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The Narrated Life Story: On the Interrelation Between Experience, Memory and Narration

By Gabriele Rosenthal

Abstract

Interested in the experience of people as well as in their present reconstructions\ud of their experiences in the past, we as biographical researchers have to deal\ud with the distinction between the narrated personal life as related in\ud conversation or written in the present time and the lived-through life. When\ud reconstructing a past (the life history) presented in the present of a life\ud narrative (the life story) it must be considered that the presentation of past\ud events is constituted by the present of narrating. The present of the biographer\ud determines his or her perspective on the past and produces a specific past at\ud times. In the course of a life with its biographical turning points new\ud remembered pasts arise at each point. This construction of the past out of the\ud present is not, however, to be understood as a construction independent from\ud the respective experienced past. Instead, memory-based narratives of\ud experienced events are also constituted through experiences in the past. So\ud narratives of experienced events refer both to the current life and to the past\ud experience. In my paper I will present a gestalt-theoretical phenomenological\ud concept of the dialectical interrelation between experience, memory and\ud narration. Using an empirical example, namely the biography of an ethnic\ud German from the former Soviet Union, I will discuss this distinction between\ud the life history and the life story as one that must be taken into account in all\ud narrated and written biographies

Topics: BF
Publisher: University of Huddersfield
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:4894

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