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Story in the Public Square

Lisa Genova receiving Pell Center Prize in 2015

Studying and celebrating public storytelling in American politics and culture.

Storytelling is an ancient and underappreciated element of public life. Think of Christ’s parables or Plato’s dialogues – both used stories to communicate, instruct, inspire and persuade. In the American experience, think of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which fueled the abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War, or Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” which contributed to a wave of reform and regulation in American industry.

However they are communicated (film, books, word of mouth, blogs, among other means), stories have the ability to touch listeners and viewers in a way that the cold hard facts of exposition never can.

Stories, of course, are like any tool that can be used in many ways. They can be either truthful or untruthful. They can illuminate or obscure important facts. They can educate or they can propagandize.

Hosted by Jim Ludes, Executive Director of the Pell Center at Salve Regina University, and G. Wayne Miller, senior staff writer at The Providence Journal, “Story in the Public Square” features interviews with today’s best print, screen, music, and other storytellers about their creative processes and how their stories impact public understanding and policy.

The audio version of “Story in the Public Square” airs 8:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m. & 11:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. Episodes are also broadcast each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.

You can listen to the official podcast and download episodes for free on our Story in the Public Square show page as well as on iTunes, SpotifyGoogle Play, Google Podcast, TuneIn, and Stitcher.

“Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

Recent Story in the Public Square Blog Posts

American Crossroads: What’s Next with Norman Ornstein

Air Dates: January 18-24, 2021 A lot of people believe our politics are broken.  Dr. Norman Ornstein says the fault lies squarely with one political party—and will likely shape the course of the Biden administration. Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies politics, elections, and the U.S. Congress.  He is a cohost of AEI’s “Election Watch” series, a contributing editor and columnist for … Read More

Examining Animal Rights in Industrial America with Ernest Freeberg

Air Dates: January 11-17, 2021 The end of the 19th Century in America, is often associated with the rise of profound social movements like the temperance movement; the women’s suffrage movement, and—more darkly—even the eugenics movement.  Ernest Freeberg tells the story of the birth of the animal rights movement. Freeberg is a Distinguished Professor of Humanities at the University of Tennessee and is the award-winning author of “A Traitor to … Read More

Grappling with Mental Illness in 20th-Century America with Robert Kolker

Air Dates: January 4-10, 2020 Every family has its secrets. Robert Kolker tells the story of an all-American family in the middle of the 20th century forced to grapple with that era’s stigma and tragic consequences of serious mental illness. Kolker is the New York Times bestselling author of “Lost Girls,” named one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Top Ten Books of … Read More

Navigating Our Future with Big Tech with Alexis Wichowski

Air Dates: December 28-January 3, 2020 Our nationality has long been a part of how we identify ourselves.  But Alexis Wichowski surveys the rise of “net states,” big tech companies that are, increasingly, taking on roles traditionally played by nation-states. Wichowski is a public servant, teacher, and writer.  She serves as Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Innovation and Acting Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Broadband for the City of New … Read More