1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story
Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
2. Isabel Allende: Tales of Passion
Author and activist Isabel Allende discusses women, creativity, the definition of feminism — and, of course, passion — in this talk.
3. Andrew Stanton: The Clues to a Great Story
Filmmaker Andrew Stanton (Toy Story, WALL-E) shares what he knows about storytelling — starting at the end and working back to the beginning.
4. Lisa Bu: How Books Can Open Your Mind
What happens when a dream you’ve held since childhood … doesn’t come true? As Lisa Bu adjusted to a new life in the United States, she turned to books to expand her mind and create a new path for herself. She shares her unique approach to reading in this lovely, personal talk about the magic of books.
5. Amy Tan: Where Does Creativity Hide?
Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife and The Hundred Secret Senses, digs deep into the creative process, looking for hints of how hers evolved.
6. Billy Collins: Everyday Moments, Caught in Time
Combining dry wit with artistic depth, Billy Collins shares a project in which several of his poems were turned into delightful animated films in a collaboration with Sundance Channel. Five of them are included in this wonderfully entertaining and moving talk — and don’t miss the hilarious final poem!
7. Elif Shafak: The Politics of Fiction
Listening to stories widens the imagination; telling them lets us leap over cultural walls, embrace different experiences, feel what others feel. Elif Shafak builds on this simple idea to argue that fiction can overcome identity politics.
8. Joe Sabia: The Technology of Storytelling
iPad storyteller Joe Sabia introduces us to Lothar Meggendorfer, who created a bold technology for storytelling: the pop-up book. Sabia shows how new technology has always helped us tell our own stories, from the walls of caves to his own onstage iPad.
9. Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius
Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.
10. Tracy Chevalier: Finding the Story Inside the Painting
When Tracy Chevalier looks at paintings, she imagines the stories behind them: How did the painter meet his model? What would explain that look in her eye? Why is that man … blushing? She shares three stories inspired by portraits, including the one that led to her best-selling novel Girl With a Pearl Earring.
11. Jarred McGinnis: Writing is the Only Magic I Still Believe In
Jarred McGinnis shares his passion for stories and demonstrates the power of words from Speech Act Theory to the genius that is the children’s book ‘That’s Not My Pirate’. Jarred is an American living in London, and the co-founder of the literary variety night, The Special Relationship.
12. Julian Friedmann: The Mystery of Storytelling
How we tell stories seems to be a mysterious process that millions around the world want to be able to do, but 99.9% effectively fail. Why is it so hard for storyteller and audience to be one? What we communicate can change the lives of the writer and the audience. However, why stories matter and how to tell them better may not be as mysterious as it seems. Julian Friedmann has worked with writers for over 40 years; he believes understanding that storytelling is more about the audience than the writer will result in better storytelling.
13. John Green: The Paper Town Academy
When we think of education as a school-based phenomenon, we do a disservice both to students and to the rest of us. Best-selling author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars John Green argues that we should imagine education as a kind of cartography, and discusses how online communities are helping to build learning maps that will encourage students.