The borderland tensions for narrative inquiry – why the reliving could be influential in reimagining research

Year: 2021

Author: Victory, Michael

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Narrative is well established as a research methodology. Dewey, Bruner, Macintyre and others have validated narrative as a legitimate alternative to the logical-scientific paradigm for research. In this paper I propose that the three dimensional narrative inquiry model developed by Clandinin and Connelly, provides a framework that could be influential in reimagining research.The paper draws on a narrative inquiry into ten letters written by Paul of Tarsus (Saint Paul) to groups in the Mediterranean Basin in the first century CE. The letters are imbued with significance through their ongoing distribution across contemporary society. They are readily available in bookshops, libraries, hotel rooms, and in people’s homes. They reach out beyond their historical provenance into the modern world. They are both historical and living documents of some influence. The inquiry at the heart of the paper takes a materialist approach and ignores the religions dimension of the letters.Narrative inquiry is ‘living, telling, retelling and reliving story’ (Clandinin). In this inquiry the living has been done in the first century CE, I respond to the telling in Paul’s letters, creating a retelling of his narrative as an educator through the lens of my experience. The reliving is enacted in my own practice as a teacher educator and researcher; this reliving may be extended to others through the presentation of this paper and the production of further publications. The narrative inquiry methodology differs from history; it differs from narrative learning and in this particular inquiry it differs from the historical-critical method of biblical criticism. Each of these ways of knowing and understanding are borderland tensions with narrative inquiry. The distinguishing feature of the three dimensional narrative inquiry model is the reliving of the experience. Engaging with the methodology has embedded in me a commitment to narrative inquiry at both an epistemological and ontological level. I have begun to think about my personal and professional life in terms of narrative and have changed my approach to the education encounter as a result of the inquiry. In narrative inquiry I invite others into the representation of my experience, and to the extent that others share that experience, or are informed by that experience, then the inquiry is validated. It is what Clandinin and Rosiek (2007) describe as a pragmatic view of knowledge.The emphasis on experience and reflexivity position narrative inquiry as an immediate research methodology for a pandemic riven world.