Diane Wolkstein Skipped in Her Sleep: In the Footsteps of a Public Intellectual

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In commemoration of the life of storyteller-scholar Diane Wolkstein (11 Nov. 1942-13 Jan. 2013), this article addresses Wolkstein's work, and in a larger sense the work of contemporary storytellers, as that of a form of public intellectual. We first explore changing definitions of the public intellectual calling, juxtaposing this with an overview of Wolkstein's career. Th en we analyze her work with respect to community outreach, Haitian folktales, myths and epics, and Jewish storytelling traditions. The piece is framed by references to one of Wolkstein's early signature stories, "Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep," which she understood to reflect both her commitment to her art form and to the traditions and communities that support it.