The turning point concerning the narrative that took place in the twentieth century was associated with the development of reflection on the narrative and extending its scope of meaning. In addition to being the theoretical-literary term it became a philosophical, anthropological, psychological, sociological and pedagogical category, a concept contained in the domain of history, law, politics or medicine (cf. Burzyńska, 2004, p. 12; 2008, p. 26). Creating stories, natural and characteristic for people, enabled taking up multi-faceted research, making the category of the narrative very roomy and interdisciplinary.
The concept of the narrative may occur in two basic meanings. Some researchers (e.g. Barbara Hardy, David Carr, or cognitive scientists) assume that narrative is a human cognitive structure, a kind of ability to capture events and processes changing over time in complex structures of meaning. Others (such as Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, Anthony Giddens, Paul Ricoeur) refer to narrative as a product of culture, which is the matrix for the organization of our experiences in the narrative structure (cf. Rosner, 2003, pp. 122-123).
In the literature on the subject, we may find a variety of ways to define the narrative, which is related to adopting different underlying assumptions. Though I will not attempt to make clear-cut decisions, this article will present various, sometimes inseparable, perspectives of the category of narrative and issues related to it, in order to shed some light of the multiplicity of viewpoints recognizing it and disputes on its essence. Thus, my text will try to order the terms used in the narrative-biographical research.
Auto/narrative—Contexts and Definitions
The above-mentioned turning point entailed certain modifications of the previously used definitions of narrative. The theory of literature and esthetic theories that apply this category recognized it as a monologue, presenting a structured sequence of events developing over time and associated with the world presented, i.e. with the characters situated in a particular environment.