The narrative research group will take up the question of narrative as a theoretical and methodological frame of reference and as an object of inquiry which has an established relevance to disciplines across the humanities and the social sciences, extending to subjects such as medicine, law, cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence and computer science.
The group’s research will also have a modern dimension as part of the Centre, both in the historical scope of its inquiry and in its attention to the proliferation of new technological media in the twentieth century - notably film, television and the various digital media - with all the new permutations of narrativity they entail.
The 'narrative turn' in the humanities over the last decade or so is only the most obvious symptom of a growing awareness of the interdisciplinary significance of narrative research.
Narrative saturates culture - as a mode of knowledge, a form of explanation or sense-making, an articulation of meaning, of value and affect, and a key contributory factor in individual identity and social cohesion.
More than a cultural phenomenon, though, it is an elemental faculty of the mind, a basic way of understanding temporality, change and experience. In recent years the development of a cognitive paradigm in narrative studies has been a vigorous response to the challenge of understanding this faculty, involving a conceptual shift from narrative as a product to narrative as an activity - an intentional, communicative sense-making process.
The study of narrative seeks to account for the principles of narrative sense-making in general, from the most elaborate literary fictions to the most basic cognitive heuristics, and to lay bare the ways in which particular narratives, as inherently rhetorical endeavours, both constitute their objects and produce the meanings they articulate.