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Identity Positioning: Narrative\ud Analysis of Sjuzet and Fabula

By David Hiles


In this paper I will argue that identity is the product of at least two processes –\ud subject positioning and identity positioning. While the focus of much of the\ud previous research in this field has largely been on subject positioning, it would\ud seem clear that we can also participate to a greater or lesser extent in the\ud construction of our own identities. I propose that we achieve these identity\ud positions primarily through narrative – through the stories we construct of the\ud person we are. Crucial to understanding the role that narrative plays in the\ud construction of identity is the distinction between sjuzet – the way in which a\ud story is being re-told, and fabula – the content of that story. The analysis of\ud these features is particularly supported by Herman and Vervaeck’s (2001)\ud distinction between “unbounded” and “bounded” motifs in narrative. In\ud exploring this distinction, it turns out that the sjuzet (the unbounded motifs) is\ud especially important in understanding the construction of identity positions.\ud This approach is applied to the analysis of holocaust narratives collected by the\ud Imperial War Museum Sound Archive. These testimonies offer a constant\ud theme of the struggle for identity in the face of overwhelming atrocities, horror\ud and suffering

Topics: BF
Publisher: University of Huddersfield
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

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