Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a slave (New York: Penguin Books, 2012). (461)

Atkinson, Robert. “1. Contexts and Uses of Life Stories”. In

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Atkinson, Robert. “1. Contexts and Uses of Life Stories”. In The Life Story Interview (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications), 1-21, 54-55. (24)
Stories are ancient, holding humans tied to the mast of oral history, many times than not, they are what make traditions, myths, legends, simple facts carry on from one generation to another to another. As Robert Atkinson puts it in the first chapter of his book The Life Story Interview, “[humans] often think in story form, speak in story form, and bring meaning to our lives through story”.147 In his piece Atkinson deals with the process of the life story and the task of both the researcher and the story teller, though eventually the title can easily switch with varying amounts of success. Categorizing the uses of the life story into separate sub-sections under the scope of “Classical Functions”, Atkinson further breaks the functions down to Psychological, Social, Mystical-Religious and Cosmological-Philosophical. Perhaps one of the more interesting, though also more obvious, roles of the story teller is also that of the Anthropologist. Anthropologists often “use life stories to get at shared cultural meanings, the insider’s view of a community and the dynamics of cultural change”, but more importantly Anthropologists tell stories in order to better the understanding of a mutual world.148 The work Atkinson does in his piece measures to brilliance as he gives meaning to the place of the storyteller, to perhaps all humans who practice the craft, a task often underestimated.

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