Groningen, Netherlands

Narrative and Knowledge

blended course
when 18 January 2021 - 22 January 2021
language English
duration 1 week
credits 5 EC
fee EUR 345

The Latin root of narrative, narrāre, is a derivative of nārus: knowledge. This etymology exemplifies the strong intertwinement of human thinking about storytelling and cognition, but the shared history of these concepts has not always been an easy one. Since classical antiquity, narrative has been conceived of as an ideal vessel for conveying knowledge (Horace), a specific form of knowing itself (Aristotle) or, instead, an obstacle to ‘true’ knowledge (Plato). These ancient debates find their counterparts in contemporary discussions about the uses and abuses of storytelling in, for instance, history, journalism, social media, politics, and education. Together we will investigate the complex relationships between narrative and knowledge as dimensions of human cognition. We will focus on a variety of aspects of this relationship, categories such as the concrete and the abstract, fiction and truth, intentionality and causality, invention and discovery, experience and theory, story and history.

The context for our winter school is an increasing body of research, across academic disciplines, on how narrative serves to map the ways in which we relate to ourselves and to the world around us. Meanwhile, outside the academy, storytelling has become the focus of attention in many professional practices, such as psychology, counselling, medicine and health, and journalism. These practices put to work the fact that knowledge of ourselves, of others, and of the world we live in is often expressed through storytelling.

The winter school is strongly interdisciplinary, studying narrative and knowledge in a variety of media and settings and from different perspectives. The programme pays attention to contemporary developments in our thinking about the relation between storytelling and non-narrative cognition in our interaction with the environment. The final day will consist of the symposium “Narrative and Knowledge in Times of Crisis”, discussing, among other things, different narratives from the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.

Our speakers are specialists in culture theory, art and literature, cognitive science, minority studies, media studies, and religious studies and include Barend van Heusden, Liesbeth Korthals Altes, and Gerben Westerhof.

The winter school will take place in Groningen unless health and safety measures from the Dutch government in the face of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic prevent us from doing so. The number of participants that we can accept might also depend on such measures. Should a physical winter school not be possible, an online winter school will be offered for the reduced fee of €100.

Course leader

Prof. dr. B.P. van Heusden
Prof. dr. G.J. Westerhof
Dr. S.J. Moenandar
Dr. A.M. Sools
B.A. Miruna Lucaci

Target group

Organised in the beautiful city of Groningen (Netherlands), this interdisciplinary, week-long course is meant for students and professionals in the arts, literature, theology, philosophy, business, journalism, psychology, coaching, politics, and any other field in which narrative and storytelling play a role.



The winter school is designed for PhD students and graduate students (MA) interested in the study of narrative, as well as professionals interested in storytelling.

It is expected that the participants have a sufficient command of the English language in order for them to participate actively in the discussions and to present their own work in English.

Course aim

After this course you will be able to:

Assess current debates about the interrelatedness of narrative and knowledge.
Argue for the necessity of “narrative savviness” in specific circumstances.
Appraise a wide array of theories on narrative and non-narrative cognition.
Argue for the relevance and feasibility of research projects on the interrelatedness of narrative and knowledge in a way that testifies of informed critical thinking.

Credits info

5 EC
During the Winter School, participants are offered the opportunity to give a twenty-minute presentation on their own research related to narrative and knowledge (optional). They will receive feedback on their presentation from speakers and peers. The presentation will be acknowledged on the Certificate of Attendance.

Upon successful completion of the programme, the winter school offers a Certificate of Attendance. For participants who want to earn academic credit with the winter school, an additional assignment (including a reading list) will be provided. After successfully completing the assignment, they will receive their Certificate of Attendance that mentions the workload of 140 hours (28 hours corresponds to 1 ECTS). Students can apply for recognition of these credits to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is at the discretion of their home institutions. We will be happy to provide any necessary information that might be requested in addition to the certificate of attendance.

Fee info

EUR 345: € 345 (excluding housing)
€ 395 (including housing in a shared dormitory)
EUR 120: Students and staff University of Groningen: € 120

Students and staff of Aarhus University, University of Tartu & Twente University:
€ 245 (excluding housing)
€ 295 (including housing in a shared dormitory)