Joe McHugh – Slaying the Gorgon | April 19, 2013

Slaying the Gorgon: The Rise of the Storytelling Industrial Complex
A multi-media presentation with storyteller Joe McHugh
Friday, April 19
7:30 p.m.
$12 member
$15 non-member/door

Tickets available at BriarPatch, Mother Truckers, and the Ridge Café

People have told stories since earliest times to entertain, inform, and pass on cultural values. They have also used stories to persuade. In today’s fast-paced world, corporations use stories to sell products and gain competitive advantages. Political parties use stories to elect candidates and garner support for controversial policies. Military leaders use stories to inspire courage and foster unit cohesion. Social activists, educators, environmentalists, economists, religious leaders, and a host of others use stories to promote their views and agendas.

Slaying the Gorgon is a fascinating and provocative multimedia presentation by storyteller, writer, and public radio producer Joe McHugh that looks at how stories are told in the modern age given the dynamic and transforming influence of new technologies. From the venerated saints and cathedrals of the Middle Ages to the pop stars and cineplexes of today, he explains why images and sound are increasingly supplanting the authority of the printed word, and by so doing, radically altering the cultural, economic, and political landscape in the United States and around the world.

What does the myth of Perseus and Medusa tell us about how the technologies of storytelling shape the way we think and act? Why do political candidates need the blessing of media saints to get elected? Is society becoming more tribalized because of media? Why do people respond so favorably to the word “thousand”? How does today’s industrialized storytelling overstimulate and exhaust the imagination and what can we do about it? These are some of the questions Joe explores using a combination of plain language, intriguing images, recorded stories, and humor. His goal is to provide an opportunity for reflection and discussion about these vitally important issues of today.

“Joe captivated the audience as he spoke about the importance of story and it’s changing role in our lives. He set the perfect tone for the entire day with his expertly crafted presentation. In addition to being a talented speaker with a stimulating message that challenges listeners to “think outside the box” and stretch their vision of stories, Joe was a pleasure to work with.”
-Nancy Schultz, Training and Staff-Development Specialist, Timberland Regional Library System

About Joe McHugh
Joe McHugh is a storyteller, radio producer, musician, and home-grown philosopher who has worked for over thirty years helping young people, organizations, and communities find and tell their stories. He has collected and published books of traditional folktales from the mountains of Appalachia, produced multicultural festivals, directed a museum, designed a literature camp for children, pioneered the use of radio dramas with young people, and produced and hosted programs for public television and public radio. He has presented at numerous national and regional conferences and has served as a project consultant for several state departments of education, the National Council of Family and Juvenile Court Judges, the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association, and other organizations. He is the author of Kilowatt, a modern-day fable about the energy industry and the nature of time, and is currently writing a trilogy examining the art and practice of storytelling in the modern world.

Joe lives in Olympia, Washington, with his wife Paula Blasius-McHugh who is a painter, graphic designer, and musician. Audio stories from Mr. McHugh’s archived public radio series The Telling Takes Us Home, a Celebration of American Family Stories can be heard at

“Slaying the Gorgon was a powerful and innovative look at how viewers, especially children, regard images and how teachers and librarians can help support students in an electronic, digital, super-speed age. I heard from many members that his presentation was the “best I have ever seen at a conference.”
-Sarah Applegate, president, Washington Media Library Association

“Mr. McHugh came to Metropolitan Omaha to give a presentation on youth and the media that generated important dialog as to how we could continue our efforts on behalf of youth and their families. Mr McHugh is extraordinarily well-versed, articulate, entertaining, and a pleasure to be around. he has the unique ability of communicating with anyone and is one of the most gifted presenters I have ever known.”
-Lawrence D. Gendler, Judge, Sarpy County Juvenile Court, Nebraska

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