Story in the Public Square

Studying and celebrating public storytelling in American politics and culture.

Storytelling is an ancient and underappreciated element of public life. Think of Christ's parables or Plato's dialogues - both used stories to communicate, instruct, inspire and persuade. In the American experience, think of Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin," which fueled the abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War, or Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," which contributed to a wave of reform and regulation in American industry.

However they are communicated (film, books, word of mouth, blogs, among other means), stories have the ability to touch listeners and viewers in a way that the cold hard facts of exposition never can.

Stories, of course, are like any tool that can be used in many ways. They can be either truthful or untruthful. They can illuminate or obscure important facts. They can educate or they can propagandize.

"Story in the Public Square" is a year-round initiative to study and celebrate public storytelling. It features an annual conference, lectures, awards and student contests, as well as original scholarship about public storytelling and how those stories can affect the public debate.

Story in the Public Square is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal, and is directed by visiting fellow G. Wayne Miller with Pell Center executive director Jim Ludes.