Through Narrative Theory, the book offers an engaging panorama of the construction of specialised discourses and practices within academia and diverse professional communities. Its chapters investigate genres from various fields, such as aircraft accident reports, clinical cases and other scientific observations, academic conferences, academic blogs, climate-change reports, university decision-making in public meetings, patients’ oral and written accounts of illness, corporate annual reports, journalistic obituaries, university websites, narratives of facts in legal cases, narrative processes in arbitration hearings, briefs, and witness examination accounts. In addition to exploring narration in this wide range of contexts, the volume uses narrative as a powerful tool to gain a methodological insight into professional and academic accounts, and thus it contributes to research into theoretical issues. Under the lens of Narratology, Discourse and Genre Analysis, fresh research windows are opened on the study of academic and professional interactions.
MARINA BONDI Historians as Recounters: Description across Genres - 123
MARINA BONDI Historians as Recounters: Description across Genres 1. Introduction The inherently narrative nature of history is widely acknowledged in the applied linguistics literature on historical discourse (e.g. Martin/ Wodak 2003; Coffin 2006). Historians themselves have repeatedly debated whether they should produce interesting stories or detached analyses (Carr 1986; White 1987), often looking at historical discourse as “verbal structure in the form of a narrative prose discourse that purports to be a model, or icon, of past structures and processes in the interest of explaining what they were by representing them” (White 1973: 2). The influence of Barthes (1967) and Ricoeur (1983-85) in highlighting the analogy between historical discourse and fictional narratives cannot be underestimated.1 Yet it would be beyond the scope of this chapter to attempt to retrace the ways in which semiotics has deconstructed language or to summarize the inter- disciplinary debate originated by the ‘narrative turn’ in historical studies or contemporary critical theory.2 Drawing attention to the narrative component of historical writing, and particularly to the way the reporting of events is organized into a sequence constructing a plot (White’s ‘emplotment’), does not necessarily annul the difference between historical narrative and fictional narrative. History will emphasize its own non-fictional 1 Ricoeur (1983-85) refers to the way history restructures time by introducing narrative contours into the non-narrative time of nature (vol III: 265) as ‘fictionalization of history’. 2 See for example Critical Inquiry, Vol. 7/1 (1980) and Rethinking History Vol. 9/2 (2005) for reflections on the ongoing debate....
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