The Ethics of Storytelling: Narrative Hermeneutics, History, and the Possible

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Oxford University Press, Nov 30, 2017 - Psychology - 336 pages
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Against the backdrop of the polarized debate on the ethical significance of storytelling, Hanna Meretoja's The Ethics of Storytelling: Narrative Hermeneutics, History, and the Possible develops a nuanced framework for exploring the ethical complexity of the roles narratives play in our lives. Focusing on how narratives enlarge and diminish the spaces of possibilities in which we act, think, and re-imagine the world together with others, this book proposes a theoretical-analytical framework for engaging with both the ethical potential and risks of storytelling. Further, it elaborates a narrative hermeneutics that treats narratives as culturally mediated practices of (re)interpreting experiences and articulates how narratives can be oppressive, empowering, or both. It also argues that the relationship between narrative unconscious and narrative imagination shapes our sense of the possible. In her book, Meretoja develops a hermeneutic narrative ethics that differentiates between six dimensions of the ethical potential of storytelling: the power of narratives to cultivate our sense of the possible; to contribute to individual and cultural self-understanding; to enable understanding other lives non-subsumptively in their singularity; to transform the narrative in-betweens that bind people together; to develop our perspective-awareness and capacity for perspective-taking; and to function as a form of ethical inquiry. This book addresses our implication in violent histories and argues that it is as dialogic storytellers, fundamentally vulnerable and dependent on one another, that we become who we are: both as individuals and communities. The Ethics of Storytelling seamlessly incorporates narrative ethics, literary narrative studies, narrative psychology, narrative philosophy, and cultural memory studies. It contributes to contemporary interdisciplinary narrative studies by developing narrative hermeneutics as a philosophically rigorous, historically sensitive, and analytically subtle approach to the ethical stakes of the debate on the narrative dimension of human existence.
 

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Contents

Toward an Ethics of Storytelling
1
2 Narrative Hermeneutics
43
3 Storytelling and Ethics
89
Julia Francks Die Mittagsfrau
149
Günter Grass and Historical Imagination
179
Jonathan Littells Les Bienveillantes
217
Dialogic Storytelling and David Grossman
255
Struggles over the Possible
299
References
309
Index
333
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About the author (2017)

Hanna Meretoja is Professor of Comparative Literature, Director of SELMA: Centre for the Study of Storytelling, Experientiality and Memory, and Vice Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Turku in Finland. Her research is mainly in the fields of narrative theory, narrative hermeneutics, and narrative ethics. She is the author of The Narrative Turn in Fiction and Theory (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and the co-editor of Values of Literature (Brill, 2015) and Storytelling and Ethics: Literature, Visual Arts, and the Power of Narrative (Routledge, 2018).

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