SOC 362
Stories We Tell Spring 2025
Division II
Cross-listed COMP 362

Class Details

From The Moth to StoryCorps to Williams College’s own Storytime, stories are ubiquitous in contemporary society. Indeed, sociologists have argued that social life is itself “storied”–that we locate ourselves within familiar narrative structures, using them to “construct” identities and “tell” our lives. Stories, in this view, are not only the stuff of literature, but also the very fabric of social life: the foundation for individual and collective identities. This course grapples with the role of stories and storytelling in modern social life. What role do stories play in constituting personal identity? What cultural templates structure the stories we tell? Why are memoirs so popular, and how can we explain the more recent resurgence of interest in oral forms of storytelling? What role does storytelling play in politics and social movements? Specific topics will include confessional culture, podcasts, memoir, politics, and social change. Along the way, we will pay explicit attention to medium, and consider how sociologists might learn from journalists, documentarians, and memoirists to convey stories from their own research.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3275
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: occasional discussion questions, one 2-page reflective essay, one 6-8 page paper, and a final project (either a 10-page paper or an equivalent podcast or video essay)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: if overenrolled, students will be asked to submit a short statement of interest
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
SOC 362 Division II COMP 362 Division I

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