The terms “narrative” and “development” would appear to be difficult to relate to one another. While “narrative” frequently connotes movement backward in time and would thus seem to be a retrospective concept, “development” connotes movement forward in time and would thus seem to be a prospective concept. In this article, I seek to rethink both of these terms in such a way as to render them more compatible. In doing so, I focus on the idea of narrative identity, which, I suggest, is not only about the self but about the other-than-self, especially those goods that draw the process forward.
This paper considers what is at stake in telling the story of another’s illness and in taking on the history of another’s dementia as part of one’s own life narrative. Through a close analysis of Michael Ignatieff’s Scar Tissue, it explores the ways in which writing about the experience of caring for a parent with dementia speaks to the intersubjective dimensions of selfhood but also complicates the ways in which the very concept of intersubjectivity is often evoked within scholarship on personhood. It argues that an engagement with this kind of narrative is illuminating in this context because it exposes some of the emotional, memorial, and ethical difficulties that attend the experience of writing for and about another person when he or she is no longer able to do so.
Young Adult (YA) dystopian fiction blends the traditional developmental narrative with a heightened concern with issues regarding the individual against society, often in the context of a post-apocalyptic world. In this article, I examine the way Lois Lowry’s The Giver (1993) and Lauren Oliver’s Delirium (2011) focus on the state’s regulation over or removal of their people’s emotions and decisions in the context of the representation of future societies. If we consider the place of emotions in YA literature in general, with its interest in adolescents’ interaction with their families, each other, their school, or other communities, we can accept the validity of emotions as a prism through which to examine the text’s didactic and social purposes. Specifically, by deploying a discourse that emphasizes the dangerous consequences of unbridled emotions in earlier historical times, dystopian texts ask us to think about the political potential of feelings as catalysts for social change.
Based on recent studies in developmental psychology and cognitive narratology, this article shows the impact of Theory of Mind on children’s understanding and apprehension of other people’s thoughts and beliefs presented in fictional texts. With a special focus on the depiction of emotions in two children’s novels, Erich Kästner’s Emil and the Detectives (1929) and Anne Cassidy’s Looking for JJ (2004), it is argued that the representation of the main characters’ states of mind demands specific capacities on behalf of the reader, encompassing mind reading and acquisition of higher levels of empathy, thus fostering children’s comprehension of fictional characters’ life conditions.
Recent studies in cognitive literary criticism have provided scholars of literature with new, stimulating approaches to literary texts and neuroscientists with new insights about human emotions, empathy, and memory through evidence from fiction. What have so far been largely neglected are the implications of cognitive criticism for the study of literature targeting a young audience, whose theory of mind and empathic skills are not yet fully developed. A cognitive approach to children's and young adult literature has to meet several challenges less relevant in general fiction. Firstly, how is a young fictional character's consciousness represented by an author whose cognitive and affective skills are ostensibly superior? Secondly, how do texts instruct their young readers to employ theory of mind in order to assess both the young protagonist's emotions and their understanding of other characters' emotions (higher-order mind-reading)? Thirdly, how can fiction support young people's development of their theory of mind? The paper will discuss these issues with a particular focus on memory and identity, expressed textually through tense and narrative perspective. Drawing on work by Lisa Zunshine (2006) and Blackey Vermeule (2010), the predominantly theoretical argument will be illustrated by a contemporary young adult novel, Slated (2012), by Teri Terry.
Kashmir Pending (2007) is the graphic novel of a man who joined the militant insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir, but who eventually became disillusioned with the revolutionaries. It is valuable in portraying some aspects of the situation in Kashmir that are largely absent from mainstream treatments of the conflict. Nonetheless, it is problematic in a number of ways, ranging from its somewhat unrepresentative apportioning of the violence in Kashmir to its use of a childhood model of militants in its emplotment of the insurgency. In consequence, the novel arguably reinforces a liberal colonialist ideology regarding Indian control of Kashmir.