Northwestern Events Calendar


SESP Colloquium: Dan McAdams: Life Stories During a Pandemic

When: Friday, May 29, 2020
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM  

Where: Online
Webcast Link

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Karen Kellams  

Group: School of Education and Social Policy

Category: Academic, Lectures & Meetings


Professor Dan McAdams: 

Stories of Crisis: Denial, Redemption, and Radical Acceptance in the Time of Covid-19. Friday, May 29 at 3pm

Abstract: In The Plague, Albert Camus (1947) tells the story of a pathogen’s spreading uncontrollably through a small city on the Algerian coast. Camus’ novel is the interpretive frame for considering three different narratives that we might construct today to make sense of the Covid-19 crisis in the contexts of our own personal lives. Building on the psychological concept of narrative identity, I describe life stories that construe the virus as (1) the malevolent manifestation of a discrete episode in time, (2) the motivating adversary that prompts a long-term narrative of redemption, and (3) an enduring nemesis who must be managed within a story that bears honest witness to human suffering. In discussing these three life narrative forms, I draw widely from psychological research on generativity and the redemptive self, on studies of wisdom and ego integrity, and on an in-depth psychological biography of the current president of the United States. 

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