Friday, 18 May 2007

Blithing it

As a media historian and as a writer, I am very aware of the conscious act of telling stories; that the telling itself has a function and that most narratives are not simply recounting of “she did this and then that happened.”

Stories have a beginning and an end, even if they are only a slice of life. Stories tell us whose concerns are important and relevant and whose are not. That is, they identify who is included and who is to be excluded. Most stories have a narrative coherence that ties ideas together.

I spent a good part of my dissertation examining different ideas about narrative and the differences between narrative and discourse. I remember that it came down to a simple equation:

Narrative=story (what happened or the plot) + discourse (connecting events + closure)

I dusted down my dissertation today and had a nostalgic roam through its pages. I appreciate the skills and intellectual rigour given to me by my formal training but I am choosing to “blithe it” here. I am choosing to use my academic knowledge and research training to write about history in a way more accessible to my family and others. To be honest, I don’t think more than a handful of people have ever read my dissertation. So with a nod of thanks to my graduate teachers and training and a clear awareness of the ideological underpinnings of my task, I am off to narrate the Jaeckels’ story.

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