9-12 June 2020, University of Turku


The next IABA World 2020 conference is held at the University of Turku in early June 2020. The conference will be organized jointly by SELMA: Centre for the Study of Storytelling, Experientiality and Memory, the University of Turku, the Åbo Akademi, the city of Turku and the Finnish Literature Society.

As an interdisciplinary research centre, SELMA explores the interrelations between storytelling, experientiality and cultural memory and aims at crossing the borders between research and artistic creativity. The conference theme arises from the concepts central to research in SELMA: memory, narrative and experience. SELMA invites not only traditional conference papers but also unconventional conference presentations and panels as well as artistic performances.

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Past Events

30 May-1 June 2019, Universidad de Navarra


The iNARR consortium produced two interlocking panels for the conference programme: one bringing into dialogue different kinds of fiction – from metanarrative and trauma fiction to future fiction – and different theoretical traditions in humanities and social sciences; and another focusing on the critical analysis of narratives and systems – both the limits that the current narratological toolbox sets to our inquiries to systemic phenomena, and the ways in which contemporary fiction attempts to narrativise socio-ecological systems beyond the human scale.

Both panels were chaired by Merja Polvinen and they included the following presentations:

Panel I
“Structural Straightjackets”, Brian Schiff
“Metanarrativity: Narratives Exploring the Limits of Narrative”, Hanna Meretoja (unfortunately cancelled due to illness)
“The Epistemological and Ethical Limits of Narrative”, Colin Davis
“Exploring Threat and Uncertainty in Future Fictions”, Jouni Teittinen

Panel II
“Type-based Characters as Affective Devices”, Kaisa Kortekallio
“Beyond the Human: Approaching the Problem of Scale”, Juha Raipola
“Computational Media and the Limits of Narratology”, Hanna-Riikka Roine
“Failing to Depict Systemic Change in Dave Eggers and William Gibson”, Esko Suoranta

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14-16 February 2019, University of Turku


While both interdisciplinary narrative studies and cultural memory studies have boomed in the twenty-first century and are continuing to expand in new directions, there is lamentably little dialogue between them. This symposium aims to bring discussions in these two fields into a more intensive dialogue by theorizing the intersections of narrative, memory and identity. One of the common denominators of narrative and memory studies is the interest in issues of identity work. The conference explores this connection by asking: how are narratives used and abused in the construction of collective memory, on the one hand, and in shaping collective and personal identities, on the other? What social mechanisms do such memory work and identity work involve and what kind of normative conceptions of narrative identity do various social practices of memory and identity work perpetuate or challenge?

The conference seeks to address the theoretical implications of the ethical, aesthetic, and political dimensions of the interaction between cultural narrative practices of sense-making, the need for a sense of self, and the shaping of cultural memory against the backdrop of the current world situation. Literary and other artistic narratives shape cultural memory by interpreting the past from the perspective of the present, but this memory work is never merely a matter of representing and understanding the past; it also shapes how we perceive our possibilities in the present and for the future, and it involves negotiating both collective and personal identities. Narrative studies, especially in the fields of narrative psychology and the social sciences, have for a long time discussed the way in which identity is constituted in the temporal process of storytelling. This symposium examines the interrelationships between narrative, memory and identity from a variety of different perspectives.

Organisers: Narrative and Memory: Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics is a three-year international research initiative with the aim of investigating how different storytelling practices of literature, audiovisual arts, social media and oral testimonies address the legacies of twentieth-century European conflicts and how they travel across national borders. The Nordic Summer University is a Nordic network for research and interdisciplinary studies. The symposium is organised in collaboration with the University of Turku, SELMA: Centre for the Study of Storytelling, Experientiality and Memory and the iNARR consortium.

More information and the programme:

3 December 2018 at 12–15, University of Tampere, NARRARE


Tampere Team’s kick-off seminar with Paul Dawson is held at the Building Pinni A, lecture hall Paavo Koli. The program consists of a plenary talk by Paul Dawson, shorter presentations by Tampere team members, and a closing panel featuring the PIs of the Turku and Helsinki teams.

12.00–13.00 Paul Dawson: “The Truth about Narrative: Emergent Storytelling and Affective Publics in the Digital Age”
13.00–13.20 Maria Mäkelä: “The Experiential Narrative Truth in the Dangers of Narrative corpus”
13.20–13.40 Coffee
13.40–14.00 Laura Karttunen (iNARR Tampere team): “Fiction as Knowledge: Symbolic Resources, Dewey, the Bold and the Beautiful”
14.00–14.20 Samuli Björninen (iNARR Tampere team): “The Rhetoric of Factuality in Narrative: Complementing and Challenging the Rhetorical Fictionality Theory”
14.20–15.00 Roundtable: Paul Dawson, Mari Hatavara (iNARR Tampere team), Hanna Meretoja (Turku team leader, iNARR consortium), Merja Polvinen (Helsinki team leader, iNARR consortium)

Paul Dawson, University of New South Wales: The Truth about Narrative: Emergent Storytelling and Affective Publics in the Digital Age
This paper will connect some of the fundamental concerns of narrative theory with an account of the viral circulation of stories in today’s digital age, most specifically through the global micro-blogging site, Twitter. Its aim is to establish how narrative knowledge relates to the method of scientific explanation on the one hand and to the paradox of fictional truth on the other. This will proceeed by examining the interplay between causality (a feature of narrative logic) and affect (a function of narrative tellability).
A central premise of the paper is that Twitter can be characterized in scientific terms as a complex system producing emergent phenomena. Building upon current social media research into ‘ambient affiliation’ (Zappavigna), ‘affective publics’ (Papacharissi) and ‘shared stories’ (Page) to develop this proposition, the paper will investigate its significance for the question of what constitutes narrative truth in today’s media ecology. On the basis that the hashtag is the key property of emergent storytelling, this paper will discuss the competing concepts of narrative that inform the #MeToo movement in the context of Fourth Wave feminism.

6 November 2018 at 14.30-16.30, University of Turku, SELMA


The iNARR project will be introduced by the project leader Hanna Meretoja, the aims and key issues of the project will be discussed in a roundtable by the project members Marta Laura Cenedese, Colin Davis, Johanna Kaakinen, Anu Laukkanen, Päivi Kosonen, Maarit Leskelä-Kärki, Nena Mocnik, and Jouni Teittinen.

The event will be held at the seminar room E225 of the Minerva Building (Kaivokatu 12, Turku).

8 October 2018 at 4-7 pm, University of Helsinki, HCAS


A guest lecture by Prof. Marco Caracciolo on “Facing the Nonhuman Through Form and Narrative” at 4 p.m. on Monday the 8th October at the Common Room of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Fabianinkatu 24, 3rd floor). Marco Caracciolo is an Assistant Professor of English and Literary Theory at the University of Ghent, where he coordinates the ERC Starting Grant project “Narrating the Mesh” (NARMESH).

“The ‘nonhuman turn'”, Caracciolo notes in his abstract, “is Richard Grusin’s term for work that, in various subfields of the humanities and social sciences, challenges the boundary between human culture and the biological, climatological, and geological realities of our planet. The nonhuman has had a significant impact on literary scholarship as well, particularly in areas such as ecocriticism and the study of literature and science. This talk argues that a renewed interest in form, and narrative form more specifically, can greatly benefit contemporary discussions on human-nonhuman interrelation in literature.”

After the lecture there will be a short panel discussion by members of the Helsinki Team on topics raised by Prof. Caracciolo’s lecture and their connections to the work we will be doing in the coming years. The panel is moderated by Merja Polvinen, and the participants are Kaisa Kortekallio, Bo Pettersson, Hanna-Riikka Roine and Jouni Teittinen. Following the discussion, we will raise a glass to celebrate Prof. Caracciolo’s visit and the launch of iNARR in Helsinki.

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