Joseph began his storytelling career in 1981, as a founding member of the Westside Storytellers of Santa Monica, California.
In 1983 he picked up and moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where as a Masters student in the UNC Folklore Program, he began his immersion in Southern Appalachian and Celtic folklore traditions. He has studied with and written about such masters of traditional storytelling as Ray Hicks, Donald Davis, Kathryn Windham, Stanley Robertson, and Eddie Lenihan.
From 1985 to 1989 he worked as a full-time Artist-in-Residence in community colleges, primary schools and secondary schools across North and South Carolina. In 1989 he moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he received his doctorate in Performance Studies at Northwestern University.
His dissertation on the contemporary American Storytelling revival movement was published in 1999 by University of Illinois Press as the award-winning book The Storytellers’ Journey: An American Revival.
It has been described as “original, insightful, and leavened with humor and compassion.… a deep exploration of the territory we’ve traveled and a glimpse of future possibilities.”
He has taught storytelling and folklore at DePaul University, Hebrew Theological Seminary, as the director of the Graduate Program in Storytelling at East Tennessee State University from 2000-2017, and from 2017-2022 as director of the GBeorge Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling at the University of South Wales.
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