Adichie and Bruner

Stories have been a fundamental part of every culture across the globe.   They are a means of communication and inherently part of our brains given humans form and develop their own memories in a very story-like way.  

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Jerome Bruner have very interesting perspectives on the meaning and purpose of a story.  

Adichie chooses to explore this through telling her own story as a woman who grew up in Nigeria and later moved to The United States.  Her experiences as a child, such as only having access to English literature, gave her a single story, as she later refers it to in her TED Talk, of what the rest of the world was like.  Her opinions about domestic help were limited to only what her parents would tell her; however, later she discovered there was more to both of these stories. This is where she brings up the “danger of a single story” because when fundamental parts of a storyline are ignored, a new story is created.  She discusses the capacity and history of a story to do harm or good, and that this outcome relies in the choice to tell a story the way it truly is.

Jerome Bruner discusses the story as one of the two modes of cognitive functioning.  His discussion revolves primarily around comparing and contrasting the narrative and paradigmatic modes.  He argues that the two are necessary and cannot exist without their opposite.  He also makes the distinction that with stories the requirements are in life-likeness or verisimilitude, not factuality, implying that some components of reality can be ignored presuming the story to some degree seems real.  This contrasts Adichie’s talk primarily in that her focus was to tell more ethical stories, as Bruner only focuses on the process of creating a realistic series of events.  

This difference in purpose is likely due to the fact their audiences were completely different.  While Adichie wanted to give a talk to inspire the world to consider the implications of their storytelling and listening behaviors, Bruner wanted to clarify the purpose of each mode of thought so the two could be used more effectively.  

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