• Michelle Marchante

Urban legends act as ‘social narratives’ in society

This article was published in FIU Student Media's PantherNOW. Image by Nicole Malanga/PantherNOW.

Michelle Marchante/News Director

Urban legends, including those of the University’s, may stem from society’s need for “shared stories,” according to a professor.

Rhona Trauvitch, a professor in the Department of English, feels that urban legends can be narrative teaching tools as society has historically relied on stories for answers.

“That’s how we understand anything that happens to us, through stories,” Trauvitch said.

While not a specialist on urban legends, Trauvitch teaches a class, Short Stories of Horror and the Weird, which focuses on stories that express inner fears creatively. These stories range from the 1800s to present day, with the older stories having more of a supernatural element such as ghosts, witches and curses, she said, but shifts to strange and weird societal concerns the more modern the stories become.  But like all stories, including urban legends and ghost tales, they all have a message to convey.

“It goes back to asking ourselves ‘what is the purpose of having an urban myth or telling a story?’” Trauvitch said. “Are we trying to teach a lesson? What is our objective in telling the story? To share something? Is there an objective or are we just participating in art?”

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