Narrating a Life

Between Diachrony and Synchrony

  • Jens Brockmeier The American University of Paris
Parole chiave: Narrative, Autobiographical memory, Diachrony, Synchrony, Narrative identity, Simultaneity


The point of departure of this study is the temporal multilayeredness of our narrative constructions of life and identity, both in fictional and factual genres of life writing. The question of “historical sequence” and “morphology” – the central issue of the 2019 Turin conference – is reformulated as a question of life and narrative. I argue that narrative plays a crucial role in juggling the many balls of identity, at least in Western traditions of identity formation. Put differently, narrative combines diachronic and synchronic perspectives, orders of sequentiality and orders of simultaneity. This combination or, perhaps better, synthesis is not only at the heart of our narrative identity projects, it is inherent to the very narrative process. I explain and illustrate this view by examining an extract from an autobiographical narrative.


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