L a t e s t    N e w s

Melbourne 2008

5th Feb - 24th March

Narrative Research Methods in the social sciences

a 12 session course with
Prof. Catherine Kohler Riessman (Boston U)

Program and registration (pdf)

5th and 12th Feb
back by popular demand!!!

Writing workshop
Christine's 7 handy hints
for powerful writing
(in conjunction with the Narrative Research course)

a 2 session workshop with
Christine Gillespie (VU)

Program and registration pdf

July 2008

Narrative and Media Research Workshops & Symposium

Keynote Speaker

Professor Corrine Squire (Centre for Narrative Research - UEL)

h o m e

a b o u t     u s

m e l b o u r n e    g r o u p

e v e n t s

p a s t    e v e n t s



n a r r a t i v e   r e s e a r c h   2006

Narrative as Research Symposium
April, 2006

Symposium Report


1. Hear our Voices: stART and the Hidden Lives Community Arts Project Christine Gillespie and Sue Smith Link to Abstract (PhD Candidates,Victoria University)

2. Diary as a tool for narrative research Madelene Capicchiano Link to Abstract (PhD candidate, Victoria University)

3. 'First-Person Research' David Webb Link to Abstract (PhD candidate, Victoria University)

4. From the 'Primitive Droop' to the 'Civilised Thrust': A Short (Personal) History of the Bra and its Contents and the politics of body modifications. Beth Spencer Link to Abstract (PhD Candidate, University of Ballarat)

5. Boomer v's Other Generations: How is the metaphor and narrative varied when describing the professional journey? Susan Mate Link to Abstract (PhD Candidate, Victoria University Lecturer, RMIT

6. Narrative of displacement Mammad Aidani Link to Abstract

7. "Dear Mum and Dad: A School Boarders' True Story" Jill Sanguinetti Link to Abstract (Lecturer, Victoria University)

8. 'When they write what we read: unsettling Indigenous Australian life-writing' Dr Michele Grossman Link to Abstract (Associate Dean (Research and Research Training), Faculty of Arts, Education and Human Development, Victoria University.)

9. Why is 'Normal' so Hard to Achieve? Everyday experiences of Everyday Midwives Joanne Kinnane Link to Abstract (PhD Candidate, Queensland University of Technology)

10. Exploring Narratives: A holistic insight into students' choice of social work as a career. Joanna Mensinga Link to Abstract (Lecturer, Central Queensland University)

11.'Every Picture Tells A Story: Narrative and Visual Analysis' Helen Martin Link to Abstract (Research student, Melbourne University)

12. Facts/Fictions: Finding Words for Country Olivia Guntarik Link to Abstract (PhD Candidate, The Australian Centre, University of Melbourne)

13. Points of Departure - narrative research in new media arts practice Lisa Cianci Link to Abstract (TAFE, Victoria University, Research Student, RMIT University)

14. Poetic Licence in Word and Image Flossie Peitsch Link to Abstract (PhD Candidate, Victoria University)

15. Research From the Inside - My migration experience. Carol Gynberg Link to Abstract (PhD Candidate, RMIT)

16. Tough as Buggery: the circus diaries. Andrea Lemon Link to Abstract (PhD Candidate - Australian Centre, Melbourne University)

17. Narrative Story Networks - A Chronicle to Case Studies on Lost Knowledges in Organisations Selvi Kannan Link to Abstract(PhD Candidate, Victoria University)

18. Creating a Narrative with New Historicism. Karen Charman Link to Abstract (PhD Candidate, Teacher Liberal Arts Program, Victoria University)

19. 'Writing Blind' A paper discussing the research generated by a creative work as a doctoral thesis Rosemary Fitzgerald Link to Abstract (PhD candidate, Victoria University)

20. What's in it for me? Using the subjective experience of happiness to teach values in Victorian primary schools. Sue Erica Smith Link to Abstract (PhD Candidate, Victoria University)

21. Developing sensors and sensibilities for an absurdist theatre piece at Malthouse Theatre: Homunculus and the functioning of a complex educational and theatre project.An evaluation using narrative research methods. Dr Tim Humphrey, Adam Hutterer, Madeleine Flynn Link to Abstract(Hybrid initiative, Department for Visual Art Design & Multimedia, Institute for Community Engagement and Policy Alternatives, Victoria University)

22. Writing Alternative Masculinities for Young Adults Ben OMara Link to Abstract (Institute for Community Engagement and Policy Alternatives, Victoria University)

23. Narrative and De-socialisation? An examination of sentencing and narrative. Andrew Vincent Link to Abstract (School of Information System, Victoria University and Greek Studies, LaTrobe University)

24. Public stories, private lives: the use of narrative inquiry to examine the impact of public stories on Australian lives. Dr. Julia de Roeper Link to Abstract (University of South Australia)

25.Communal Belongings: Narrative Recoveries of Vulnerability Victoria Palmer Link to Abstract (Postgraduate student, Queensland University of Technology)

26. Narratives, Experience and Expression: A New Approach for Reporting Oral Accounts Dr Margaret Barkley Link to Abstract (Research Associate, Institute for Health and Diversity, Victoria University)

27. The role of narrative in learning through computer gameplay. Mark O'Rouke Link to Abstract (Program Manager, Dept. Visual Art, Design and Multimedia Victoria University)

28. Finding the balance Lynda Achren Link to Abstract (PhD Candidate, Victoria University)

29. Chronology, Prosopography, Biography or Themes? Narrative links and methodology in the history of Australian musicals from 1900 - 2000. Peter Wyllie Johnston Link to Abstract (PhD Candidate, University of Melbourne)

30. Developing Narrative Skills with Instant Messaging: Reflections from the Classroom Miles Menegon Link to Abstract (Hybrid, Victoria University)

31. The Never-Ending Story: the database as facilitator of evolving multi-user online narratives. Stefan Schutt Link to Abstract(Project manager/teacher, Victoria University)

32. Reflexivity and its meanings in qualitative research: An explorationof theoretical and practical solutions Dr. Gavin Sullivan Link to Abstract (Monash University)

33. The Journeying Pen. Dr Adele Flood Link to Abstract (Senior Education Development Advisor Swinburne University of Technology).

34. "Strewn Beauty: Clara Phillips and La Perouse in the early 1900s". Dr Leonarda Kovacic Link to Abstract(Postdoctoral Research Fellow Research School of Social Sciences Australian National University).

Symposium Report: Narrative As Research

The diversity of narrative approaches to research in Australia was showcased over four days by the Narrative as Research Symposium and Workshops, in Melbourne, Australia. These events, in April 2006, brought together established researchers and post-graduate students from across Australia and included narrative projects in nursing, education, community development, multi-media, communication, creative arts and music, auto-biography/biography, business, psychology, performance, social science, and Australian studies.

Dr. Maria Tamboukou’s keynote address provided an integrated conceptual overview of the variety of approaches to narrative research, and indicated the potential of the work of key post-modern theorists such as Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault and Cavararo, for enriching theory and practice in narrative research. This provided a framework within which to place, and extend, our understanding of the diverse range of work presented.

In particular, Dr. Tamboukou drew on Spinoza’s philosophy to re-frame the question, “What is narrative?” into attending to its effects, “What does narrative do?” The implications for conceptualising ‘narrative as praxis’, include locating a narrative within it’s conditions of possibility, and tracing difference and repetition (Deleuze), continuities and discontinuities (Foucault).

This is a narrativity suffused with materiality. Dr. Tamboukou proposes that ‘narratives are power/knowledge effects, displaying the ‘modalities of power and desire’ and, in doing so, are ‘constitutive of reality and subjectivity’. This achieves a position from which narrativity overtakes the idealist question “What is man?” posing instead ‘Who is he /she in her unrepeatable uniqueness?’

The workshops focussed on developing an understanding of, and practices in, several areas of narrative research. These included the use of Foucauldian methods (Dr. Maria Tamboukou), the relationship between creative writing and narrative research (Christine Gillespie, Dr. Enza Gandolfo and Dr. Annie Bolitho), the performative body and narrativity (Associate Professor Mark Minchinson), the interplay of personal story with narrative research and group discussions of “What is narrative research?” (Professor Ron Adams and David Webb).

With over 30 presenters at the symposium, a range of subjects and approaches were discussed. There was a particularly strong representation from creative arts, with papers revealing how various intersections between creative arts and narrative research can attend to issues in representation, the constitution of ‘data’, and history-making. For example, Christine Gillespie and Sue Smith demonstrated the power of convergences between professional artists of the stART group and people who had experienced ‘de-institutionalisation’. Through the ‘Hidden Lives’ public exhibition at the, now, heritage site, they created the social imaginary space for the institutional walls to literally speak; opening spaces for experiencing and recognising relationships between self, others and the material conditions of their construction.

Marginal histories and stories, more often than not, remain as scarce, fragmented pieces of historical material; photos, anecdotes, oral stories. Methods of narrative recovery /creation were well represented in the symposium. For example, in creating intersections between history, creative writing and biography, Dr. Leonarda Kovacic produced a creative account of the life of Clara Phillips (c.1871-1917), daughter of an Aboriginal “King” and a belle of La Perouse. She discussed ‘the power and poetics of composite and interactive narratives, and the significance of such narratives for the telling of (Aboriginal) histories, (and) …the complex process of the validation of histories based primarily on oral and visual sources’.

Several of the papers focussed on the intersection of multimedia and computer technology with narrative research. For example, Lisa Cianci’s use of multi-media software to complicate the relationships between ‘author’ and ‘reader’, and reveal the potential of multi-media to elicit and represent ‘rhizomatic’ narratives that depart from the traditional linearity of the literary plot. Taking another approach, Stephan Schutt’s work on ‘social software’ produced a compelling integration of communication models derived from new media theorists, and the Jewish ‘Talmud’, to conceptualise the capacities of internet social data-bases as sites for dynamic and multiple narrativites. His ideas are grounded in his own ongoing family/auto-bio/ history project ‘Small Histories’.

Over the four days, the participant’s enthusiasm and openness to other ideas facilitated some great conversations and fostered developing research relationships. One significant outcome was the formation of Narrative Network Australia as a group to support the development of narrative research in Australia. At this stage, groups are active in Melbourne, Canberra and Queensland. As well, a publication from the symposium papers is in preparation; a website in development; and a narrative research workshop series is organised for Jan/Feb 2007, at institutions in Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane. These workshop programs will be lead by Professor Catherine Kohler Riessman, from Boston College, US.

Acknowledgements: These events were made possible by the extensive support of the staff and academics of Victoria University, in particular Professor Elaine Martin, in her role as Director of Graduate Studies, Victoria University.

Ruth Ballardie