Wednesday 15 February 2017, 4.00PM to 5.30pm
I’m a social policy researcher working primarily in health and social care service evaluation. So why am I on the programme for the Narrative in Question seminar series? This is a question I asked myself when I first sat down to write this presentation! But in fact I think health and social care research, and in particular dementia studies, have something to offer, and much to learn, from narrative theory. In particular, many of the key concepts in dementia studies (such as ‘personhood’, person-centred care’, the preservation of self, identity and citizenship) could benefit from exploration from a narrative perspective. I’ve been studying the role of ‘life story work’ in dementia care for some years now and in this seminar I will present some of the findings from this work, focussing on the outcomes the people involved in life story work, including people with dementia themselves, hoped would come from it.
According to situation model theory, readers construct mental representations of the situations described in narratives, and encode information about their time, characters and locations. Specifically, readers store the temporal relations between events: events that are understood to be earlier in the story take longer to retrieve from memory than recent events, even when the events are mentioned at the same point in the story (Kelter et al, 2004). Situation model theory argues that each event is linked to a specific location in the linear sequence of events encoded in memory, and so moving farther back in the timeline entails travelling through more events.
This explanation however is not consistent with other findings. For example, long events (e.g., owning a house) take longer to read than short events (e.g., opening the house). How is the duration of events mentally represented? In this talk, I present evidence from reading times, corpus analyses, eye-tracking and elicitation tasks indicating that the internal complexity of events and the type of knowledge that we associate with the described events predict reading difficulty. This suggests that our existing knowledge of events is activated during reading and that the nature of this knowledge is linked to the representation of time.
Narrative in Question is an ICNS research programme for Spring and Summer terms 2017, bringing together visiting speakers and York researchers with narrative-related interests. The core events are a series of seminars and guest lectures, and a culminating workshop featuring international contributors and a workshop focussed upon developing an interdisciplinary research project.
The idea for the programme is that the question of narrative provides a conceptual hub for dialogue amongst participants with widely divergent individual research agendas. The seminars will feature individual research projects in which the issue of narrative is fundamentally at stake. All project participants share a concern to put narrative in question, whether as a theoretical concept, as a mode of discourse or cognition, as a particular corpus or tradition, as a set of formal devices and techniques, as a use of specific media, or as a research methodology.
See the full programme of events
Location: Seminar Room BS/008, Humanities Research Centre, Berrick Saul Building, University of York Campus West