Narrative Inquiry Centre, GSOE, University of Bristol, Graduate Seminar Series:

Deidre Flynn presented her doctoral thesis: “Experiences of Sudden Student Death: A Narrative Inquiry”. She  posed a question to us all at the beginning – How might the study have been different if it was conducted in a UK university? She was very aware of the cultural differences between Ireland and the UK. I had not realised that Ireland has one of the highest suicide rates for young people in the EU. I was really interested in her methodology – narrative inquiry and narrative interviewing (their story, no fixed reality, their understanding, open-ended engagement) I would like to see how this is structured in the thesis, it could inform my own use of interviews/ co- constructed conversations.She talked  of the post modern perspective, social constructionism (Burr 1995) construct own reality, historically and culturally specific, knowledge created and susutained by social processes and interactions, language shapes our experiences but does not fully represent it. Other references that I need to follow up are Reissman – thematic structure and embodied performative, poetic stanzas -Donna West’s thesis – Signs of hope Rapport andHartill 2010; cultures provide ready-made narratives, which we use to make sense of their lives – Richardson.

She also talked about how one of her interviewees has said that it is not like in films where there is a magical moment of resolution usually within 12 months because that is the cultural message, it’s almost worse because that does not happen. In films people talk about the death but in reality this is often not the case.  This really resonates with my own research around talking about death, loss and grief.


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