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Postcards to the Beloved : an inquiry into our shared worldliness through the practice of a story mentor Fraser, Patricia Anne


Narrative understandings into the nature of our shared worldliness and its import can emerge through the practice of writing stories about our lived experiences. This dissertation argues, as have many others, that in order to engage critically in politcal acts and social acts in the world with others we have to restore and reinvigorate the eye of the imagination. We need to restore and to develop abilities to question and form narrative understandings. Developing our capacity to pay attention to how narrative understandings reveal our relationship to our shared worldliness allows for the possibility to think through other practices that lie outside predominating conceptual frames and perspectives. It challenges our shared human condition of remoteness, our worldly alienation, as theorized by Hannah Arendt in The Human Condition. This narrative inquiry focuses on the practice of being a story mentor and the writing of stories. These stories are drawn from my own experience as an artist, documentary filmmaker, and writer with a practice of story mentoring in community engaged settings spanning over twenty years. The inquiry is initiated by questions that emerge in a specific digital storytelling research project with a community of seniors. Plagued by a sense of unease and dissatisfaction with the narrative voice of these stories I begin to see them as stories preoccupied with the domestic and the known. I make the decision to form an inquiry based on writing as a path into seeking the unfamiliar and unknown, the undomesticated. The inquiry centers itself around Arendt’s theme of worldly alienation and stories of uncertainty and death. I give up and replace the predetermined narrative voice with an evolving narrative. Each gesture, in Maxine Greene’s words, creates new structures of knowledge as the learner attempts to orient herself in the unfamiliar. The inquiry proposes that the revelatory presence of the world can be made manifest through this kind of storied awareness, born from narrative understandings. I forward the proposition that by fostering and mentoring stories that seek out the condition of worldly alienation and remoteness we can foster deeper levels of awareness of our shared worldliness.

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