Review by Grady Harp
L.A. (Lily) Alexander belongs to the family of three generations of educators and scholars; has earned three graduate degrees – in film, anthropology and comparative cultural studies; and visited about thirty-three countries exploring how people think and feel about their communities and storytelling practices. Lily Alexander has taught screenwriting, myth, folklore and narrative/media studies in three schools in New York: NYU, Brooklyn and Hunter Colleges. She is a recipient of academic fellowships and awards, has been teaching screenwriting, film, literature, folklore, media, and communication for fifteen years; including for the last ten years at New York University and City University of New York. The author’s diverse experiences envelope traveling and studying narrative cultures in many countries; learning directing, and writing for the media; as well as conducting research in the fields of symbolic anthropology and international media.
This unique book respects all the thinkers and writers of the past who have either written about or researched or elucidated the concept of storytelling as a means of community. As she states in `The Symbolic Construction of Community’, ‘FICTIONAL WORLDS argues that what is defined here as the formation of symbolic community is key to understanding narrative culture, media practices, and creative writing. The ‘symbolic construction of community’ represents the most effective forms of human cooperation, which have been proposed and tested, via narratives and drama, throughout centuries. Such vital themes as love and friendship, family and brotherhood, teams and partnerships, villages and nations constitute the cultural universe of symbolic community.’
Embarking on this fascinating study of narrative traditions as depicted in our films and all forms of visual culture, she uses particular movies to define the process of storytelling needs and traditions in a manner that is novel and enlightening. The degree of research that this book represents is staggering, yet the information as written is so accessible that the book reads like a fascinating novel. This is a must own for students of film, teachers of film, and all students (and recipients) of culture studies. Highly recommended.
TITLE: FICTIONAL WORLDS: TRADITIONS IN NARRATIVE AND THE ART OF VISUAL CULTURE VOLUME I – IV Storytelling on screen
AUTHOR: L. A. ALEXANDER