Abstract

In "Life as Narrative" Jerome Bruner points out that narrative occurs on two levels: "There is a landscape of action on which events unfold …[and] a landscape of consciousness, the inner worlds of the protagonists involved in the action." Just as narrative inquiry moves the perceiver beyond the story to the meaning of the narrative composed, the aesthetic experience requires the perceiver to move beyond subject matter to interpreting meaning expressed through the artist’s use of elements. Drawing upon Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, sketches of his experiences in Paris during the 1920s, this study explores the use of narrative inquiry as an approach for engaging in aesthetic perception and response by focusing on the use of narrative elements within the artwork and the possible relationship of the narrative to experiences in the artist’s life. This approach is then applied across the arts to Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris, Faith Ringgold’s story quilt series The French Collection, Harry Chapin’s story song "Mr. Tanner," and Alvin Ailey’s modern dance masterpiece Revelations. While the aesthetic experience rests with the work of art, research on the artist and the life story portrayed enhance the aesthetic experience and inform interpretation.

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