In this paper, the editor of this special issue introduces Catherine Kohler Riessman’s festschrift by making connections between its title, amor narratio and the notion of amor mundi in Hannah Arendt’s philosophical thought. The author asks what it is about Riessman’s scholarship that has inspired love for narratives. In doing so she looks at the contradictions in Arendt’s take on love, highlighting understanding and critical thinking as its most salient features, but also as the two main strands that correspond to the notion of amor narratio in Riessman’s narrative scholarship. Amor narratio eventually becomes the red thread that brings together the contributions of this volume in different manifestations and expressions.
By comparing two interviews with women exposed to their husbands’ violence, this article shows that an exploration of the many layers of a personal narrative is not a straightforward linear process, but a circular one. Based on the analysis of one of Catherine Riessman’s case stories and one of the author’s, the article further shows that a narrative can change dramatically if the tellers’ and/or listeners’ positions change during the interview.
This article arose from an error. In 2000, I began recording the story of myself and nine other university women with later stage breast cancer. Following the fifth death, I took on the task to make what I could of the archive. An introduction to Cathy Riessman and narrative research began to direct and support this work. Of major significance was the performative aspects of our storytelling, especially our vocality. Text and reason, not voice and utterance, is privileged in the academy, but still I committed to honouring vocality in telling our story. My initial attempts failed, but this paper begins the redress.
Drawing on a co-constructed autobiographical narrative as our example, we explore the resonances of Catherine Kohler Reissman’s concept of seduction with Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger’s concept of matrixial borderlinking. Borderlinking between theoretical domains, rather than comparisons or juxtaposition, brings forth potentialities and expands the theorization of feminine subjectivities in much the same way as co-constructed narratives celebrate the we without obliterating the I.
This article explores the commonalities of structure in the life histories of a mother and her daughter. I argue that sharing the same story does not preclude the existence of a strong and distinctive sense of self. Agency and selfhood are intimately connected with interpretation and the pursuit of understanding. In order to illuminate this relationship, I draw upon ideas of musical form and interpretation that suggest how this might come about.
We acknowledge and concur with Catherine Kohler Riessman’s insistence on the necessity of sustained and formal analysis of narratives. We thus distance ourselves from qualitative researchers who aim to celebrate personal narratives rather than undertaking that analytic work. In doing so, we also draw on the work of Dell Hymes, whose approach to ethnopoetics informs our own. The discussion is developed and illustrated with materials from Natasha Carver’s research with informants of Somali heritage that display the relevance of ethnopoetic transcription and analysis.
This paper is a tribute to Catherine Kohler Riessman, whose imprint on the field of narrative studies is legendary. It draws on some of her most influential publications to highlight her enduring commitment to and practice of researcher “reflexivity” and how her scholarship has influenced my work. I draw upon several of Cathy’s most influential publications to highlight her model of reflexivity in practice—a tacking back and forth between research questions, the literature, the data we collect and interpretations we make, our intellectual biographies, politics, personal experiences, and research relationships. We can look to Cathy’s scholarship for the power of revisiting, re-feeling, revising and re-envisioning our data. Her brand of feminist scholarship serves as a guide for bringing intellectual labour; historical, political and theoretical change; and personal lives into closer relation.
This paper focuses on a proliferating narrative genre: videos where children are central, posted on the internet for public consumption. The video analyzed is of a pre-school U.S. Black girl resisting how her mother has combed her hair. It offers insights into family practices and display (Finch, 2007; Morgan, 2011) that would usually not be open to scrutiny and cannot be captured in the same way in interviews. The paper argues that the videoed narrative can only be understood if the sociocultural context of racism and contestation over the denigration of Black girls’ and women’s Afro hair is analyzed.
There are many aspects of Catherine Kohler Riessman’s narrative scholarship which have established her international reputation in the field. This contribution pays tribute to the role she has played as a mentor, both through her written work and in her practice. Mentoring, which is time-consuming and painstaking work, is a critical but widely unacknowledged aspect of scholarship, which is often portrayed as an individual endeavor, the accomplishment of the name or names which appear on the publications. The article argues that all scholars are part of a larger cycle, situated mid-stream, between those who have come before and those who will follow. There are many questions surrounding the meaning of mentorship: who should do it and who receive it; if and how it should be institutionalized, calibrated, and recognized; and more. Taking Riessman’s example as its focus, the article critically examines the importance of mentoring and its role in forming, sustaining, and nourishing community.
In this paper, Esin and Squire provide their individual and collective reflections on the influence of Catherine Kohler Riessman’s dialogical approach in research. Each researcher reinterpreted the dialogism in Riessman’s approach in their own work, focusing on differing elements of it. While Esin examines her experience of relationality, reflexivity, and positionality in her work, Squire discusses her adoption of the approach to develop methodological interdisciplinarity in social science research. The authors then reflect on their dialogue in researching multimodal narratives, historical positioning in and beyond narratives, and power relations in the context of research.
Responding to the honor of the festschrift, I name and honour those who guided me, especially my mentor, Elliot Mishler. I describe a path from initial fascination with the idea of a “story” to my subsequent work that expanded the study of narrative in the human sciences. Efforts to understand how individuals interpreted—made sense of—events and situations that had interrupted their lives led me to discoveries about narrative form, apparent only after close textual interactional analysis. Recently, the appeal of narrative has mushroomed; I urge scholars not to lose sight of features that distinguish it from other forms of discourse.