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Story Frames Essay, Research Paper

Story Frames

Since all perception is shaped by the cultural knowledge you bring to it, in-depth understanding almost always involves expanding that knowledge by crossing cultural boundaries. (Maura Shea, 1997) Here is a quote from the book Frame Works that is bigger than life and demands an explanation.

Barbara Donofrio (1990/1997) stated that [C]ommon cultural stories are often referred to as story frames, story schemata, or scripts. ( pg. 19) These story frames are told throughout our lives from our families, schools, and communities, and represent a kind of blueprint of what we are and what we can become. In this essay, we will examine the affects that story frames and culture have on us as individuals, how the story frames and cultures of others can affect our lives, and the positive and negative aspects of story frames and culture.

While growing up, we were told stories about the exploits of our relatives, both past and present, some of our own childhood experiences, and about life or common cultural stories which became embedded in our personal memories and personalities. These stories developed into our story bank and created the foundation of our individuality. We took those stories and began shaping them to conform to our own sense of self. Silko (1967/1997) said, Just as the stories we grew up with shape us and our perceptions, so do we also build and express our own self by shaping the stories we tell. (p. 36) In other words, the stories we put into memory are used for recall of a situation or occurrence that we change into a version that suits our own individual interests and goals. There are feasibly hundreds of facts or details that we opt to forget or leave out because it doesn t fit our version of how the story should be told. As individuals we have the [a]bility to create general stories from specific experiences based on

our tendency to forget unimportant details. (A. R. Luria, 1968/1997 p. 117) As Silko (1967/1997) points out, The version of that first date or first day on the job that you remember may, in fact, only vaguely resemble the version recalled by those who suffered it with you. (p. 36)

Probably one of the most important statements about our story frames and culture we grew up with is, The story frames provided by our cultures tell us what s important, what we should pay attention to, and what we should shun. (A. R. Luria, 1968/1997 p. 117) If our story frames are powerful enough to do this to ourselves, suppose what kind of affect they will have on others.

Now that we ve looked at how story frames and culture affect us as individuals, let s take a look at the affect on how other people s story frames and cultures impact our life. It really

doesn t matter who we are talking about when we say other people . The fact that we had no personal contact with an individual has no bearing on whether their story frames and culture could affect us. As an example I would like to introduce to you a young man who like you or I grew up being told about the stories of his relatives, his own childhood experiences, and the common cultural stories of life. He is someone that you probably know little about as an individual and more than likely never met or had personal contact with, but believe me; his actions had a large impact on you and your culture.

Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-63) was only twenty-four years old when he assassinated President John F. Kennedy. What kind of stories do you suppose he was told and how did his story frames change our culture? I couldn t begin to know the answers to either of those questions but we can take a look at his life and try to imagine what they might be. His father died when he was young and his mother moved from city to city. As a teenager he encountered left-wing political propaganda and became an avowed Marxist. At the age of sixteen, he joined the US Marines

Corps. Late 1959, he was given a dishonorable discharge from the Marine Reserves as a result of becoming a Russian citizen. He re-emigrated to America in 1962 and had a series of low-paying dead-end jobs. Using the alias of A.J. Hidell, he purchased a mail-order rifle and revolver, which later were identified as the rifle that killed the president and the pistol that killed the police

officer J.D. Tippit. Although this is a short rendition of just one man, his actions had a huge impact on a Nation.

Is Lee Harvey Oswald the only other peoples story frames and culture that has had an affect on us? The answer to that question is, definitely not! What about the teachers and classmates where we attended school? Their story frames and culture influenced our lives for approximately twelve years if we graduated from high school and more if we continued on to college. As we continued through school, our story bank increased, and our knowledge of what is important, and what to shun also increased.

With the examples, we can see how other peoples story frames and cultures have an affect on as individuals by lending more stories and identifying different cultural aspects to our story bank , which allows us to shape our own identities. This can be seen as both positive and negative, depending on the circumstances, and is something that we need to explore further.

Contingent upon what we as individuals do with the knowledge gained from the interplay of our own story frames and cultures and those of the world that surrounds us, will determine the positive or negative influence it has on us. Stories have many qualities that are important in our society and culture. If portrayed correctly they can be employed as a learning tool, a classroom subject (History), an increase in understanding and knowledge of our way of life, and a way to examine why things are the way they are.

Phillippe Aries, (1962/1997) said, Every culture has its share of official stories famous anecdotes, story frames, and explanation patterns that can dominate thought and stifle alternative

points of view. (pg. 372) These type of stories and story frames take on the status of common sense and [I]mpose themselves on our experiences and interpret them for us. (pg 373) These official stories tend to bind us together as a cultural whole, but [b]lind us as individuals to new ideas and new ways of thinking (pg. 374) The worst thing about these story frames (official stories) is that [w]e re forced to accept all the hidden explanation patterns and all the values, beliefs, and assumptions they entail, without having the chance to recognize their existence as just another story frame than can be questioned, critiqued, and challenged.

(pg. 376)

We have looked at how story frames and cultures affect us as individuals, how the story frames of cultures of others can affect us, and the positive and negative affect story frames and cultures can have. If our perception is shaped by the cultural knowledge we brought to it, then our expansion has definitely crossed cultural boundaries. In doing so, some were good, some were bad, some had an affect on us, and some we affected others, but throughout we have left an impression on our culture and ourselves.

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