Michael Bamberg is a lovely person with a big smile and a ready laugh. He is currently a psychology professor at Clark University in Worcester, MA. He also has a mustache.
|Michael Bamberg photo from Clark University's faculty webpage|
His afternoon discussion about publishing (Bamberg is editor of the journal Narrative Inquiry, once known as The Journal of Narrative and Life History) was full of hard truths that were good to hear and important to remember:
- Just because your data is narrative, doesn't mean what you're doing is "narrative."
- Dissertations are not publishable.
- Submitting to a journal often requires research of its own.
For his talk, he began by problematizing identity, claiming that it is becoming less sufficient to simply make identity claims; instead, these stances have become increasingly performed. He demonstrated this with an excellent choice of movie clip:
The need to perform our identities drives the constant use of small stories in interaction; indeed, in some cases, this is the only linguistic tool we have for this task. (Small stories are the short, fragmented tellings of personal experiences, which Bamberg (2005, 2006, 2007) and Georgakopoulou (2007, 2008) - and the two together (2007, 2008) - have found to be ubiquitous in everyday speech.)
Bamberg currently examines these small stories and narrative in the public confessions of politicians and shared some of his data and analysis with us. I won't share it here, since I don't have permission, but I would definitely keep an eye out for his publications on this fascinating topic.