Dr Harry goes to Grantham: a momentary perspective on narrative construction, omission & interpretation

Rae, David (2013) Dr Harry goes to Grantham: a momentary perspective on narrative construction, omission & interpretation. In: Untold Stories, 13-14 June 2013, University of Lincoln.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


This paper takes its central idea as ‘the moment’: a point in time of subjective duration when we experience conscious mental awareness of what is going on within our mind and around us, and we are able to remember our thinking and responses. Such moments form essential human experiences from which meaning is generated and stories are created.

Narratives of all kinds – personal, organisational, factual and fictional – often hinge on ‘critical moments’ in which significant ‘turning points’ and realisations conveying wider meanings may occur. This can be seen in a range of genres, from literature, organisational narratives and ethnographies, personal biographies and increasingly in the use of narratives to understand human cognition and consciousness. This paper aims to connect understandings from literature, philosophy and neuroscience, and to suggest ways in which ‘the moment’ can be understood and used in storied research.

The construction of stories which hinge on critical moments relies on the use of ‘Kairotic’ (narrative) rather than ‘Chronos’ (sequential) time in the process of human recollection which creates narratives (Czarniawska, 2004). A Kairotic narrative connects what are retrospectively perceived to be significant moments into a plausible and coherent narrative. Yet this is inevitably a selective authorial process, where events, interactions and interpretations which are omitted represent an ‘untold story’, a shadow narrative which may be significant and more ‘true’ than what is told. Yet the moment when a listener recognises that an ‘untold story’ is hidden in the shadow of the told may become a significant point in its interpretation.

The paper outlines the significance of ‘the moment’ from a cultural perspective in literary and philosophical theory, summarising and making connections between a range of related domains of knowledge in philosophy, literature and narrative, social education, psychology and cognition, and learning. It deploys a short story to demonstrate the use of such moments and to explore the symbolic importance of the moment in narrative construction. This introduces a discussion of the contentious questions of whether such a story should, or should not be told; and of whether, once told it can be ‘untold’.

Keywords:Narrative, stories, moment, organisation
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N200 Management studies
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
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ID Code:10015
Deposited On:20 Jun 2013 07:42

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