1st Edition

Storytelling and Ethics Literature, Visual Arts and the Power of Narrative

Edited By Hanna Meretoja, Colin Davis Copyright 2018
    324 Pages
    by Routledge

    324 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In recent years there has been a huge amount of both popular and academic interest in storytelling as something that is an essential part of not only literature and art but also our everyday lives as well as our dreams, fantasies, aspirations, historical self-understanding, and political actions. The question of the ethics of storytelling always, inevitably, lurks behind these discussions, though most frequently it remains implicit rather than explicit. This volume explores the ethical potential and risks of storytelling from an interdisciplinary perspective. It stages a dialogue between contemporary literature and visual arts across media (film, photography, performative arts), interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives (debates in narrative studies, trauma studies, cultural memory studies, ethical criticism), and history (traumatic histories of violence, cultural history). The collection analyses ethical issues involved in different strategies employed in literature and art to narrate experiences that resist telling and imagining, such as traumatic historical events, including war and political conflicts. The chapters explore the multiple ways in which the ethics of storytelling relates to the contemporary arts as they work with, draw on, and contribute to historical imagination. The book foregrounds the connection between remembering and imagining and explores the ambiguous role of narrative in the configuration of selves, communities, and the relation to the non-human. While discussing the ethical aspects of storytelling, it also reflects on the relevance of artistic storytelling practices for our understanding of ethics. Making an original contribution to interdisciplinary narrative studies and narrative ethics, this book both articulates a complex understanding of how artistic storytelling practices enable critical distance from culturally dominant narrative practices, and analyzes the limitations and potential pitfalls of storytelling.

    Chapter 1: Introduction: Intersections of Storytelling and Ethics

    Hanna Meretoja and Colin Davis

    Part I: The ethical potential and limits of narrative

    Chapter 2: Truth, Ethics, Fiction: Responding to Plato’s Challenge

    Colin Davis

    Chapter 3: Is there an Ethics to Story-Telling?

    Mieke Bal

    Chapter 4: Forms of Ordering: Trauma, Narrative and Ethics

    Robert Eaglestone

    Chapter 5: The Decline of Narrative and the Rise of the Archive

    Ernst van Alphen

    Chapter 6: The Story of the "Anthropos": Writing Humans and Other Primates in Contemporary Fiction

    Danielle Sands

    Chapter 7: From Appropriation to Dialogic Exploration: A Non-Subsumptive Model of Storytelling

    Hanna Meretoja

    Part II: Narrative temporalities: imagining an other life

    Chapter 8: Alexander Kluge’s "Saturday in Utopia": Making Time for Other Lives with German Critical Theory and Heliotropic Narration

    Leslie A. Adelson

    Chapter 9: Melancholy and the Narration of Transnational Trauma in W.G. Sebald and Teju Cole

    Kaisa Kaakinen

    Chapter 10: Memory as Imagination in Elina Hirvonen’s When I Forgot

    Riitta Jytilä

    Chapter 11: Popular Representation of East Germany: Whose History is it?

    Molly Andrews

    Chapter 12: Realities in the Making: The Ethics of Fabulation in Observational Documentary Cinema

    Ilona Hongisto

    Part III: Narrative engagements with violence and trauma

    Chapter 13: The Empathetic Listener and the Ethics of Storytelling

    Aleida Assmann

    Chapter 14: Theatre, Ethics and Restitution: What is Theatre Good For?

    Anna Reading

    Chapter 15: Towards an Intercultural Aesthetics: Shaping the Memory of Political Violence and Historical Trauma in Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s Artwork Where is Where?

    Mia Hannula

    Chapter 16: Reading Terror: Imagining Violent Acts through the Rational or Narrative Sublime

    Cassandra Falke

    Chapter 17: War & Storytelling After 9/11: A Photojournalist’s Perspective

    Louie Palu

    Part IV: Concluding reflections

    Chapter 18: Narrative in Dark Times

    Andreea Deciu Ritivoi


    Colin Davis is Professor of French at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

    Hanna Meretoja is Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of SELMA: Centre for the Study of Storytelling, Experientiality and Memory at the University of Turku, Finland.

    "Thinking of the empathetic listener as secondary witness (Assmann), the assemblage of restitution (Reading), the heterogeneous temporalities of the present (Kaakinen) and subsumptive vs. non-subsumptive storytelling (Meretoja) as well as many other tools for thought and analysis introduced and developed in this volume, it becomes clear that Storytelling and Ethics has indeed brought together new vocabularies for articulating how literary and other artistic narratives open new possibilities of thought and experiences."

    - Anne Rüggemeier, Diegesis