Symposium: Applied Narratology, April 2-3, 2020, Tampere University - CANCELLED

Due to corona virus, the Applied Narratology Symposium is unfortunately cancelled.

Welcome to the Applied Narratology Symposium!

Come listen to some of the most prominent narrative theorists at Tampere University on April 2nd–3rd. Jens Brockmeier, Marina Grishakova, Molly Andrews and others will talk about different ways in which narrative theory is applied in the social sciences and in fields as diverse as psychology, criminology and IT development.

Everybody welcome!

There is a welcoming coffee served for all participants on Thursday, April 2nd, at 11.15 am. Please fill out the e-form here (by March 19th), so we will know the number of people attending.


The Applied Narratology Symposium

Thursday, April 2nd

10.15-11.15 Introduction and welcome (Päätalo C6)

Laura Karttunen (Tampere University): Applied Narratology: Lessons from Dewey

Sjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar (University of Groningen): Narrative Learning Environments

11.15-11.45 Coffee

11.45-12.45 Keynote I (Päätalo C6)

Marina Grishakova (University of Tartu): On the role of narrative imagination in real life: scenario thinking, modeling, and experimentation

14.00-15.00 Session I (Päätalo A3)

Molly Andrews (University of Helsinki & University of East London): Narrative Scholarship and the Entanglement of Human Lives

Mari Hatavara, [Matti Hyvärinen, Hanna Rautajoki] (Tampere University): Narrative Contestation and Positioning in a Life Interview of a Senior

15.15-16.45 Session II (Päätalo A3)

Anneke Sools (University of Twente): Back from the Future: A Narrative Approach to Study the Imagination of Personal Futures

Anna Ovaska (Tampere University): From Critical Medical Humanities to Critical Narrative Medicine

Eevastiina Kinnunen, Päivi Kosonen, [Hanna Meretoja] (University of Turku): Narrative Agency and Metanarrativity: The Potential of Metanarrative Creative Reading Groups


Friday, April 3rd

10.15-11.15 Keynote II (Päätalo C6)

Jens Brockmeier (The American University of Paris): Language, Narrative, and Simultaneity

11.30-12.45 Session III (Päätalo C6)

Ann Bager, Klarissa Lueg (University of Southern Denmark) (via Skype): Theorizing and Applying Narratological Concepts within Sociology – Experiences, Challenges and Outlooks

Lois Presser (Tampere University & University of Tennessee) Narrative and Narratology in an Applied Discipline: The Case of Criminology

13.45-14.45 Session IV (Päätalo A3)

Kirsi Sandberg [Mykola Andrushchenko, Mari Hatavara, Matti Hyvärinen, Jyrki Nummenmaa, Timo Nummenmaa, Jaakko Peltonen] (Tampere University): Computational Recognition of Narrative

Matias Nurminen & Pasi Raatikainen (Tampere University): Narrating the Sociotechnical Mess: Storytelling in Information Systems Development

15.00-16.00 Roundtable (Päätalo A3)

Maria Mäkelä (Tampere University): Too Much Compelling Storytelling? Scholarly Responses to the Storytelling Boom

Roundtable discussion in response to Mäkelä’s talk


Keynote speakers

Language, Narrative, and Simultaneity

Jens Brockmeier, The American University of Paris

How can we apply narrative theory to some classical problems of psychology and the study of mind? The problem I try to understand is the multi-layeredness of our life, specifically its experiential and mental dimension. I believe that language and, more specifically, narrative plays a central role in our most complex temporal scenarios, such as the scenarios of simultaneity, as we encounter them, for example, in the autobiographical process. My question is how does narrative evoke and create scenarios of multiple events and experiences that happen at the same time.

Jens Brockmeier is a Professor is Psychology in The American University of Paris. His research is concerned with the cultural fabric of mind and language. A number of his research projects have been concerned with how language, as a form of life and central dimension of human development, works in specific social and applied settings. In particular, he has been investigating narrative as psychological, linguistic, and cultural form and practice. His main interest here is in the function of narrative for autobiographical memory, personal identity, and the understanding of time, issues he has explored both empirically and philosophically. His recent books include Beyond the Archive: Memory, Narrative, and the Autobiographical Process (Oxford University Press, 2015); Cultura e narrazione, (Mimesis, 2014); Beyond Loss: Dementia, Memory, and Identity (ed. with L.-C. Hyden and H. Lindemann Nelson, Oxford University Press, 2014).


On the Role of Narrative Imagination in Real Life: Scenario Thinking, Modeling, and Experimentation

Marina Grishakova, University of Tartu

Various forms of counterfactual and imaginative thinking are often weighted against the “actual” or “real” states of affairs and considered as contrary to the referential “truth.” There are, however, modes of representation that are difficult or impossible to evaluate in terms of referential truth or falsity (see Grishakova, Gramigna, Sorokin, in Frontiers of Narrative Studies 2019). Nevertheless, they constitute significant parts of “reality”, for example, through the use of symbolic systems (language, arts, rituals etc.) taken for granted by users and creators of those systems. One of the modes of representations, whose reality status is suspended, is “mimetic modeling” (J.-M. Schaeffer), ranging from ludic feint and imaginative (re)instantiation to fiction. There has been recently an increase of interest in such imaginative constructions in various disciplines (sciences, historiography, anthropology, etc.), and their study has been cast in terminology borrowed from the study of fictional narratives. This lecture will discuss the uses of imagination, from ethical experiments, staged deception in science to scenario thinking, and their functions in “real life”.

Marina Grishakova is Professor in Comparative Literature, Institute of Cultural Research, University of Tartu, Estonia. Her scholarly interests include theories and philosophy of literature, cognitive aesthetics, interdisciplinary narratology, intermedial studies and film. Her current work focuses on complexity and theories of representation. Among her recent publications are Intermediality and Storytelling (with M.-L. Ryan; De Gruyter, 2010); Theoretical Schools and Circles in the Twentieth-Century Humanities: Literary Theory, History, Philosophy (with S. Salupere; Routledge, 2015) Narrative Complexity: Cognition, Embodiment, Evolution (with M. Poulaki; University of Nebraska Press, 2019). She has been and is chair or member of the steering and advisory boards of many international professional associations, research networks and committees, journals and book series, and has given a multitude of keynote and guest lectures in various universities across Europe.


The symposium is organized by:

Narrare: Centre for Interdisciplinary Narrative Studies at Tampere University

Instrumental Narratives: The Limits of Storytelling and New Story-Critical Narrative Theory (Project funded by the Academy of Finland)

Storytelling in Information Systems Development: A Critical Case Study of the Patient Information System Apotti


Laura Karttunen, PhD (Tampere University)

Sjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar, PhD (University of Groningen)

Conference secretary:

Helena Mäntyniemi, MA


In the last few years, a proliferation of applications of narrative theory in fields such as medicine, education, criminology, marketing, public policy, etc. has taken place. With that, ‘applied narratology’ has become a possibility: a field facilitating the transfer of narratological methods and findings to professional practices of narrative. This symposium is meant to explore the possibilities of this emerging field, but also to critically assess it.

During two days of keynotes and paper presentations, we wish to be among the first to define and characterise what ‘applied narratology’ could be, but also to ask the necessary critical questions. How well do narratological concepts survive outside their traditional habitat, the study of literary texts? How do they change when applied to practical tasks such as guidance councelling, medical training or immigrant integration? Can the growing popularity of practical applications be explained by institutional pressure and the worldwide decline in humanities, and is this a cause for concern?

One point of departure for this symposium is the acknowledgment of the fact that narratology, by definition, is inimical to questions of application. After all, it was originally conceived as a science of literature dedicated to building general models of narrative structure. For a long time, if the notion of “applied” was considered at all, it was taken to refer to the practice of narratological criticism – the analysis of individual literary texts. The purpose of generating narratological concepts was to enable the scientific exploration and elaboration of narratives on a theoretical level, divorced from practical endeavours. Can, could and should narratology be taken beyond its academic comfort zone? And if so, can we envision an ethical “applied narratology” where narratology’s insights into how stories function are not just commodified for professional storytellers such as marketers and spin doctors, but also made available to the public so as to increase ‘narrative savviness’ – the ability to see through the narrative tricks of those professional storytellers?