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Narrativity in Action: Language, Culture and Text


Magdalena Grabowska, Grzegorz Grzegorczyk and Piotr Kallas

This monograph highlights the significance of narrative tools for the analysis of language behaviour in various social situations and considers narrativity as a natural human way of making sense. Through narration we develop unique modes of comprehending reality and dealing with its complicated structure. The analysis elaborates narrating as a dialogical experience and highlights its important role in coaching and in personalised education. Additionally it throws light on the modern city narrative as a literary genre. Lastly the authors develop the aspects of narrativity in the act of conversion in evangelical churches as an instance of identity enactment explaining the modern trends in preaching in charismatic evangelical churches.

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The central role of narratives in social life has been proclaimed by many. On the word of the French semiologist and literary critic, Roland Barthes: “All classes, all human groups, have their narratives…” (Barthes (1977, p. 79) as cited in Czarniawska (2004, p. 1). Narrative, according to Barthes, is international, transhistorical and transcultural.

The interest in the study of narratives originates in the literary theory. Polkinghorne (1987) as cited in Czarniawska (2004, p. 2) points at four national traditions, namely, Russian formalism, US new criticism, French structuralism and German hermeneutics. Contemporary accounts concerning the notion of the narrative owe a lot to a Russian formalist, Vladimir Propp and his Morphology of the Folktale from 1928.

However, at one point the interest in this matter goes beyond literature to encroach on the field of humanities and social sciences. It has been noted that life may be viewed in terms of enacted narratives. Alasdair MacIntyre (1981, 1990) as cited in Czarniawska (2004, p. 3) believes that the social life is a narrative in which there are actions and events. Ricoeur (1981) as cited in Czarniawska (2004, p. 4) suggests that human action, if it is considered meaningful, bears the features of a text which can function on its own, beyond and outside the immediate context.

Noting the traces of textuality beyond the realm of literary works invites one to reach for a variety of human acts. Conversations, biographies or autobiographies may be conceived as...

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