Dr. Ken Seigneurie’s event How Stories Move Us highlighted the universality of storytelling

The talk emphasized how integral stories are to understanding each other and the world around us

Dr. Ken Seigneurie, professor in the World Literature department, hosted the talk on short stories. Courtesy of SFU

By: Nathaniel Tok, Peak Associate

My first non-academic Zoom lecture consisted of a professor reading us stories. I last had that in . . . I can’t even remember. As someone more used to policy, graphs, science, and numbers, this was both unusual and refreshing. 

The talk by Dr. Ken Seigneurie was titled FASS e-Lecture: Writing in World Literature: The Short Story and the Self, and focused on why stories matter to humans. Dr. Seigneurie gave a brief overview of how stories have always played a role in human cultures and read us two stories. One story was about how a man accidentally betrays an animal that cares for his family, and the other one was about anxieties a newly married couple might have on their wedding night. 

We then discussed literary elements and tools used in both stories by the authors to communicate their points and to make it more powerful for the reader. From reception to emotional appeal, to metaphors and symbols.

The event then finished off with some testimonies from current world literature (WL) students on the benefits of doing a program in WL. They discussed what their department, The World Languages and Literatures Student Union, and the WL degree offer to SFU students.

The talk’s centerpiece, however, was on the importance of stories. This was something I think I knew instinctively but never quite put into words. As Dr. Seigneurie said, “Stories are the world’s hard drive.” Stories contain the world’s collective wisdom and give us ideas on what it means to be human. How do we understand choices other people make? Through stories. How can that help us make sense of our own choices? Through stories. Stories help us to grow as much as the people around us, like our parents and friends, do.

This talk was quite eye-opening for me. I went into it thinking I would get some ideas on how to write stories but came out understanding them better. Stories went from being entertainment when bored to being something essential for us as a society and helpful for life events. What stories resonate with you? Think about them. They may be important for a reason.