31.10.-1.11. Workshop: Analyzing narratives and experience in history

Jonne Renvall / Tampere University

Tampere University, 31.10.-1.11.2022
Monday 31.10. Pinni B4113
Tuesday 1.11. Pinni B1029 (Olkkari)

The Centre of Excellence in the History of Experiences (HEX) and Narrare: Centre for Interdisciplinary Narrative Studies at Tampere University will organize a joint workshop on narratives and experience in history this Autumn. The workshop is continuation for the interdisciplinary collaboration in the theme issue ‘Narrative and Experience’, published in the Scandinavian Journal of History in January 2022.

The workshop brings together scholars from different fields to an interdisciplinary exchange on the application of narrative approaches to historical texts and sources. What can narrative approaches offer methodologically to historical research, and vice versa, what can attention to historical constitution and contextualization of narrative models offer to the research fields? How can narrative text analysis be used to uncover historical experience or other historically changing phenomena?

The workshop programme includes four European keynote speakers and ten other invited talks. We welcome colleagues interested in these themes to participate in what will hopefully be two days of intensive discussion and methodological development. It is also possible to listen to the talks via an online link provided for those registered.

Registration here.



Monday, October 31st


Opening words


Chris Lorenz: History and the question of narrative: On the lasting importance of the distinctions between facts, fiction and fake

Marina Grishakova: Asynchrony and delay: Narrative and historical time and experience

Chair Mari Hatavara




Dorothee Birke: Historicizing the present: The chrononarratological approach and a reading of Patricia Lockwood’s No One Is Talking About This

Alison Rowlands: Narrative resolution? Making sense of narratives, experiences, and identities in witch-trial records from early modern Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Chair Raisa Toivo




Sari Katajala-Peltomaa: Narrating the experience – experiencing the narrative: The miraculous in medieval canonization processes

Maria Mäkelä: Experientiality or exemplarity? Diachronic narratology and the case of free indirect discourse

Reetta Eiranen: Experiential narration in nineteenth-century letters

Chair Sami Suodenjoki

klo 18.00 –

Dinner (for the speakers)

Tuesday, November 1st


Mari Hatavara: Vicarious historical minds: Analyzing mind representation in historical interviews

Ville Kivimäki: Trauma and the narratives of the nation: Collective scripts in overcoming experiences of violence in wartime Finland, 1939–45

Hanna Meretoja: Narratively mediated experience: Rethinking the actual and the possible

Chair TBA




Ilona Pikkanen: Maxims and metaphors as a means of narrative persuasion in history writing

Iida Pöllänen: Historicizing black struggle in the U.S.: Narrative approaches to studying histories of domination and resistance

Chair Matti Hyvärinen




Marja Jalava: Continuity as a temporal grand narrative in Finnish historiography

Matti Hyvärinen: Master and counter-narratives in parliamentarians’ oral history interviews

Chair Mari Hatavara


Concluding discussion and future plans

More about the event

In historical research, the concept ’narrative’ can be understood in different ways. Historiography in itself can be analyzed as narrative but also texts produced in the past, the sources, can be interpreted as narratives. Equally, the understanding of what narrative is or what are the features to study when studying narrativity, varies remarkably. While recent narratology emphasizes experientiality as the core of any narrative, the narrativist readings of historiography have typically drawn on a plot centered understanding of narratives.

In studying historiographical texts as narratives, the assumption is that the presentation – and perhaps even the creation – of historical knowledge entails narrative sense making operations. When studying source texts as including narrativity, the narrative features of the text as historically situated in the past become highlighted. In relation to experience, historiography contributes to societal and cultural frames of interpretation for people’s experiences. Then again, the narrative analysis of sources can, for instance, be a way of studying what kind of narrative means and scripts were utilized and produced in past societies in the construction of individual as well as collective experiences.

For these reasons, it is important both to recognize the many meanings of narrative and narrativity in history and historical writing, as well as to study how narrative studies and historical research may best support each other and advance theory and methodology in both fields.