The “narrative turn” is (too) often understood as a celebratory term indicating the growing importance and popularity of narrative studies. This article elaborates the merits of a more critical approach to the history of narrative theory. By discussing David Herman’s idea of prototypical narrativity, the article suggests that there has been a longstanding contradiction between the abstract and universal notion of narrative and the narrow and particular Proppian prototype of narrativity. The article argues that “narrative” has primarily travelled either as a concept, metaphor, or prototype rather than as a full narrative theory or method. Instead of one, unitary narrative turn, the article argues for the existence of several diverse and partly contrasting narrative turns. The recent experiential turn in narrative studies and the consequent change of the prototype of narrative gives a strong impetus for a new wave of cross-disciplinary narrative theory.
In this paper, I argue that the most salient aspect of narrative is not the arrangement of speech elements into a particular order but the kinds of actions that can be accomplished with narratives. Narrative is best thought of as a verb, “to narrate,” or the derived form, “narrating.” It is an expressive action, something that persons do. I argue that one of the primary functions of narrating is to “make present” life experience and interpretations of life in a particular time and space. Narrating brings experience and interpretations into play, into a field of action, in a specific here and now.
There is a growing interest in narrative for policy making in community development. The implicit assumption in most projects is that just making stories available will increase recognition in readers and by some automatic process it will enhance understanding and thereby a sense of community. In this essay I want to explore this assumption, as it makes the value of narrative self-evident, but may leave its full potential for community development untouched. To find answers, I look for a starting point in what we all share: our biology. From there, I propose that narrative is the language we use to communicate about our relations in the world.
In this paper, I address the assumption that narratives work normatively, and argue instead that narratives are as important for registering particularities and differences that evade normalisation. Such singularities can be understood as moral appeals from the future. I draw on notions of deconstruction as a future-and ethics-oriented technology, to suggest that narratives can work similarly, and I give some examples from my own recent study of visual autobiographies.
In this article, I explore narrative building blocks for future-oriented what-if (i.e., possibilities-generating) analysis developed in a health promotion study. The aim of this study was to gain insight into future possibilities for good health among participants known for their poor health status. In narrative inquiry, imagining future possibilities and prospective temporal orientation are seldom regarded as interesting for their own sake, despite ample attention to the role of temporality. The methodological reflection in this article is complemented with a discussion of ethical issues (regarding authorship and representation) in the proposed method of analysis.
The goal of this article is to explore the relations between narratives and mental health from a psychological perspective. We argue that a process of identification with personal experiences underlies narrative structures that are known to be related to mental health. Overidentification and underidentification are described as general processes underlying mental health problems. Gerontological insights in reminiscence and life review and cognitive psychological studies on autobiographical memories validate this claim. Practical applications in mental health care provide even further evidence for the role of identification processes in mental health and how they can be targeted in interventions.
In this article, the focus is on how to represent narratives of self well. This dilemma concerns the specific narrative of self of Hajja, a market woman who lived in the provincial town of Kebkabiya, North Darfur, Sudan. The challenge of "responsible representation" in relation to her narrative concerns the question of how to represent a narrative that does not follow the expected structure of such a narrative. By considering the narrative as a performance of identities in the discursive and material context of narration, the author points out that a narrative is part and parcel of its context of narration. A representation of that narrative should therefore include elements of this context. Not only the discursive and verbal, but also the visual, spatial, and ultimately the temporal dimensions of the context allow us to understand narratives as enactments of self in a specific context. This consideration ties into the current debate on the nature of narrative. Narratives should not only be understood in terms of the what and how, but also in relation to the where and when of their narration. Narratives constitute spaces that allow the narrator a temporal moment of closure, of constructing oneself as a unified, coherent, bounded self in a specific place at a specific time.
This paper examines how to use storytelling as impetus for organizational change. A saying goes that “lasting change starts with me, not with someone else.” The problem of many change processes is that a change agent writes a change report but the actual implementation by actors in the organization fails. The question becomes how a researcher can relate to participants in an organization in such a way that the change process becomes their process. For many change agents, storytelling is a powerful way for exploring an organizational setting and for putting ideas into an organization. In this paper, I elaborate some aspects of a relational inquiry stand (McNamee & Hosking, 2012), in which I use storytelling as an intervention method. As a consequence, participants are activated; “connective observing” and “connective writing” emerge. It opens the possibility for multi-layeredness and “living storytelling.” Will the researcher and active participants in the change process exchange positions?