Given that narrative research has shown narration to be an innate trait of the human species, the concept of narrative culture encompasses a vast domain. Here I define it as a system of conventions1 for representing temporally ordered events, conventions that are shared by a group. Such groups tend to be coterminous with linguistic communities. This definition implies that the conventions of a given narrative culture that are intelligible to one group may not necessarily be intelligible to another. Narrative culture is historically transmitted and inherited and can change over time. According to Cliffford Geertz, culture acts as a “model” in two senses, being both a “model of” and a “model for.” In a similar fashion, narrative culture gives meaning or conceptual form to our social and psychological experience of reality by both reflecting the way in which its users understand themselves and the world around them and by shaping that understanding in the first place. This article is specifically concerned with the role of narrative culture in the social construction of self2 and agency through narrative, what narrative theorist Martin Kreiswirth calls the inquiry into “narrative identity”: how we use narrative to construct our sense of ourselves as “developing moral agents, with pasts, presents, and futures.”
"Voicelessness and the Limits of Agency in Early Modern Finnish Narratives on Magic and the Supernatural,"
Narrative Culture: Vol. 2
, Article 6.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/narrative/vol2/iss1/6