Writing this book has been a wonderful, even though somewhat humbling experience. The idea for the volume was born out of a need for a language and discourse-oriented introduction to the field that we had identified as scholars and, more importantly, as teachers of narrative. We both felt that, although scholars from sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, linguistic anthropology, social and discursive psychology, just to name some of the fields covered in this book, had produced a vast body of research and theoretical reflection on narrative, a comprehensive and critical evaluation of their work was lacking. This was in stark contrast to the proliferation of textbooks and resource books that present sociological, cultural studies and literary approaches to narrative. Our aim was to redress the balance by highlighting the specificities of a language and discourse-focused perspective on narrative but also its important place within the narrative turn in the social sciences.
The journey of writing this book involved a great deal of discussion, reflection and rethinking as we navigated our way within a body of research that tends to be fragmented and dispersed and as, in the process, we had to make difficult decisions of selection, representation and even “construction” of coherence. Most of our transatlantic exchanges were made possible by the affordances of new technologies (with skyping playing a major role!), but this distance factor made the occasional face-to-face interactions even more rewarding and hugely anticipated. In the process of this intense intellectual engagement, not only did we need to rethink issues and questions posed by the book’s organization, but we also needed to explore meeting points in terms of our dissimilar “narrative” experiences and backgrounds, which had shaped our views about how to conceive of and analyze narratives. At the end of this process, we feel we have fundamentally grown together.