Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. . . . Want to make a point or raise an issue? Tell a story. —Janet Litherland (1991)

In his keynote speech for the 2014 Imagining America National Conference, Doug Shipman, founding Chief Executive Officer of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA, argued that engaged storytelling has the power to activate the emotional and intellectual curiosity of an audience, and has radical potential for scholars, artists, and activists engaged with issues of social justice.

This article, a collection of vignettes written by members of the 2014–2015 Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) program, recounts our uses of engaged storytelling within our respective academic, artistic, spiritual, and activist communities. Our definition of engaged storytelling is drawn from Shipman's keynote address, in which he asserted that engaged storytelling, alongside techniques for inviting communities to connect with those outside our own place or time, can activate radical praxis for collective memory, contemplation of civil and human rights, and attempts at reconciliation. Engaged storytelling has the capacity to illuminate history, time, and experience through narratives that invite listeners to find their respective places within these stories, and to actively move beyond them. In many regards, it is through storytelling that we come to know ourselves and begin to interact with the world around us.

Engaged storytelling has a vibrant history beyond and within the academy, and often gestures back to practices of oral history and communal genealogy. Indigenous communities and communities of color within the United States have had to rely heavily on oral tradition and engaged community-based storytelling in order to speak and write themselves into American history. Activists and scholars within the academy have built upon and contributed to these traditions, further complicating the relationships between researchers and the objects/subjects they study (Tuhiwai Smith 1999; Ngai 2004; Taylor 2003), as well as inserting particular bodies and experiences into previously exclusive fields and literatures (Reed 1998; Lonetree 2012). It is important to ground both Shipman's practice, as well as our own, within these historical legacies, in order to demonstrate the potential of storytelling toward political activism efforts, as well as revisionist history projects (Du Bois [1935] 1998; Anzaldua 1997; Piatote 2013). For Shipman and ourselves, our personal experiences are political, and the stories we tell sometimes work against the grain of social, cultural, political, and historical narratives. Furthermore, our efforts to practice collective storytelling in this piece are not entirely unique. As literary scholar Deborah Brandt postulates, "We need to have many, many different kinds of persons naming and working on the issues of public interest" (Brandt et al. 2001, 43). Thus, we take up Shipman's call to action and Brandt's assertion regarding exemplary practice, in order to meditate on the medium and methods of storytelling, and their impact on our pedagogies and creative and scholarly processes.

This article emerged from our collective desire to focus on storytelling as a methodology and vital practice; it draws on weeks of collective dialogue and telling stories of our own that reflect the central concerns, successes, and debates of those conversations. Shipman's keynote continues to inspire and compel us to think through the possibilities of storytelling as a communal and educational resource, and to reflect on how our own experiences and practices can be mobilized to achieve positive change. The vignettes that follow explore each collaborator's unique experience with and practices around engaged storytelling.

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