HELGA LENART-CHENG

Just published

Story Revolutions (Virginia University Press) explores the role of personal storytelling in democracy. Two decades into the twenty-first century, the collective sharing of personal stories is on the rise. The Moth, StoryCorps, #metoo or Humans of New York attract millions of users, not to mention the so-called “story products” recently introduced by social media companies with nearly a billion users. We are on the cusp of a new era in which personal stories will play a key role in social and political engagement. The book traces the connection between personal stories and democracy back to the Enlightenment. It focuses on three historical periods­­––the Enlightenment, the 1930s, and the 21st century––because all three were marked by a convergence of mass movements and new methods of data collection and aggregation, which led to a boom in story activism. Story Revolutions presents a variety of case studies from eighteenth-century memoir-collections to contemporary Web 2.0 databases, including memoir contests, oral history, digital story-maps, and crowd-sourced pandemic diaries. Ultimately, the book offers a critical perspective on the concept of community, with reflections on what it means to use storytelling to build democracy in the twenty-first century. 

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