Emerging Horizons, Part Six. Bethany’s Story: Layers of Meaning





This six installment of the Emerging Horizons series explores Bethany’s digital storytelling (DST) experience (please see the introductory editorial, Crafting Meaning, Cultivating Understanding, to access the documentary film on which the series is based). In the film, Bethany demonstrates how a digital story can become both a signpost and a monument in the life of an Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer survivor by indicating how they have changed, providing direction for their future selves, and creating a reminder of the meaningful moments that happened along the way. Her experience also reveals how DST can help participants craft a story with many layers of intentional meanings while the plurivocity of word, image and compositional elements of DST enables a profound hermeneutic excess (i.e., x = x+) and ensures that what is contained in a digital story is always more than what was intended by the storyteller. Using the screenwriting framework of the “said, unsaid, and unsayable,” and Nicholas Davey’s concept of “aquifers of meaning,” I (Lang) demonstrate how a digital story artwork can act as an artesian well, providing AYAs and their friends and family an encounter with the “unsayable,” by bringing to the surface what has been mute and beyond awareness.

Author Biographies

Dr. Michael J Lang, University of Calgary

Dr. Mike Lang is a health researcher, filmmaker, and Level 3 facilitator with Common Language Digital Storytelling. He has directed and produced five feature-length documentaries and three web series about the human health experience, in addition to publishing academic research articles and facilitating the creation of over 800 digital stories with a diverse cross-section of patients, family caregivers, and healthcare professionals. Mike’s professional and research focus is on using digital storytelling and documentary filmmaking in education, advocacy, research, and a therapeutic capacity within healthcare and wellness contexts. Connect with him on all socials @mikelangstories or via www.mikelangstories.com or commonlanguagedst.org.

Dr. Catherine M Laing, University of Calgary, Faculty of Nursing

Catherine M Laing is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs. She was Michael's PhD supervisor and has conducted her own prior studies in the area of digital storytelling in oncology.