In this 2010 Grand River Forum Lecture, Ted Chamberlin describes how stories give shape and substance to the things we believe in, from scientific theories and sacred texts to literary tales and philosophical propositions. They promote ideals and identities, and sustain institutions and communities. They raise questions about the nature of truth and the character of belief. And they create a covenant in wonder that is at the heart of all storytelling, a ceremony of belief that may be different for each tradition of story and song-ancient or modern, oral or written-but eventually becomes as familiar as "once upon a time" or "let x be such and y be so" or "hallelujah." In his progress across the continents and centuries, Chamberlin explores the art and ideas of William Wordsworth, Lorna Goodison and Wallace Stevens as well as the oral stories of the “Khomani people of Africa, the story designs of Blackfoot warriors, and the spiritual ideals of Mongolian herders.
About the author
J. Edward Chamberlin was born in Vancouver and educated at the universities of British Columbia, Oxford and Toronto. He is now University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. His books include The Harrowing of Eden: White Attitudes Towards Native Americans (1975), Ripe was the Drowsy Hour: The Age of Oscar Wilde (1977), Come Back to Me My Language: Poetry and the West Indies (1993), and If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?: Finding Common Ground (2003).