Narrative Scholar and Narrated Lives: Life Writing and (Self-)Representation Cover Image

Narrative Scholar and Narrated Lives: Life Writing and (Self-)Representation
Narrative Scholar and Narrated Lives: Life Writing and (Self-)Representation

Author(s): Kristin Kuutma
Subject(s): Customs / Folklore
Published by: Eesti Kirjandusmuuseum
Keywords: history of folkloristics; life-writing practices; scholar of narratives; (self-)representation

Summary/Abstract: This presentation discusses some aspects of narrative, or narrated, representation by combining life narrative, life-writing and reflexive investigation into disciplinary history, i.e. the progress of academic folkloristics in the early 20th century. The broader theoretical and methodological questions dovetail with the philosophical concerns of history writing, but also with the generic strategies and narrative modes emergent in biographical writing. The historical perspective focuses on a key figure in Estonian folkloristics and folk narrative research, Matthias Johann Eisen (1857–1934). He was a highly productive collector of expressive culture in narrative form, but also a prolific author and editor of numerous volumes. The current study will focus on narratives which represent this seminal cultural figure for posterity in biographical or autobiographical essays and memoirs, while aiming to analyse Eisen’s public and self-referential representation, based on publications and manuscripts engaged in constructing his life narrative. This perspective on narrative discourse combines a critical examination of historical representation with a reflexive analysis of individual portrayals created by selves and others in the process, guided by the perception of constructedness and representational contingencies of the writing of life history. Such analysis of life writing includes an insight into the politics of remembering occurring in public or private contexts, and the positionality of the writers, in order to disclose the discursive aspects of the production and circulation of images, metaphors and narratives that finally constitute our knowledge about historical figures, which also largely defines their reception from the past to the present.

  • Issue Year: 2009
  • Issue No: 43
  • Page Range: 97-122
  • Page Count: 26
  • Language: English