A British university is seeking to bolster its ranks by appointing a “Professor in Storytelling”.
The University of South Wales is advertising the newly-created post, which pays up to £63,000 ($77,500), through the Faculty of Creative Industries. It says it is suited to “individuals with international standing and expertise in any area of storytelling”.
The job, based in the Welsh capital Cardiff, apparently covers two areas: research and collaboration with outside groups; and running the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling, which is the UK’s only academic research unit devoted to the study of storytelling.
The university insists the role is “not about reading children’s books”, but instead about conducting research into how people share information in everyday life.
Jane McCloskey, Dean of Creative Industries at the University of South Wales, said: “The Centre’s research is pretty important to the cancer patients and foster families it helps, because it enables them to understand and explain their experiences. That’s important to hospitals, schools, and social work teams who are able to work with this feedback to make services better for really vulnerable people.”
But Conservative MP David T.C Davies ridiculed the idea. He said: “Universities are forever bleating about the fact they’ve got no money. How can they afford to fund a £60k plus job to sit around reading Janet and John books? Storytelling is for primary school children not university students. And what students ought to realise is that their fees are going towards paying for this nonsense.”
The job description reads: “The Professor in Storytelling will provide an expert source of knowledge and advice to … support the strategic direction of the Creative Industries Research Institute, which will increase research funding success rates, research intensity and revenue.”
The university claims people sharing stories was becoming increasingly prevalent in the era of digital media. It added that being able to share a story in a “compelling way” was a key skill that can lead to careers in the creative industries.
A University of South Wales spokesman said: “Our storytelling research has already made a significant and wide-reaching impact on civil society and cultural life by taking storytelling out into a range of communities and organisations.”