Associate Communication Studies Professor Vince Petronio shares his love for storytelling with the University’s students. Photo by Grace DeSanti.
“This is the way I see the world and this is the way you see the world, somewhere they overlap. They overlap where we both understand each other’s world view. That’s what I am after, getting people to understand each other’s world view. Storytelling is getting someone to understand your world view with an audience.”
Those are the words of Vince Petronio, an associate professor in the department of communication studies, local theatre actor and director and long-standing member of the University of Rhode Island campus community for the past 42 years.
Petronio created two very unique classes in the Communication Studies Department: COM 230, The Art of Storytelling; and COM 435, Advanced Storytelling.
Chrisopher Alves, a senior double majoring in public relations and communication studies, with a writing and rhetoric minor, said these storytelling classes are unlike any other classes on campus.
“You really get to connect with the people you are [with] in class because you learn about people’s lives and learning how they speak,” said Alves. “You are learning about something that is just so innately close to them and that really helps bring out a new side of them that you don’t get to see in a regular formal class. That’s something really unique about the way that class was structured.”
Petronio believes that storytelling is an important part of not only communication studies, but an important part of everyday life as well.
“Every minute of our lives is all based on how we tell a story,” said Petronio. “So much of our lives is based on sharing our world view. We communicate to share meaning. Meaning about how I view the world versus how you view the world. Let’s have a conversation about it. Well, in order to do that effectively, I would have to tell the story of my world.”
When Petronio is not teaching, he is hard at work directing and acting in live theatre, which is something he has been doing since he was an undergrad at the University of Rhode Island. Recently he has played the role of the narrator in “Our Town” for the Burbage Theatre Company in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and has directed plays for 2nd Story Theatre, Epic Theatre Company, Burbage Theatre Company, and the University of Rhode Island Theatre Department.
Petronio believes that his experience in live theatre directly correlates to his teaching in communication studies department, and with storytelling in particular.
“Theatre is life,” Petronio said. “Theatre is all about conflict. Life is all about conflict. Think about your day, over the course of your day you are telling stories constantly from what you want for lunch to why that professor should give you the grade that you want. That is storytelling. Whether it’s theatre, whether it’s storytelling, whether it’s communication studies, it’s all about why people say and do the things they do.”
Alves says that Petronio is his favorite teacher and he uses what he learned in the storytelling class everyday.
“I think Professor Vince Petronio is not only hilarious but caring,” Alves said. “He really is just an affirming teacher to take. I cannot recommend him enough. Out of all the professors in this entire school I think he is without a doubt the more effective at what he needs to do.”