Digital storytelling and the ‘problem’ of sentimentality

Article


McWilliam, Kelly and Bickle, Sharon. 2017. "Digital storytelling and the ‘problem’ of sentimentality." Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy: quarterly journal of media research and resources. 165 (1), pp. 77-89. https://doi.org/10.1177/1329878X17726626
Article Title

Digital storytelling and the ‘problem’ of sentimentality

ERA Journal ID9242
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsMcWilliam, Kelly (Author) and Bickle, Sharon (Author)
Journal TitleMedia International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy: quarterly journal of media research and resources
Journal Citation165 (1), pp. 77-89
Number of Pages13
Year2017
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN1329-878X
2200-467X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1177/1329878X17726626
Web Address (URL)http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1329878X17726626
Abstract

‘Sentimentality’ is typically used to refer to the excessive, self-indulgent and banal use of affect to manipulate audiences into ‘tender’ emotional responses Sentimentality is also one of the most common criticisms of ‘digital storytelling’, a co-creative media practice in which ‘ordinary’ people are taught to create short, usually autobiographical ‘digital stories’. Indeed, scholars and practitioners alike have noted the frequent reception of digital storytelling as ‘too sentimental’, ‘sentimental navel-gazing’ and ‘sentimental tripe’ This article uses Stories of Service – an American programme that facilitates the creation of war veterans’ digital stories – as a case study to investigate such criticisms, finding that not only does the programme make extensive use of the tropes and conventions of sentimentality but also that its ‘distinctive media logic’ is actually constitutive of the very sentimentality with which the practice is so frequently charged.

Keywordsdigital storytelling, affect, sentimentality, Stories of Service
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020470214. Screen and media culture
470102. Communication technology and digital media studies
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Arts and Communication
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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