Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 15. Nr. November 2003

5.12. Narration in Literature and Writing History
HerausgeberIn | Editor | Éditeur: Gabriella Hima (Budapest)

Buch: Das Verbindende der Kulturen | Book: The Unifying Aspects of Cultures | Livre: Les points communs des cultures

Report: Narration in Literature and Writing History

Gabriella Hima (Budapest)


The starting point of the papers in our section was the tight connection between text and culture. We assumed that culture is a question of the textual representation - in literature just as much as in the writing of history. If culture is unavoidably text-dependent, there can be no strict separation between fact and fiction: therefore literature and history are connected with each other in an interdisciplinary fashion.

Of the 26 papers of our section 6 were presented by historians, the others by literary theorists.

All papers focused on the contemporary postmodern thought (especially on the theory of Hayden White) which contests the idea of a single historical univocal narrative or truth, instead it considers history as a space with gaps and silences waiting to be filled in with public or private narratives. History is at once the "Grand Narrative", "fairy tale", the search for "cause and effect". But history is a paradox attempt as well, namely to give an account, with incomplete knowledge.

Another focus of the papers in our section was memory, which both magnifies and effaces real events and also creates its own truths. Memory as narrative makes events real and as story telling links public and private history, because we perceive life through time and language as a continuous narrative.

According to the thematic outline of the Conference, various complex questions were raised about history and literature as the writing culture: Does our literary memory fully rely upon the Canon as a memory system - as Harold Bloom stated? If we are to consider that "literary" is not necessarily a property of texts, then how can we make a clear distinction between factual and fictional, between cultural memory and canonical literary texts? What is the difference between a "document" and "fiction" in narrative presentations of the past, or the "truth" in memory and the truth of memory?

© Gabriella Hima (Budapest)

5.12. Narration in Literature and Writing History

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For quotation purposes:
Gabriella Hima (Budapest): Report: Narration in Literature and Writing History. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 15/2003. WWW:

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