Stories We Tell

Stories We Tell

We tell stories and stories are told about us. Not only do we know and tell stories about our own lives, we know stories about events we have never experienced, places we have never been, people we have never known, and even people and places that have never existed. Stories tell us about the life we live, the lives lived by others, and possible lives born in imagination. We live in a universe of stories. In our FIG we will read and watch a variety of tales, stories that tell about Kings and polar bears, stained and unstained sheets made of the purest linen, magic mirrors, a Sami teenager sent away to school, an Afro-Swedish rapper, and a young defrocked priest drowning in drink. We will also read stories about the world we live in, about our environment, about modernity, about walking, and about climbing mountains. And we will learn the art of interpreting these stories, for the magic of stories resides in the fact that they always say more than they tell. While this last sentence may seem mysterious, you will learn that we always bring something extra to every text we read and every film we see, namely our assumptions, interpretations and philosophical dispositions. It is for that reason that our FIG, “Stories We Tell” pairs SCAN 251, Text and Interpretation with PHIL 101, Philosophical Problems. In this way we can reflect on not only the stories we tell and those told to us, but on the ways we make meaning out of narrative.


Students explore the intersection of topics by taking the following course package:

UGST 109 First-Year Experience Seminar - 1-credit

SCAN 251 Text and Interpretation - CoreEd or major satisfying course, 4-credits

This class is about stories. It is about how we tell them, what they mean to us, and how narrative permeates the very fabric of our understanding of the world. Considering this and remembering that our “universe” of stories includes narratives that we have been told, have read, and have told ourselves; we can safely say that we are not the authors of our entire sense of the world. This raises several interesting questions about the relationship between the “self” and the “other.” Some of these questions include: Are our stories our own? Who speaks for us? How do I know who I am? What obligation, if any, do I have towards others? To what extent are we determined by history?

PHIL 101 Philosophical Problems - CoreEd or major satisfying course, 4-credits

Our attempts to make sense of our lives and to find meaning in our existence lead us to ask certain classic philosophical questions. The course begins with the question of the proper role of reason in a life intelligently lived. Is philosophical thinking a necessary and important part of life? Second, we ask what role religion should play for a philosophically reflective person. This leads into questions about whether existence is absurd, without purpose or reason, or whether there is some overarching rationality and direction to our lives. Finally, we examine some of the many conditions that together define our identities as persons, conditions like our biological makeup, social narratives, cultural values, gender, and race. In other words, the key question is 'Who are you?' and 'What makes you who you are?'