Walter Fisher (professor)

Credited with formalizing Kenneth Burke's Dramatism, Walter Fisher introduced the narrative paradigm to communication theory. Fisher is Professor Emeritus at the Annenberg School for Communication.

Fisher's body of work is based on the concept that people are essentially storytellers, referred to as narrative theory. Storytelling is one of the oldest and most universal forms of communication and so Fisher propounded that individuals approach their social world in a narrative mode and make decisions and act within this narrative framework (Fisher 1984).


Narrative theory was developed by Walter Fisher. Fisher obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1960 and went on to become a professor, among other things. Perhaps Fisher’s most notable contribution was his formulation of the narrative approach to rhetoric and communication theory. In 1979 he was awarded the Golden Anniversary Monograph Award from the Speech Communication Association for the article that introduced narrative theory to the field of communication. However, as is the case with most new theories, narrative theory was not totally accepted by the discipline (Miller, 2005, p. 92). Narrative theory clashed with several pre-existing beliefs as to the nature of human beings and how they communicate and act. Fisher describes this contrast by identifying the tenets of what he sees as two universal paradigms: the rational world paradigm, and the narrative paradigm (Fisher, 1987).



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