After Life: Grief and Narrative Scaffolding
Regina Fabry (Macquarie University)

May 30, 2023, 3:30pm - 5:00pm
PHI Research Group, Deakin University

Building C, Level 2, Room 5
221 Burwood Highway, Burwood
Melbourne 3125

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

This event is available both online and in-person


Deakin University

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For zoom link, please email Jack Reynolds ([email protected])


In recent years, philosophers of mind have advanced bold and sweeping claims about the important role of narrative for processes of grief. However, our understanding of this role, if any, has been hindered by at least three problems. First, given the notorious conceptual ambiguity of narrative, it remains largely unclear whether philosophical considerations on the grief-narrative nexus are targeted at the contentful products (stories), the material outcomes (discourses), or at acts of narration. Second, philosophical work tends to gloss over important differences between various kinds of narrative and modes of narration, which leads to unwarranted generalisations. Finally, while it has been suggested that narrative influences grief, it has not been shown how the realisation of this influence can be described. In this talk, I aim to start resolving these problems by considering the role of acts of narration for grieving with a focus on cases of self-referential textual narration. Drawing on recent research in philosophy of mind and cognition, I will suggest that the active crafting and revision of discourse and story configurations through writing can be aptly described in terms of mental scaffolding. This scaffolding perspective, I will show, can lead to a better understanding of the possible contributions of self-referential textual narration to two intertwined processes associated with grief: emotional experiences of irrevocable loss and the active autobiographical remembering of the deceased. To assess the possible role of textual narration for grief, I will consider empirical research on expressive writing as a test case.

Bio note

Regina Fabry holds a position as an ARC Discovery Early Career Research Awardee in the Department of Philosophy at Macquarie University, Sydney. She specialises in philosophy of mind and cognition. In her current research, she explores the relationship between lived embodied experience and self-narrative, integrating work in philosophy, narratology, and the cognitive sciences. 

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