Skip to Content

Department of Cognitive Science

Written autobiography as a source of influence on autobiographical memory

Antonina Harbus (antonina.harbus@humn.mq.edu.au)
Department of English, Macquarie University, Sydney

Abstract

This article uses narrative and genre theory to argue that both direct and indirect contact with published autobiography has an influence on autobiographical narrative, memory, and self formation. Exposure to the durable and pervasive modes of life-writing, transmitted culturally, provides frameworks for meaning-making that normalise certain narrative structures and shape the content and organisation of autobiographical memory. This paper traces the transfer of conventions found in life-writing genres in recently reported autobiographical memory studies, to argue that further consideration should be given to the impact of cultural and educational factors on memory.

Citation details for this article:

Harbus, A. (2010). Written autobiography as a source of influence on autobiographical memory. In W. Christensen, E. Schier, and J. Sutton (Eds.), ASCS09: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (pp. 126-130). Sydney: Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science.

DOI: 10.5096/ASCS200920
Download the PDF here

References

  1. Anderson, S. J. & and Conway, M. A. (1993). Investigating the structure of autobiographical memories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 19, 1178-1196. doi: 10.1037/0278-7393.19.5.1178
  2. Barnier, A J., Sutton, J., Harris, C. B., & Wilson, R. A. (2008). A conceptual and empirical framework for the social distribution of cognition: The case of memory. Cognitive Systems Research, 9, 33-51. doi: 10.1016/j.cogsys.2007.07.002
  3. Bedford, R., Davis, L., & Kelly, P. (2006). (Eds.), Early modern autobiography: Theories, genres, practices. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  4. Belzen, J. A., and .Geels, A. (2008). (Eds.), Autobiography and the psychological study of religious lives. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi.
  5. Berntsen, D., & Bohn, A. (2009). Cultural life scripts and individual life stories. In Pascal Boyer and James V. Wertsch. (Eds.), Memory in mind and culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511626999.005
  6. Boyer, P. (2009). Cognitive predispositions and cultural transmission. In P. Boyer and James V. Wertsch. (Eds.), Memory in mind and culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  7. Brockmeier, J., & Harré, R. (2001). Narrative: problems and promises of an alternative paradigm. In J. Brockmeier & D. Carbaugh (Eds.), Narrative and identity: studies in autobiography, self and culture. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  8. Bruner, J. (1991). The narrative construction of reality. Critical Inquiry, 18, 1-21. doi: 10.1086/448619
  9. Bruner, J. (1993). The autobiographical process. In R. Folkenflik (Ed.), The culture of autobiography: Constructions of self-representation. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  10. Bruner, J. (2001). Self-making and world-making. In J. Brockmeier & D. Carbaugh (Eds.), Narrative and identity: Studies in autobiography, self and culture. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  11. Bruner, J. (2002). Making stories: law, literature, life. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.
  12. Campbell, J., and Harbord, J. (2002). Introduction. In J. Campbell and J. Harbord. (Eds.), Temporalities, autobiography and everyday life. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press.
  13. Cleveland, E. S., and Reese, E. (2005). Maternal structure and autonomy support in conversations about the past: contributions to children's autobiographical memory. Developmental Psychology, 41, 376-388. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.41.2.376
  14. Cole, M. (1996). Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  15. Conway, M., and Pleydell-Pearce, C. W. (2000). The construction of autobiographical memories in the self-memory system. Psychological Review, 107, 261-288. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.107.2.261
  16. Currie, S., & O'Brien, D. L., (2008). Mythbusting publishing: Questioning the 'Runaway Popularity' of published biography and other life writing. M/C Journal, 11.4.
  17. D'Andrade, R. G. (1984). Cultural meaning systems. In R. A. Shweder and R. A. LeVine (Eds.), Culture theory: Essays on mind, self, and emotion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  18. Dennett, D. (1988). Why everyone is a novelist. Times Literary Supplement. September 16-22.
  19. Dennett, D. (1991). Consciousness explained. London: Allen Lane.
  20. Eagleton, T. (1993). Review of Patrick Hamilton: A Life, by Sean French, London Review of Books, 2 Dec., cited in Batchelor (1995).
  21. Eakin, P. J. (1985). Fictions in autobiography: Studies in the art of self invention. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  22. Eakin, P. J. (2008). Living autobiographically: How we create identity in narrative. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  23. Farrant, K, & Reese, E. (2000). Maternal style and children's participation in reminiscing: Stepping stones in children's autobiographical memory development. Journal of Cognition and Development, 1, 192-225. doi: 10.1207/S15327647JCD010203
  24. Fivush, R. (1991). The social construction of personal narratives. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 37, 59-82.
  25. Fivush, R. (1998). The stories we tell: How Language shapes autobiography. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 12, 483-487.
  26. Fivush, R. (2001). Owning experience: Developing subjective perspectives in autobiographical narratives. In C. Moore & K. Lemmon (Eds.), The self in time: Developmental perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  27. Freeman, M. (1993). Rewriting the self: History, memory, narrative. London and New York: Routledge.
  28. Freeman, Mark. (2001). From substance to story: Narrative, identity, and the reconstruction of the self. In J. Brockmeier & D. Carbaugh (Eds.), Narrative and identity: studies in autobiography, self and culture. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  29. Frow, J. (2006). Genre. The New Critical Idiom. New York and London: Routledge.
  30. Haden, C. A., and Fivush, R. (1996). Contextual variation in maternal conversational styles. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 42, 200-227.
  31. Hammack, P. L. (2008). Narrative and the cultural psychology of identity. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 12, 222-247. doi: 10.1177/1088868308316892
  32. Herman, D. (2003). Stories as a tool for thinking. In D. Herman (Ed.), Narrative Theory and the Cognitive Sciences. Stanford: CSLI Publications.
  33. Hutto, D. D. (2007). Folk psychological narratives: the socio-cultural basis of understanding reasons. Cambridge, MA: NIT Press.
  34. Jahn, M. (2003). "Awake! Open your eyes!" The Cognitive logic of external and internal stories. In D. Herman (Ed.), Narrative Theory and the Cognitive Sciences. Stanford: CSLI Publications.
  35. Kitayama, S., & Markus, H. (2007). (Eds.), Handbook of cultural psychology. New York: Guildford.
  36. McAdams, D. P. (2006). The redemptive self: Stories Americans live by. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  37. McCarthy, M. (1957). Memories of a Catholic girlhood. New York: Harcourt Brace.
  38. McLean, K. C., Pasupathi, M., & Pals, J. L. (2007). Selves creating stories creating selves: A process model of self-development. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11, 262-278. doi: 10.1177/1088868307301034
  39. Mascuch, M. Origins of the individualist self: autobiography and self-identity in England, 1591-1791. Cambridge: Polity, 1997.
  40. Nelson, K. (2003a). Narrative and the emergence of a consciousness of self. In G. D. Fireman et al. (Eds.), Narrative and consciousness: Literature, psychology and the brain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  41. Nelson, K. (2003b). Narrative and self, myth and memory: Emergence of the cultural self. In R. Fivush and C. A. Haden. (Eds.). Autobiographical memory and the construction of a narrative self: Developmental and cultural perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  42. Nelson, K., and Fivush, R. (2004). The emergence of autobiographical memory: A social cultural developmental theory. Psychological Review, 111, 486-511. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.111.2.486
  43. Olney, J. (1998). Memory and narrative: The weave of life-writing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  44. Pasupathi, M. (2006). Silk from sows' ears: Collaborative construction of everyday selves in everyday stories. In D. P. McAdams et al. (Eds.), Narrative studies of lives, self and identity. Washington: American Psychological Association.
  45. Peterson, L. H. (1986). Autobiography: The tradition of self-interpretation. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  46. Porter, R. (1997). (Ed.), Rewriting the self: Histories from the Renaissance to the present. London: Routledge.
  47. Porter Abbot, H. (2008). The Cambridge introduction to narrative. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  48. Radvansky, G. A., Copeland, D. E., & Zwaan, R. A. (2005). A novel study: Investigating the structure of narrative and autobiographical memories. Memory, 13, 796-814. doi: 10.1080/09658210444000412
  49. Reese, E., & Cleveland, E. S. (2006). Mother-child reminiscing and children's understanding of mind. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 52, 17-43. doi: 10.1353/mpq.2006.0007
  50. Reese, E., & Farrant, K. (2003). Social origins of reminiscing. In R. Fivush and C. A. Haden. (Eds.). Autobiographical memory and the construction of a narrative self: Developmental and cultural perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  51. Reese, E., & Fivush, R. (2008). The development of collective remembering. Memory, 16, 201-212. doi: 10.1080/09658210701806516
  52. Reese, E., & Newcombe, R. (2007). Training mothers in elaborative reminiscing enhances children's autobiographical memory and narrative. Child Development 78, 1153-1170. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01058.x
  53. Roediger, H. L, Zaromb, F. M., & Butler, A. C. (2009). The role of repeated retrieval in shaping collective memory. In P. Boyer & J. V. Wertsch. (Eds.), Memory in mind and culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511626999.009
  54. Roth, P. (1988). The facts. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.
  55. Rubin, D. C., & Greenberg, D. L. (2003). The role of narrative in recollection: A view from cognitive psychology and neuropsychology. In G. D. Fireman et al. (Eds.), Narrative and consciousness: Literature, psychology and the brain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  56. Taylor, C. (1989). Sources of the self: The making of modern identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  57. Thorne, A. (2000). Personal memory telling and personality development. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 4, 45-56. doi: 10.1207/S15327957PSPR0401_5
  58. Thorne, A., & McLean, K. C. (2003). Telling traumatic events in adolescence: A study of master narrative positioning. In R. Fivush and C. A. Haden. (Eds.). Autobiographical memory and the construction of a narrative self: Developmental and cultural perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  59. Turner, M. (1996). The literary mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  60. Wang, Q. (2001). Cultural effects on adults' earliest childhood recollection and self-description: Implications for the relation between memory and the self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(2), 220-233. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.81.2.220
  61. Wenner, J. A., Burch, M. M., Lynch, J. S & Bauer, P. L. (2008). Becoming a teller of tales: Associations between children's fictional narratives and parent-child reminiscence narratives. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 101, 1-19. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2007.10.006
  62. Wertsch, J. (1998). Mind as action. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  63. Wertsch, J. (2009). Collective memory. In P. Boyer and J. V. Wertsch. (Eds.), Memory in mind and culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  64. Williams, H. L., & Conway, M. A. (2009). Networks of autobiographical memories. In P. Boyer and J. V. Wertsch. (Eds.), Memory in mind and culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  65. Velleman, J. D. (2006). Self to self: Selected essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Further Information

Seminars

Who is Visiting

Contact Details

Telephone: (02) 9850 9599
Fax : (02) 9850 6059
Email : cogsci@mq.edu.au
Web : www.cogsci.mq.edu.au