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Education University of Groningen Summer Schools Winter Schools

Narrative and Knowledge

The Groningen | Twente Winter School on Narrative
Picture by Thessa Lageman

This interdisciplinary, week-long online course is meant for students and professionals in the arts, literature, theology, philosophy, business, journalism, psychology, coaching, politics, and any other field in which narrative and storytelling play a role.

The Latin root of narrative, narrāre, is a derivative of nārus: knowledge. This etymology exemplifies the strong intertwinement of human thinking about storytelling and cognition, but the shared history of these concepts has not always been an easy one. Since classical antiquity, narrative has been conceived of as an ideal vessel for conveying knowledge (Horace), a specific form of knowing itself (Aristotle) or, instead, an obstacle to ‘true’ knowledge (Plato). These ancient debates find their counterparts in contemporary discussions about the uses and abuses of storytelling in, for instance, history, journalism, social media, politics, and education. Together we will investigate the complex relationships between narrative and knowledge as dimensions of human cognition. We will focus on a variety of aspects of this relationship, categories such as the concrete and the abstract, fiction and truth, intentionality and causality, invention and discovery, experience and theory, story and history.

The context for our winter school is an increasing body of research, across academic disciplines, on how narrative serves to map the ways in which we relate to ourselves and to the world around us. Meanwhile, outside the academy, storytelling has become the focus of attention in many professional practices, such as psychology, counselling, medicine and health, and journalism. These practices put to work the fact that knowledge of ourselves, of others, and of the world we live in is often expressed through storytelling.

The winter school is strongly interdisciplinary, studying narrative and knowledge in a variety of media and settings and from different perspectives. The programme pays attention to contemporary developments in our thinking about the relation between storytelling and non-narrative cognition in our interaction with the environment. The final day will consist of the symposium “Narrative and Knowledge in Times of Crisis”, discussing, among other things, different narratives from the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.

Our speakers are specialists in culture theory, art and literature, cognitive science, minority studies, media studies, and religious studies and include Jenny-Louise van der Aa, Nabil Cherni, Iwona Gusc, Barend van Heusden, Stefan Kjerkegaard, Liesbeth Korthals Altes, Sjoerd-Jeroen Moenandar, Anneke Sools, Margriet van der Waal, Gerben Westerhof.

Practical information

Dates & location 18 - 22 January 2021, online
Deadline for application 22 November 2020
Level MA, PhD, professionals

University of Groningen students and staff: € 100
Staff and students of affiliated organisations: € 100
Other participants: € 125

Academic committee Prof. dr. B.P. van Heusden
Prof. dr. G.J. Westerhof
Dr. S.J. Moenandar
Dr. A.M. Sools
Coordinating manager

B.A. Miruna Lucaci

Contact narrative.winterschool
Target group

The winter school is designed for PhD students and graduate students (MA) interested in the study of narrative, as well as professionals interested in storytelling.

It is expected that the participants have a sufficient command of the English language in order for them to participate actively in the discussions and to present their own work in English.

Learning outcomes

After this course you will be able to:

  1. Assess current debates about the interrelatedness of narrative and knowledge.
  2. Argue for the necessity of “narrative savviness” in specific circumstances.
  3. Appraise a wide array of theories on narrative and non-narrative cognition.
  4. Argue for the relevance and feasibility of research projects on the interrelatedness of narrative and knowledge in a way that testifies of informed critical thinking.


Preparatory reading: 42 hours
Contact hours: 42 hours
Assignment (optional): 56 hours

During the Winter School, participants are offered the opportunity to give a twenty-minute presentation on their own research related to narrative and knowledge (optional). They will receive feedback on their presentation from speakers and peers. The presentation will be acknowledged on the Certificate of Attendance.

Upon successful completion of the programme, the winter school offers a Certificate of Attendance. For participants who want to earn academic credit with the winter school, an additional assignment (including a reading list) will be provided. After successfully completing the assignment, they will receive their Certificate of Attendance that mentions the workload of 140 hours (28 hours corresponds to 1 ECTS). Students can apply for recognition of these credits to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is at the discretion of their home institutions. We will be happy to provide any necessary information that might be requested in addition to the certificate of attendance.


The Winter School on Narrative has always been an opportunity for scholars interested in narrative to meet their peers and engage in an active exchange of ideas and experience. In the online format, we strive to offer our participants a similarly engaging learning environment by taking advantage of the new digital tools available to us. Active participation in the sessions will therefore be facilitated and encouraged.

To apply, please fill out the online application form. Please note that you will be asked to upload the following documents:

  • Curriculum Vitae (max. 2 pages)
  • Motivation letter (max. 1 page), clearly stating your interest in the topic.

The deadline for application has closed.


Twente Story Lab
Last modified:25 February 2021 09.13 a.m.