Earlier this year, Dr. Alexander Hollenberg joined Sheridan as a Professor of Storytelling and Narrativity in our School of Humanities and Creativity. We recently asked him to share his thoughts on the importance of storytelling and to explain what drew him to the field as an academic and a professional.
“My passion for teaching began the moment I realized that the literature classroom was a space of learning for both students and professors,” explained Hollenberg. “The buzz within the room, its nervous energy—filled with moments of clarity and moments of confusion, moments of anxiety and moments of insight—showed me that we become creative through the ways we interpret the narratives that surround us. Why do we tell stories? What does narrative offer our society that other discourses cannot? These questions underscore my teaching. Stories ask us to think about the world in new ways, to engage alternative perspectives, and to carefully consider what is different from ourselves. The best teaching moments occur when students are able to produce innovative readings based on the stories they read and then apply that thinking to the world beyond the text. When that happens, the classroom itself transforms into a productive, creative space.”
“Stories ask us to think about the world in new ways, to engage alternative perspectives, and to carefully consider what is different from ourselves” – Dr. Alexander Hollenberg
Alex’s newest research project, a book-length study entitled Doctored Discourse: Modernism and Narrative Medicine, is inspired by his efforts to show students why stories—and why the Humanities—matter. As Hollenberg explains it, reading modernist discourse (the “how” of narrative, the way a story is structured) can operate as an essential “site of ethical practice” that would prove valuable to healthcare workers in their relationships with patients. This thinking also frames Alex’s general approach to Creativity in the Humanities. “If we can demonstrate how Humanities-based thinking responds to the real world and how it provides innovative, interdisciplinary solutions to a host of social challenges, then we will also begin to inspire a new generation of thoughtful, active citizens who feel a real stake in the development of their own communities.”
Pictured above: Dr. Alexander Hollenberg, a Sheridan Professor of Storytelling and Narrativity
Written by: Christine Szustaczek, Director of Communications and External Relations at Sheridan.