporting canons of myth...when the mythology of a culture no longer works, there follows a sense of both disassociation and a quest for new meanings.” In other words, our societies are built upon storytelling. This article examines a transdisciplinary class taught with a cross-departmental team of five faculty members that was centered on the theme of storytelling. This class was organized within the newly proposed transdisciplinary studies program in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute in fall 2014. Titled “Culture, Communication, and Digital Narratives: Storytelling as a Way of Thinking,” the class was a 7-hour class for freshmen that met the university’s core requirements of First-Year Composition and Introductory Oral Communication but also sought to reach beyond the confines of these classes by incorporating visual and audio design (and the technologies associated therewith). This article will first argue the theoretical underpinning of this class that storytelling is a fundamental mode of learning. It will then argue that it is one that works particularly well in the context of transdisciplinary studies (albeit with its share of pratfalls).


Transdisciplinarity Storytelling Design Communication Narratology 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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