Confluence 19 May 2021

Jean Morris


History hides her-story

Using storytelling techniques to uncover historical women’s lives

The lives of women from the distant past are notoriously hard to know. Ordinary women were barred from public life and often did not read or write. This leaves the social historian in a quandary: how do we piece together the lives of our historical sisters based on scant evidence?

In this presentation I will discuss how I use storytelling techniques alongside historical research in order to tell stories that have been buried by more conventional history writing. My case study will be based on the trial of Marina Gonzalez, who was arrested, tortured and burnt at the stake by the Spanish Inquisition on the charge of heresy. By bringing stories such as hers to light the hope is that we gain insight into how big political events and ideas impact the emotions and bodies of vulnerable human beings.

Jean Morris

Jean has had a long career in storytelling beginning with her role as a commissioning editor in children’s publishing. She then went on to teach storytelling techniques to advertising students at London’s School of Communication Arts 2.0. Her most recent role is as historian, having recently completed her PhD which scours the Spanish Inquisition’s trial transcripts for women who were accused of heresy. By using storytelling techniques in her research, Jean aims to introduce emotion, nuance and contradiction to the more matter-of-fact renderings of conventional history-writing.