Intensive graduate seminar

Narrative Interactions: Stories, Identities and Voices
October 1-3, 2010, Estonia  October 1-3, 2010, Estonia 


People use stories as a tool for thinking, orienting themselves in the world and coping with the tremendous increase of information in modern culture. New situations and new forms of communication often involve new challenges and strains: in response, people tend to develop new narrative and behavioral strategies to adapt themselves to constraints the situation puts on them or to test new opportunities it offers. The seminar set out to explore these strategies, particularly management of subjectivity (identity, voice) in fictional storytelling, online communication and the situation of illness.


Ruth Page (University of Leicester, UK). Voices and Identities on the Web (Online Communities, Personal Blogs and Discussion Forums)
Emergent forms of social media (such as blogs, wikis, social networking sites) have enabled people to self-publish their life experiences and to connect with online audiences with unprecedented measure. This workshop analyzed the ways in which the autobiographical story fragments found in online contexts challenge canonical definitions of 'narrative'; how they are shaped by their participatory discourse context and perform crucial identity and interpersonal work for their authors.

Marina Grishakova (University of Tartu, Estonia). Basic Concepts: Stories, Identities and Voices
This workshop introduced basic narratological concepts (story, voice, identity) used in the study of written and oral narratives and provided background knowledge for other modules. Students read and discussed excerpts from classical works on these concepts (Bakhtin, Genette, Aczel, Lanser and others).

Jan Alber (University of Freiburg, Germany). Unnatural Voices and Impossible Identities
This module set out to familiarize students with the wide range of physically or logically impossible narrators and characters in fictional narratives. More specifically, the class talked about speaking animals, 'omniscient' first-person narrators, and impossible characters, and, in a second step, explored their potential functions.

Lars-Christer Hydén (University of Linköping, Sweden). Voices of Illness and Disability
The lecture provided an overview of the research on illness and narrative, with a special emphasis on research about storytelling by persons having some kind of communicative disability. Quite often illness narratives are thought of as stories about illness. A more difficult and maybe less studied area has to do with the ways diseases affect the ability to tell stories, as for instance in patients with brain injuries or Alzheimer’s disease. In these cases the disease affects both cognitive and linguistic abilities making it difficult to tell stories that adhere to the conventional narrative norms.

Seminar in pictures:

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