XJTLU-JC SoFTA Lecture Series: The Uses of Enchantment in Journalism



The Uses of Enchantment in Journalism


This lecture explores contemporary forms of Western journalism through the perspective of Julius Heuscher’s and Bruno Bettelheim’s works on mythology and folklore. As Bruno Bettelheim suggested in The Uses of Enchantment (1976), fairy tales offer children ways to find meaning in life and provide them with ideas to cope with personal conflicts and fears. Adults also need resources to imagine possible solutions to universal problems regarding the meaning of human existence, for example, issues such as attachment, loss, love, pleasure and death.

Yet, contrary to children, adults in the Western world, from the Enlightenment onwards, have been discouraged from drawing on the elements of the fantastic, though they are largely present in the Western tradition. Modern culture tends to promote rationality over fantasy, materiality over intangibility, clarity over ambiguity. All of these values also underpin Western journalism professional principles.

This lecture, however, suggests that what really enables journalism to represent universal truths is not only its adherence to the principle of objectivity, but rather the extent to which it draws on the elements of the fantastic, elements that would also supply people with ideas to cope with existential dilemmas, as fairy tales do. Therefore, a new news value should be added to the current journalistic taxonomies used as indicators of what makes a story newsworthy: enchantment.


Dr Diana Garrisi

Dr Diana Garrisi joined the XJTLU-JC School of Film and TV Arts as a Lecturer in Journalism in 2018. Previously she held a Quintin Hogg Trust Research fellowship at the University of Westminster and taught at several British universities including Oxford Brookes, Roehampton and Middlesex University.

Before entering academia she worked in Italy for the multimedia news agency AGR (Rizzoli-Corriere) and then as a reporter for the newspaper Cronaca Qui, in Milan.

Diana has published in international peer-reviewed journals including Journalism Studies, Early Popular Visual Culture and the Journal of Science Communication. Her feature articles and commentaries have appeared in several mainstream publications including: BBC History Magazine, The New Statesman, The Times Higher Education, The Big Issue, The Huffington Post and L’ Espresso.