Eric Miller's Life Narrative

 

Eric Edwin Miller was born in midtown Manhattan, New York City, where he was raised by his parents, Edwin Miller (Entertainment Editor of Seventeen Magazine,1946-1988) and Lydia Joel (Editor-in-Chief of Dance Magazine,1956-1970; Chair of the Dance Department of NYC's High School of the Performing Arts, 1972-1984).

Dr. Miller attended Trinity School (grades 2-8), and Stuyvesant High School, both in NYC.  He pursued his undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College, Oberlin College, and New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, receiving his B.A. degree in 1984.

From 1982 to 2002, Dr. Miller and a partner (Diana Dunbar) co-directed Eric & Co. Video, which was based in NYC.  In its early years, this company documented performances and social and corporate functions; later it produced videoconferences and other multimedia events. 

Dr. Miller has also worked for other new media companies, including Amusitronix, which provided virtual reality and other interactive entertainment.  Dr. Miller's primary function as a media professional (consultant, designer, director-producer) is to bring the spirit of physically-present storytelling into new media environments.

Dr. Miller developed his interest in storytelling in the following manner:  Throughout high school and college, Dr. Miller was involved with theatre as a writer, director, and performer.  As an undergraduate, he was introduced to the study of Folklore by Dr. Phyllis Gorfain of the Department of English, Oberlin College. 

Back in NYC, in his early twenties, Dr. Miller met Laura Simms -- a storyteller, educator, and leader of the modern revival of storytelling -- and he began studying with and working for her, eventually doing two Independent Studies with her, one as an undergraduate student, and one as a graduate student, at NYU.  Dr. Miller's work for Ms. Simms included managing mailing lists; preparing publicity and advertisements; giving feedback regarding manuscripts and performances; videotaping performances; and acting as liaison for the "1995 Month of International Storytelling in New York," which involved assisting storytellers from England, France, Iran, Africa, and the USA.

Throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. Miller was based in New York City's East Village.  Here he worked as a video documenter of performances; and as a performance and video-installation artist, eventually using videoconferencing in these events also (an article by Dr. Miller about this art work is here).

In 1988, Dr. Miller entered the Gallatin School M.A. program to further his studies of oral narrative and interactive telecommunication.  The Gallatin School enables one to study in various parts of NYU, and Dr. Miller did much of his M.A. coursework in the Interactive Telecommunication Program (Tisch School of the Arts). 

He conducted M.A. fieldwork in Tamil Nadu, south India, from July 1988 to July 1989; and then again, from Jan. 1991 to Nov. 1991.  He collected data regarding: traditional storytelling techniques, attending folk and orthodox storytelling performances and videotaping some of them; and the Silappathikaram (Epic of the Anklet), a central epic of the Tamil people.  He walked 250 miles in the footsteps of Kannagi, the heroine of the epic, and visited a tribe said to have been founded by Kannagi some 1600 years ago.  In 1991, while in Madras (now Chennai), Mr. Miller self-published a booklet entitled, "Tamil Nadu's Silappathikaram (Epic of the Anklet): Ancient Story and Modern Identity."  Dr. Miller's M.A. thesis surveyed visual accompaniments used by storytellers, and argued for the inclusion of electronic imagery on a large screenin that family.  Dr. Miller received his M.A. degree in 1996.

From 1996 to 2002, Dr. Miller taught a total of eleven courses as an adjunct professor at St. John's University (Staten Island, NYC campus) and Fordham University (Lincoln Center, NYC campus).  These courses included Expository Writing, Writing About Literature, The Modern Short Story, American Drama, The Folktale, and Introduction to Speech Communication.  In Spring 2002, he taught a course entitled, Storytelling, at NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

In 1999, he began work on a Ph.D. in Folklore at the University of Pennsylvania.  His Ph.D. dissertation, "Ethnographic Videoconferencing, as Applied to South Indian Children's Songs/Chants/Dances/Games, and Language Learning," posits that children's verbal play may assist their language learning process, and discusses ways play and language learning can occur through videoconferencing. 

The primary research for this project involved being based in a mountain village with Kani tribal people in southwestern Tamil Nadu (from March 2003 to Dec. 2004).  Fruits of this project include a set of traditional-play-based question-and-answer routines that can be used to teach and learn any language, especially in vieoconferences.  Dr. Miller's Ph.D. was awarded in 2010.

Dr. Miller studies storytelling (oral narrative) as it occurs in everyday conversation, as well as in various more formal contexts.  Sociolinguistic and sociokinetic processes -- as they occur both face-to-face and as mediated by interactive telecommunication technology -- constitute the basic subject matter of his scholarship. 

He is helping to establish Storytelling Studies as an interdisciplinary field in academia.   In 2007, in Chennai, he co-founded the World Storytelling Institute.  From 2008 to 2011 he was a Professor of Story and Storytelling at the Image College of Art, Animation, and Technology.  In 2012, he taught courses in The Modern Short Story, and Creative Writing, at the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras.  In 2015, he taught public speaking, and research and writing skills, to MA students in the Dept of Journalism and Communication, University of Madras.  All of these institutions of higher learning are in Chennai.

In 2014, Dr. Miller began a M.Sc. course of study in Psychology at the University of Madras (Institute of Distance Education).  He is helping to develop the field of "Storytelling Therapy", one of the Creative Arts Therapies, alongside Drama Therapy, Poetry Therapy, etc.  In 2016, Dr Miller earned a Certificate in Psychological Counselling from a one-year training course provided by the Chennai Counsellors Foundation.  In 2019, he was awarded the M.Sc. in Psychology from the University of Madras.

Dr. Miller enjoys the combination of teaching college students, leading storytelling workshops (for parents, teachers, business-people, counsellors/therapists, etc), and providing psychological counselling (for tennagers and adults) based on principles of Storytelling Therapy. 

He also enjoys facilitating and participating in storytelling-related videoconferences involving training and performances around the world, and is developing simultaneous translation systems for such use. 

Dr. Miller serves as a technical director of civic, artistic, business, educational, and other types of videoconferences.  His career is dedicated to democracy and peace, and to alleviating suffering, through the use of the most ancient and modern of communication technologies.

Dr. Miller has settled in Chennai, where he and Magdalene Jeyarathnam (a Chennai native, and founder-director of the East West Center for Counselling and Training, and the Indian Institute of Psychodrama) have married, and are raising their daughter.

Dr. Miller's personal website is www.storytellingandvideoconferencing.com .  The website of the NGO he directs is www.storytellinginstitute.org .  He can be reached at eric@storytellinginstitute.org , 98403 94282.