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Story in the Public Square

Lisa Genova receiving Pell Center Prize in 2015

Studying and celebrating public storytelling in American politics and culture.

Storytelling is an ancient and underappreciated element of public life. Think of Christ’s parables or Plato’s dialogues – both used stories to communicate, instruct, inspire and persuade. In the American experience, think of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which fueled the abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War, or Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” which contributed to a wave of reform and regulation in American industry.

However they are communicated (film, books, word of mouth, blogs, among other means), stories have the ability to touch listeners and viewers in a way that the cold hard facts of exposition never can.

Stories, of course, are like any tool that can be used in many ways. They can be either truthful or untruthful. They can illuminate or obscure important facts. They can educate or they can propagandize.

Hosted by Jim Ludes, Executive Director of the Pell Center at Salve Regina University, and G. Wayne Miller, senior staff writer at The Providence Journal, “Story in the Public Square” features interviews with today’s best print, screen, music, and other storytellers about their creative processes and how their stories impact public understanding and policy.

The audio version of “Story in the Public Square” airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. Episodes are also broadcast each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.

You can listen to the official podcast and download episodes for free on our Story in the Public Square show page as well as on iTunes, SpotifyGoogle Play, Google Podcast, TuneIn, and Stitcher.

“Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

Recent Story in the Public Square Blog Posts

The Expanding News Desert with Penny Abernathy

Air Dates: February 17-23, 2020 It wasn’t so long ago that small and mid-sized American communities were served by multiple news outlets.  Penny Abernathy warns of the expansion of “news deserts,” or areas without dedicated local coverage because of shifting technology and consumer behavior.  Penelope (Penny) Abernathy is the Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina and former executive at The Wall Street … Read More

Telling the Stories of War with Mark Jacobson

Air Dates: February 10-16, 2020 War stories—whether the stuff of memoir or fictional portrayals of people at war—are mainstays of literature across human history, and today, that extends to film.  Mark Jacobson is both a historian and a veteran who seizes on the power of modern storytelling in film to educate the next generation about the realities of war. Dr. Jacobson is the John J. McCloy ’16 Professor of American … Read More

What it Means to Be an American with Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen

Air Dates: February 3-9, 2020 History, as a subject of study, is more than a linear progression of events—it’s ideas, currents of thought, institutions of learning, social movements, moral awakenings and more.  In a brief, new book, Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen traces the history of ideas that shaped the United States from its beginnings.  Ratner-Rosenhagen is the Merle Curti Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison).  She specializes in … Read More

Bridging the Gap with Linda Tropp

Air Dates: January 27-February 2, 2020 Many people today can mock appeals for understanding between partisans with the phrase, “can’t we all just get along?” For Dr. Linda Tropp however, understanding the dynamics of inter-group conflict and facilitating positive dialogue has become her life’s work.  Tropp is a professor of social psychology at the University of Massachusetts and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Society of Experimental Social … Read More