Changing the Narrative: What Stories Can We Tell Now?
Two decades ago the French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard announced that, in the post-modern era, the "grand narratives" that had shaped culture and ideas — Marxism, positivism, psychoanalysis — were dead. His statement has proven true, both inside and outside the university.
Anthony Cascardi is Dean of Arts & Humanities and the Sidney and Margaret Ancker Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature, Rhetoric, and Spanish (UC Berkeley). His book Cervantes, Literature, and the Discourse of Politics won the Renaissance Society’s Gordan Prize for best book of the year in Renaissance studies.
Catherine Gallagher is professor emerita of English at Berkeley. Her 2018 book Telling It Like It Wasn’t: The Counterfactual Imagination in History and Fiction examines narratives of events that never occurred — such as the South winning the Civil War, and JFK escaping assassination. The book won the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History from the American Philosophical Society.
The Townsend Center for Humanities' series (Re)making Sense: The Humanities and Pandemic Culture examines the utility of the arts and humanities for helping navigate the ethical challenges and practical reinventions that lie ahead.