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.
Table of Contents
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
Chapter 3: Is there an Ethics to Story-Telling?
Chapter 4: Forms of Ordering: Trauma, Narrative and Ethics
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
Chapter 7: From Appropriation to Dialogic Exploration: A Non-Subsumptive Model of Storytelling
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
Chapter 10: Memory as Imagination in Elina Hirvonen’s When I Forgot
Chapter 11: Popular Representation of East Germany: Whose History is it?
Chapter 12: Realities in the Making: The Ethics of Fabulation in Observational Documentary Cinema
Part III: Narrative engagements with violence and trauma
Chapter 13: The Empathetic Listener and the Ethics of Storytelling
Chapter 14: Theatre, Ethics and Restitution: What is Theatre Good For?
Chapter 15: Towards an Intercultural Aesthetics: Shaping the Memory of Political Violence and Historical Trauma in Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s Artwork Where is Where?
Chapter 16: Reading Terror: Imagining Violent Acts through the Rational or Narrative Sublime
Chapter 17: War & Storytelling After 9/11: A Photojournalist’s Perspective
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.