February 10: Microhistories - lectures and film programme at Konstfack

Time: 10 February 2014, 11.00 – 11.45

Location: S2 Konstfack

Language: English

Lecture: Mika Hannula: CONTENT OF THE FORM -Narrative Structures and Why Do They Really Matter

The talk will focus on the theme of narrative understanding of oneself – both seen from the personal and the collective perspective. I will outline the basic elements and components of narrative structures that have been used especially in self-reflective writing, analyzing either historical issues or matters at hand. The talk will articulate the reasons why these narrative structures matter and how they actively affect our processes of self-understanding.

I will concentrate on two writers relevant for the field: the historian//philosopher Hayden White and the philosopher//semiotic Paul Ricoeur. From White, besides the title of the talk (content of the form referring to the fact how a chosen structure and type of a narrative is not neutral, not just formal, but value-laden and content formative), I will address the four-part and level structure of narrative representation and emplotment (romance, tragedy, satire and comedy), following up with the consequent ideological four-part forms (anarchy, conservative, radical and liberal) With Ricoeur, the focus is both on the basic structure of narratives, what do they do and how our lives are embedded, in fact, only comprehensible as narratives.

The talk will end with a case arguing for the relevance of a narrative structure of self-understanding, focusing on the comparison between the collective self-understanding of the  former DDR and West-Germany and their respective types of narratives which form the modes of tragedy and irony.