Mormon Scholars in the Humanities: Call for Papers November 07 2013
Below is a copy of the call for papers for the upcoming MSH conference in Claremont California. If past conferences are an indicator, there will be several Kofford Books authors presenting.
2014 MSH Call for Papers
The study of narrative is now interdisciplinary and increasingly important within disciplinary silos. Narrative theory has also over the past few decades has been increasingly imperialistic. Long the domain of literary critics, now narrative’s theorists are claiming that all human understanding is narrative. The following are examples of some central issues regarding narrative in various disciplines.
- I. Philosophy: the epistemological and ethical implications of story are increasingly being studied by philosophers and phenomenologists who ask if narrative is the way that human experience comes packaged. Many philosophers also insist that readers become better people (more empathetic) by reading stories.
- II. Religious Studies: scriptures most commonly come in story form. Biblical critics tussle over whether or not the narrative form undermines the content’s historicity; similar claims are made about Mormon scripture. Narrative theology often asserts that an excess escapes ratiocination, that this abundance can’t be contained by the categories inherited from the Enlightenment.
- III. History: the boundary between fiction and history has always been problematical, but over the past four decades historiography has increasingly found the boundary difficult to fix. Before the discipline attempted to become scientific, historians recognized that both literature and history were branches of the same tree—rhetoric. In the past few decades a return to the status quo ante has been achieved with a difference.
- IV. Literature: literary criticism is the disciplinary home of narrative theory. Such theorizing has been done there longer and has developed more sophisticated vocabulary and tools than other fields. Abundant opportunities for examination of literary texts (of fictional and nonfictional kinds) exists. Wallace Martin argues that part of the recent paradigm shift in the humanities and social sciences is the return of narrative from marginal status to “inhabit the very center of other disciplines as modes of explanation necessary for an understanding of life.”
- V. Gender Studies: The expansion of the story of equality is one notable story as women writers marked out a place for themselves. Hawthorne dismissed that mob of scribbling women who became so popular that they squeezed him out the place he thought he deserved on readers’ bookshelves. The emergence of women authors and women readers is a world-historical development in Western literacy. Readings are increasingly viewed as gendered.
- VI. Legal studies: Stories have a revered place in legal decisions and legal reasoning. In legal arguments the heavy rhetorical lifting is often performed by case studies, examples, or hypothetical situations: stories.
- VII. Social Sciences: narrative theory has increasingly penetrated the social sciences. For social scientists in the positivistic tradition, stories are too subjective, too anecdotal, to be proper evidence. Such narratives aren’t suitable for generalization. Is a statistic just a story trying to shed it particularity? Maynes, Pierce, and Laslett assert that narrative makes distinctive epistemological claims on us because it is individual and personal.