Narrative Pedagogy on a Train


  • Cam Cobb University of Windsor, Canada


narrative inquiry, narrative pedagogy


Shortly after his hundredth birthday, Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira released Eccentricities of a Blond-haired Girl. Running at 64 minutes and set in present day Portugal, the film is based on a story by nineteenth-century realist, Eça de Queirós. The film begins and ends on a train. The train itself moves through space and also moves through time. Speeding away from Lisbon, Macário, a young accountant, is heading to Algarve, the southern region of Portugal. But he is haunted. While he might be able to physically depart from Lisbon, he is stuck there in his mind. A smartly dressed middle-aged lady is seated beside him and he strikes up a conversation with her. Macário informs her he is upset and adds that he is prepared to tell her why. The lady urges him to say more. What follows is a conversation strewn with flashbacks and sprinkled with questions and clarifications. It is also a pedagogical exchange. Using his declarative memory, Macário reconstructs a lived experience, relating the story of his failed romance with Luísa. In sharing his narrative, Macário endeavors not only to make sense of his past but also to cope with his present, and ultimately move on to his future. The conversation between the two travelers exemplifies how we use our personal narratives to engage in learning exchanges, connect with others, and better understand our lives. It also has wider implications for Oliveira’s film.




How to Cite

Cobb, C. (2014). Narrative Pedagogy on a Train. Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image, (5), 140–156. Retrieved from