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ENGB03: Critical Thinking About Nar rative
Lecture One – January 13
•What makes a narrative?
oCommunicating a story, nar rative is a description of an event
oHow we come to understand events, ourselves, other people, our world
oHow we remember the past, imagine the future
oNar ratives give shape to our lives, and they are given shape by our lives
•Is there something about humanity that is best expressed through storytelling?
oNar rative is not only an art form, it is our way of communication
oTo tell a story is to create a world (can seem close or far from our world)
Close: gossip, far: Har r y Potter
oNar ratives create worlds both implicitly and explicitly – implies how to understand the context, mindset,
oWe become aware of how the storyworld is created, but also aware of ourselves filling in the gaps
oWe can think of the storyworld as a representation of the world
oNarrative and Reality
Organizing reality – create a time frame “story” and “narrative discourse”
We know time has elapsed when something has changed
Stories that try to inf luence us – can we believe them?
EX: Stor y – falling down the stairs (See lecture slides); narrative discourse – how story is told
The way a story is told directly influences how we understand it
oNarrative and Identity
Nar rative can develop a sense of self, cultural identity, and personal identity
Canada’s group identity – freedom of speech, democracy, self-decision, etc.
Pay attention to narrative voices (I, she, he, you)
Autobiog raphies, self-help, letters, confessions – all examples of narratives and identity
oNarrative and Authority
There is a power in telling/creating stories (holds power of us as readers)
•This power is not innate, it is created and learned
There are positive and negative aspects of this power – think political, personal, cultural, religious
oUnnatural nar rative, it breaks the rules (nothing really happens, a “lyric” story)
oSelf-conscious narrative (draws attention to itself as a represent ation of reality)
oSandra Cisneros – who is her imagined audience? Mexican-Americans in Chicago
oWe gather that...
The story is being told by a girl, (aged 5-7?) language is pre-adolescent, “dumbbell”
Low-income (Mexican-American) “...but that’s all we can afford”
Sense of self-consciousness (comparing her Barbies), bossy but naive
Sense that she is trying to convince us – who is she talking to?
•She’s speaking to herself, “Yours is the one...”