Seminar University of Bath

Categories: Methods, Theory
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Published on: 18/05/2011

Went to the 17th interesting storytelling seminar at the university of Bath with the title:

“Researching personal and life stories – some do’s and don’ts  for researchers”

Some notes that might relate to my research or are otherwise interesting:

Speaker David Sims

  1. David is ‘into’ regarding life as rewriting older chapters and writing the chapters to come. He would like to write a book for non-academics as his life’s own next chapter.
  2. This sounds familiar thinking about some of the chapters (nr 7 in any case) of the book Bestaansethiek (translates as: Ethics of Existence?) written by Victor van den Bersselaar.
  3. Statement: “Analyzing a story kills it”. That makes me think of what Burgess writes here about taking the researchers perspective on stories (too much). So “Narrative analysis is a oxy|moron (=smart|stupid)”.
  4. Statement: “Saying I love you, entails shall we intertwine our stories?”
  5. Appearing in others’ stories is important.
  6. We play a role in different stories, which may even contrast.
  7. We get angry when we can’t find a narrative – I also think we get angry when someone else does not live up to his/ her own narrative.
  8. We are in dialog with our stories – too much, then we loos the plot, too little, then it gets boring.
  9. -> Everyone is a researcher (Narrators as researchers):
    1. We check all the time how our stories come across and
    2. we don’t know what we think until we hear how we are telling it.
  10. Are there any non-narrative people? David: no. Someone in the audience: yes.
    1. Some people have a lot of material, but don’t do much with it.
    2. Some people have little material, but make great narratives.
  11. In the group discussion:
    1. How do you get people to approach life more as a narrative? From within?
    2. Telling a story in a certain context can ‘benefit’ all involved (the pregnant from rape, HIV-mother telling her story to MBA-students). So think in different perspectives.
    3. -> In an interview you get ‘airbrushed stories’ compared to when they are told in a ‘natural’ environment. In the memories I am researching it is the same. The comments might be less artificial. Keep this in mind when setting up design.
    4. ‘Prospective storytelling’ = stories about things that are about to happen (or are shaping where you are going); is that what I am good at? Or is everybody doing that?
    5. Statement: “The past is there for rewriting; the future for writing. Spot the differences.” (meaning both processes are very alike).
    6. Interesting discussion about aims with stories. Does a story have an aim? Or is it the telling of the story having an aim? How about the distinction between a narrative and a story?
      1. narrative: a flow of events connected to a theme.   story: the conscious ordering of these events to elicit meaning.” ? see:

Speaker Alexandra Georgakopoulou

  1. Alexandra’s talk was less interesting for my research, because the small stories that she uses in her research are more like like fragmented remarks in a conversation not really making up a story. There might be a story coming out of it, though.
  2. Her article in The Sage Handbook of Sociolinguistics might be interesting: Narrative analysis (2010).

Speaker Yianis Gabriel

  1. Research in coping strategies in some special cases of unemployment.
  2. Interesting alternative (more natural? less funneling? implicit?) method for coding:
    1. Record interviews.
    2. Listen to them two/ three times (interpretation changes every time).
    3. Write a debrief from memory.
    4. Compare with two other researchers who’ve done the same.
  3. When you make your assumptions and interpretations clear then this method can be regarded as coding and triangulation.
  4. Remark from the audience: “Telling a story is not therapeutic, discovering a new story is.”
  5. Suzanne suggested I should read the last chapter of Yiannis’ book about methodology in narrative analysis. Asked her which book.
  6. Obviously different ways of interpretations serve different goals; there is an interplay between the (possible) meaning(s) of the content sec and the meaning it gets in the context where it is from.

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3 Comments - Leave a comment
  1. […] David Snowden at the 17-th storytelling seminar. Check: This abductive approach is interesting as well as the […]

  2. […] Went to a seminar in the UK. Notes can be found here. […]

  3. Bonifer says:


    My contribution to the ‘Storyhood’ narrative and the seminar this week on Quantum Storytelling:

    Thanks for your site.


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