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The Stories We Are

The Stories We Are: An Essay on Self-Creation, Second Edition

Foreword by Ruthellen Josselson
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 440
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  • Book Info
    The Stories We Are
    Book Description:

    William Lowell Randall explores the links between literature and life and speculates on the range of storytelling styles through which people compose their lives. In doing so, he draws on a variety of fields, including psychology, psychotherapy, theology, philosophy, feminist theory, and literary theory.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1766-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Psychology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)

    'The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms,’ wrote Muriel Rukeyser, and so are our selves. Our identities can only be understood and expressed narratively - who we are in the world, how we became who we are, and how we make meaning of our experiences. As social scientists have begun to systematically ponder this phenomenon, creating a ‘narrative turn’ in their approach to the study of human existence, a multitude of questions have thus been created, enough to keep psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, educators, and health care providers busy for decades to come. InThe Stones We Are, Bill...

  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-2)
    (pp. 3-18)

    Most of us, we could agree, like to talk about ourselves. Whether because it gives us a sense of power, makes us feel less lonely, or meets a myriad of needs at once, most of us appear to benefit from telling others – and, in a sense, ourselves – some portion or version of our personal history. Given the right conditions, often with only the hint of an invitation, most of us welcome the opportunity to pour out part or all of what we tend to think of, with a mixture of both affection and resignation, as the overall ' story' of...

    (pp. 19-80)

    The story of my life: what are the implications – and what are the limitations – of this familiar figure of speech? What insights do we generate concerning the nature of our everyday lives when we examine it through the lenses of traditional story categories, such as plot, character, and point of view? What issues do we bring to the surface about our development as persons, about our relationships, about our selfconsciousness itself, when we extend it to include the possibility that we are each in the midst of our own unfolding novel, as its author/narrator, its protagonist, and its reader all...

    (pp. 81-206)

    In an interview once with theParis Review, novelist William Faulkner (1977) was reflecting on the number of stories by fellow authors he was in the habit of rereading on a regular basis. I've read these books so often,’he said, ‘that I don't always begin at page one and read to the end. I just read one scene, or about one character, just as you’d meet and talk to a friend for a few minutes' (136-7). Faulkner's experience of the virtual reality of fiction is so common we take it for granted. Yet anyone who has ever got lost in...

    (pp. 207-344)

    Carl Jung once said that he viewed his psychiatric patients as ‘separated from their stories.’ On some level, perhaps we are all in the same situation: separated from our stories, disconnected from our own experience, in search of a soul. If so, then I submit that helping undo this dilemma, for both ourselves and others, is a challenge to which all of us are called. This makes all of us ‘educators,’charged with the task of e-ducing each other more fully: with more of our existence assimilated as experience, more of our experience available for expression, and more awareness of the...

    (pp. 345-354)

    As the poem points out, our awareness of ourselves is at best problematic.

    In fact, it is a thoroughly complicated affair: many-levelled, multi-faceted, and ever-changing. What I have been attempting to do in this book is to examine this complexity by playing with the extraordinary implications of a rather ordinary metaphor: ‘the story of my life.’ I have chosen to do so because when it comes to the mystery of learning, the mystery of self-creation, metaphor may be our last resort. Yet in the house of metaphor are many fine rooms: life-as-battle, life-as-puzzle, life-as-journey (Kenyon, 1991). Life-as-story can claim no...

  11. Afterword OPEN STORIES, OPEN LIVES Toward a Narrative Theology of Aging
    (pp. 355-372)

    At this point, I should probably be acknowledging the limitations ofThe Stones We Are, offering sober, second thoughts about its central assumptions and adventurous agenda, with a strong nod to all the worthy thinking on the narrative nature of human life that’s been published since it was written, besides which much in it could well be deemed outdated or naïve. I should, but I shan’t. If anything, I’m more convinced than ever that we are‘The Story Species’(Gold, 2002), possessed of‘The Literary Mind’(Turner, 1996), that ‘the story of my life’ is a textual entity - a work of...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 373-376)
  13. References
    (pp. 377-396)
  14. Index
    (pp. 397-419)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 420-420)