Memory, Identity, Community

The Idea of Narrative in the Human Sciences

Edited by Lewis P. Hinchman & Sandra K. Hinchman

Subjects: Communication
Series: SUNY series in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Paperback : 9780791433249, 426 pages, April 1997
Hardcover : 9780791433232, 426 pages, April 1997

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Table of contents




Part I: Memory

1. Narrative and the Real World: An Argument for Continuity
David Carr

2. The Narrative Quality of Experience
Stephen Crites

3. "History with the Politics Left Out"
Gertrude Himmelfarb

4. Storytelling in Criminal Trials: A Model of Social Judgment
W. Lance Bennett

5. Human Evolution as Narrative
Misia Landau

Part II: Identity

6. The Language of the Self
Anthony Paul Kerby

7. Art, Narrative, and Human Nature
David Novitz

8. Narratives of the Self
Kenneth J. Gergen and Mary M. Gergen

9. The Genesis of Chronic Illness: Narrative Reconstruction
Gareth Williams

10. Empowering Women: Self, Autonomy, and Responsibility
Barbara Rowland-Serdar and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea

Part III: Community

11. The Virtues, the Unity of a Human Life, and the Concept of a Tradition
Alasdair MacIntyre

12. Ethnography as Narrative
Edward M. Bruner

13. Storytelling and Political Theory
Philip Abbott

14. Narration, Reason, and Community
Walter R. Fisher

15. Postmodern Environmental Ethics: Ethics as Bioregional Narrative
Jim Cheney




This multidisciplinary volume documents the resurrection of the importance of narrative to the study of individuals and groups and argues that narrative may become a lingua franca of future debates in the human sciences.


This anthology documents the resurrection, in the last few decades, of the importance of narrative to the study of individuals and groups. The editors propose that the human sciences are undergoing a paradigm shift away from nomological models and toward a more humanistic language in which narrative plays a complex and controversial role. Narratives, they claim, help to make experience intelligible, to crystallize personal identity, and to constitute and nurture community.

The fifteen articles in this collection, organized into sections dealing with memory, identity, and community, are by noted scholars representing a wide variety of disciplines, including philosophy, history, religion, communication, environmental studies, political science, sociology, anthropology, psychology, and law. They advocate diverse political and ideological positions, supporting the editors' belief that because narrative has not been captured by any academic bloc, it has the potential to become a lingua franca of future debates in the human sciences.

Lewis P. Hinchman is Professor of Government, Center for Liberal Studies, at Clarkson University. His previous books include Hegel's Critique of the Enlightenment. Sandra K. Hinchman is Professor of Government at St. Lawrence University. Her previous work includes Hiking the Southwest Canyon Country. The two are coeditors of Hannah Arendt: Critical Essays, also published by SUNY Press.


"The topic of narrative is as significant as the editors claim in their Introduction. It is becoming central to various social science fields, particularly for scholars who want to challenge traditional realist and positivist paradigms. The editors have made provocative selections, including many articles that are frequently cited in these debates. The book will be tremendously valuable to those who want to find their bearings in the vast writings on this topic. " — Lisa Disch, University of Minnesota

"I like the interdisciplinary character of this volume. The editors are right that one can only get a good grip on the importance of narratives if one sees their relevance to a wide range of intellectual pursuits. " — Bernard P. Dauenhauer, University of Georgia

"By reading about narrative from a wide range of different contexts, the reader is bound to make some surprising discoveries. The broad range of topics covered makes it obvious that the importance of narrative has made itself felt in any number of disciplines. " — Donald P. Spence, author of Narrative Truth and Historical Truth: Meaning and Interpretation in Psychoanalysis