English 881/781: Narrative Inquiry — Overview of Narrative Inquiry

Artistic Goals

Narrative Inquiry aims to tap into:

  • Emotional Understanding
  • Sensory Knowledge
  • Literary Perception
  • Metaphorical Wisdom—lasting memories/haunting

Narrative Inquiry explores ways of knowing which are not strictly objective or scientific

Stories Create Multiple Reactions in Readers

Stories facilitate reader reactions that other research reporting forms cannot. These reactions include:

  • Being moved
  • Creates engagement/excitement/charge
  • Highly connective
  • Not suited to all tastes
  • Confusion
  • Not “academic”
  • Mesmerizing
  • The lure of story, but is it factual?
  • Sympathy
  • We remember stories because we are predisposed to remember stories (Bruner)

Stories Are Writer Driven

  • Highly particularized
  • Very private almost inherent in stories/idiosyncratic
  • Important to work through those issues
  • Start with the issues that hit close to home and explore why they are important/let instinct guide you
  • Highly important human issues—love, fear, hatred, joy—could be narcissistic, melodramatic, but also so very important to all of us; high school journal
  • Trust in the process
  • Value in the details/makes it seem real
  • helping other people to live the experience
  • Juxtaposition of ideas
  • Literary intertextuality
  • Cultural allusions—to set context in particular
  • Resist authoritative interpretation
  • Self-reflexive—goals are personal
  • Story/process commentary
  • Elusiveness of truth—you are at the mercy of the writer; but try to capture “truth”
  • Uncompromising vs. a more generalizing goal
  • How to move to making it a good story for the reader

Narrative Inquiry Is an Alternative Research Method

  • Answer new puzzles vs. research question
  • Where has our focus been and not been?
  • See what gets missed
  • Reaction to other forms
  • Taboo topics
  • Not the best approach for exploring all issues
  • Feminist values vs. masculine values
  • Emotional vs. cognitive/rationale
  • Struggle itself is also a metaphor—not necessarily real
  • Integrity/ethical issues—what if a non-truth becomes the truth? (the truest things are never true); Do we have to tell the truth? Can we tell the truth? Be true to the experience.
  • Try to be up front about what you do? Your contract with the reader.