In preparation for assignment 3, we are asked to listen to a lecture by Professor David Campbell on documentary and narrative. This is an extremely thought provoking and enlightening lecture, and something I am sure I will come back to again and again. Campbell discusses ideas about whether images can elicit change believing that at best our understanding of how images effect and change the world is simplistic and at worst wrong. I am particularly drawn to the notion that we form meaning by the process of narration and that events are understood through this. He challenges the received notion that eye witnesses are best placed to interpret and understand by arguing that it is impossible to understand how significant events are as they occur and they only become significant and properly understood later. Quoting anthropologist Allen Feldman: “the event is not what happens. The event is that which can be narrated.” (Campbell, 2010c) Inevitably, all narratives are constructed and it is impossible for them to be comprehensive – they must have a perspective and the process of inclusion/exclusion is an important part of narrative construction. Despite this, notions of ‘the facts’, ‘objectivity’ and ‘the truth’ are themselves narrative claims and not merely simple minded appeals.
Notes on the lecture here: Notes – David Campbell-Narrative, power and responsibility
Campbell, D. (2010a) Narrative, power and responsibility. (Lecture) Available at: https://soundcloud.com/mattjohnston/david-campbell [accessed 23rd January 2018]
Campbell, D. (2010b) Narrative, power and responsibility. (Q+A) Available at: https://soundcloud.com/mattjohnston/david-campbell-q-a-narrative-power-and-responsibility [accessed 23rd January 2018]
Campbell, D. (2010c) Photography and narrative: What is involved in telling a story? 18 November 2010. Available at: https://www.david-campbell.org/2010/11/18/photography-and-narrative/ [accessed 23rd January 2018]