Call for Papers: Narrative Matters- Materialities, Modalities, and Ethical Dimensions of Storytelling

ICSSR- sponsored National Conference

Organizer: Centre for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

About the Conference (Offline)

  • When: 8th – 9th February 2024
  • Call for Papers
  • Accommodation and food will be offered and travel expenses will be covered for presenters

We live in times that are saturated with stories – narratives – of all forms, ranging from folk legends to oratures, spiel to digital scoop; in fact, the sweep and extent of what qualifies as narrative is ambiguous and astounding. Narratives are fundamental to our attempts at making meaning of the worlds we inhabit; they structure the ways in which we organise, interpret, and order information. Narratives also help us temporally and chronologically to organise our thoughts, memories, and perceptions. It is by no wonder, then, that Paul Ricoeur’s insistence on “emplotment” or Hayden White’s propositions in favour of an inherent “narrativity” in history-writing – as coordinates of a beginning – situate stories at the spearhead of the historiographical method.

Besides, narratives, as Adriana Cavarero postulates, enable us to inquire and understand who we are, as selves and as a community; they are intensely affective – they elicit empathy and engage with the audience in registers beyond mere cognition or comprehension. For instance, at the level of the individual, recent life narratives appropriate existing forms of experience and articulation that question the premium of the traditional, linear, realist form. Such shifts call for a critical inquiry into the different ways in which life can be narrated, as well as the many transgressive, creative potentialities that such non-normative narrations could engender. At the level of the community, narratives weave close diverse folk, oral, and storytelling cultures, in a way that underscores the organic relationship between performance and narratives, gesturing toward the need for foregrounding narrativity in language, culture, and performance studies. Moreover, the proliferation of narratives in the 21st century is also commensurate with the proliferation of new media. This ever-changing digital terrain has made it possible for the emergence of various new modalities of storytelling. Social and new media have also enabled narratives to inhabit a deeply personal realm while being circulated amongst publics all over the world at the same time. This is even more true when envisaged against the backdrop of the pandemic which has deeply affected how we perceive and circulate narratives and has forever changed the contours of narrative dissemination

However, narratives are very rarely benign: they are produced, received, and circulated within interlocking structures of knowledge and power. Thus, some narratives are rendered universal while others are marginalised. Some narratives amplify logics of oppression and hegemony – such as in the nexus of Culture and Imperialism, as Edward Said argued – while others help galvanise resistance around them. Narratives also permeate the scientific method, mediating the contact between the scientist-subject and the object of scientific study. The articulation of narratives and stories, their circulation, as well as their reception and persistence are determined by a number of things, the most fundamental of which is the power structures the narratives are formed in. Anthropologists of science, such as Bruno Latour, encompassing Alfred Whitehead’s concept of dynamic becoming, Gilles Deleuze’s notion of immanence, and Michel Serres’ ontology of mediation, empirically invokes the scientific fact as emerging out of an elaborate method of production, construction, and fabrication, akin to stories. For feminist theorists like Luce Irigaray and Donna Haraway, motivations emerging from gender or species difference inevitably contribute to its production, urging us to dismantle the scientific fact’s institutional refuge of neutrality, disinterestedness, and universality

The conference wishes to understand the newness of narratives, the ways they have transformed and the different forms they assume in building an understanding that breaks free from the dominant and normative ways of storytelling. In addition, we want to understand the materialities of these narratives–their modalities, their articulations as seen in folklore, performances, life narratives, experimental fictions, filmic and digital scapes, their circulation, and their world- making abilities. We hope that our conference opens up possible ways of looking at impediments of the past, assessing the unfolding of the present, and envisioning a futurity thought through the world-making potential of the narratives.

Papers are invited on but not limited to the following areas of research:

  • Folklore as/and narrative
  • Performance as/and narrative
  • Science, technology, and the construction of a narrative
  • Gender and narrative
  • The narrative in pedagogy and instruction.
  • Archiving the narrative: what narratives are preserved and why?
  • Time, memory and the narrative
  • Narrative and the construction of community
  • Empathy, care, and the narrative
  • Narrative and post-truth society
  • Climate change, ecology and narrative
  • The ethics of reading personal narratives
  • Beyond the literary: narrative across domains.
  • AI and digital narratives
  • Collaborative narratives, narratives created communally.
  • Nation and the narrative
  • Narratives of myth and mythology
  • Deployment of narrative in the writing of history
  • Graphic narratives

Important Dates

  • Submission of Abstracts: 20th October 2023
  • Intimation of Accepted Abstracts: 1st November 2023
  • Full Paper Submission: 5th January 2024

Guidelines for Abstract and Paper Submission

We invite abstracts between 250-300 words along with a bio-note of not more than 100 words.

Abstracts should be emailed to Full-length papers (of abstracts that are accepted) will be 3000-5000 words long. Selected papers will be published in an edited volume.

In case of any queries or doubts, please contact us at

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