Apply for the UTSC Library Storytelling Fellowship 2023-24

The U of T Scarborough Library is pleased to announce an open call for the third cohort of the UTSC Library Storytelling Fellowship under the mentorship of Anthropologist Dr. Brenda Beck. This award is open to full-time U of T students (U of T Scarborough students will receive priority access) past their first year of study at the start of the Fellowship. Full details are below. Information about past Fellows can be reviewed in the Digital Tamil Studies Collections. 


The UTSC Library Storytelling Fellowship provides up to three students the opportunity to spend eight months immersed in the art and practice of storytelling. Successful recipients will be funded to learn about storytelling under the mentorship of Anthropologist Dr. Brenda Beck, and to hone their creativity and performance skills.  

UTSC Storytelling Fellows will work to develop, experiment, and execute a variety of storytelling delivery strategies for both online and in-person audiences.

In 2023-24, recipients will focus on the rich Tamil epic known as The Legend of Ponnivala (alternately: The Land of the Golden River). Fellows will explore a wide variety of teaching plans and topics for this story and will develop innovative plans and story teaching approaches. Fellows have creative freedom to explore mythical and symbolic themes, social justice issues, economic development and its impact on society, immigration, colonial settlement, aboriginal population marginalization, family descent dynamics and more. Stories will be recorded for the UTSC Library’s Digital Tamil Collections.  

Applicants should expect to commit time to assigned background reading and research and to collaborate with the other Fellows in the program. 


September 2023 to late March 2024 with some flexibility depending on student requirements. 


Students will be awarded an honorarium of $4,000 and can request funding to support some travel and equipment/supplies over the course of the program. 

Schedule and Commitment of Fellows

The following provides a sample overview of the activities of the Fellowship.


  • Fellows will meet at the library to be introduced to the storytelling community and resources at UTSC.  
  • Fellows complete a workshop (approximately 2 hours long) as well as begin reading or watching of the English translation of the Legend of Ponnivala.  
  • Fellows provide a picture of themselves (or agree to have one taken by library communications staff) and complete a short questionnaire so they can be featured in communications about the Fellowship Cohort.  
  • The library will work with Fellows to develop a meeting schedule that works for all Fellows.  
  • After completing these tasks, Fellows receive 50% of the storytelling stipend. 


  • Fellows will attend a lecture by Dr. Beck on the epic and its major themes (2 hours). 
  • Fellows begin developing a short (<5 minute) storytelling response about the epic that incorporates their learning on storytelling.  


  • Fellows will perform their small storytelling response in a meeting with the storytelling team and receive feedback and participate in peer feedback.  
  • Fellows will discuss and begin developing a proposal for an individualized or joint storytelling performance in April.  


In the second week of January, the storytelling performance proposal is due.  

  • Performances are either: 
    • Joint or individual 
    • Digital (recorded and edited video or audio performance) or in-person (If in-person, Fellows must indicate a preference for presenting at UTSC, or in the community (library or school, pending availability) 
    • Need not be fully developed, but should give a sense of the who, what, where, when, and how of the performance.

Fellows are asked to propose one or more dates and times for the performance and indicate if they believe there will be ancillary costs or support required for their performance. The library will work with Fellows to develop a meeting and practice schedule that works for all Fellows.  


  • While the library coordinates the required support and schedules the performance, Fellows will be finalizing scripts and engaging in regular discussion of the performance.  
  • There will be the opportunity for bi-weekly check ins so that Fellows can ask any questions or receive feedback on elements of their performance. These check-ins may be virtual or in-person.  


  • Upon completion of the performance and completion of a one-page report about their experience (following a template), the Fellows will receive the remaining 50% of the stipend.  

Eligibility and Application Process 

Students must be registered at the University of Toronto as a full-time student. Priority will be given to students who are at UTSC or have experience or affiliation with the campus.  

Submit unofficial transcripts, a statement of interest, and a CV to by May 14, 2023. 

Statement of Interest 

In your statement of interest, please indicate: 

  • Languages you can speak, read, and write 

  • Any instruments you can play or musical expertise you possess  

  • Details of your experiences with storytelling/drama clubs or live performance (including languages utilized) 

  • How you believe storytelling skills will prepare you for your future, and why.  

Students should anticipate spending an average of 10-15 hours a week dedicated to the fellowship, with hours fluctuating depending on plan of work determined in consultation with their supervisor and Faculty mentor Dr. Brenda Beck. Recipients must consent to the recording of storytelling performances and the stewardship of these recordings by UTSC Library. Familiarity with Tamil language and culture will be considered an asset, but lack of knowledge does not disqualify you from applying. Participants seeking a future in education and performance are encouraged to apply, as well as those with an interest in production/digital skills and storytelling methods. Demonstrated experience with storytelling is not a pre-requisite for the Fellowship, although letters of interest should strongly demonstrate the candidate’s interest in developing these skills as well as general enthusiasm for the program. 

Students should have computer equipment sufficient to enable participation in remote meetings and performances as part of the Fellowship.  

Questions about the Fellowship can also be directed to