On a Train from Morgantown: A Film Script
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This paper consists of an imagined fictive historical dialogue between German-born developmental psychologist, Klaus Riegel and American-born social psychologist, Kenneth Gergen. In the story, Riegel and Gergen have just both presented papers at a conference in West Virginia and are boarding a train to return to their respective Universities—Riegel to the Midwest and Gergen to the East Coast. We meet them as they are travelling from Morgantown, West Virginia to Pittsburgh to change trains. We join then at crucial moments for both–in their thinking and in their personal journeys. Their conversation of the train ignites ideas that would propel Gergen into abandoning meta theories and lighting the spark that began the concept of social constructionism. At a turning point in his development of a metatheory of the dialectic, Riegel, however, would be dead within just a few years. This retrospective imagining, supported by narrative biographical theory is extended, in this case, to the illusory biographies of others and constructed within a sense of other as created by an imaginative projection of self onto their worlds.
KeywordsDialectic psychology Fictive history Narrative biography Performative social science Social constructionism
Written by Kip Jones, interpreted from the writings of Klaus Riegel, Ken Gergen & Mary Gergen, with further assistance from Mary Gergen, Stanley Cohen, Jack Meachum, Hayne Reese, and the Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan.