Meanings & Co. pp 127-140 | Cite as

The ‘Multi-mode Transitional Practice’ of Storytelling While Work Is Done

  • Derek PigrumEmail author
Part of the Numanities - Arts and Humanities in Progress book series (NAHP, volume 6)


The present paper is based on a reading of Walter Benjamin’s essay The Storyteller (1936/1973) and the author’s extensive experience of storytelling while work is done in the secondary school art classroom; a storytelling linked to the author’s theory of ‘transitional multi-mode practices’, Peirce and Sini’s semiotics and the object relations theory of D. W. Winnicott. Contrary to what one would expect, the author has observed that listening to a story while working enhances focal attention and provokes doing, in what Benjamin calls a state of self-forgetfulness that impresses the story deeply upon memory. It is argued that this mode of storytelling is a deixis that points beyond the horizon of present meaning to a potentiality that is never fully realized but can be returned to, repeated, revised and reconfigured. In addition to Benjamin the author draws upon Gadamer’s notion of the story as ereignis or ‘event’ that is also related to Peirce’s notion of the immediate object, the energetic and action and final interpretant. Strawson’s notion of the episodic, that avoids seeing stories of life experience as frozen into a narrative thread, is discussed in relation to the author’s notion of Das Gegenwerk, or the work towards the work that avoids definitive closure, where completion continually opens onto ‘beginning anew’. It is suggested that the reflexive project of the self, central to much philosophical and educational thinking, be replaced by a notion of praxis embedded in place.



The Author acknowledges the small grant from the PSEGB that made it possible for him to present an earlier much shorter version of this paper at the 13th Meeting of the History and Philosophy of Education. June 7–9 2017. School of Education University of Tampere, Finland.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Institute of Semiotics, Kaunas University of TechnologyKaunasLithuania

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