Psychology and Adaptation: the Work of Jerome Bruner

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Abstract

This article offers a view as to why Jerome Bruner should become an important figure in future constructions of adaptation theory. It will be divided into three sections. In the first, I discuss in more detail his notions of transformation, paying particular attention to the ways in which we redefine ourselves to cope with different situations (as I did while visiting two specific museums in Vienna and Samos). The second will examine Bruner’s belief in the power of narrative or storytelling as ways to impose order on the uncertainties of life (as well as one’s expectations from it) that renders everyone authors of their own adaptations. In the final section I suggest that the capacity for “making stories” (Bruner’s term) assumes equal importance in psychological terms as it does for the screenwriter or adapter: all of us construct narratives through a process of individual distillation of experiences and information, and subsequently refine them through group interaction. Through this process we understand more about ourselves and our relationship to the world around us. I elaborate this notion through a brief case-study of Charlie Kaufman’s screenplay for the film Adaptation (2002).

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Linguaculture

The Journal of Linguaculture Centre for (Inter)cultural and (Inter)lingual Research, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi

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