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Theoretical Background For The Applied Method

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Chapter Summary

Rabbi Nahman’s turn from homiletic discourse to telling tales would, according to the American intellectual historian Hayden White (1927–), be a matter of tropology. In presenting his tropology of discourse, White draws upon the psychologist Jean Piaget. Piaget distinguishes between four “restructurations” of the perceptual field in the development of a child’s cognitive powers: the sensorimotor, representational, operational and rational. White provides the modern scholar with one explanation of why Nahman would include telling tales as an additional means of communication. However, White’s inclusion of Piaget does not provide a detailed explanation or description of the cognitive achievements available once one operates within the most imaginative kind of discourse; i.e., poetic language. This chapter explains what Nahman achieved by turning to telling tales by focusing on his poetic, figurative language, characterized in Sippurey Maʾasiyot by intertextuality.

Keywords: Hayden White; intertextuality; Jean Piaget; Rabbi Nahman; Sippurey Maʾasiyot



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