What is Narrative After All?

William Safire, discusses narratives, in his article concerning the 2004 presidential election.

A Softer World a photo/comic, is narrative in the most basic sense.

Novels, plays, short stories are narrative. Mostly. But I have doubts about Rolling the R's, by R. Zamora Linmark, and Debie: An Epic, by Lisa Robertson may or may not be. And while we're at it question this too. But I wouldn't want you to run too far down this path, because there's limited utility in running in that direction.

I sat down with myself and forced out a definition (really an operationalization, if you must) of Queer, which I think is much harder to pin down. Narratives are a method of using language. Statements which convey a progression of time, and I'd argue depend on some sort of profound change, either in it's content (the subjects and objects at play) or on the creator, conveyer, or audience.

Having said that, the key issue here I suppose is not, "what is narrative?" but "why study narrative?"

You'd think that would be easier to answer, and that I'd be able to weave a little story about how I was drawn to this, and why I'm putting so much energy into this wacky interdisciplinary endeavor which frankly runs counter to most of the trends in the social sciences (or psychology, which is what my major is in).

I'm interested in narratives because it seems to be a (marginally) viable way of doing social science research that doesn't completely dehumanize the subject, without sacrificing all but the most superficial claims to validity (a la case studies, which are great tools for imparting knowledge, but rather lousy at producing it.) Because studying narratives, gives worth and meaning to a multitude of different voices and that seems like a useful way to use one's energy.

That's not complete, but I hope it's a good start.


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