Social psychologists argue that people’s past weighs on their present. Consistent with this view, Historical Tales and National Identity outlines a theory and a methodology which provide tools for better understanding the relation between the present psychological condition of a society and representations of its past. Author Janos Laszlo argues that various kinds of historical texts including historical textbooks, texts derived from public memory (e.g. media or oral history), novels, and folk narratives play a central part in constructing national identity. Consequently, with a proper methodology, it is possible to expose the characteristic features and contours of national identities.
In this book Laszlo enhances our understanding of narrative psychology and further elaborates his narrative theory of history and identity. He offers a conceptual model that draws on diverse areas of psychology - social, political, cognitive and psychodynamics - and integrates them into a coherent whole. In addition to this conceptual contribution, he also provides a major methodological innovation: a content analytic framework and software package that can be used to analyse various kinds of historical texts and shed new light on national identity. In the second part of the book, the potential of this approach is empirically illustrated, using Hungarian national identity as the focus. The author also extends his scope to consider the potential generalizations of the approach employed.
Historical Tales and National Identity will be of great interest to a broad range of student and academic readers across the social sciences and humanities: in psychology, history, cultural studies, literature, anthropology, political science, media studies, sociology and memory studies.
Table of Contents
PART 1 1. Brief summary of narrative psychology 2. Personal and social identity 3. National identity 4. Identity related psychological processes in historical narratives 5. Emotion regulation in historical narratives 6. Using automated content analytic techniques for identifying and quantifying identity-related narrative patterns in historical texts PART 2 7. Characteristics of the Hungarian national identity in intergroup agency, intergroup evaluation, intergroup emotions and cognitive processes 8. Emotional patterns in the Hungarian historical novels 9. Emotions in real intergroup conflicts: historical anchoring of inter-ethnic emotions 10. Elaboration of collective traumas 11. Cognitive and emotional elaboration of the trauma caused by the Trianon Peace Treaty in history textbooks 12. Intergroup evaluations as indicators of trauma elaboration in history textbooks 13. Elaboration of the Trianon Peace Treaty trauma in the Hungarian newspapers 14: Summary and forward look
János László is head of the Social Psychology Department at the Institute of Psychology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and a professor and chair in the Social Psychology Department at the University of Pécs, Hungary. He has published several books in Hungarian and English on social representations and narrative psychology, including The Science of Stories: An introduction into narrative psychology.
‘Historical Tales and National Identity is an important book exploring the nature of individual and collective identity. László is one of the most thoughtful social psychologists in the world. He draws on basic research in social, cognitive, and clinical psychology to uncover basic truths about the stories people tell about their countries, their history, and themselves. This is a book that will inform discussions among historians, anthropologists, linguists, political scientists, and especially psychologists.’ - James W. Pennebaker, University of Texas at Austin, USA
‘Professor László provides an integrated and up-to-date account of the functions of narrative. Drawing comprehensively from cognitive, personality, interpretive, text analysis, and representational studies, Professor László analyses how narratives produce and are produced by identities. This book is an essential reference for scholars of narrative that brings together scientific and hermeneutical approaches in a readable way. He provides a lively recipe for creating an interdisciplinary science of stories.’- James H. Liu, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand