“Life’s Stories” by Julie Beck
“I am not a Story” by Galen Strawson
Your Choice Narrative Project
Julie Beck’s Atlantic essay “Life’s Stories” explores the important role that narrative plays in our lives. Beck claims that storytelling plays a fundamental role in how we, as humans, make sense of the world around us. Beck claims that the way we understand (and tell) our individual stories can profoundly impact our mental wellbeing, decision making, and outlook on the future. In contrast, Galen Strawson’s “I am not a Story” proposes that understanding life as a story could be “dangerous.” He explores the notion that many humans live lives that are too messy for narrative unity. He claims that this narrative unity may represent a falsehood as our fallible memories and capricious selves cannot be so tidily traced along a single narrative arc.
Your task: Consider how Beck and Strawson’s essays complicate each other as you explore the role that narrative plays in your life. Use our texts—including your choice narrative project–to frame your discussion on the power and/or danger of relying on narrative as a way to understand your own personal identity and write a 1250-1500 word personal academic essay that connects the disparate texts with your own experiences with narrative.
Some questions to consider: What story or stories have informed or impacted your own sense of identity? To what end? Do you consider yourself a Narrative or non-Narrative person? How does your understanding of story compare with the ideas expressed in our other texts? Try to get at the core of how you experience story and analyze it in light of our texts.
Make sure that you engage each text in conversation as you define and explore your own understanding of narrative and its potential impact on identity. Please be as specific as possible as you connect the texts with each other, the larger world, and your own personal experiences.
This prompt is intended to inspire and get you started. Please use the parameters as you find them helpful. Remember: The more specific you are, the better. There’s no right answer and no right approach. Try to choose an angle that best interests you.
Remember: Use the texts to support your arguments, but don’t forget to drive! This is your paper, your voice in the conversation. Try to approach the texts as raw materials. It’s your job to make something new.