Deborah de Muijnck - Cultural Models of Narrative Identity


Cultural Models of Narrative Identity - The Case of Military, Autobiographical Writing

In her dissertation, Deborah de Muijnck combines cognitive and empirical approaches towards narratology. Her work tackles the question of how we (re-)construct narrative identities in non-fictional, autobiographical storytelling to form a (seemingly) coherent story of the self, and how the disruptive experience of contingency can be interwoven narratively to form a (relatively) stable, trans-temporal story of self-development. To this date, there is no existing model for literary scholars to practically analyse narrative identity. Furthermore, the terms ‘identity’ and ‘selfhood’ are often used interchangeably, although branches within psychology suggest that these two are not just different concepts, but are situated at different levels in the human being. In her dissertation, Deborah proposes a methodology, which identifies cultural models of narrative identity in non-fictional, autobiographical writing.

The methodology is applied to a qualitative study analyzing post-conflict narratives of British soldiers and veterans. The aim of the study is to underline which narrative techniques are used to integrate potentially traumatic experiences into the individual's life story. Particular focus is placed on the concept of cultural models of narrative identity that provide narrators with frameworks through which their own life stories can be placed in a coherent, cohesive form.