'Digital storytelling’ probably doesn’t mean what you think it means

Presented by: Dr Leah Henrickson

Date: Friday 27 October 2023
Time: 1:30-2:30pm
Location: Online via Zoom and in-person at the SCA Writer's Studio (Level 6, Michie Building)


‘Digital storytelling’ (DST) is an increasingly prominent term in both academic and popular discourse. However, its precise meaning remains unclear. Countless companies tout DST tools and consulting services; educational programmes and MOOCs with the name have emerged; academic researchers apply the term liberally to a wide range of cases. The current DST Wikipedia page – many people’s first impression of the field – defines DST as ‘a short form of digital media production that allows everyday people to create and share their stories online.’ This definition aligns with the ‘classic(al) DST’ model developed by Joe Lambert, and internationally evangelised by Lambert’s California-based StoryCenter. This model has been used in myriad domains, and continues to dominate the DST landscape.

In this work-in-progress research seminar, I set an alternative agenda for the field: one that regards DST not as any particular kind of method or output, but as a process of critical making and self-reflection. I argue for a substantial broadening of the field that moves away from the rigid structures of classical DST and towards cross-disciplinary conceptual frameworks for considering digital narratives and meaning-making. Such consideration has been partly stunted by DST’s general ahistoricism; historical representations of DST tend to focus on the emergence of Lambert’s predominant method in the mid-1990s and neglect DST’s substantial ancestral roots, both digital and analogue. In this seminar, I show how DST is a particular context of storytelling that has emerged from a confluence of traditions and technologies forever in flux. This digital context is characterised by, in my view, intertwingularity, transformativity, interactivity and embodiment, and multimodality.


Dr Leah Henrickson is a Lecturer in Digital Media and Cultures at the University of Queensland. She is the author of Reading Computer-Generated Texts (Cambridge University Press, 2021) and other peer-reviewed articles about how we understand text generation systems and output, artificial intelligence, and digital media ecosystems. Dr Henrickson also studies digital storytelling for critical self-reflection, community building, and commercial benefit. She regularly supports projects and organisations in their digital storytelling efforts as consultant and advisor.


About Research Seminar and Workshop Series


School of Communication and Arts Research Seminar Series

The research seminar and workshop series occur each semester, each with a different topic and guest speaker from UQ or otherwise.

Friday, 23 Febraury

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

The Szondi Test: Mimetic Desire and the Media of PsychiatryDr Grant Bollmer



Online via Zoom and in-person at the SCA Writer's Studio (Level 6, Michie Building) https://uqz.zoom.us/j/81844034613