Brian Schiff

Professor, Department Chair - Psychology

  • Department: Psychology, Health and Gender
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  • Office Hours: 
    Tuesdays 14:00–15:00 or by appointment

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Brian Schiff is Chair and Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention. Schiff completed his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, Committee on Human Development in 1997 and joined the American University of Paris in 2007. Schiff is an active scholar and enthusiastic teacher with an interest in the meeting place between narrative, social relationships and culture. He is fascinated by problems of narrative and self, culture and human development, personhood in place and time and the person's connection to collective memory. Schiff's research uses life story interviews in order to study the social and cultural dynamics of identity formation. He has written about the life stories of Holocaust survivors, Arab citizens in Israel, mixed race youth in the US, Muslim-Jewish couples in France and older adults. Schiff recently published (2017) A New Narrative for Psychology (Oxford University Press) and co-edited (2017) Life and Narrative: The Risks and Responsibilities of Storying Experience (Oxford University Press). He is also editor of a special issue of New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, (2014) Rereading Personal Narrative and Life Course and Situating Qualitative Methods in Psychological Science(under contract with Routledge, scheduled release in 2018). Schiff is the recipient of a research grant from the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace (2014-2016) to conduct longitudinal interviews on the identity stories of Palestinian students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is also the 2016 recipient of the Theodore Sarbin Award from the American Psychological Association's Division 24 (Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology).


  • PhD in Psychology: Human Development (1997). Dissertation title: Telling survival and the Holocaust. Chair: Bertram Cohler. The Committee on Human Development. The University of Chicago. Chicago, Illinois
  • MA in the Social Sciences (1995), The University of Chicago. Chicago, Illinois



  • Schiff, B. (2017). A new narrative for psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Schiff, B., McKim, E. & Patron, S. (Eds.) (2017). Life and narrative: The risks and responsibilities of storying experience. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Schiff, B. (2017). Psychology's silent crisis. OUP Blog, Oxford University Press.
  • Schiff, B., Patron, S. & McKim, E. (Eds., In preparation). Life and narrative: The risks and responsibilities of storying experience. Contract from Oxford University Press.  
  • Schiff, B. (In preparation). A new narrative for psychology. Contract from Oxford University Press
  • Schiff, B. (Ed.) (2014) Re-reading personal narrative and life course. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 145.
  • Schiff, B. (2014). Introduction: Development’s story in time and place. In B. Schiff (Ed.) Re-reading personal narrative and life course. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 145, 1-13. 
  • Schiff, B. (2013). Fractured narratives: Psychology’s fragmented narrative psychology. M. Hyvärinen, M., Hatavara & L. C. Hydén, L.C. (Eds.), The travelling concept of narrative.
  • Schiff, B. (2012). The function of narrative: Toward a narrative psychology of meaning. Narrative Works: Issues, Investigations & Interventions. 2(1), 34-47.
  • Schiff, B., Toulemonde, M. & Porto, C. (2012). Identity in the first person plural: Muslim-Jewish couples in France. In R. Josselson & M. Haraway (Eds.). Navigating multiple identities: Race, gender, culture, nationality, and roles (pp. 167-186). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Schiff, B., Porto, C. & Toulemonde, M. (2011). Narrating shared identity. In H. Anheier, Y. R. Isar & D. Viejo-Rose (Eds.) Heritage, memory, identity: Cultures and globalization, Vol. 4 (pp. 252-261). London: Sage Publications. 
  • Schiff, B. & O’Neill, T. (2007). The relational emplotment of mixed race identity. In R. Josselson, A. Lieblich & D. P. McAdams (Eds.) The narrative study of lives: The meaning of others (pp. 143-163). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
  • Schiff, B., Skillingstead, H., Archibald, O., Arasim, A. & Petersen, J. (2006). Consistency and change in the repeated narratives of Holocaust survivors. Narrative Inquiry, 16 (2), 349-377.
  • Schiff, B. (2006). The promise (and challenge) of an innovative narrative psychology. Narrative Inquiry, 16 (1), 19-27.
  • Schiff, B. & Noy, C. (2006). Making it personal: Shared meanings in the narratives of Holocaust survivors. A. De Fina, D. Schiffrin, & M. Baumberg (Eds.) Discourse and identity (pp. 398-425). New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Schiff, B. (2005). Telling it in time: Interpreting consistency and change in the life stories of Holocaust survivors. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 60 (3), 189-212.
  • Schiff, B. (2004). Narrating collective memory. Book review: J. V. Wertsch (2002). Voices of collective remembering. New York: Cambridge University Press. Contemporary Psychology APA Review of Books, 49 (2), 229-231.
  • Schiff, B. (2003). Book review: P. Suedfeld (Ed.) (2001). Light from the ashes: Social science careers of young Holocaust refugees and survivors. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Canadian Journal on Aging, 22, 136-137.
  • Schiff, B. (2002). Talking about identity: Arab students at the Hebrew University. Ethos, 30 (3), 273-304.
  • Wink, P. & Schiff, B. (2002). To review or not to review? The role of personality and life events in life review and adaptation to old age. In J. D. Webster & B. K. Haight (Eds.) Critical advances in reminiscence: From theory to application (pp. 44-60). New York: Springer-Verlag.
  • Schiff, B. & Cohler, B. (2001). Telling survival backward: Holocaust survivors narrate the past. In: Kenyon, G. M., Clark, P. G., & de Vries, B. Narrative gerontology: Theory, research and practice (pp. 113-136). New York: Springer.
  • Schiff, B., Noy, C. & Cohler, B. (2001). Collected stories in the life narratives of Holocaust survivors. Narrative Inquiry, 11 (1), 159-194.

Conferences & Lectures


University of Michigan, Department of Psychology, Alumni Profiles.



  • Schiff was lead organizer of Narrative Matters 2012: Life and Narrative. He is co-organizer of Narrative Matters 2014: Narrative Knowing/Récit et Savoir with Sylvie Patron (University of Paris-Diderot).
  • Schiff is on the editorial board of Narrative Works and Qualitative Psychology.
  • The American Psychological Association
  • The Society for Personology