by Sayaka Fujita
University of Tokyo
I was really fortunate to have been given the opportunity to attend Project Narrative Summer Institute hosted by Ohio State University. It was an intensive course to learn narrative theory. Though it started and was deepened mainly in literature, narratology has recently attracted more attention in various areas, especially in human, social sciences. As a psychologist, I have found it very insightful to understand people’s development, which was why I would like to learn it more and make use of the summer workshop.
The course was directed by two world-leading narratologists in different areas, which enabled the participants (including me) to enrich their understandings from multiple perspectives. The materials were also taken from diverse fields. Classic novels were quoted while a comic book was also one of the resources we dealt with. We exchanged ideas by analyzing a Netflix drama series and short clips uploaded on youtube told us a lot as well. I was amazed to notice narratives are everywhere around us. The directors offered us so many opportunities of discussions that the delivery of the course was not one-way at all. They were really good at facilitating the talk and the discussions were always very productive for all of us in spite of the differences of our academic background. As for our individual needs, the teachers gave us a 1 on 1 tutoring session, which helped us to prepare for the final presentation on the final day of the seminar. The student adviser of the workshop was also really helpful. He prepared everything for us, from giving us a free access to school facilities to wonderful bagels and coffee for breakfast!
The participants came from all over the world; most of them were engaged in teaching as well as conducting their own research. I felt we were really a good team. Not only in the class room, were we on good terms with each other outside the lecture hall. We often studied together in the library and had a dinner afterwards. On weekends, we enjoyed BBQ party and some of us went out together for the festival in the city. Even after the seminar ended, we have an online bulletin board to exchange our ideas on narrative-related theory or our own projects. Some are kind enough to send me thesis which they found and thought would be useful for my own analysis.
I do not really know how I thank you enough for the whole experience of there. I got fantastic friends who shared the same interests and would be able to cooperate with as a research team. The opportunity has enhanced my view not only toward academic field but also toward my future career. I hope I would be able to join the international environment like this again and to become one of the wonderful, encouraging scholars like those I met in the seminar.