Narrative Matters 2012

Life and Narrative May 29 - June 1, 2012


The American University of Paris, The University of Paris Diderot‐Paris 7, and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Narrative at St. Thomas University, invite scholars from all disciplines to reflect upon the productive interplay between life and narrative.

What is the relationship between life and narrative? As noted by Jerome Bruner in his article on “Life as Narrative” (1987), this is one of the central intellectual questions facing narrative inquiry and narrative practice across multiple disciplines - psychology, narratology and literary theory, digital media, sociology, history, sociolinguistics, philosophy, medicine, education, gerontology, communications, social work, ethics, religious studies, etc. Indeed, there is broad agreement that narrative representations (from novels to histories, biographies, websites, films, museums) and life are essential to each other. Narrative draws upon life for inspiration to create an imagined world that has substance, color, texture, and meaning. Meanwhile, life draws upon narrative for resources to imagine our identity and to interpret others, situations, and the “real” world. Both are involved in an intricate exchange, playing off one another, informing and creating one another. However, the relationship between life and narrative - between experience and story - is not merely theoretical in nature but practical as well. Narrative has a profound impact on our understanding of what it means to be human; of the choices we make as persons; of the nature of health and wellness, teaching and learning; of the meaning of history; of how social groups work through conflict; and of how the cultural and political world is ordered.

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