Last updated:
March 25, 2004

Narrative Psychology Search

[Narrative Psychology]

  Theorists and Key Figures


This subpage provides very brief biographical notes regarding individuals who are important theorists, researchers, or contibutors to narrative psychology, the interpretive turn in psychology and the social sciences, and the diverse influences upon narrative which this resource guide details.

Return to Theorists and Key Figures: Index

Theorists/key figures whose names begin with A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Theorists & Key Figures
found on this page
Habemas, Jürgen (1929- )
Harré, (H. Romano) Rom
Hauerwas, Stanley
Herman, David
Hermans, Hubert J. M. (1937- )
Howard, George S.
Hunter, K. M.
Husserl, Edmund
Jackson, Bernard
James, William

Jakobson, R(oman) O(sipovich)
Josselson, Ruthellen
Jung, Carl Gustav
Kelly, George F.
Katz, Jonathan Ned
Labov, William (1927- )
Langer, Lawrence
Lévi-Strauss, Claude
Luria, Alexander R. (1902-1977)
Online Resource Sites:   PP Philosophy Pages (Garth Kemerling) SEP Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy  IEP Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
 [Homepage Icon] = Homepage of Figure        [Tinysubhead Icon] links to a page within this site MIA Internet Archive 

 [Jurgen Habermas]

Habermas, Jürgen (1929- )  PP

German philosopher and member of the "Frankfurt School". Over the past 30 years, his work has increasingly centered on issues of communicative action.

Harré, H(orace). Rom(ano) (1927- )

Department of the Philosophy of Science
Oxford University, UK

Rom Harré was born in New Zealand on December 18, 1927. He completed his B.Sc. and M.A. degrees at the University of Auckland and served as an instructor of physics at King's College, Aukland from 1948 to 1953. He received a B.Phil. from Oxford in 1956 where he pursued postgraduate study in philosophy. He held a series of appointments in a Pakistani and several British schools teaching mathematics and science until joining the faculty of the department of the philosophy of science at Oxford in 1960. He became a Fellow of Linacre College at Oxford in 1965. Harré also holds an adjunct position as Professor of Psychology at Georgetown University, Washington, DC.

As a student in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Robin Hodgkin remembers joining her peers at Oxford to hear lectures by a brilliant philosophy don, Rom Harré. In those days of cultural shifts and political dissent -- both student-led and government-inspired -- Harré warned of a different upheaval, a "Kuhnian revolution (`Copernican', he said) that was beginning to undermine our current positivist, mechanistic understanding of science. The crisis had become most acute in the social sciences and so we must free ourselves from the chains which this kind of thinking about people and society imposed. Instead of men and women and children being seen primarily as `subjects' whose behaviour was caused by two or three measurable variables we, sapient organisms, should be seen and studied as agents or persons with unique (but problematic) potentialities, hopes, liabilities, interests. Further, we enrich ourselves and our communities by giving `accounts'--stories--about our lives and our imaginings." (Hodgkin, 1992, p. 101). In reviewing the Festschrift assembled to honor Harré two decades later (Bhaskar, 1990), Hodgkin here points to his early prophetic and insightful role as one of the crucial figures who fostered the shift of thinking toward a narratively-attuned psychology.

Harré's scholarly program in both philosophy and psychology is simply too large to summarize here. As recalled by Hodgkin (1992) and germane to this guide, he outlined the contours and implications of the "discursive turn" in social science from his perspective as a philosopher and historian of modern science. He dates the emergence of the discursive perspective to the late 1980s (Harré & Gillett, 1994, p. vii); yet, he notes that the broad intellectual work leading to this position stretches back at least to the early 1920s to figures like G. H. Mead. He characterizes the turn as a "second cognitive revolution" in which psychology returned to "the study of active people, singly or in groups, using material and symbolic tools to accomplishy all sorts of projects according to local standards of correctness" (Harré, 1995, p. 144; see Harré & Gillett, 1994, pp. 18-36 for a fuller description of this "second cognitive revolution."). In another place his argument is more succinct: "in this universe, there are people performing discursive acts and there are material poles and charges. That is all." (Harré, 2002, p. 144).

Discourse which Harré understands expansively not only as language but a host of symbolic and gestural activities is what people do. He criticizes many social theorists for dichotomizing the world into discursive descriptions of social life on one side and a collection of reified social objects so described on the other. This practice stems from what he terms the fallacies of "misplaced efficacy" and "projection". Thus, the fact that we can fashion concepts which summarily describe regularities of social life does not mean that those concepts (e.g., social structure, class status, etc.) cause or affect individuals or groups to do anything. On the contrary, following the lead of Wittgenstein, "[w]ords, the bearers of concepts, are not related to our experience as names are to things. Rather they are to be studied as instruments or tools; used in complex practical activities through which our experiences are expressed in public conduct." (Harré, 1995, pp. 148-149)

Biography at Virtual Faculty site

New, Caroline (n.d.). Rom Harre. Biographical profile online at the Website for Critical Realism.

Some papers of Harré online

[Tinysubheadblue Icon] Bibliography: Rom Harré

Harré, R. (1979). Social being. Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell. (Also, issued in 1993 in a 2nd edition by same publisher).
Harre, R. (1984). Personal being: A theory for individual psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Harré, R. (1986). The social construction of emotions. London: Basil Blackwell.

Harré, R. (1986). Varieties of realism. Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell. (b)
Harré, R. (1991). Physical being: a theory for a corporal psychology. Oxford: Blackwell.
Harré, R. (1995). Discursive psychology. In J. A. Smith, R. Harré, and L. Van Langenhove (Eds.), Rethinking psychology (pp. 143-159). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Harré, R., & Secord, P. F. (1972). The explanation of social behaviour. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
Harré, R., & Gillett, G. (1994). The discursive mind. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Harré, R. (2002). Tilting at windmills: Sociological commonplaces and miscellaneous ontological fallacies. European Journal of Social Theory, 5(1), 143-148.
Smith, J. A., Harré, R., & Van Langenhove, L. (Eds.). (1995). Rethinking psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Harré, R., & Parrott, W.G. (Eds.) (1996). The emotions: Social, cultural, and physical dimensions of the emotions. London: Sage

Bhaskar, R. (Ed.). (1990). Harré and his critics: Essays in honour of Rom Harre and his commentary on them. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. (A Festschrift in honor of Harré.)

Hodgkin, R. A. (1992). Exploring human being [Review of the book Harré and his critics: Essays in honour of Rom Harre and his commentary on them]. Oxford Review of Education, 18(1), 101-109.

This review provides an excellent oveview of many of the major themes of Harré's work through the early 1990s.

Sources: Contemporary Authors Online. (2001). The Gale Group.; Hodgkin (1992); New (n.d.); Smith, Harré, & Van Langenhove (1995).


Hauerwas, Stanley (1940- )

Professor of Divinity & Law, Duke University, Durham, NC


Herman, David  [homepage]

Professor of English, North Carolina State University, and Editor, Frontiers of Narrative book series. Herman is one of the three lead editors of the forthcoming (2005) Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory.

Herman, D. (2002). Story logic: Problems and possibilities of narrative. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. "The book's overarching argument is that stories should be construed as strategies for building mental representations of the world. Narratives not only have a logic but also are a logic in their own right, providing an unreplaceable resource for structuring and comprehending experience, a distinctive way of coming to terms with time, process, change." (description at Herman's homepage)


Hermans, Hubert J. M. (1937- )

[Tinysubheadblue Icon] See separate page for Hubert J. M. Hermans

  Howard, George S.
  Hunter, K. M.

Husserl, Edmond (Gustav Albert) (1859-1938)

Philosopher, Founder of Phenomenology

  Jackson, Bernard
  Jakobson, R(oman) O(sipovich) (1896-1982)
[William James] 

James, William (1842-1910)   PP   SEP   

American psychologist and philosopher. Founding figure in American Pragmatism.

William James, the oldest son of Henry James (1811-1882)and Mary Walsh, was born in New York City in 1842. His grandfather, William James, Sr., had originally settled in Albany, NY after emigrating from Cavan, Ireland in 1789. Originally a clerk in a small store, the older James gradually invested in land and other ventures, particularly the Erie Canal. At the time of his death in 1832, James' grandfather was said to be the 2nd wealthiest person in New York State and but disinherited his son, Henry Sr., for his dissolute behavior. Henry soon sued to invalidate the will and, in overtuning it, gained access to a hefty fortune. Henry Sr. returned to religious practice, initially as a Presbyterian, but eventually, in the aftermath of a depressive break, as an adherent of the mystic, Emanuel Swedenborg. Throughout the remainder of his life, Henry Sr. published extensively on his increasingly unorthodox religious and philosophical beliefs. The family moved on a frequent basis both in the United States and Europe and the James children were educated in a rather unsystematic fashion both by tutors and attendance at various schools on both sides of the Atlantic. William's younger siblings included his brother, Henry Jr., the novelist, his sister, Alice, and two other brothers, Garth Wilkinson (Wilky) and Robertson (Bob).

William James was initially torn between the study of painting and science, particularly medicine and physiology. He attended the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard from 1861 until entering the Harvard Medical School in 1864. He interrupted his medical studies in 1865 to travel for eight months with Louis Agassiz, the well-known naturalist at Harvard, who conducted a field trip to the Amazon to collect zoological specimens. James found the task of collecting specimens odious, an attitude which later appeared in his distaste for experimental laboratory work in psychology. In the years after his return from Brazil, James experienced multiple physical and psychological difficulties, particularly involving bouts of depression, while continuing as a student in the medical school. He spent some time in Berlin studying with von Helmholz and several other prominent physiologists. James finally completed his medical degree in 1869 but never practiced medicine thereafter.

In 1872, he accepted the invitation of Harvard president, Charles Eliot, to teach a course in comparative physiology. In 1874-75 he began to lecture on psychology and soon thereafter established a basic laboratory for physiological psychology. As previously noted, James never felt comfortable in the lab and hired others to supervise laboratory instruction. An engaging, witty lecturer and popular among his students, James spent more than a decade completing the two volumes of his famous synthesis, Principles of Psychology (1890; introduction by Robert Wozniak). Two years later, he produced a condensation of the Principles in the form of Psychology: Briefer Course. Even today, most commentators find the quality of James' writing in the Principles distinctly appealing and the scope of his ideas fruitful and challenging. Toward the end of the century and into the early 1900s, James turned to philosophy where his pragmatist stance and embrace of radical empiricism put him among the major American philosophical theorists. James retired from teaching in 1907 and, following a trip to Europe to care for his health, James returned to the United States where he died of heart failure in Chocorua, New Hampshire on August 26, 1910.

James' contributions to the narrative viewpoint are generally considered to flow from (1) his dualist notion of the self (I vs. Me) as well as his formulation of the "social self" and (2) his advocacy of experience as the basic route to human knowledge and understanding. His thoughts on the self are expressed in the famous Chapter X of the Principles and includes this oft-quoted passage on the self as social:

A man's Social Self is the recognition which he gets from his mates. We are not only gregarious animals, liking to be in sight of our fellows, but we have an innate propensity to get ourselves noticed, and noticed favorably, by our kind. No more fiendish punishment could be devised, were such a thing physically possible, than that one should be turned loose in society and remain absolutely unnoticed by all the members thereof. If no one turned round when we entered, answered when we spoke, or minded what we did, but if every person we met 'cut us dead,' and acted as if we were non-existing things, a kind of rage and impotent despair would ere long well up in us, from which the cruellest bodily tortures would be a relief; for these would make us feel that, however bad might be our plight, we had not sunk to such a depth as to be unworthy of attention at all. Properly speaking, a man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him and carry an image of him in their mind. (James, 1890, vol. 1, pp. 293-294)

William James (Frank Parajes, Emory) - Most comprehensive resource site online dealing with James.

Obituary. New York Times, August 27, 1910.

Sources: Menand, L. (2001). The metaphysical club. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; Goodman, R. (2003). William James. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (

 [Ruthellen Josselson]

Josselson, Ruthellen (1946- )

Ruthellen Lefkowitz Josselson was born December 18, 1946 and attended the University of Michigan as both an undergraduate and graduate student. She completed an internship in clinical psychology at Michigan's Psychology Clinic in the late 1960s and received her doctorate in 1972. She also completed a fellowship in clinical psychiatry at the Massachusetts Mental Health Clinic and held a staff psychologist's position there in 1971-72. After a brief stay at the University of Toledo, Josselson's academic home from 1975 through the late 1990s was Towson State University where she rose to the rank of professor in 1982 and was director of the Clinical Concentration Program. She has also held various visiting and research positions including Harvard University, the University of Paris, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where she served as a Fulbright professor in 1992-93. She has maintained a private practice of psychotherapy in Ann Arbor and, subsequently, Baltimore, MD. In recent years she has taught at the Fielding Institute in California.

Josselson's research has focused upon identity development in both adolescence and adulthood with a particular interest on women's development. Together with Amia Lieblich (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Josselson has edited The Narrative Study of Lives, a book series originally published by Sage and currently by the APA Press.

Josselson, R. (1987). Finding herself: Pathways to identity development in women . San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Josselson, R. (1992). The space between us: Exploring the dimensions of human relationships. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Sources : Olendorf, D. (Ed.). (1993). Contemporary authors. A bio-bibliographical guide to current writers in fiction, general nonfiction, poetry, journalism, drama, motion pictures, television, and other fields . Vol. 139 (p. 201). Detroit: Gale Research.


Jung, Carl Gustav (1875-1961)

Swiss Psychiatrist and Analyst

Jung, C. G. (1961). Memories, dreams, reflections [translation of Erinnerungen, Traeume, Gedanken] (Aniela Jaffe, Ed.; R. Winston and C. Winston, Tranls.). New York: Vintage Books.

  Katz, Jonathan Ned
  Kelly, George

Labov, William (1927 - ) [Homepage]

Professor of Linguistics
University of Pennsylvania

William Labov was born December 4, 1927 in Rutherford, NJ. He completed his bachelor's degree at Harvard in 1948 where he majored in English and philosophy. With a single chemistry course to his credit, he went to work soon thereafter compounding printer's ink at the Union Ink Company in Ridgefield, NJ (until 1960). Shifting focus after a decade, he pursued graduate education in linguistics at Columbia University, earning a Ph.D. in 1964 and teaching at Columbia until 1970. His masters' and doctoral research involved examinations of class differences and dialect changes in American English. His doctoral thesis focused on class differences in New York City speech and illustrates Labov's continuing concern for everyday speech and the socioeconomic & class structures within which dialect difference emerge and function symbolically. It was at Columbia that he began his oft-cited study (Labov, 1970) of the speech of African-American children in New York City and argued for the expressive adequacy of African American Vernacular English. In 1971, Labov moved to the University of Pennsylvania where he has taught ever since as a member of the Linguistics Department. At Penn, Labov and his colleagues established a Linguistics Laboratory and developed a broad range of quantitative and computer-based research approaches to English as spoken in North America. In the late 1990s, he and his research team at Penn revisited the Black-White language differences Labov had documented nearly thirty years earlier; he discovered an increasing separation nationally between African-American and White English speakers with major, even dire implications for how reading and language skills generally are taught (or not taught) in American schools.

Narrative psychologists are indebted to Labov principally because of the seminal 1967 paper he coauthored with Joshua Waletsky proposing a general structure by which tellers in ordinary speech employ a temporal sequence in their stories: beginning with the storyteller's orienting statement, the speaker moves to a description of the complicating actions surrounding the events, followed by a statement of the teller's evaluation of those events, and ending with some sort of resolution and a return to teller's present day circumstance (coda). This sequence serves as a framework for understanding the narrative structuring of a great deal of ordinary language interchange and has been inspired a fair degree of research. Indeed the pivotal nature of Labov and Waletsky's (1967) essay was reflected in a book-length collection of essays published as a single issue of the Journal of Narrative and Life History (Bamberg, 1997).

As a research scientist, Labov is an advocate for study of the "real" and eschews neither qualitative nor quantitative approaches in reaching that goal. However, in explaining his extensive quantitative work in sociolinguistics and limited published work involving narrative itelf, he notes that "[t]he discussion of narrative and other speech events at the discourse level rarely allows us to prove anything. It is essentially a hermeneutic study, where continual engagement with the discourse as it was delivered gains entrance to the perspective of the speaker and the audience, tracing the transfer of information and experience in a way that deepens our own understandings of what language and social life are all about" (Labov, 1997b, para. 2).

Bamberg, M. (Ed.). (1997). Oral versions of personal experience--Three decades of narrative analysis: A special issue of the Journal of Narrative and Life History . Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum

Labov. W. (1970). The study of non-standard English. Champaign, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

Labov, W., & Waletzky, J. (1967). Narrative analysis: Oral versions of personal experience. In J. Helm (Ed.), Essays on the verbal and visual arts (pp. 12-44). Seattle, WA: American Ethnological Society (University of Washington Press, distributor). This essay was reprinted
in 1997 in the Journal of Narrative and Life History, 7, 3-38.

Source: Labov (1997a).


Langer, Lawrence L. (1929- )

Professor Emeritus, Simmons College (MA)

Scholar and critic of the Holocaust and Holocaust testimonies

Langer, L. (1975). The Holocaust and the literary imagination. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Langer, L. (1991). Holocaust testimonies: The ruins of memory. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press

Langer, L. (1995). Admitting the Holocaust: Collected essays. New York: Oxford University Press.

Langer, L. (Ed.). (1995). Arts from the ashes: A Holocaust anthology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Langer, L. (1998). Preempting the Holocaust. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Sources: Contemporary Authors (Online), 2003.


Lévi-Strauss, Claude (1908- )

French anthropologist, ethnologist, and theorist of (linguistic) structuralism

Collège de France (from 1959), Chair of Structural Anthropology

Sources:  Hansom, P. (Ed.). (2001). Dictionary of literary biography, Vol. 242. Twentieth-century European cultural theorists, First series (pp. 278-292). Detroit, MI: The Gale Group, 2001. pp. 278-292.

 [A. R. Luria]

Luria, Alexandr Romanovich (1902-1977 )

Soviet neuropsychologist. A founding theorist of the cultural-historical school of psychology.

Born July 16, 1902 in Kazan, Russia, Aleksander Romanovich Luria was the son of Jewish parents: Roman A. Luria, a physician, and Eugenia Hasskin. He completed his undergraduate studies at age 19 in 1921 at the University of Kazan in the midst of the post-Revolution turmoil of his nation and planned a career in psychology. One of Luria's earliest interests centered on psychoanalytic theory as a possible solution to the problem of understanding both the lawfulness of human behavior generally and the individual's particularity as a behavioral agent. In 1923 he began work in a laboratory at the Institute of Psychology in Moscow and, the following year, met L. S. Vygotsky, his intellectual mentor and life-long inspiration. Together with Vygotsky and Alexei Leont'ev, Luria focused on the ways by which physical and sensory processes interacted with cultural forces or processes to foster psychological development and growth. The work of these psychologists during the 1920s and subsequent decades is frequently labeled as the "cultural-historical" approach to psychology and has directly influenced the contemporary work of "activity theory" psychologists.

In the early- to mid-1930s, Luria carried out two major field expeditions in the steppes of central Asia among the Uzbek and Kirghiz peoples to detail the impact of cultural change (brought about by the Russian Revolution and formation of the Soviet state) upon a range of cognitive processes. The research findings of these expeditions confirmed the overall thesis of the cultural-historical school about the centrality of cultural and social forces in shaping the developing mind. Soon thereafter in response to increasing political repression, Luria lowered his profile by entering medical school where he specialized in neurology, particularly the problem of aphasia. Already possessing a D. Phil. from Moscow, Luria was awarded a Dr. Med. degree in1943. Luria began working in Moscow with many traumatic brain injured patients harmed by the violence of the Second World War. His clinical research led to the development of a comprehensive theory of brain functioning which related neuroanatomical structure to hierarchically-organized and interrelated systems of brain activity. Within this neuropsychological model, cultural forces arising in the environment served to influence the ways in which the brain's systems actually develop and function. From 1945 until his death in August, 1977, Luria served as the head of the department of neuropsychology at the University of Moscow.

From the late 1950s until his own death, Luria's recognition by his psychological colleagues in the West became widespread. Many of his books and articles were published in English in the last two decades of his life. Two of these volumes were case studies: The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book about a Vast Memory (1968) and The Man With A Shattered World (1972). They represent, as Oliver Sacks has suggested, a type of "romantic science" in which detailed scientific data about a single individual are presented by employing strongly novelistic forms.

Sources: Contemporary Authors Online, Gale Group, 2001; Cole (1979).


When citing this document, you may wish to consider this form for the reference (derived from APA Style [5th ed.])

Hevern, V. W. (2003, July). Theorists and key figures: H-I-J-K-L. Narrative psychology: Internet and resource guide. Retrieved [enter date] from the Le Moyne College Web site:

     Narrative Psychology: Internet and Resource Guide
is copyright © 1996-2003 by Vincent W. Hevern, SJ, all rights reserved.

No portion of this guide may be reproduced or used for commercial or other purposes without the express written consent of the author.