NameDeGloma, Thomas E. (author), Zerubavel, Eviatar (chair), Horwitz, Allan (internal member), Mische, Ann (internal member), Stein, Arlene (internal member), Wagner-Pacifici, Robin (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
DescriptionTaking a formal, sociocognitive approach to narrative analysis, I explore autobiographical stories about discovering “truth” in political, psychological, religious, and sexual realms of social life. Despite (A) significant differences in subject matter and (B) conflicting and often oppositional notions of truth, individuals in very different social environments tell stories that follow the same awakening narrative formula. Analyzing accounts from a wide variety of social and historical contexts, I plot the temporal structure of the awakening narrative formula to show how individuals and communities use these autobiographical stories to define salient moral and political concerns and weigh in on cultural and epistemic disputes. Awakening narratives are important mechanisms of mnemonic and autobiographical revision that individuals use to redefine their past experiences and relationships, testify to “truth,” and plot future courses of action while explaining major transformations of worldview. Awakeners use two ideal-typical vocabularies of liminality to justify traversing the social divide between different autobiographical communities within contentious autobiographical fields. They divide their lives into discrete autobiographical periods and convey a temporally divided self, performing a figurative interaction between past and present versions of the self – a storied self-interaction that expresses a contentious dialogue between different autobiographical communities. Individuals use this autobiographical formula to reject the cognitive and mnemonic norms of one community and embrace those of another. Advancing a “social geometry” of awakening narratives, I illuminate the social logic behind our seemingly personal discoveries of “truth.” Expanding on the central themes of this analysis, I suggest that a cultural and cognitive sociology of autobiography should uphold five interrelated tenets: (1) autobiography is a form of social memory, (2) autobiography is a form of social time, (3) autobiography is a form of social epistemology, (4) autobiography is a form of social drama, and (5) autobiography is a communicative act directed at multifarious audiences. By explicitly focusing on autobiography as an analytic domain, we can reveal important ways that individuals do cultural work and perform meaning by telling stories about their lives.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p.300-331)
Noteby Thomas E. DeGloma Jr.
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work