Week 02: Archetypes

It's a busy week (6 things)...

(here's a cool story-thing relevant to archetypes/stereotypes made with SoundCite)

ar·che·type: (1) a very typical example of a certain person or thing; (2) an original that has been imitated; (3) a recurrent symbol or motif in literature, art, or mythology.

Instructor's Notes

Archetypes are patterns that may apply to a story, a character, a course, or anything.  These are the patterns that we all know and recognize easily in traditional storytelling, for example:

  • Overcoming the Monster
    Here the hero must destroy the monster to restore balance to the world. In the real world this could be overcoming an addiction, working through an abusive relationship, beating an illness or any thing else that requires something to be defeated.
  • Rags to Riches
    Here a modest and downtrodden character achieves a happy ending when their natural talents are displayed to the world at large. In the real world this applies to anyone with an undeniably incredible talent who wants to break through and be successful.
  • The Quest
    A mission from point A to point B. A story about transformation through travel and homecoming.

These story recipes are common and familiar to most of us.  Whatever the recipe or genre may be, traditional stories tend to follow a circular pattern where the protagonist goes, faces conflict, and returns a changed person.  

As avid storytellers and sophisticated story consumers, we know the circle so well that we frequently complete it before the storyteller has finished.  We watch the movie preview, read the book jacket, or skim the headline and we anticipate what's going to happen.  We know where the story is headed and we instantly have an educated guess on how it will end.  And although we recognize the story and have consumed it thousands of times over, we still crave it!  That is because stories sustain us.  Think of stories as you think of your daily food intake.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner - we know the core ingredients of our meals; we prepare and produce meals each day; we have our distinct preferences; and meals are generally shared and social events.  Consider what makes a good meal...   location, people, plating, appetite, and the quality of preparation - these things satiate us.  Naturally, when we crave a favorite meal we make or buy some nuanced version of it, but ultimately it is the same recipe we've had hundreds of times before. We produce and consume stories in a similar pattern.  We know the ingredients and recipes by heart, as we remix and consume them together each and every day.  Stories sustain us.  

In giving a presentation or writing an article, the most common recipe is as follows;

  1. set the context - entice interest with humor or intrigue;
  2. tell the story  - engage & entertain with details and nuance of ingredients;
  3. provide closure - prompt reflection.  

This is the circular pattern of most presentations and lessons, similar to having a good meal.

  1. set the context - appetizer/atmosphere - entice interest with humor or intrigue;
  2. tell the story  - meal - engage & entertain with details and nuance of ingredients;
  3. provide closure - dessert/coffee -  prompt reflection.  

This is the ubiquitous formula for lessons, presentations, and stories; look for it and you will see it everywhere.  

If the formula is truly ubiquitous then we wonder what differentiates one story from the next.  What entertains, educates, and engages us?  It's not the content.  Content alone is just information.  Content remixed with style, media, tone, cadence and context is where the real storytelling occurs.  This could be a course, or a speech, or a sermon, or a book, or an article, or any genre. The style, media, tone, cadence, and context make the content memorable and meaningful.  This flavor makes the nutrients appetizing.  These elements engage the affective element of the human psyche where things will stick.  It is key to how and what the audience will remember.  It is teaching.  

af·fec·tive: (1) relating to moods, feelings, and attitudes; (2) expressing emotion.

Watch the TED presentation below and consider the TED archetype.  Before you click the play button you are anticipating what this will be like, how long this will take, and how the story will go -  are you not?  

I like to share this example as it exemplifies the recipe.  It is loaded with style, media, tone, cadence, and context -  loaded with affect.   But what has he taught us?

We'll spend this module focused on these traditional story structures, circles, and archetypes.   These patterns hold strong across centuries of traditional storytelling and are important to understand before we tilt-shift toward modern digital storytelling which mixes things up a bit.  

Traditional digital storytelling would have you producing a 5 minute video about something personal in your life - this is the old recipe.  INTE5340 practices a fusion recipe of digital storytelling in which we combine a wide variety of genre, media, style, tone, cadence and context.  Our article this week provides a foundation for this work - for the recipes we will explore.    

This Week's Tasks
  1. Join our group. For this class we have our own hypothes.is group - so that our class discussions are not public. Click here to join our group. I've named the group Groovers for no particular reason. ALL of our hypothes.is discussions from this point forward will be within this private group.

  2. Read & watch all of the above.  I've posted some questions for you in the margins of the notes and videos above; answer them in our hypothes.is group so I know you made it.

  3. Select and begin making your first Challenge. This will be due on Sunday/Monday at the end of this week. This is a small digital story, requiring you to use only 1 primary media. Do any challenge you want, using any media you like. Don't over think it. Make something. Have fun with it. I'll post directions for submitting your story later this week in Slack.

  4. NOTE: If you want to deviate from the Challenges list, please run your idea by me first. I encourage you to produce things that you may use beyond this course, so if you have an idea - let me know and we'll flush it out.

  5. Smile and complete the Weekly-Thing, posted to Slack on Wednesday.

  6. Read & annotate the following article(s) within our private hypothes.is group:

    Gretter, S., Yadav, A., & Gleason, B. W. (2017). Walking the Line between Reality and Fiction in Online Spaces: Understanding the Effects of Narrative Transportation. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 9(1), 1.

  7. Once you've done all you plan to do for the week, complete the Check-In for Week 2 to claim your points.
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About Brad Hinson

Teller of stories; drinker of coffee; father of kids; tinkerer of tools; geek. I am an SEHD Assistant Dean, an LDT Instructor, and a ThinqStudio Director @ CU Denver.
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