Tentative Schedule of Meetings and Events, Fall 2013

Meeting 1: Friday, September 27, 10:00am
Emerging Narratives: Illuminating Breakthrough Experiences of Community
Organizer: Tony Alessandrini
Graduate Center, Room 8106

Co-Sponsored Event: Wednesday, October 9, 7:00pm
Screening of When Mother Comes Homes for Christmas, followed by conversation with filmmaker Nilita Vachani, moderated by Sujatha Fernandes
Co-sponsored by the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics and the Narrating Change Seminar in the Humanities
Graduate Center, Martin E. Segal Theater

Event: Tuesday, October 22, 6:30pm
Narrating Reform: Roma Educators Narrate Social Inclusion in Europe
Featuring Tünde Kovacs-Cerovic, Jordan Naidoo, and Colette Daiute
Graduate Center, The Skylight Room (Room 9100)

Meeting 2: Wednesday October 23, 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Discussion of the Report: “Roma Educators Narrate Reform”
Organizer: Colette Daiute
Graduate Center, Please write to cdaiute@gc.cuny.edu for the report and the room number.

Meeting 3: Friday, November 1, 10:00am

Follow-Up on Narrating Change Working Groups: The Community Narrative Archive Team and The Cross-CUNY Writing Team
LaGuardia Community College, English Department Conference Room, E Building, Room 103

Meeting 4: Friday, December 6, 3:00pm
Possibility and Hegemony in Contemporary Writing, With and in Spite of Social Media
Organizer: Svetlana Jovic
Location TBA

For more information on the seminar, go to http://centerforthehumanities.org/seminars/narrating-change.

Emerging Narratives: Illuminating Breakthrough Experiences of Community

Emerging Narratives: Illuminating Breakthrough Experiences of Community, A Narrating Change Seminar

Friday, September 27th, 10:00am, @The Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave. Room 8106Emerging Narratives: Illuminating Breakthrough Experiences of Community, A Narrating Change Seminar

repost from Center for the Humanities:

(RSVP Information Below)

Join us for our opening meeting, on Friday, September 27, for an open discussion, and creating possible working groups that could collaborate throughout the year. We are particularly interested in discussing potential or ongoing pedagogical and research projects that focus on questions of community formation; that re-think the relationship between “the classroom” and “the community”; and/or that work to reconstitute the CUNY community. We welcome proposals and possibilities from faculty and students working and teaching across all levels of the CUNY campuses. For our first meeting, we propose to think through ways that narrative can contribute to these processes of community formation, and also to share narratives from our own experiences of creating community through our pedagogical and intellectual practices.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, the Narrating Change Seminar in the Humanities will present a series of meetings, discussions, and working groups to address—in writing, speaking, and publishing—questions regarding the community college as a location and agent of change. Our goal will be to foster collaborations between faculty and students from across the different CUNY campuses around these questions, as part of a larger focus on the question of narrative and community building.

While the community college will be a point of focus, we also intend to open up the larger question of what “community” means for our pedagogical and intellectual practices; what sort of an intellectual community CUNY is (or could be); and how narratives help to shape, constitute, and transform communities.

Because space is limited, please RSVP to any of the seminar co-chairs: Tony Alessandrini [tonyalessandrini@gmail.com]; Colette Daiute [CDaiute@gc.cuny.edu]; Svetlana Jovic [SJovic@gc.cuny.edu]; Phil Kreniske [pkreniske@gc.cuny.edu].

For more information on the seminar, go to http://centerforthehumanities.org/seminars/narrating-change.


Narrating Labor Struggles: Storytelling and Social Change

Apr 17, 2013, 6:00pm | Room C197

Christine LewisMark NowakNilita Vachani Sujatha Fernandes

Repost from The Center for the Humanities:

How can the power of storytelling build public awareness of the struggles of immigrant and low-wage workers? In recent years, storytelling has proven a strong tool for achieving social change, and this practice has been particularly prevalent among immigrants and low wage workers. This panel will bring together director and filmmaker Nilita Vachani, who has documented the stories of immigrant workers, Christine Lewis, a domestic worker activist who used storytelling in the groundbreaking Domestic Worker Bill of Rights campaign, and the award-winning poet and writer Mark Nowak who works with immigrant social movement organizations. Moderated by Sujatha Fernandes.


Cosponsored by the Narrating Change Seminar in the Humanities, Women’s Studies, and the Center for Place, Culture and Politics.

Narrating Transformation and Transforming through Storytelling

Narrating Transformation and Transforming through Storytelling

Narrating Transformation
Mar 14, 2013, 6:30pm | Room 6496
Shahla Talebi

In Ghosts of Revolution (2011), Shahla Talebi’s haunting account of her years as a political prisoner in Iran, she engages two interrelated premises put forth by Walter Benjamin: that telling stories of lived experiences opens the possibility of a true human connection, the transmission of wisdom, and individual and social transformation; and, to paraphrase Benjamin, that death sanctions everything the storyteller can tell for the storyteller borrows her authority from death. In this sense, Talebi’s writing is a way of  “narrating change”: those stories of struggles that seek transformation—of one’s one’s life and of one’s community—through narration.

Cosponsored by the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics; the Narrating Change Seminar in the Humanities; Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression; the Postcolonial Studies Group; the Committee on Globalization and Social Change; and the Raha Iranian Feminist Collective.

“Networks of trust among image makers”

On the re-publication his 2002 book of poetry, “from the warring factions,” Ammiel Alcalay transformed the James Gallery into a multi-media global poem. After showing a video clip of a 1998 reading with Semezzin, whose book of poems Sarajevo Blues, Ammiel had translated, he told us about some of the relationships, intentions, surprises, and concerns he had around the time of moving from material gathered over many years to publishing “from the warring factions.”

Around and behind Ammiel, he had posted flyers, magazines, notes, faxes, photographs, gathered in the midst of the Bosnian Wars of the 1990s, not only there but everywhere he and his friends and colleagues challenged its meaning with acts of poetry.
Having offered this image making, Ammiel read from the book, sharing this, “Poets clear eye on the world around him, and obligation to put it into words”. The poems he read created a “line of defense against propaganda” about the “horrors of war” to the grounded material human connections among people not only in late 20th century wars, wars Ammiel experienced in poetry, but also across many more places and times and self-consciously this activist poet figuring out “who I was in this”.

Reading examples of this from prior books, Ammiel mentioned challenges to readers and other writers “What does that day mean to you, how do you place yourself Nero, Shelly, Sadam, Miro’, Rome together?”

It was a joy to hear Ammiel read, such as “Old Bridge” from Book 1 of “from the warring factions”:

Miro’ is in “the Museum of Modern Art”
Miro is in Sarajevo.
A famous playwright is on state at Symphony space and over the air on NPR.
The announcer calls me twice during a break to find out how the pronounce the name Izeta.

Izeta is Miro’s wife.
They have a dog.

It is December 1st 1993.

Migration – from here to the big wherever- because the world was watching

Ammiel challenged us to let “the language take you somewhere that you can’t really predict”.

Narrative Inquiry in Education Research

Narrative Inquiry in Education Research

Professional Development Course @ AERA, San Francisco, 2013


Colette Daiute, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Phil Kreniske, Graduate Center & Hunter College, CUNY


This professional development workshop presents an approach to research that builds on the natural processes of narrating in everyday life.  The course offers a theoretical overview, examples, and hands-on modules for narrative inquiry addressing questions of teaching, learning and development.  The format is a sequence of presentations and guided activities for narrative research design and narrative analysis.  The goals of the course are to define and enact a socio-cultural approach to narrative inquiry with consistent education research design strategies and data analysis tools.  A feature of this workshop is the innovative systematic approach to practice-based research using narrative to mediate social relations, diversity, and learning across a range of educational contexts.  These goals are addressed with examples from prior funded and published research.  Participants are beginning and advanced researchers interested in learning about and applying narrative methods in their projects. All are welcome (but not required) to bring descriptions and data to apply to the course syllabus.

Contact Professor Daiute cdaiute@gc.cuny.edu with questions.

If you have registered for the course please follow this link to post a brief description of your interests, when prompted enter the password Colette sent with her introductory email.

To register: Select PDC07: Narrative Inquiry in Education Research at



Course data/location: Friday April 26, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Grand Hyatt, Ballroom Level – Grand Ballroom East, San Francisco, CA

American Education Research Association


From the Warring Factions, Tuesday, February 5th, 6:30pm at The James Gallery

Adding to the political speech acts in Maja Bajević’s exhibition “To Be Continued,” the tenth-anniversary reprint of Ammiel Alcalay’s from the warring factions (2003), a book-length poem dedicated to Srebrenica, provides an occasion to engage in conversation about public and private speech as well as representations of catastrophe. Join us as Ammiel Alcalay and Bosnian poet Semezdin Mehmedinović, author of Sarajevo Blues (1992) and Nine Alexandrias (2003)—both translated by Alcalay—read and talk about their work.


Cosponsored by the Narrating Change Seminar in the Humanities


Free and open to the public. All events take place at The Graduate Center, CUNY, 365 Fifth Ave btwn 34th & 35th. The building and the venues are fully accessible. For more information please visit http://centerforthehumanities.org/ or call 212.817.2005 or e-mail ch@gc.cuny.edu

Upcoming events, 10-4-12

1. Wed Oct 17, 12:00pm – 1:30pm
Love After Genocide
Join Damir Arsenijevic for this second seminar meeting of Narrating Change. He will discuss his writing on the topic of love after genocide and his work on an exhibition entitled Moments, which was on view at ZKM last spring.

2. Fri Nov 16, 10:00am – 12:00pm Working group meeting, Topic TBD.

3. Tues Dec 11, 6:00 – 7:30, Skylight Room
Adolescents Narrating Civic Action in Northern Ireland, South Africa and the United States,
What are the uses of narrative as a means of examining and participating in social and individual consciousness and change? Join Sarah W. Freedman (Professor of Education, University of California, Berkeley) and Karen Murphy (Director of International Programs, Facing History and Ourselves) as they talk about their ongoing collaboration focusing on possible processes of change in societies that have perpetuated long-term narratives of division, conflict, and violence.

Summary of Narrating Change Meeting with Jerome Bruner and the Working Group, 9-28-12

Summary of 9-28-12

Today, in spite of early morning torrential rains, a lively group of faculty and students from across CUNY and NYC identifying as scholars in English, literary studies, sociology, developmental psychology, anthropology, political science, fine arts, digital technology, and education met to launch the “Narrating change” Center for the Humanities Seminar.
Professor Jerome Bruner, New York University Law School, one of the most brilliant and influential contemporary writers about culture, thinking, and narrative, joined us to offer inspiring remarks. The agenda for this inaugural session of the seminar was to hear Professor Bruner’s reflections on history and the ongoing interest in narrative, to introduce participants, to discuss readings by Jacques Ranciers and Bruner, as well as his live remarks, and to propose ideas for goals and activities of the working group this 2012-2013 academic year.
Jerome Bruner, internationally acclaimed public speaker, author, and thinker, chose to meet with the working group for our first meeting, rather than doing a large public event. This was a rare and precious opportunity for our seminar. Professor Bruner offered a range of personal and studied insights about narrative and narrating from childhood observations about the multiple meanings of symbols (like U.S. MAIL), participation in political, academic, and everyday life, to favorite literary works (Death in Venice) and favorite stanzas of poetry (including lines from Prufrock and Renascence).
Professor Bruner’s prepared remarks highlighted the uniqueness and internal tensions of narrative as a social and reflective means of human culture – embodying some of the mysteries of conscious life with the beauty and challenges of its ambiguous nature, including the fanciful and the literary, deviations from the expected, possibility and norms, paradigmatic factual which can close and narrative possibility which can open alternatives, disciplinary pressures like that in psychology to be “scientific” and thus to explain and focus on givens, while at the same time in physics, the culturally canonical and contrasts/alternatives to the canons as narrative does both, scholars were seeking unknown possibilities, ambiguity and normality, resistance to closure, tricks with narrative structure to take the obvious and how that/how it did not happen, and more.

Group discussion extended these ideas, reversed them, and marked their place for our ongoing play and reflection. Insights the group offered included the appeal of narrating in psychology to foreground personal marginalized voices while then closing down tensions like contradiction and alterity in favor of coherent, authentic selves reflected in narratives; the literary studies perspective that complicates author, narrator, character, and meaning; the exploitation of the possible, ambiguous, non-dualistic and over-rationalized qualities of narrative by hegemonic powers that can use those qualities to mask inequalities and injustices; the diverse scales of the conflicts within narrative (among perspectives, uses of historical genres [such as paintings of catalogues]), tensions between presumed reality, fiction, and falseness; the use of alternative stories; how context including power around narratives figures into narratives; how different narrative genres (literature, pulp fiction, mystery, autobiography) figure into these tensions; the importance of narrative detail for lived experience in the reader/listener; questions about whether and how digital life experiences today are narratively drenched; the politics of narrating, whether and how it is/is not/can be subversive; whether/how narrative conditions us to the powerful realities; whether/how the postmodern turn embracing narrative for how it opens alternatives and ambiguity also take us away from ability to make assertions, disruptions in narrative and what these can do to help us see anew.