Digital storytelling and the ‘problem’ of sentimentality

McWilliam, Kelly and Bickle, Sharon (2017) Digital storytelling and the ‘problem’ of sentimentality. Media International Australia, 165 (1). pp. 77-89. ISSN 1329-878X


‘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.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2017 23:45
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2018 03:34
Uncontrolled Keywords: digital storytelling, affect, sentimentality, Stories of Service
Fields of Research : 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200212 Screen and Media Culture
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200102 Communication Technology and Digital Media Studies
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9502 Communication > 950204 The Media
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1177/1329878X17726626

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