Talk on "Cultural Models and Narrative Identity: The Case of Military, Autobiographical Writing" - Aston Literary Linguistics Research Seminar Series


Online Event -Talk by Deborah de Muijnck


Through autobiographical narration, human beings become active authors of their own life and self-hood. By narratively creating a point of origin which is oriented toward closure, experiences can be given purpose and structure within the frame of autobiographical storytelling. Narrative thus enables life to “transcend the natural incoherence and discontinuity of everyday“ (Bamberg, Fina, and Schifferin 2007: 5) by creating storyworlds in which the self is positioned as a character in one's own life-story. This property makes narrative a valuable tool, enabling everyday discourse participants as well as individuals suffering from mental health issues to use narrative as a coherency-building mechanism for one's stable, trans-temporal sense of self.
In her first monograph, Deborah de Muijnck explores contemporary British military autobiographies as a case study for post-conflict narratives. More specifically, she focuses on the narrative tools and techniques applied by non-fictional narrators to (re-)create a stable, trans-temporal narrative identity through autobiographical storytelling despite the experience of potential trauma. In her presentation, she proposes that members of a culture will a) present themselves in autobiographical writing through cultural models of identity and culturally available plotlines that confirm their cultural membership and thus stabilize their sense of self, or b) in those cases where the individuals consciously describe themselves as traumatized, trauma will be the catalyzing factor to create an individual autobiography that is narrated independently from cultural models of identity and that is influenced by culturally available plotlines which differ from those typically applied by non-traumatized soldiers and veterans.
By including and integrating the concepts of cultural models of identity and culturally available plotlines, Deborah de Muijnck’s Ph.D research provides entry into the nature of post-conflict- and restorative narratives from a post-structuralist, cognitive-narratological and psychonarratological perspective.

Deborah de Muijnck's talk takes place as an online event in the context of the Aston Literary Linguistics Research seminars. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.