English 881/781: Narrative Inquiry – The Book of Stories

Narrative Book Overview

This course will focus heavily on writing. For the course you will a number of different narratives which will be collected at the end of the term into a Book of Stories. I and other other Narrative Inquirers believe that we learn best through telling and writing stories. And this is certainly the best way to learn how to do narrative inquiry. So you will do a lot of writing this term.

You will share these narratives together in class as a community of writers, reading drafts at various stages. We will also discuss the art and craft of writing powerful narratives.

Freedom of Expression

I want to encourage you to feel free to experiment with your stories. In fact, I want you to feel safe to write anything you’d like to for this class. Use this class as your one chance to do writing in which you are unconstrained.


Here are the stories you will write:


Please also think about images which can accompany your stories. We will work to incorporate the images into your book.

Take a Chance & Trust Yourself

I want you to believe that this is a chance for you to experiment, to make mistakes, to try something new. I’d prefer that. I’m not looking for you to create perfect, polished stories (I can help you move toward that later). Instead, I want you to stretch yourself, push yourself, try to really learn. So, you might find that writing about a story which is nagging at you, but which you can’t quite understand, would be a great learning opportunity. In my experience, stories that seem important to us, though we’re not really sure why, are, ultimately, the best stories for us to write because they hold keys to our understanding of the world. (Of course, I should warn you, those stories are often quite a lot of work to write.) What I’d love best, then, is for you to write a stories which teach you about yourself. If you can achieve that, you’ll have taken a key step into a narrative life.

Additional Book Materials

To make your book complete, we will also add the following materials to it:

  • Book Cover (title, author name, image)
  • Book Front Matter
    • Title/Author Page (you need this page so you have somewhere to sign for when you give your book to some loyal reader!)
    • Dedication Page (it’s not a bad idea to dedicate your book to that loyal reader either!)
    • Epigraph (a suitable quote for your book)
    • Table of Contents
  • Book Introduction (in which you reflect on the nature of the stories in the book)
  • Back Cover (short description of the book, pithy quote from the book’s foreword)
  • Be sure to put page numbers in your book

Book Forward

In addition to writing your own book, you will be asked to read someone else’s book and write a Forward that they can include in their book. That way each of you will get a close, thoughtful, and supportive reading of your book by a trusted colleague.