Research that examines lasting and memorable stories we hear and tell
What is Retrospective Storytelling?
Retrospective storytelling refers to research that examines the lasting impact of stories on individuals and relationships. These are stories people remember hearing or telling that have influenced their individual or relational identity, feelings about themselves or relationships, and/or health and well-being. We have found, for example, that canonical stories - such as the story of family origin, breakup stories, and adoption stories - are linked in patterned ways to things like family satisfaction (Koenig Kellas, Baxter et al., 2014), adult adoptees' self-concept (Kranstuber & Koenig Kellas, 2011), and adolescents' sexual risk-taking (Holman & Koenig Kellas, in progress). Families create legacies through the stories they tell (e.g., Thompson, Koenig Kellas et al., 2009) and construct relational identity, including in the context of discourse dependency (e.g., Suter, Koenig Kellas, Webb, & Allen, in progress). The stories we tell and hear can have a lasting impact and affect our communication in relationships with others.
Selected Retrospective Storytelling Research
Castle, K., & Koenig Kellas, J. (2018). (Re)framing illness: The narrative plotlines of women with SLE. P. Kellett (Ed.) Narrating patienthood: Engaging patients voices on communication, health, wellness, and illness. Koenig Kellas, J. (2005). Family ties: Communicating identity through jointly told stories. CommunicationMonographs, 72, 365-389. Received 2011 NCA Family Communication Division Distinguished Article in Family Communication Award.
Koenig Kellas, J. (2010). Transmitting relational world views: The relationship between mother- daughter memorable messages and adult daughters’ romantic relational schemata. Communication Quarterly, 58, 458-479.
Koenig Kellas, J., Baxter, L. A., LeClair-Underberg, C., Thatcher, M. S., Routsong, T. R., Lamb Normand, E., & Braithwaite, D. O. (2014). Narratively (re)framing stepfamily beginnings: The relationship between adult stepchildren’s stepfamily origin stories and their perceptions of the family. Journal of Family Communication, 14, 149-166.
Koenig Kellas, J., Holman, A., & Flood-Grady, E. (2019). Storying love: Retrospective storytelling between mothers and daughters. In A. Alford, & M. Miller-Day (Eds.) Constructing motherhood and daughterhood: Communicating across generations. Lifespan Communication: Children, Families, and Aging series (pp. 215-232). New York, NY: Peter Lang.
Koenig Kellas, J., & Manusov, V. (2003). What’s in a story? The relationship between narrative completeness and tellers’ adjustment to relationship dissolution. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 20, 285-307.
Kranstuber, K. A., & Koenig Kellas, J. (2011). “Instead of growing under her heart, I grew in it”: The relationship between adoption entrance narratives and adoptees’ self-concept. Communication Quarterly, 59, 179-199.
Suter, E., Koenig Kellas, J., Webb, S. K., & Allen, J. (2016). A tale of two mommies: (Re)storying family of origin narratives. Journal of Family Communication, 16, 303-317.
Thompson, B., Koenig Kellas, J., Soliz, J., Thompson, J., Schrodt, P., & Epp, A. (2009). Family legacies: Constructing individual and family identity through multigenerational storytelling. Narrative Inquiry, 19, 106-134.
Trees, A. R., & Koenig Kellas, J. (2009). Telling tales: Enacting family relationships in joint storytelling about difficult family experiences. Western Journal of Communication, 73, 91-111.