The Living Handbook of Narratology

Hühn, Peter et al. (eds): the living handbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. URL = [view date: 12 Mar 2012]


Author....................................................................................................................................3 Character..............................................................................................................................15 Cognitive Narratology.........................................................................................................28 Coherence............................................................................................................................40 Conversational Narration - Oral Narration..........................................................................55 Dialogism............................................................................................................................66 Event and Eventfulness.......................................................................................................72 Fictional vs. Factual Narration............................................................................................87 Focalization.......................................................................................................................101 Heteroglossia.....................................................................................................................109 Identity and Narration........................................................................................................116 Illusion (Aesthetic)............................................................................................................127 Implied Author...................................................................................................................141 Mediacy and Narrative Mediation.....................................................................................152 Metalepsis..........................................................................................................................165 Metanarration and Metafiction..........................................................................................177 Narration in Film...............................................................................................................184 Narration in Poetry and Drama..........................................................................................197 Narration in Various Disciplines........................................................................................209 Narration in Various Media...............................................................................................227 Narrative Constitution.......................................................................................................244 Narrative Empathy.............................................................................................................255 Narrative Levels................................................................................................................264 Narrativity..........................................................................................................................276 Narratology........................................................................................................................294 Narrator..............................................................................................................................314 Performativity....................................................................................................................329 Perspective - Point of View...............................................................................................341 Possible Worlds.................................................................................................................353 Reader................................................................................................................................367 Schemata............................................................................................................................379 Space..................................................................................................................................387 Speech Representation.......................................................................................................399 Tellability...........................................................................................................................410 Unreliability.......................................................................................................................417


Schönert, Jörg: "Author". 12 Mar 2012. Hühn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Last modified: 6 September 2011 Jörg Schönert

1 Definition The author (real or empirical) can be defined in a narrow sense as the intellectual creator of a text written for communicative purposes. In written texts in particular, the real author is distinguished from the mediating instances internal to the text (cf. 2.1; → Mediacy and Narrative Mediation). Beyond linguistically created works, the term author is also used for works in other media such as music and the visual arts as well as for comics, photography, film, radio and television programs, and computer games. A broader understanding of the term author is used in the following contexts, among others: as conveyor of action in a socio-cultural context (cf. 2.3); in the sense of specific culturalhistorically relevant conceptions of authorship; as a unifying instance in the interrelation of works (œuvre); as a reference for classification in terms of epoch and canon; and as an important point of reference for the meanings ascribed to works through which the recipient can determine the author’s intention and/or author-related contexts relevant to understanding a work (cf. 2.2).

2 Explication During the 20th century, a broad spectrum of how the author is understood was developed in scholarly circles: for framing concrete contexts (e.g. “producer of cultural goods”); for abstract author functions (e.g. causa efficiens); for concepts of the author relevant for understanding such as the implied author (→ Implied Author). Unlike the dominant tendencies in the intensive discussions conducted since 1990 on the status and understanding of the author, this analysis will focus on the author’s narratological relevance.

2.1 Communicative Instances in Narrative Representations


As in other domains, it holds for narratological analysis that the real author is held responsible for the communicative intention and form of a narratively organized work (on the roles of the author in literary communication, see Okopień-Sławińska 1971; Fieguth 1975. In the case of narrative fictions, it has proved useful to assume that mediacy is transferred to text-internal instances (“voice”) including the narrator (→ Narrator) to various degrees of explicitness and, possibly, characters (→ Character) in the storyworld. To these there correspond addressee instances such as the narratee (→ Reader) or figured addressees, respectively. The arrangements of autofiction (within literary autobiography, e.g.) constitute a special case.

2.2 Authorship and Reception of the Work Authorship is to be seen as a status attributed to a work with culturally differing author constructs bound up with authorial self-reflection and self-presentation in a spectrum ranging from self-assurance to skepticism as to the validity and scope of claims to authorship. In the sphere of (fictional) literature, constructs such as the author as vates, poeta doctus, creative genius or “writer” can be found. Independent of such typologizing expressions, particular author constructs also hold good for the reception of works in specific periods (e.g. the image of Milton during the Romantic period). These types of construction can refer to the totality of an author’s work (cf. œuvre author or career author—Booth 1977: 11 or to representative individual works. Since the 18th century, there has been a culturally significant need to fall back on the author for interpretative processes and value judgments of an artistic work based on the creative act, authenticity, individuality, originality, unity of the work and its depth of meaning. From this perspective, the definition of “authoralism” in Benedetti’s sense (1999: 8–12) is based on the experience that in the modern era it is “impossible for a work of art to exist except as a product of an author” (10)—as “being authored” (74–8). A culturally (and legally) important result of this is that the authenticity of a work is attested with reference to the real author as its originator, which is significant, for instance, in the editing of texts (cf. Bohnenkamp 2002). An author-related reception focuses on the intention, attributed to the author, to convey a particular understanding of his work. In this sense, the work can also be seen as an expression of the author’s personality (including his feelings, opinions, knowledge and values). In particular, differing conceptions of author and authorship determine, alongside the concerns of historiographic, classificatory and editorial practices, ascription of meaning to literary texts within scholarly (cf. Spoerhase 2007.) and non-scholarly circles as a result of biographical reference to the author, e.g., or with reference to the author’s intention, reconstructed in a largely hermeneutic manner. In practical criticism, inclusion of the author as a category for textual interpretation is accepted (cf. Jannidis et al. eds. 1999: 22–4), this approach often being adopted in the “author-critical” problematics of literary theory and methodology (Jannidis 2000: 8; Winko 2002). An alternative concept is marked by the term “author function”: the author as an individual person is held to be external to his work—as is maintained by Foucault, for example—so that in the reception of the work, he can be ignored as a reference point for the ascription of 4

meaning. In a way that varies historically and culturally, the author is integrated into (discursively ordered) functional contexts, such as proprietary or legal concerns, or into classifications of cultural communication. The resulting author functions are thus not to be related to concrete individuals, but rather assigned, for example, to discourses or to intertextual constellations.

2.3 Author as a Social Role Creatorship gives rise to certain consequences in a social context such as legal implications regarding a claim to intellectual property (copyright) or the author’s legal responsibility for the effects of his work. These and other aspects (e.g. origin, education, patronage, market and media dependency, author-publisher relationships, royalties and honors, author groups and interest groups) are the concerns of the social history of the author, broken down into subsections such as the history of producers and distributors (cf. Jäger 1992; Haynes 2005; Parr 2008).

2.3.1 Collaborative as well as Anonymous, Pseudonymous and Fictitious Authorship Author collectives (with at least two partners) can be found in various combinations of media (cf. Detering ed. 2002: 258–309; for belles lettres, cf. Plachta ed. 2001, for artistic collaborations, cf. Bacharach & Tollefsen 2010). During Antiquity and in the Middle Ages, e.g., texts were produced, over and above those created by an author through transcriptions, additions, commentaries and compilations which were attributable to more than one author. Since the late 18th century, popular prose fiction has often been written by anonymous or pseudonymous groups of authors and highbrow literature by authors in cooperation, usually declared. New possibilities have arisen thanks to electronically stored, collectively produced hypertexts published on CD-ROM and/or online (cf. Landow ed. 1994; Simanowski 2001; Ryan 2006). Collective authorship specific to the medium is the rule in musical theater, cinema (cf. Kamp 1996) and television. Numerous historical and cultural variants can be found for anonymous, pseudonymous and fictitious authorship (cf. Schaff 2002); until well into the 20th century, these practices were often resorted to in literary publications by women authors.

3 History of the Concept and its Study The following (European) overview focuses on the author as the creator of literary texts, and in particular of narrative fiction. Since Antiquity, terminological ambiguity in the concept of author and competing concepts of 5

author and authorship have been apparent (cf. Burke ed. 1995; Jannidis et al. eds. 1999: 4– 11), as witnessed, e.g., in the variously defined conceptions of the heteronomy and autonomy of the author. The underlying tendency from Antiquity to the modern era can be described as a shift from an instrumental-performative understanding of authorship to personalization characterized by creative individuality (cf. Wetzel 2000: 480). Author as a neutral term alongside scriptor/writer first began to dominate after the end of the 18th century in the context of an economic and legal situation specific to the period and as a neutralizing claim set up to counter the emphatic understanding of “poet.” The word “author” has developed into an umbrella term and now denotes all forms of creatorship for a work in the context of public communication.

3.1 Antiquity Author in the literal sense is of Roman origin (auctor), and has no Greek equivalent. However, Plato had already devised for poetic productivity the concept of a speech guided by “enthusiasm” (literally “possessed by God”), to which the later model of the poet pleading for (divine) inspiration as well as the poeta vates can be assigned. Alongside the dominant idea of the production of poetic works by means of inspiration, a further author model was formulated in the poietes (“maker”; Lat. poeta faber) favored in Aristotle’s Poetics: poetic works are created out of techne, i.e. craftsmanship and technical skill (Lat. ars) (cf. Kleinschmidt 1998: 14–34). New ways of conceiving of the production of poetic works arose as a result of the complex of meanings surrounding the term auctor in the ancient Roman legal system: an auctor is the bearer of auctoritas (cf. Heinze 1925) who enjoys particular rights and/or who can transfer (and thus authorize) these rights in order to promote something or achieve some goal. This “authority” was founded on, and confirmed by, the special knowledge available to the auctor. In this respect, the author model of the poeta faber was upgraded to the poeta eruditus or poeta doctus.

3.2 Middle Ages Use of the Latin term auctor (Eng. author; Ital. autore; Fr. auteur; Span. autor; Ger. Autor) was extended to cover the creatorship of factual and fictional texts. In general, it was only from the late 15th century onwards that scholars and occasionally poets were referred to as auctores, a practice that continued up to the early decades of the 18th century. Viewed from a cultural-historical perspective, the classical model of the poeta vates was re-interpreted as an extension into the sphere of knowledge of the promises and teachings of Christianity so that where this commitment was supplemented by poetological knowledge, the result was to link up the author model with the poeta doctus. In contrast to scientific texts, literary texts in the broader sense (as in epics or in the 6

Minnesang) were often handed down without the creator being named, so that individual or collective anonymity prevailed. Little distinction was made between the creators, copyists, editors, commentators and compilers of texts in favor of “original” creatorship in need of protection (cf. Minnis 1984), with far more emphasis being placed on group identity: e.g.— depending on the type of text—in the imitatio veterum (supported by the canon that provided a model) or—when mediacy-oriented—in the case of collective manuscripts.

3.3 Early Modern Period With the invention of the printing press, a public sphere based on written language was established for which, both in the dominant scholarly literature and in the diversified sphere of belles lettres, the individuality of the author as well as the authenticity of the single work and reliable copies (guaranteed by printing) gained progressively in importance. In literature, the author model of the poeta eruditus and the poeta doctus dominated starting from the time of Humanism. For these texts, “interpretation” was not the appropriate form of analysis, but “commentary,” relating the text to previous sources backed up with “authority” (cf. Scholz 1999: 347–50). Also revived was the model of the poet moved by inspiration, sometimes in the sense of an alter deus (cf. Scholz 1999). Initially, creatorship remained legally undefined. It was not until the turn of the 18th century that the first contractual arrangements between publishers and authors were devised concerning royalties, etc.

3.4 Early 18th Century until the Mid-20th Century As a result of varying national cultural developments in Europe, the author developed into a legal instance in the course of the 18th century, acquiring material entitlements vis-à-vis publishers, requiring protection against unauthorized reprints and plagiarism, and bearing personal responsibility for the content of his publications (e.g. Bosse 1981; Hesse 1991; Jaszi & Woodmansee eds. 1994). With the development of the objective conditions linked to creating factual and fictional texts for market-led public communication, the term author became a value-free collective name to which professional designations such as writer (Skribent, Schriftsteller, écrivain, etc.) as well as evaluative classifications such as poet/Dichter could be assigned. A broad spectrum of patterns of individual and collective authorship developed (cf. Haynes 2005: 302–10) for the social roles that arose from these concrete author models, and they were often accompanied by the authors’ reflections on their self-perception (cf. Selbmann 1994). Additional criteria for artistic production regarding creativity and originality (genius) became important for the understanding of the author as poet/Dichter from the final third of the 18th century onwards. Thus, the author could be defined legally, materially and intellectually (cf. Haynes 2005: 310–13). In emphatic formulations such as “art as religion,” the life experiences, conceptions of style and work of the (godlike) poet were bound together into a whole and endowed with a special aura (cf. Bénichou 1973). In this process, narrative prose was enhanced with a literary status in the course of the 18th century and was put on an equal 7

footing with the “classical” genres of drama, epic, and verse as a poetic art. New facets of the concept of author emerged from scholarly engagement with works of the poetic art, their theory and history which got underway after 1820 (cf. Jannidis et al. eds. 1999: 9–11). The author together with the story of his life and work became a reference point for expert textual analysis (biographical criticism), scholarly editions, literary-historical (re)constructions and evaluations for establishing the canon with practical cultural consequences, particularly for education and teaching. Toward the end of the 19th century, methodological debates emerged which, in different ways, fell back on the author as an interpretative norm for ascribing meaning, above all in the scholarly handling of texts. In this process, plausibility was legitimized in a variety of ways on the basis for example of: (a) the author’s ascertainable intention (cf. Hirsch 1967); (b) extensions of the intentional aspect through a critique of psychoanalytical or ideological assumptions to meanings of literary texts beyond the author’s intention: “to understand the author better than he understood himself” (Strube 1999); (c) the author-oriented selection of relevant contexts. Approaches to ascribing meaning to texts in scholarly circles were developed in competition with these concepts from the early 20th century onwards, based on the assumption that all information relevant to meaning could be drawn from the text in question alone (cf. close reading, New Criticism, werkimmanente Interpretation, explication de texte, formalist, structuralist and text-semiotic approaches). In support of such approaches, criticism remained wary of the “intentional fallacy” (cf. Wimsatt & Beardsley 1946), emphasizing the irrelevance of the real author’s intention for scholarly interpretation. It was in this context that categorial distinctions between the real author and speaker instances internal to the text (cf. narrator, lyrical I), advocated since the beginning of the 20th century (cf. Friedemann 1910; Susman 1910) and accepted in the 1950s, gained in importance. As a textual instance located above other instances and differentiated from the real author (also as a reference point for text immanent interpretations of works), the “implied author” was brought into the discussion by Booth in 1961 even though, in the following decades, it was often called into question as “not absolutely necessary” (cf. Kindt & Müller 2006); complementary to the “implied author” is the “implied reader.”

3.5 Since the Mid-20th Century In this phase, both author-centric and author-critical approaches to textual interpretation have been further clarified in scholarly debates on literary theory, and the resulting competition between them was intensified. Hence, the intentio operis or the intentio lectoris (Eco 1990), e.g., was placed in opposition to the interpretative norm of the intentio auctoris. For ascribing meaning to a text put at a remove from the author’s creative process as a result of publication, decisive emphasis is placed on the activity of the “implied reader” constructed during the reading process, or the real reader. This position is taken up in various ways in the concepts developed by empirical literary criticism (cf. Schmidt 1982) and by cognitive narratology (→ Cognitive Narratology). The concept of écriture automatique, developed by the French Surrealists during the 1920s, was then added to the critique of the assumption that a work is authentic and autonomous, the 8

Interest in the circumstances of authorial creativity and its scholarly investigation has intensified (cf. Barthes and Foucault announced the “death of the author” (cf. or can author’s intention and implied author complement one another in the ascription of meaning (cf. extending beyond the methodological problems of textual interpretation. Haynes 2005: 291). are still being disputed (cf. developed since the 1920s by the sociology of literature and. and to what extent can they be hierarchically ordered? At the same time. The debate on the curtailed potency of authorship was carried on through the concepts of poststructuralism and the New Philology. the implied author and the narrative instance (cf. and still unabated is the commitment. Winko 1999). Walker 1990. by the social history of literature as well as by cultural materialism. the boundaries of the authororiented work were cancelled out in intertextual constellations (cf. Jannidis et al. Foucault 1969). Ingold 1992). Detering ed. are references to the real author conceivable other than in the orientation of ascribed meanings toward the author’s intention. bricolage and remix (Wetzel 2000: 486. 1992. to investigation of the social role of the author and of the social institutions and processes that affect his work (cf. 1999. 4 Topics for Further Investigation Questions to be pursued from a narratological perspective concern primarily the interpretation of literary texts (cf. 1994. 2002). Ingold & Wunderlich eds. In a further step. In contrast to these positions. narrator)? Is the implied author a meaningful analytical 9 .” as “discourse function”): with a Nietzschean gesture. and the author function superseded the person of the author (author as “intertextual construction. Couturier 1995. Haynes 2005: 299–302) and those of postcolonial studies. Complex constructions of authorship are assigned to cinematic works (cf.g. the greater the interest in the contribution of the material conditions of production and communication to the ascription of meaning became: authorship is now often conceived of as arrangement. a multi-faceted debate. since the 1970s. Chatman 1990). Barthes 1968) of the autonomously productive literary language. 1993.g. The debate took place with reference to the problematic relevance of origin. Kristeva 1969) and in “discourse” (cf. which characteristic relations can be identified for the reader’s construction of the real author. Jannidis 2000): is the ascription of meaning with reference to aspects of the real author theoretically legitimate and fruitful practically speaking? Which of the six empirically determined author-oriented interpretative strategies proposed by Winko (2002) are absolutely necessary. being understood merely as the executing instance (cf. Lanser 1992. The broader the medial spectrum for communication with text and with representations analogous to text grew during the second half of the 20th century. got underway in around 1990 in which restitution of various aspects of the author was advocated (e. biography and types of experience to the processes of writing and forms of expression in concepts of gender studies (e. such as in hypertexts and cybertexts. Kindt & Müller 2006)? Should reference to the real and/or implied author in any way constrain the randomness of meaning/significances ascribed through reader activity? In the ascription of meaning to texts. 491– 92). eds. Burke ed. 1995). Biriotti & Miller eds. Wolf 2002: 395–99. Hahn 1991. such as the author-oriented selection of relevant contexts for textual interpretation? Must reference to the author’s intention represent an alternative to the implied author. Jaszi & Woodmansee eds. while specific author concepts for the theory and reception of the products of the socalled new media.

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Felix Philipp (1992). 3–21. • Simanowski. George P. Tom & Hans-Harald Müller (2006). Rückkehr des Autors. • Jannidis. Julia ([1969] 1980). 7–29. 127–147. (1992). Peter & Martha Woodmansee. “Die personalen Relationen in der literarischen Kommunikation. • Jaszi. • Kristeva. Felix Philipp & Werner Wunderlich. • Ingold. “Der Autor als Simulant authentischer Erfahrung. (1994). “Autor. Eine kurze Sozialgeschichte der literarischen Intelligenz in Deutschland zwischen 1860 und 1930.: Lang. • Ingold.” V. Tübingen: Niemeyer.” H. Avatars of Story. (1999). Literaturlexikon. Texte zur Theorie der Autorschaft. Literarische Kommunikation. Stuttgart: Metzler. Foundations for the Empirical Study of Literature. The Components of a Basic Theory. Durham: Duke UP. • Lanser. J. ed.” Text & Kritik. Siegfried J. Scholastic Attitudes in the Later Middle Ages. Versuche über literarische Kreativität. Eine Einführung. eds. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann. Positionen und Perspektiven. The Construction of Authorship. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 64– 91. Rückkehr des Autors. K. Fragen nach dem Autor. • Selbmann. • Schaff. Jannidis et al. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. 66–72. Women Writers and Narrative Voice. Kronberg/Ts.” F. 321– 51. Darmstadt: WBG. Methoden. • Kamp. Autorenkonzepte und Filminterpretation.” R. et al. “Autorschaften in digitalen Medien. Roberto (2001). 348–66. 152. eds. Fieguth (ed). New Haven: Yale UP.. Textual Appropriation in Law and Literature. • Scholz. • Landow. The Implied Author. Zum Selbstverständnis des Schriftstellers von der Aufklärung bis zur Gegenwart. Susan (1992). Der Autor am Werk. Bernhard F. “Autor und Interpretation. Werner (1996). Concept and Controversy. • Plachta. “Auctoritas. Barbara (2002). Zur Erneuerung eines umstrittenen Begriffs. 1789– 1810. Konstanz: Universitäts-Verlag. Tübingen: Francke. Ithaca: Cornell UP. (1967). München: Hanser. Carla (1991). (2001). A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. New York: Columbia UP. Richard (1925). (eds). Detering (ed). • Ryan. Medieval Theory of Authorship. No.” F. Validity in Interpretation. Meid (ed). Hyper/Text/Theory. • Schmidt. • Jäger. Desire in Language. et al. • Kleinschmidt. Rolf (2008). Literarische Zusammenarbeit. (eds). Autorschaft. and Novel.” Hermes 60. • Okopień-Sławińska. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 426–43.: Scriptor. Fotis. Alexandra ([1971] 1975). 11 . Zur Erneuerung eines umstrittenen Begriffs. Positionen und Revisionen. Alastair J. Stuttgart: Reclam. Realien. Dialogue. Heidelberg: Synchron Publ. Erich (1998). Frankfurt/M. ed. “Word. • Heinze. Berlin: de Gruyter. Hamburg: Buske. • Minnis. Eric D. Fotis (2000).• Hesse. Konzepte einer Theorie. Dichterberuf. Begriffe. Georg (1992). Autorschaft. Zur Rekonstruktion des frühmodernen Autorbegriffs. Autorschaft. London: Scholar Press. Publishing and Cultural Politics in Revolutionary Paris. (1982). • Parr. Rolf (1994). • Hirsch. (1999). • Jannidis.” J. Marie-Laure (2006). Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Vier Fallbeispiele fingierter Autorschaft. Bodo. Berkeley: U of California P. • Kindt. (1984). (1994). Fictions of Authority. eds. “Alciato als emblematum pater et princeps. Einleitung.

The Author. • Haug. 334–54. Stuttgart: Metzler.• Spoerhase.” Critical Inquiry 16. Andrew (2005). Torsten & Daniela Langer (2007). 551–71. • Bennet. Detering (ed). “Autortheorien des slavischen Funktionalismus. Stuttgart: Strecker & Schröder. Berlin: de Gruyter. Jannidis et al.2 Further Reading • “Der Autor” (1981). Barck et al. “Autor-Funktionen. Autor und Autorschaft im Mittelalter. 187–237. als er sich selbst verstanden hat. Positionen und Revisionen. Readers. “Autor/Künstler. “Lost in hypertext? Autorkonzepte und neue Medien. The Order of Books. Zur argumentativen Verwendung von Autorkonzepten in der gegenwärtigen literaturwissenschaftlichen Interpretationspraxis. “Wieviele Leben hat der Autor? Zur Wiederkehr des empirischen Autor. Stuttgart: Metzler.” W. den Autor besser zu verstehen. Autorschaft und Interpretation. Das Wesen der modernen deutschen Lyrik. London: Routledge. et al. 511–33. and Libraries in Europe between the Fourteenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Carlos (2007).” K. 25–60. Autorentypen.” R. (1998). • Wimsatt. Thomas (1986). Susi. William K.C. Roger ([1992] 1994). Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Authors. Ch. Beardsley ([1946] 1954). • Hoffmann. Louisville: U of Kentucky P. vol. • Wolf. The Death and Return of the Author. Anz (ed). 390–405. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. eds. “Figures of the Author. Handbuch 12 . “The Intentional Fallacy.und des Werkbegriffs in der neueren Literaturtheorie. (eds. Simone (2002). No. Margarete (1910). Tübingen: Niemeyer. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Schmid (ed). “‘Solus creator est deus. Slavische Erzähltheorie. “Autor. “Über verschiedene Arten. (eds). • Winko. 261–76.B. Stanford: Stanford UP. Simone (1999). • Wetzel. “Feminist Literary Criticism and the Author. 136–55.” F. • Genette. eds.” H. Positionen und Revisionen. Stuttgart: Metzler. Tübingen: Niemeyer. • Burke. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP. eds. Berlin: de Gruyter. • Andersen. • Susman. Autorschaft. • Chartier.” Th. Michael (2000). Mystifikation—Autorschaft—Original. 480–544. • Cramer. Jannidis et al.” W. Elizabeth et al. Seán (1992). The Verbal Icon: Studies in the Meaning of Poetry. (eds). Gérard ([1987] 1997). Christine (2009). 42. • Frank.” F.). Rückkehr des Autors. Special Issue of LiLi: Zeitschrift für Linguistik und Literaturwissenschaft 11. 3–18. Methodische Grundlegungen einer philologischern Hermeneutik. Tübingen: Narr. Russische und tschechische Ansätze. (2001). 1. (1991). Rückkehr des Autors. Tübingen: Niemeyer.” H. Autorschaft. (eds). • Winko.B. Walter & Burghart Wachinger. Cheryl (1990). Zur Erneuerung eines umstrittenen Begriffs. • Walker. Werner (1999). & M. Ästhetische Grundbegriffe. Detering (ed).K. • Gölz. Norbert Christian (2002).” Daphnis 15. & Monroe C. • Strube. 5.’ Der Autor auf dem Weg zum Schöpfertum. Zur Erneuerung eines umstrittenen Begriffs.

“The Death of the Author: An Analytical Autopsy. Paris: Minuit. Molly (1987). Ingold. The Invention of Copyright. Authors. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Woodmansee. The Return of the Author. Implied and Postulated Authors. Literary Women. Simion. Nesbit. Stuttgart: Metzler. Signature Pieces. The Absolute Artist: The Historiography of a Concept.” Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens 19. Rose. ich. Gallen: UVK. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Sociologie de la littérature à l’âge classique. Ithaca: Cornell UP. 13 . Alain (1985). Erlangen: Palm & Enke. (1995). 1. (1994). 87–106. Art. 229–57. Evanston: Northwestern UP. David I. Dietmar (1991). Peschel-Rentsch. New York: Oxford UP. Plagiarists. The Death and Resurrection of the Author. Eugen (1996). Essays on Copyright Law. William (1993). (1994). Sherman. Naissance de l’écrivain. Of Authors and Origins. Viala.” Computer and the Humanities 28. Der Autor im Dialog. Martha (1994). Ellen (1985). “Historical and Implied Authors and Readers. Felix Philipp & Werner Wunderlich. 131–70. On the Institution of Authorship.” Philosophy and Literature 11. Stecker. and the Market: Rereading the History of Aesthetics. New York: Columbia UP. Sussloff. Vogel. 319–31. 1–190. Nelles.und Verlagsrechtsgeschichte zwischen 1450 und 1850. Martin (1978).• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Literaturwissenschaft. Westport: Greenwood P. (2002). Irwin. Autor. Catherine (1997). Lamarque.” Comparative Literature 45. Mark (1993). “Deutsche Urheber. “Apparent. Holmes. Moers. Sp. 258–71. 73. Peggy (1988). Brad & Alain Strowel. eds. Beiträge zu Autorität und Autorschaft. Kamouf. Howard. eds. vol. Oxford: Clarendon P. Peter (1990). “What Was An Author?” Yale French Studies No. ed. “Authorship Attribution.” The British Journal of Aesthetics 30. William. Collaborators. Gott. Robert (1987). Authors and Owners. Rebecca Moore (1999). The Author. 22–46. Standing in the Shadows of Giants. Stanford: Ablex Publ. St. Skizzen zur Genese von Autorbewußtsein und Erzählerfigur im Mittelalter.

first established by Aristotle. which provides a very fundamental structure for those entities which are seen as sentient beings. (eds. In this perspective. a store of information ranging from everyday knowledge to genre-specific competence.Jannidis. usually human or human-like.or media-based figure in a in the 20th century. The status of characters is a matter of long-standing debate: can characters be treated solely as an effect created by recurrent elements in the discourse (Weinsheimer 1979). Most theoretical approaches to character seek to circumscribe reliance on real-world knowledge in some way and treat characters as entities in a storyworld subject to specific rules (3. or are they to be seen as entities created by words but distinguishable from them and calling for knowledge about human beings (3. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. (c) encyclopedic knowledge of human beings underlying inferences which contribute to the process of characterization.unihamburg. Hühn.sub.php?title=Character&oldid=1729 Character Last modified: 28 January 2012 Fotis Jannidis 1 Definition Character is a text. Three forms of knowledge in particular are relevant for the narratological analysis of character: (a) the basic type. One important line of thought in the anti-realistic treatment of character is the functional view. 2 Explication The term “character” is used to refer to participants in storyworlds created by various media (→ Narration in Various Media) in contrast to “persons” as individuals in the real world. but also to what extent such knowledge is employed in understanding characters. i.1)? Answering the latter question involves determining what kinds of knowledge are required. Fotis: "Character".): the living handbbook of narratology. there have been attempts to describe characters in terms of a deep structure based on their roles in the plot common to all narratives (3. (b) character models or types such as the femme fatale or the hard-boiled detective. characters are subordinate to or determined by the narrative action. http://hup. At the discourse level.e. the presentation of characters shares many features with the 14 . Peter et al.2). 12 Mar 2012.3).

Equally if not more important. when it is the result of inferences drawn from the text based partly on world knowledge and especially the different forms of character knowledge mentioned above.4). round characters continues to be widely used (3.8). 3 History of the Concept and its Study Until recently.g. as when a trait is ascribed explicitly to a character.presentation of other kinds of fictional entities. the naming of characters. but other traits are subsequently added that may not conform to the original characterization. (iii) the expression of emotions in the presentation―and (c) evaluation of characters in the text (3. characters are one of the most important aspects of a narrative. Koch (1992). such subverting the first conception of this character (3. and Schneider (2001).7). How readers relate to a character is a matter of empirical analysis. and other ways of referring to characters. Jannidis (2004). whether explicitly described or implicitly conveyed. because of the importance of character in telling stories. Palmer (2004). most proposals seem to be either too complex or theoretically unsatisfying. but also for the overall process and result of attributing traits to a given character. The term “characterization” can be used to refer to the ascription of a property to a character. Three factors in particular are relevant in this regard: (a) the transfer of perspective. there was nothing like a coherent field of research for the concept of character. symbolic or other constellations of the text and of the storyworld (3. The situation has changed over the past ten or fifteen years thanks to a series of monographs on character by Culpeper (2001). However. Characterization may be direct. the kind of knowledge necessary to understand characters. Characters also play a role in thematic. Eder (2008). There has always been a need to categorize characters in order to facilitate description and analysis. studied from the perspective of the function and meaning of names. etc. Among these features are the naming of characters. the relation of the reader to a character centering around the notions of identification and empathy. but only a loose set of notions related to it touching on such issues as the ontological status of characters. so that Forster’s classification into flat vs. is the process of ascribing properties to names which results in agents having these properties in the storyworld.6). however. but it is important to bear in mind that the way the text presents a character is highly influential on the relation between character and reader. The process of characterization can have different forms: e. (ii) the reader’s reaction to her mental simulation of the character’s position. a character is attributed specific traits at the beginning of a narrative. characterization as process and result.5). these features have been discussed mainly in terms of character presentation. or indirect. (b) the reader’s affective predisposition toward the character―itself influenced by: (i) the character’s emotions. and characters thus form a part of the signifying structures which motivate and determine the narrative communication. On the contrary. which contribute to the overall structural coherence of the text (3. However. For most readers. Viewing characters as entities of a storyworld does not imply that they are self-contained. (→ Narrative Empathy). the storyworld is constructed during the process of narrative communication. the relation between character and action. a process known as characterization. all of which are indebted to the ground-breaking work done by Margolin in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of these studies 15 .

This was not the first attack against a mimetic understanding of character during the last century. readers tend to resort to their knowledge about real people. Although he differs from Barthes in many regards. He further points out that characters can have various modes of existence in storyworlds: they can be factual. characters are first and foremost elements of the constructed narrative world: “character. proved to be a breakthrough. Wellek & Warren (1949) claimed that a character consists only of the words by which it is described or into whose mouth they are put by the author. A well-known example of this approach is Barthes’s S/Z (1970) in which one of the codes. “is a general semiotic element. together. especially those with roots in analytical philosophy. Hochman (1985). Given this situation. Knights (1933) had earlier ridiculed the tendency in British criticism to treat character presentations like the representations of people with the question “How many Children had Lady Macbeth?” Despite this criticism. biological or psychological theory of persons can also be used in character analysis. 3. constitute a paradigm. for it posed many practical problems in literary criticism and also seemed to some critics unsatisfactory for theoretical reasons. independent of any particular verbal expression and ontologically different from it” (7). many other aspects continue to be treated disparately. a comparable approach to character having already been advocated by the New Criticism. an anthropological. In this view. have discussed the special ontological status of character under the label of incompleteness of characters. Also taken up are questions such as how characters come into existence and what constitutes their identity (→ Identity and Narration). a character is not to be taken for anything like a person. the series of essays by Margolin. In this framework. in a similar vein. reception theory and the theory of fictional worlds. defended the idea of character as human-like against structuralist and post-structuralist conceptions with moral and aesthetic arguments. hypothetical. To understand characters. especially in storyworlds as a transtextual concept. as in Freud’s analysis of Hamlet where he claims “I have here translated into consciousness what had to remain unconscious in the mind of the hero” (Freud [1900] 1950: 164). describes character as a sum of all binary oppositions to the other characters in a text which. However. for example. counterfactual. Lotman (1970). we can speak meaningfully only about 16 . the reduction of characters to words was not convincing. understood as the web of semes attached to a proper name. conditional. A character thus forms part of a constellation of characters who either share a set of common traits (parallels) or represent opposing traits (contrasts).1 People or Words Characters have long been regarded as fictive people. Philosophers. or purely subjective (1995: 375). “voices.” he claims. Another school of thought pictured character as mere words or a paradigm of traits described by words.” substitutes for person. Unlike persons who exist in the real world and are complete.draw on the cognitive sciences and their models of text processing and perception of persons (→ Cognitive Narratology). yet on closer examination these semes correspond to traditional character traits. even though there is now a consensus on some aspects of character in narrative. For Margolin (1983). by combining elements of structuralism.

Such figures serve as character models. 2004). the text is an intentional object and character is a mental model created by an hypothetical historical model reader. The main differences between these approaches lie in how the presentation of character is described and in the use of principles borrowed from the cognitive sciences. but focuses on the text (Jannidis 2004). and beliefs. Lamarque 2003).those aspects of characters which have been described in the text or which are implied by it. wishes. since it encompasses different aspects or levels which should be distinguished: the basis type. (c) from the perspective of the neo-hermeneutical theory of literary communication. wishes. the storyworld is seen as an independent realm created by the text (Margolin 1990). From early on. (b) from the perspective of cognitive theories of the reading process. descriptions of characters have gaps. knowledge about time. character schemas. and often the missing information cannot be inferred from the given information. Narratological theory presently offers three approaches to addressing this problem: (a) drawing on the theory of possible worlds. Crittenden 1982. etc. In contrast to the description of real persons in which a gap may appear even though it is assumed that the person is complete. Even though there is currently a broad consensus that character can best be described as an entity forming part of the storyworld. Zunshine 2006: 22–7). The concept of basis type adopts recent insights from developmental psychology. Some are “stock characters” such as the rich miser. characters have gaps if the description does not supply the necessary information (Eaton 1976. All aspects of a basis type can be negated for a specific character. 17 . They apply to the perception of the latter a theory of mind which ascribes to them mental states such as intentions. Even so. but either this is done explicitly or it results from genre conventions (Jannidis 2004: 185–95. the notion of a cultural code is probably too vague.. this cultural code contains information that is not applied to people but only to characters. character models.and culturespecific types contributes to the perception of characters. more concrete level. This approach incorporates a number of insights into text processing. 3. or the mad scientist.2 Character Knowledge Even some of those who have claimed that character is a paradigm of traits assume that there exists a cultural code making it possible to perceive these traits as a meaningful whole (Lotman 1970). This code is also resorted to in the perception of people in everyday life such that there is an interaction between the formation of (narrative) characters and the perception of people not only because the perception of people determines how plausible a character is. the old-maid teacher or the 19th-century laborer (Frevert & Haupt ed. the basis type thus providing the basic outline of a character: there is an invisible “inside” which is the source of all intentions. but also because the way characters are presented in narratives can may change the way people are perceived. Consequently. Once an entity in the storyworld is identified as a character. humans distinguish between objects and sentient beings. or Gestalt. character is seen as a mental model created by an empirical reader (Schneider 2001). this framework is applied to that entity. At the same time. especially stock characters and genre-based character types. On another. while others draw upon general habitus knowledge in a society like the formal and laborious accountant. the femme fatale. the ontological status of this world and its entities remains unclear. and a visible “outside” which can be perceived.

the sender and the receiver. In many instances of character description. This approach was put on a new foundation by Propp (1928) in a ground-breaking corpus study of the Russian folktale. In analyzing a hundred Russian fairy tales. helper. Campbell (1949) described in an influential work what he called. texts offer the reader only a fragment of information. one need only to analyze its role in the action.g. and differences in the interpretation of characters are frequently based on the fact that different entries from the character encyclopedia are resorted to. myths.(or person-)related information (e. wife. dispatcher. combining two or more items of character. It is important to note that basis type and character models do not exhaust the relevant knowledge forms for characters.” which is an abstraction of numerous mythological and religious stories marking the stages of the hero’s way: separation/departure. this kind of character encyclopedia is relevant more often than the other two.3 Character and Action One of the oldest theoretical statements on character reflects on the relation of character and action: “for tragedy is not a representation of men but of a piece of action […]. sidekick. Greimas (1966) generalized this approach with his actant model in which all narrative characters are regarded as expressions of an underlying narrative grammar composed of six actants ordered into pairs: the hero (also sujet) and his search for an object. using a term coined by James Joyce. hero. 6). since one character may perform more than one role. traditional approaches tend to employ a genre. Moreover. but you can have one without character-study” (Aristotle [1927] 1932: 1450a). but in his model there are many such structures and therefore many different roles for actors. and legends all over the world. the story of a divorce using the story skeleton “betrayal” with the two actors: the betrayer and the betrayed (Schank 1995: chap. the hero’s helper and the opponent. prompting the reader to fill in the missing parts based on the appropriate knowledge. Schank’s concept of story skeletons also starts from the idea that stories have an underlying structure. e. the “monomyth.8.and period-specific vocabulary for action roles such as confidant and intriguer in traditional drama. In many cases. the monomyth is universal and can be found in stories. Each actant is not necessarily realized in one single character. In contrast to these generalized model-oriented approaches. he constructed a sequence of 31 functions which he attributed to seven areas of action or types of character: opponent. In popular culture. What Aristotle said in relation to tragedy became the origin of a school of thought which claims that in order to understand a character in a fictional text. you could not have a tragedy without action. who bases his argument on Freud’s and especially on Jung’s form of psychoanalysis. and the creative variation of these models is highly appreciated. and one role may be distributed among several characters. According to Campbell. the trials and victories of initiation. 3. encyclopedic knowledge—from both the real world and fictional worlds—comes into play. In text analysis. while in high culture there is a strong tendency to avoid character models (3. and henchman in the popular 18 . donor. characterization frequently depends on character models. and lover. “too much alcohol makes people drunk” or “vampires can be killed by a wooden stake driven into their heart”). or villain.Character models are often associated with standardized “character constellations” such as cuckold. return and reintegration into society (Campbell [1949] 1990: 36).g. princess and her father. Lotman [1970] 1977: 239–60). false hero.

The role of names in interpreting characters has been treated repeatedly. there is more often an anti-hero or no single protagonist at all. not be referred to for several succeeding active frames. An active situative frame may contain numerous characters. and “antagonist” to its main opponent. but a constellation of characters (Tröhler 2007). but only some of them will be focused on by being explicitly referred to in the corresponding stretch of text.” in use since Greek antiquity.g. the term “hero” refers to a positive figure.5 Characterization Characterization can be described as ascribing information to an agent in the text so as to provide a character in the storyworld with a certain property or properties. and deferred identifications. In modern high-culture narratives. a character may drop out of sight. based on Emmott 1997). Narratives can be viewed as a succession of scenes or situative frames. 3. In general. whenever a character is encountered in an active frame. Deferred identification can further be broken down into an overt form in which the reader knows that he is kept in the dark and a covert form (Jannidis 2004: chap. the description of actions (e. critics spoke of the difference between direct and indirect characterization and of the preference of contemporary 19 . of the 20th century. In contrast to these neutral labels. and a clear reference to the character or characters is never given in the text. An “impeded identification” does not refer unequivocally to any specific character. 3.” A distinction is to be made between normal. definite descriptions and personal pronouns (Margolin 1995: 374). indirect evocations can be found: the untagged rendering of direct speech. it is to be determined whether this is its first occurrence or whether it has already been introduced in an earlier active frame and is reappearing at a particular point. In the 19th century. while in the case of “deferred identification” the reader is ultimately able to establish the identity of an equivocally presented character. Determining that a character in the current active scene has already appeared in an earlier one is termed “identification. and then reappear. usually in some kind of representative story. Lamping 1983. resulting in different ways of classifying name usage (e. a process often referred to as ascribing a property to a character.4 Referring to Characters Referring to characters in texts occurs with the use of proper names. The first active frame in which a character occurs and is explicitly referred to constitutes its “introduction. Most of the common labels for character in use refer to the role a character has in action. In addition to these direct references.” After being introduced.g. A “false identification” occurs when a previously mentioned character is identified but it then becomes clear later that some other character was in fact being referred to. false. Birus 1987). 4 & 6. “a hand grabbed”) or use of the passive voice (“the window was opened”). refers to the main character of a narrative or a play. “Protagonist. only one of which is active at any given moment.

just as is the construction of characters in the reader’s mind. has been proposed by Schneider (2001) building on concepts developed by Gerrig & Allbritton (1990). as when this information is attributable to an unreliable narrator or to a fellow-character (→ Narrator). 9. characterization was understood as the text ascribing psychological or social traits to a character (e.g. As far as implications are concerned. There are at least three sources of such information: (a) textually explicit ascription of properties to a character. Ryan (1980). despite the fact that many conventions apply only to fictional worlds. A top-down process occurs in the application of a category to a character. integrating the information given by the text into this category. Until recently. Yet some textually explicit ascriptions of properties to a character may turn out to be invalid. Even so. but communicated.g. adopts the philosopher David Lewis’s “principle of minimal departure. aside from drawing on their real-world knowledge. Inferences can be understood in terms of abductions (Keller 1998: chap.writers and readers for the latter (Scherer [1888] 1977: 156–57). Walton points out that this would make an infinite number of inferences possible.” In a thorough criticism of this and similar hypotheses. A powerful model for describing the psychological or cognitive dynamics coming into play here. the psychological novel) which tend to avoid any explicit statements of characterization. which can probably be refuted only by including another element: the fact that characters are part of storyworlds which are not self-contained. so and so is as well. textual cues may trigger various types of categorization: social types (“the teacher. noting that readers tend to assume that a storyworld resembles the real world unless explicitly stated otherwise. especially of a psychological nature. so that the fundamental role of character models and of the character encyclopedia becomes obvious: the information derived from them is not included in the text. This approach. literary types (the hero in a 20 . based on the “top-down” and “bottom-up” processes observed during empirical studies on reading comprehension. the appearance of a room reveals something about the person living there or the weather expresses the feelings of the protagonist).” “the widow”). A systematic description of such inferences employed in characterization is given by Margolin (1983). The presentation of characters is a dynamic process. a reader is able to associate with any character as a member of the storyworld and where this information comes from. At the beginning of a character presentation. a textual ascription may turn out to be hypothetical or purely subjective. (c) inferences based on information which is not associated with the character by the text itself but through reference to historically and culturally variable real-world conventions (e.g. There are also texts and styles of writing (e. simple conventions to the effect that whenever such and such is fictional. Readers’ assumptions about what is relevant in the process of communication determine the scope and validity of inferences (Sperber & Wilson 1986). Another key problem concerns the limits and underlying rules of such inferences when they are applied to fictional beings. but is presupposed to a greater or lesser degree by it. while a bottom-up process results from the text information integrating a character into a type or building up an individualized representation. increases the number of conventions without necessity and without providing any convincing argument as to how readers go about accessing these conventions. serve nicely […]” (Walton 1990: 166).g. but in fact texts ascribe all manner of properties to characters. The crucial issue in the process of characterization is thus what information. Moreover. in turn. this does not invalidate Walton’s criticism. including physiological and locative (space-time location) properties. based on Peirce). Chatman 1978). (b) inferences that can be drawn from textual cues (e. and he comes to the conclusion: “There is no particular reason why anyone’s beliefs about the real world should come into play. “she smiled nervously”).

7 Relation of the Reader to the Character Characters may induce strong feelings in readers. but this is not the focus of their description.” Identification is a psychological process and as such lies outside of the scope of narrative analysis. Thus. as found in allegorical literature. even the most life-like characters in a realistic novel can often also be described in light of their place in a thematic progression. text-specific types (characters that do not change throughout the story). action is not the organizing principle. In contrast to the top-down processing that takes place in these forms of categorization is bottom-up processing. since it involves a variety of aspects: sympathy with a character who is similar to the reader. but adds a fourth dimension relating to communication between the film and the audience: (a) the character as an artifact (how is it made?). An extreme example is personification. Another example is certain dialogue novels. In many forms of narrative. and a synthetic sphere (the material out of which the character is made). however. Eder (2007. (c) the character as a symbol (what meaning is communicated through the character?). On the other hand. On the other hand. and (d) the character as a symptom (why is the character as it is and what is the effect?). On the contrary: they are at the same time devices in the communication of meaning and serve purposes other than the communication of the facts of the storyworld as well. and the characters in these texts are determined by that theme or idea. Phelan (1987) has proposed to describe character as participation in a mimetic sphere (due to the character’s traits). a thematic sphere (as a representative of an idea or of a class of people). but a theme or an idea. a fact often discussed under the label “identification.6 Character and Meaning Characters can be seen as entities in a storyworld. but information subsequently encountered in the text may change their status and possibly decategorize or depersonalize those characters. the representation of an abstract principle such as freedom or justice as a character. 3. This occurs when the reader is unable to integrate the given information into an existing category. empathy for a character who is in a particular 21 . this should not be understood to mean that characters are self-contained. it is widely recognized that to some extent identification results from and is controlled by various textual cues and devices. i. However. A first problem is the concept of identification itself. resulting in personalization of the character (→ Reader). In his heuristic of film characters. Reading a text involves building up either categorized or personalized characters. (b) the character as a fictional being (what features describe the character?). This matter was discussed above in the relation between character and action. Personalized characters can also be members of a category. 2008) adopts a similar breakdown. symbolic.e. aesthetic and other networks. where the characters’ role is to propound philosophical ideas. 3. The difference between characters as part of storyworlds and the meaning of character cannot be aligned with the difference between (narratological) description and interpretation because elements of a character or the description of a character are often motivated by their role in thematic.Bildungsroman).

3. Evaluation can be explicit thanks to the use of evaluative vocabulary. which creates an empathetic reaction involving the reader’s disposition to respond to the emotion experienced by the character (a display of sadness creates pity). but includes events of all types. In narrative texts. who models the reader’s response on the basis of evolutionary psychology). The third factor in the affective relation is the expressive use of language or the presentation of emotions in texts using phonetic.situation. at the same time coloring the reader’s affective relation to the character. figurative.. (c) “evaluation of characters” is based on historically and culturally variable measures of value. Oatley & Gholamain 1997). some of which are based on empirical studies (e. historical. already described by Aristotle. First is the information gleaned from the text bearing on the character’s emotions projected against the backdrop of general. Second is mental simulation of the depicted events. beliefs (the reader is introduced into the character’s worldview). Mellmann [2006]. rhythmic. Schön 1999). lexical. or implicit due to behavior that implies evaluation according common social standards. Another problem is historical variation: much literature before 1800 aims more at creating an attitude of admiration for the protagonist than it does at immersing the reader in the situation of the character (Jauss 1974. Eder 2008. the problem of identification with the character in narrative can be broken down into the following three aspects: (a) “transfer of perspective” works on different levels: perception (the reader “experiences” the sensory input of a character). sympathy or repulsion.8 Categories of Character The most widely known proposal on how to categorize character is still Forster’s opposition between flat and round characters: “Flat characters [. there is no means of integrating all of these factors into a satisfactory theory of identification. based on Freud or Lacan. part VII). such transfer occurs in part through the devices of focalization (→ Focalization) and speech representation (→ Speech Representation). a description of a storm which reflects the agitated state of mind of the protagonist watching the storm). In any case. intention (the reader is made aware of a character’s goals). attraction to a character who is a role model for the reader. but they may also exist in other forms. and narrative devices including free indirect discourse and similar strategies (Winko 2003).g. but may also activate similar emotions (a display of sadness generates a similar feeling in the reader). metrical. rhetorical. To what extent such simulations actually occur has been discussed extensively: proponents see support for their position in the discovery of mirror neurons (Lauer 2007). and newer models.g. while opponents point out that this aspect plays a limited role if any at all (e. syntactical. (b) the “affective relation” to the character is a complex phenomenon resulting from various factors.g. Provisionally. To date. mostly outdated models of identification. while others seek to integrate empirical findings and media analysis (e. Such responsive dispositions may be socially induced. such as sadistic or voyeuristic arousal. and cultural schemas applicable to particular situations and the emotions “appropriate” for these situations. These reactions to events not directly related to characters can be used to “externalize” the character’s affects (e. This includes implicit comparison between the reader or spectator and the protagonist.. There are older.g. reaction to simulated events is not constrained to characters.] are constructed round a single idea or quality” ([1927] 1985: 67) while round characters are “more highly organized” (75) and “are 22 . An evaluative stance toward a character creates such emotional responses as admiration.

complexity— simplicity. who combines the opposition between presentation and storyworld with the distinction between flat and round characters. Similarly. relating it to the way real people are perceived. while stereotypes carry with them an implicit narrative.capable of surprising in a convincing way” (78). 4 Topics for Further Investigation All of the aspects outlined above deserve further investigation. One of the earliest attempts to distinguish clearly between these aspects in categorizing characters comes from Fishelov (1990). thus mixing aspects of the character as an entity of the storyworld with those of its presentation. and much systematic and historical work in this area remains to be done. especially the notion of development to explain the impression of a round character (e. To name but three of them: stylization—naturalism. for example. or deprecating those genres. while stereotypes are ready-made images of the unknown. With Dyer (1993). 5). (b) Evaluation in literary texts has been and is still a neglected field of research. [1966] 2006: chap. dynamism—staticism. Hochman (1985) proposes eight dimensions as a basis of categorization without distinguishing between these two aspects. as can be seen. a distinction can be drawn between the social type and the stereotype. (a) Recent decades have seen a growing interest in the social construction of identities—national identities. A significant problem in this discussion results from the fact that all we know about a specific character is based on what can be learned from a text or another medium. at the same time. In fiction they differ. Social types are known because they belong to a society with which the reader is familiar. Scholes et al. to the extent that social types can appear in almost any kind of plot. according to Dyer. Therefore. etc. Analysis of character presentation and formation plays an important part in any interpretation interested in identity construction in literature. but three problems are of particular interest in the current state of research. (c) The question of how a reader relates to a character can only be answered by an interdisciplinary research bringing together textual analysis and the cognitive sciences. however. with Rimmon-Kenan. it is often not easy to distinguish between the character and the way it is presented. penetration into the ‘inner life’” ([1983] 2002: 41). who proposes three dimensions to categorize characters: “complexity. Critics have long accepted this categorization as plausible. development. narrative analysis has mostly ignored the historical case studies carried out on identity construction by specialists of cultural studies. There are many ways a text can influence or predetermine the evaluative stance of the reader. 5 Bibliography 23 . but up to now those engaged in identity analysis have neglected narratological research on character.g. the criteria Forster based it on are vague. Another problematic aspect of this approach is the fact that it is almost always combined with an evaluative stance valorizing the complex and devaluating the simple regardless of the requirements of different genres (as Forster already deplored). However. Stereotypes are often regarded as the prototypical flat character. gender identities.

Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Figur und Person. Grundlage der Figurenanalyse. Lionel C. People in Plays and other Texts. Character in Literature. Roland ([1970] 1974). No. • Jannidis. • Freud. Seymour (1978). • Forster.” S. Hans Robert (1974). • Gerrig. W. • Fishelov. • Campbell. David (1990). How many Children had Lady Macbeth? An Essay in the Theory and Practice of Shakespeare Criticism. Joseph ([1949] 1990).” Poetics 11. Beitrag zu einer historischen Narratologie. Ute & Heinz-Gerhard Haupt.1 Works Cited • Aristotle ([1927] 1932). Thomas (1992). Oxford: Clarendon P. Jens (2007). Language and Characterisation. Rudi (1998).” R. A Theory of Linguistic Signs. Berlin: Vistas. • Emmott.” LiLi: Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik 17. & David W. ([1933] 1973). • Eder. • Hochman. 38–51. New York: Harper & Row. Characteristics of Types. “The Construction of Literary Character: A View from Cognitive Psychology. (2004). 422– 39. Catherine (1997). • Greimas. Literarische Menschendarstellung: Studien zu ihrer Theorie 24 . The Interpretation of Dreams. New York: The Modern Library. Ithaca: Cornell UP. • Dyer. Baruch (1985). Ebbrecht (eds). New York: Haskell House. 23: The Poetics. 331–44. Oxford: Oxford UP. • Culpeper. Schick & T. “On Being a Character. Structural Semantics: An Attempt at a Method. “Fictional Characters and Logical Completeness. London: Heinemann. Hendrik (1987). • Birus. “Levels of Identification of Hero and Audience. • Koch. Allbritton (1990). Vol. ed.” The British Journal of Aesthetics 16. 67. Jonathan (2001). • Crittenden. Marburg: Schüren.” Style 24. Berlin: de Gruyter. Edward M. S/Z. Marcia M. Der Mensch des 19.” Style 24. 11–8. “Existents. 24–31. Ch. Jahrhunderts. Essen: Magnus. ([1927] 1985). “Filmfiguren: Rezeption und Analyse. “Vorschlag zu einer Typologie literarischer Namen. H. New York: Routledge. Algirdas Julien ([1966] 1983). • Keller. Richard J. Fotis (2004). • Eder. San Diego: Harcourt. Jens (2008). “Types of Character. Charles (1982). The Matter of Images: Essays on Representations. Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Harlow: Longman. (1976). Sigmund ([1900] 1950).” T. • Knights. Emotion―Empathie―Figur: Spiel-Formen der Filmwahrnehmung.5. 283–317. • Eaton. • Jauss. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Tr. 96–145. Fyfe. Narrative Comprehension: A Discourse Perspective. New York: Hill & Wang. D. 380–91. Die Figur im Film. • Chatman. 131–50. Richard (1993). Aristotle in 23 Volumes. “The Role of Stereotypes.” New Literary History 5. • Frevert. Aspects of the Novel. Ithaca: Cornell UP. • Barthes.

Poetics of the Text: Essays to celebrate 20 Years of the Neo-Formalist Circle. 263–81. Revised and Expanded Edition. 1–14. Linvingston (eds). “Spiegelneuronen: Über den Grund des Wohlgefallens an der Nachahmung. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Marie-Laure (1980). “The Composition of the Verbal Work of Art. “Character. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Zur Poetik des Personennamens. and Minimal Departure. and the Mimetic-Didactic Distinction. 239–50. Margrit (2007). Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P. Propp. Evanston: Northwestern UP. Oxford: Blackwell. The Creation of Art. “Toward a Cognitive Theory of Literary Character: The Dynamics of Mental-Model Construction. Vladimir ([1928] 1984). Hjort & S. Ralf (2001). Scherer. et al.” Style 35. Roger C. Bonn: Bouvier. Margolin. Margolin. “Emotions and Identification: Connections between Readers and Fiction. Wilhelm ([1888] 1977). Rimmon-Kenan. “Geschichte des Lesens. Eibl et al. Amsterdam: Rodopi. London: Routledge. Plurale Figurenkonstellationen im Film. Non-Factuals. Relevance: Communication and Cognition.” Semiotica 106. “Fictional Individuals and their Counterparts. 137– 63. dtv. Offene Welten ohne Helden. Gerhard (2007). Alan (2004). Emotion and the Arts. Scholes. Phelan.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • und Praxis. Schank. “Characters in Literary Narrative: Representation and Signification. Laver (eds). Erich (1999). ([1966] 2006). Lauer. Margolin. 373–92. Katja (2006). Uri (1983). “How to Create a Fictional Character. Sperber. Tübingen: Stauffenberg. Tell me a Story. New Essays in Philosophical Aesthetics. Uri (1990). Palmer. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 282–99. Keith & Mitra Gholamain (1997). Im Rücken der Kulturen. 33–51. Lamping. Schön. Paderborn: Mentis. Robert. Dieter (1983). Marburg: Schüren.” Neophilologus 67.” Ju. Ryan. Narrative and Intelligence. “Individuals in Narrative Worlds: An Ontological Perspective. 25 . 1–85. Gaut & P. Uri (1992). 403–22. Shlomith ([1983] 2002).” B. München: Saur. Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. Lamarque. Progression. New York: Oxford UP. “Characterisation in Narrative: Some Theoretical Prolegomena. 843–71. “Fiction. Dan & Deirdre Wilson ([1986] 1995). Theory and History of Folklore.” B. Franzmann et al. Der Name in der Erzählung.” M. Schneider. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 607–39.” Modern Philology 84. Poetik. Fictional Minds. Jurij M. Tröhler. Emotionalisierung. L. Paderborn: Mentis. Von der Nebenstundenpoesie zum Buch als Freund: Eine emotionspsychologische Analyse der Literatur der Aufklärungsepoche. Oatley.” J. (eds). Lotman. Andrew (ed). James (1987). The Structure of the Artistic Text. (1995). Mellmann. Handbuch Lesen. The Nature of Narrative. ([1970] 1977). Margolin.” K.” Poetics 8. New York: Oxford UP. Peter (2003). Uri (1995). (eds). 43–56.” Poetics Today 11.

5. Kendall (1990). Hermann (ed). Vincent (1992). Cape.” Special Issue of Style 24. Simone (2003). Uri (2007). “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Literary Character. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.• Walton. • Zunshine. The Cambridge Companion to Narrative. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Columbus: Ohio State UP. Theory of Literature. Berlin: Schmidt.” D. L’effet-personnage dans le roman.. • Knapp. • Winko. Mimesis as Make-Believe: On the Foundations of Representational Arts. ed. 185–211. Cambridge: Harvard UP. “Character.3. John V. (1990). Why We Read Fiction. London: J. René & Austin Warren (1949). 26 . “Theory of Character: Emma. Lisa (2006).” Poetics Today 1. 66–79.2 Further Reading • Jouve. • Wellek. Joel (1979). • Margolin. Theory of Mind and the Novel. • Weinsheimer. Kodierte Gefühle: Zu einer Poetik der Emotionen in lyrischen und poetologischen Texten um 1900.

David: "Cognitive Narratology".unihamburg. 27 . including the story-producing activities of tellers. the processes by means of which interpreters make sense of the narrative worlds (or “storyworlds”) evoked by narrative representations or artifacts. Genette. and Todorov during the heyday of the structuralist revolution. As this definition suggests. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. it encompasses the nexus of narrative and mind not just in print texts but also in face-to-face interaction. cinema. “mind-relevance” can be studied vis-à-vis the multiple factors associated with the design and interpretation of narratives. At issue are frameworks for narrative research that build on the work of classical. radio news broadcasts. (eds. 2 Explication Cognitive narratology can be characterized as a subdomain within “postclassical” narratology (Herman 1999). structuralist narratologists but supplement that work with concepts and methods that were unavailable to story analysts such as insofar as stories function as both (a) a target of interpretation and (b) a means for making sense of experience—a resource for structuring and comprehending the world—in their own right. and other storytelling media.sub. http://hup. wherever—and by whatever means—those practices occur. and the cognitive states and dispositions of characters in those storyworlds. Greimas. 12 Mar 2012. narrative analysts have worked to enrich the original base of structuralist concepts with ideas about human intelligence either ignored by or inaccessible to the classical narratologists. Peter et al. In addition. the mind-narrative nexus can be studied along two other dimensions. In the case of developments bearing on cognitive narratology. computer-mediated virtual environments.php?title=Cognitive_Narratology&oldid=1541 Cognitive Narratology Last modified: 7 July 2011 David Herman 1 Definition Cognitive narratology can be defined as the study of mind-relevant aspects of storytelling practices.): the living handbbook of narratology. In turn. cognitive narratology is transmedial in scope. thereby building new foundations for the study of cognitive processes vis-à-vis various dimensions of narrative structure. Hühn.

narrative scholars working on issues that fall within this domain do not necessarily identify their work as cognitive-narratological. etc. in addition to narratology. 28 . still other questions suggest themselves for cognitive narratologists: How exactly do stories function as tools for thinking (Herman 2003)? Is it the case that. or listeners to construct mental models of the worlds evoked by stories? How do they use medium-specific cues to build on the basis of the discourse or sujet a chronology for events. and where geographically?). narrative is a mode of representation tailor-made for gauging the felt quality of lived experiences (Fludernik 1996. and a working model of what it was like for these characters to experience the more or less disruptive or non-canonical events that constitute a core feature of narrative representations (Herman 2009a: chap. Again. Source disciplines include. or in what order?). and other domains. 2007b. storytelling in face-to-face interaction. and the multiplicity of projects relevant for if not directly associated with it. are there grounds for making the strong claim that narrative not only represents what it is like for experiencing minds to live through events in storyworlds. Making matters still more complicated. let alone addressed. do stories afford scaffolding for consciousness itself—in part by emulating through their temporal and perspectival configuration the nature of conscious awareness itself? In other words. however.Still an emergent trend within the broader domain of narratology (→ Narratology). and might even resist being aligned with the approach. insofar as narrative constitutes a sense-making instrument in its own right. a broader temporal and spatial environment for those events (when in history did these events occur. allowing readers. computer-mediated narratives such as hypertext fictions. a trait shared by all this work is its focus on mind-relevant aspects of storytelling practices—where “mind” is shorthand for “mind-brain. or fabula (what happened when. given the range of artifacts and media falling under its purview. Herman 2007a. It should therefore not be surprising that. linguistics. comics and graphic novels. viewers. key questions for cognitive narratology include: What cognitive processes support narrative understanding. deductive arguments. within classical frameworks for narrative study (but cf. e-mail novels and blogs. Barthes 1966 and Culler 1975 for early anticipations). whether it is one’s own or another’s (Herman 2009a: chap. 6)? Arguably. but also constitutes a basis for having—for knowing—a mind at all. computer science. 2009a: chap. because the term “cognitive narratology” is a relatively recent coinage (cf. cognitive narratology encompasses multiple methods of analysis and diverse narrative corpora. theorists studying mindrelevant aspects of storytelling practices adopt descriptive and explanatory tools from a variety of fields—in part because of the interdisciplinary nature of research on the mind-brain itself. cognitive narratology at present constitutes more a set of loosely confederated heuristic schemes than a systematic framework for inquiry. psychology. an inventory of the characters involved.” Insofar as stories constitute a target of interpretation. and other instantiations of the narrative text type (→ Narration in Various Media). 5)? Further. 6)? More radically. 3). Meanwhile. unlike other such tools (stress equations. questions such as these could not have been formulated. structuralist models were brought into synergistic interplay with the many disciplines for which the mind-brain is a focal concern. philosophy. its richly interdisciplinary heritage. Cognitive narratology can thus be thought of as a problem space that opened up when earlier. Relevant corpora include fictional and nonfictional print narratives. cinematic narratives. a way of structuring and understanding situations and events.).

“frames” referred to expectations about how domains of experience are likely to be structured at a given moment in time (Goffman 1974). the term appears to have been first used by Jahn (1997). Whereas the term “scripts” was used to refer to kinds of world-knowledge that generate expectations about how sequences of events are supposed to unfold. 29 . or fabula and sujet.e. Jahn confirmed that when he published this article he was not aware of any prior use of the term. producing different reading experiences from those set into play when there is greater isomorphism between the time of the told and the time of the telling. autonomous objects.g. as schematic structures the concretization of whose meaning potential requires the cognitive activity of readers. (A still earlier precedent in this connection is Ingarden’s [1931] account of literary texts as heteronomous vs. analysts began developing their own hypotheses about cognitive structures underlying the production and understanding of narrative. Events that happen early in story-time can be encountered late in discourse-time. Frames guide my expectations about the objects and decor that I am likely to find in a university classroom as opposed to a prison cell. i. was designed to explain how people are able to build up complex interpretations of stories on the basis of very few textual or discourse cues (→ Schemata). (In a personal communication. Jauss 1977. avant la lettre. in the fields of cognitive psychology and Artificial Intelligence research. Beginning in the 1970s. scripts guide my expectations about what I can expect to happen while ordering a beer in a bar as opposed to defending a doctoral dissertation. settings and episodes) and principles for sequencing and embedding those units (for a fuller discussion. studies in a number of fields provided. Such grammars were cast as formal representations of the cognitive mechanisms used to parse stories into sets of units (e.g. Tompkins 1980). a type of knowledge representation that allows an expected sequence of events to be stored in the memory. Herman 2002: 10–13). In the domain of literary studies.1 A Partial Genealogy of the Term “Cognitive Narratology” At the time of writing. i. but also that Ansgar Nünning must be credited with suggesting the second part of the article’s title. As Eder (2003: 283 n. the issues and concerns encompassed by the term have been live ones for a considerably longer period.) However. Roughly contemporaneously with the advent of story grammars. or vice versa. research by Sternberg (1978) and Perry (1979) highlighted processing strategies (e. the “primacy” and “recency” effects) that arise from the situation of a given event vis-à-vis the two temporal continua of story and discourse. Psychologists such as Mandler (1984). Indeed. postulated the existence of cognitively based story grammars or narrative rule systems.e. the term cognitive narratology itself has been in use for only about a decade. the concept of script.3 History of the Concept and its Study 3. important foundations for cognitive-narratological research. research in Artificial Intelligence also began to focus attention on the cognitive basis for creating and understanding stories. Schank & Abelson’s (1977) foundational work explored how stereotypical knowledge reduces the complexity and duration of many processing tasks.10) notes. cf. for example. including the interpretation of narrative. and in parallel with a broader turn toward issues of reception or reader response (Iser 1972.) Likewise.

or spatiotemporal nodes inhabited by configurations of individuals and entities. Information about contexts attaches itself to mental representations that Emmott terms “contextual frames. decide whether a given sentence serves a descriptive or a thought-reporting function (e. when he had reached his apartment […]”). enable readers or listeners of stories to “fill in the blanks” and assume that if a narrator mentions a masked character running out of a bank with a satchel of money. if a character in a short story orders a beer in a bar. Finally. disruption.g. Jahn’s (1997) foundational essay in the field. depending on context “the train was late” might either be a thought mulled over by a character or part of the narrator’s own account of the narrated world). constrain pronoun interpretation. and cognitive linguistics to isolate “experientiality. “Several days later.Although subsequent research on knowledge representations suggests the limits as well as the possibilities of the original frame and script concepts (Sternberg 2003 provides a critical review). as a core property of narrativity (Narrativity). More generally. Indeed. then even if elements of the setting are not mentioned again readers can assume that subsequent verbal and nonverbal actions performed by the character continue to take place in the bar—until such time as linguistic signals cue a frame-switch (e. Stockwell 2002: 75–89). all of them adding impetus to the “cognitive turn” in narrative studies that had been prepared for by research conducted in the 1970s and 1980s and that had been directly anticipated by Turner (1991). higher-order knowledge representations or frames enable interpreters of stories to disambiguate pronominal references. which integrates ideas from literary narratology. In Jahn’s proposal.” An action performed by (or on) a given configuration of participants is necessarily indexed to a particular context and must be viewed within that context. and refreshment (Cook 1994. and. speech representations. then that character has in all likelihood robbed the bank in question. studying how readers’ world-knowledge allows them to make sense of a variety of techniques for representing fictional characters’ minds. draws on Minsky’s (1975) account of frames (among other relevant research) to redescribe from a cognitive perspective key aspects of Stanzel’s (1979) theory of narrative. In a similar vein. For her part. adopt a top-down as well as a bottom-up approach to narrative processing. For example. and descriptions of behaviors that span the continuum linking mental with physical actions. the history of English language and literature. he saw his friend […]. Emmott (1997) focuses on how what she calls contexts. mentioned above. subjective awareness of an experiencing mind. this early work has shaped cognitive narratology from its inception. including thought reports.” or “Later that night. even if the context is never fully reactivated (after its initial mention) linguistically. Herman 2002: 85–113. Turner’s (1996) own extrapolation from cognitive-linguistic models of metaphor to account for human intelligence in terms of parabolic projections.” or the felt. more generally. a cluster of publications appeared in the second half of the 1990s. informing the study of how particular features of narrative discourse cue particular kinds of processing strategies. research on natural-language narratives told in face-to-face communication. depending on how critically and reflexively the narratives relate to prevailing scripts.g. stored in the form of scripts. 1996 saw the appearance of Fludernik’s richly synthetic account of natural narratology (1996). other theorists have explored how experiential repertoires. A frame guides interpretation until such time as textual cues prompt the modification or substitution of that frame. or the mapping of source stories onto target 30 . Analysts have also discussed how literary narratives in particular involve processes of script recruitment. Palmer (2004) also draws on elements of the early work on knowledge representations. Palmer explores how readers construct inferences about fictional minds by using various textual indicators.

Herman 2007a. Richardson & Spolsky eds. (d) research on the range of cognitive processes that support inferences about the spatiotemporal profile of a given storyworld. 2003. just after the turn of the century. as noted in 4 below. Hogan 2003a). During the same period. This spate of publications over a five-year period (the list is by no means exhaustive) helps explain why the inaugural 2000 issue of the online journal Image & Narrative focused on cognitive narratology. Zunshine 2006). Abbott ed. question the degree to which work of this kind represents true interdisciplinary convergence—as opposed to the selective (and sometimes ill-informed) borrowing of ideas and methods tailored to problem domains in other fields. and conferences exploring intersections among cognition. Herman 2002. was also published in 1996. 2001. Richardson & Steen eds. and about cognitive narratology in particular. 1999. Hogan 2003b: 115–39. 2002. In particular. Herman ed. of a number of edited volumes. and about the degree to which a given text or representation can be assimilated to the category “narrative”—that is. Cohn 1978. eds.g. 31 . 2004). Herman 2009b). 2003). and culture as well as cognitive approaches to narrative in particular (e. Sternberg 2003). Jahn 1996. (b) research on representations of the minds of characters and on the classes of textual cues that prompt readers to draw particular kinds of inferences about the contents and dispositions of those minds (Butte 2004. contributions to this volume characterize narrative comprehension in terms of deictic shifts. (c) studies of emotions and emotion discourse and how they both illuminate and are illuminated by particular narrative texts as well as broader narrative traditions (Herman 2007b. with the following subsections focusing on several areas in which research activity has already been especially productive. Jahn 1997. 2001. The year before. 3. Werth 1999).2 Emergent Trends in the Field It is still too early in the development of cognitive narratology to identify what its most important contributions to the broader field of narratology may eventually prove to be. theorists formulated a number of pertinent objections to (or at least reservations about) what Richardson & Steen termed a “cognitive revolution” in the study of literature and culture (Jackson 2005. 1995). Gerrig 1993. special journal issues. the present subsection provides a partial catalogue of pertinent studies. 2009a. Ryan 1991. It also helps account for the organization. the influential volume Deixis in Narrative had appeared (Duchan et al.stories to make sense of the world. Nonetheless. assigned at least some degree of narrativity—in the first place (Fludernik 1996. scholars who remain skeptical about cognitive approaches to literature and culture in general. whereby interpreters shift from the spatiotemporal coordinates of the here-and-now to various cognitive vantage-points that they are cued to occupy by textual signals distributed in narrative discourse (Ryan 1991. Relevant research includes: (a) cognitively inflected accounts of narrative perspective (→ Perspective/Point of View) in fictional and nonfictional texts (van Peer & Chatman eds. literature. Palmer 2004.

3. Likewise. Ryan 2003.2. reconsidered from a cognitive-narratological perspective. between textual structures and the processing strategies that they set into play (Gerrig 1993. earlier narratological 32 . relying on techniques ranging from the measuring of reading times to methods of corpus analysis to the elicitation of diagrams of storyworlds. 1995) and contextual frame theory help reveal the complex cognitive processes underlying narrative ways of worldmaking. Herman 2009a). musical. seek to establish demonstrable correlations between what Bortolussi & Dixon (2003) term “text features” and “text effects”—i. 1992). 1990. Sternberg 1978. Ryan ed. WHERE. Herman 2005). study of the cognitive processes underlying interpreters’ ability to construct (and immerse themselves more or less fully within) storyworlds. etc. Emmott’s (1997) contextual frame theory points to the nexus of the WHAT. and (i) intermedial research suggesting that narrative functions as a cognitive “macroframe” enabling interpreters to identify stories or story-like elements across any number of semiotic media (→ Mediacy and Narrative Mediation)—literary. they also suggest how configuring narrative worlds entails mapping discourse cues onto the WHAT. analyses of emotion and emotion discourse vis-à-vis stories and storytelling. Perry 1979. (h) empirical studies that. (Wolf 2003. such as the activation of “identity themes” (Holland 1975) or the (potential) stimulation of empathetic responses (Keen 2007)—in other words. An approach based on shifting deictic centers indicates how narrative worlds are structured around cognitive vantage points that may change over the course of an unfolding story.e. and WHEN factors whose interplay accounts for the ontological make-up and spatiotemporal profile of a given storyworld. and WHEN factors in narrative worldmaking. research on issues pertaining to consciousness representation. pictorial. 2006). Furthermore. relatedly. eds.1 Narrative Ways of Worldmaking: Cognitive Dimensions Mapping words onto worlds is a fundamental—perhaps the fundamental—requirement for narrative sense making. 2004.(e) research on the textual as well as cognitive factors underlying the key effects of narrative suspense. and. (f) research more generally on phenomena pertaining to the interface between narratives and the mind-brain of the interpreter. Several of these initiatives can be singled out as especially generative for cognitivenarratological research: namely. curiosity. and surprise. attempts to formulate what Eder (2003) terms “cognitive reception theories”. based on the assumption that characters will be bound into and out of particular contexts over time as well as the assumption that such contexts will be distributed spatially as well as temporally. and more broadly on how the temporal order in which elements of a narrative are encountered can shape interpreters’ overall sense of a storyworld (Gerrig 1993. Approaches such as deictic shift theory (Duchan et al. WHERE. (g) studies of narrative as a resource for navigating and making sense of computer-mediated environments (Ryan 2001.

prospective. and dispositions both to themselves and to their social cohorts. probabilistic. When characters use folk-psychological models to explain their own and others’ motivations and intentions. These processes have been described as the native “Theory of Mind” in terms of which people make sense of their cohorts’ behavior (Zunshine 2006). dispositions. Subsequent theorists. in which events are presented in tandem with the interpreter’s effort to comprehend the contours and boundaries of the narrated domain. the speech-category approach has induced analysts to focus solely on inner speech. these narrative modes can now be interpreted in light of the different kinds of structure that they afford for worldmaking. structuralist accounts like Genette’s suggest how a narrative world is “thickened” by forays backward and forward in time and throws into relief the processing strategies triggered by such temporal agglutination (Sternberg 1978. psychonarration. the “qualia” specific to their particularized vantage-point on the storyworld [Nagel 1974]) as well as their folk psychology. for example.2 Issues of Consciousness Representation In her foundational study of strategies for representing consciousness in narrative fiction. Simultaneous narration. generic processes by which humans attribute mental states. this classical or “speech category” approach captures only some of the phenomena relevant for research on narrative representations of consciousness. and “intercalated” modes of narration (as in the epistolary novel. properties. retrospective. Such thinking about 33 . classical. can be motivated as a heuristic framework for studying the WHEN component of world creation. Cohn (1978) draws on theories of speech representation (→ Speech Representation) as the basis for her account of how narrative texts afford access to fictional minds. respectively (Leech & Short 1981). fictional texts can use what Cohn calls quoted monologue.scholarship can be read anew. indirect discourse. 1990. For Palmer. does not allow for such anticipations-in-hindsight. Yet narrative understanding in fact hinges on a wide variety of inferences about the states. 3. and free indirect thought. and free indirect discourse to present the utterances of characters. allowing a narrator to signal connections between earlier and later events through proleptic foreshadowings of the eventual impact of a character’s actions on his or her cohorts. and narrated monologue to represent the thought processes of fictional minds. seeking to underscore even more clearly the assumed analogy between modes of speech and thought representation. Genette’s (1972) influential account of time in narrative. have renamed Cohn’s three modes as direct thought. inferences about the impact of events on the storyworld remain tentative. As Palmer (2004) notes. 1992). rather. with the result that theories of consciousness representation in narrative have been “distorted by the grip of the verbal norm” (53). they are drawing on fundamental. however. open-ended (Margolin 1999).e. or method for framing inferences about what is going on in their own and others’ minds. Retrospective narration accommodates the full scope of a storyworld’s history. When Genette distinguishes between simultaneous.2. At issue is people’s everyday understanding of how thinking works. and processes of fictional minds— including inferences about the felt. Just as narratives can use direct discourse. subjective nature of their experience (i. In short. providing further insight into the cognitive processes underlying the (re)construction of narrative worlds. where the act of narration postdates some events but precedes others). the rough-and-ready heuristics to which they resort in thinking about thinking itself—a heuristics used to impute motives or goals to self and other and to make predictions about future reactions to events. indirect thought.

14) sets up a scale of seven possible relationships between cognitive reception theories and narratology. Naturalists argue for the existence of innate. theorists working at the intersection of psychology. A more general question can be extrapolated from Eder’s analysis: to what extent does the research conducted to date warrant commitment to the possibility of integrating narratological theory with ideas from the cognitive sciences? (b) Relatedly. behavior. the shared stock of emotional responses is mediated by culturally specific learning processes. Emotion Discourse. for instance. Sternberg (2003) has raised questions about the degree to which cognitive narratology enables true methodological convergence among the domains of inquiry that it encompasses. history. biologically grounded emotions that are more or less uniform across cultures and subcultures (Hogan 2003a). their causes. together with their properties and relations. By contrast. and “Emotionology” As Stearns (1995) points out.3 Emotion. 3. The term functions in parallel with recent usages of ontology to designate a model of the entities. Part of the problem lies in the attempt to translate foundational concepts such as “frames” and “scripts. Narrative therapy.” and even “narrative” across what remains for Sternberg a disciplinary divide between humanistic and 34 . involves the construction of stories about the self in which the emotional charge habitually carried by particular actions or routines can be defused or at least redirected (Mills 2005). Every culture and subculture has an emotionology. Because of (b). there is a basic tension between naturalist and constructionist approaches to emotion. Everyday storytelling as well as literary narratives deploy and in some cases thematize emotion terms and concepts. Further. What is more. As Adolphs (2005) suggests. 4 Topics for Further Investigation (a) Eder (2003: 284 n. which at once ground themselves in and help build frameworks of this sort.” which concerns the collective emotional standards of a culture as opposed to the experience of emotion itself.” “emotion. spy thrillers.2.thinking points beyond inner speech and solitary self-communings to the “social mind in action” that Palmer identifies as the object of study for postclassical approaches to consciousness representation (2004: 130–69). the naturalist and constructionist positions can be reconciled if emotions are viewed as (a) shaped by evolutionary processes and implemented in the brain. constructionists argue that emotions are culturally specific (Stearns 1995). and romance novels are recognizable as such because of the way they link particular kinds of emotions to recurrent narrative scenarios. and how participants in discourse are likely to display them. provide insight into a culture’s or subculture’s emotionology—and also into how members of the (sub)culture use these systems to make sense of minds. but also (b) situated in a complex network of stimuli. that exist within a particular domain. Narratives. These possibilities run the gamut from impossibility to unrelated coexistence to the outright assimilation of narratology to cognitive theory. to study the cultural and rhetorical grounding of emotion discourse. stories also have the power to (re)shape emotionology itself. however. for example. and other cognitive states. and ethnography have developed the concept of “emotionology. which is a framework for conceptualizing emotions.

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Jens & Donal Carbaugh.” G. Narrative and Identity: Studies in Autobiography. Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. (eds). Lev S. Amsterdam: Benjamins. • Herman. David (2009). “Cognitive Narratology. (2001). Jerome (1990). • Jahn. Vandaele (eds). London: Routledge. • Vygotsky. and Gaps. Cambridge: Harvard UP.5. Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Brône & J. Cognitive Poetics: Goals. 67–71. Gains. 38 . Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Cambridge: Harvard UP. “Cognitive Approaches to Narrative Analysis. Acts of Meaning.2 Further Reading • Brockmeier. • Bruner. Herman et al. Manfred (2005). eds. Self and Culture.” D. 79–118. (1978).

” and even persuasiveness). coherence is 39 .” that the identified textual parts all contribute to a whole.): the living handbbook of narratology. reasonableness. “making sense. (eds. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. clarity. but narratives often go beyond common sense. on the one hand.g. so that narratological studies of coherence suggest common sense is not a sufficient guide. even if it is normally a main contributory feature (de Beaugrande & Dressler 1981.php?title=Coherence&oldid=1676 Coherence Last modified: 29 September 2011 Michael Toolan 1 Definition As a technical term. rules of anaphora. Giora 1985). judgments of coherence are very much based on what addressees assess as relevant and informative in the unique discoursal circumstances of the individual text. orderliness. Hühn. textlinguistic coherence has inherited some defining criteria.unihamburg. norms of paragraphing and paragraph structure) are inevitably general and therefore insensitive to the unique contextual pressures of the particular text. In broad terms. From its everyday senses. that transcending being crucial to their importance and tellability. Michael: "Coherence". while on the other. as distinct from its use in cultural activities to denote a range of qualities deemed desirable (e. coherence has tended to be regarded as a textlinguistic (TL) notion. which is communicationally effective. it is now widely recognized that coherence is ultimately a pragmatically-determined quality. logicality. This tension is often summarized as a distinction between (purely linguistic) cohesion and (contextualized) coherence: the former is neither necessary nor sufficient for the latter. Peter et al. 2 Explication Although it is not usually foremost among the interests of narratologists.sub. in particular the assumption that it denotes those qualities in the structure and design of a text that prompt language users to judge that “everything fits. This might suggest that determining coherence is a simple matter of applying common sense in context. But there has always been a tension in the linguistic analysis of coherence. rooted in the recognition that TL “rules” for textual coherence (e. requiring close attention to the specific sense made of the text in the cultural context. 12 Mar 2012.g.

in narratives as in other forms of discourse. Thus Chatman (1978: 30–1) mentions the assumption of perseveration of identity with respect to naming of characters (→ Character) as a kind of coherence automatically relied on in narratives: if there is a sequence of mentions of Peter falling ill. but these departures from the norm. causality. so that the local absence of maintenance of topic A by no means creates incoherence (where topic B or C is being developed).implicitly regarded as an important feature of narrative. unified and complete sequence of action. Other major landmarks in Western discourse on coherence in narrative or drama include promotion of the “three unities” in 17th-century neo-classicism (and put into practice 40 . and then moves backward one month. no simple standard of topic or thematic unity and continuity will apply generally. as McAdams (2006: 113) reminds us. or closure may fail to elicit interest and be judged incoherent or incomplete by some readers. It is perfectly true that stories that defy normal expectations about time. Mandler & Johnson 1977. However. causal. and so on may be difficult to follow. do not invariably amount to incoherence. the norm is for there to be multiple topics. moves forward two years from that point. to name only a selection) can be viewed as including elements regarded as essential to narrative coherence. Some sense of the continuity of existents—hence of assumed co-reference where there are multiple mentions of a single name—is the norm. Greimas. these expectations are also dependent on period and genre (cf. Perhaps more than anything else. either. singly or jointly. Stein & Glenn 1979. Barthes. it is often convenient to identify particular main subtypes of coherence. On the other hand. do not invariably lead to incoherence. intention. the whole is dislocated and disjointed. and an end. Genette. abundance of quasirepetitive language seems to be the cohesive corollary—in extended texts such as literary narratives—of the coherence requirement of unified connectedness. Difficulties of reader-processing caused by achronological narration. narratological studies of coherence highlight the insufficiency of a “common sense” approach to the issue. narratologists recognize that a story that begins at the chronological end. it is assumed these refer to one and the same Peter. such as temporal. If something can be added or taken away without any obvious effect. Thorndyke 1977. unity of incident. and thematic coherence as well as topic-maintenance and -furtherance. 3 History of the Concept and its Study A history of the concept of narrative coherence must begin with mention of Aristotle’s Poetics. Because of general expectations of unity. including forms of lexical repetition and semantic recurrence. goal. or under-explained shifts in setting or character. All formalist. then jumps to the chronological beginning. later being buried. continuity and perseveration in story topic. later dying. And. the episode as central to tragedy. Its incidents must be organised in such a way that if any is removed or has its position changed. Jauss 1977 on “horizons of expectation” and Culler 1975 on “naturalization”). structuralist. even when extreme. it is not intrinsic to the whole” (1416a 31–4). In actuality. which insists on completeness of plot with a beginning. Similarly. coherent narrative seems to involve a healthy amount of repetition and near repetition (repetition with alteration). For TL. norms concerning narrative coherence can vary considerably from one society or culture to the next. and structure by means of complication followed by unraveling or denouement: “the muthos must imitate a single. or psycholingistic modelings of story and discourse that propose any kind of morphology or grammar (those of Propp. complexly related to each other. a middle.

g. 1978) as well as his foundational narrative grammar of the Decameron (1969).g.1 Coherence in Textlinguistic Studies Halliday & Hasan’s (1976) study of cohesion in English is often cited as a pioneering enquiry into the key resources in a language for underpinning textual coherence. but prescriptively. Shakespeare). Aristotle was invoked. which relations must lean heavily on familiar schemata or cultural “scripts. like other grammarians. van Dijk’s treatment of text grammars (1972). (b) coherence (the configuration of concepts and relations which underlie the surface text). in the linguistic and discourse analytic literature. 41 . where the doorbell rings at the apartment of a couple. indeed for the creation of genuine text.” Such mental challenges seem quite slight. (d) acceptability (use or relevance of the cohesive and coherent text to the receiver). on how texts display coherence by elaborate means of lexical collocation and association. A and B. (g) intertextuality (presupposed knowledge of one or more previous texts). demanding unity of time. however. And these texts in turn are considerably more accessible. and some work by Todorov (1971. several of the articles in the landmark volume 8 (1966) of the review Communications. means of co-reference via personal and indefinite pronouns. Poe’s (1846) poetics of composition.” Here. highly elliptical. More importantly. and they also comment. and action. deeply situationally-embedded “texts”). (c) intentionality (instrumentalizing of cohesion and coherence according to the producer’s intention). in Underworld) and Mamet (e.” Stanzel’s (1955. In the modern period. the total absence of textual cohesive links between the two utterances does not prevent B’s response being entirely coherent. the opening of his play Oleanna. They look chiefly at inter-sentential grammatical mechanisms (e. place. with its advocacy of brevity. do not fully address the specific demands of cohesion and coherence of narrative. A says to B: “There’s the doorbell.” B replies: “I’m in the bath. (e) informativity (degree to which the occurrences of the text are (un)expected or (un)known).in the plays of Corneille and Racine). There are many exemplifications. (f) situationality (relevance of a text to a situation). or the reverse. Despite a generally enthusiastic welcome for their work. as can Propp’s (1928) morphological modeling of the folktale. Prince’s (1973) narrative grammar.g. use of sense-conveying sentential conjunctions). 3. One of the better known comes in Brown & Yule (1983). projecting of relatedness via retrievable ellipsis. 1979) narrative situations. De Beaugrande & Dressler (1981) remains an important and still influential overview of text structure which delineates seven standards of “textuality”: (a) cohesion (mutually connected elements of the surface text). by comparison with the challenges to sense-making posed by contemporary fictional narration and dialogue by writers like DeLillo (e. however. coherence-minded. and unity of effect. can be mentioned with reference to narrative coherence. in which just one half. Lämmert’s (1955) “forms of narrative construction.g. linguists were quick to emphasize that cohesion seemed neither necessary nor sufficient for textual coherence (particularly in the case of short. hidden craft. In other dramatic traditions. than many narrative poems published during the last hundred years. less systematically. Brown & Yule ascribe the coherence of the AB exchange above to assumed “semantic relations” between the utterances. such restrictive requirements were freely ignored (e. of discourse deemed to have cohesion without coherence. of a lengthy telephone conversation is accessible to the playgoer or reader). Halliday & Hasan.

Where an utterance’s relevance. is Georgakopoulou & Goutsos 1997). There is often no fundamental opposition between the two approaches. They assume. linguistic form is not always necessary to achieve coherence: “part of discourse competence involves an ability to discover discourse coherence where it is not evident in the surface lexical or propositional cohesion” (Stubbs 1983: 179). informativeness and truthfulness is not obvious. But as already indicated. The sections of Halliday & Hasan (1976) devoted to lexis can be seen as an early attempt to systematize Firth’s collocational textlinguistic thesis. also relevant is the work of Sinclair & Coulthard (1975). unless a change is explicitly signaled.” We should not overstate the contrast between those who study coherence as a linguistic property of texts and those who focus on the discourse reception and the addressee’s attributing of coherence to a text.Innumerable linguists have grappled over the years with the topic of discourse coherence and its bases. and interpret the text in the light of that assumption. shaping memories of past verbal material and the initial efforts at interpreting newly-encountered language. very much the same point can be made regarding coherence in narratives and narration as is made concerning narratological accounts of events and eventfulness (→ Event and Eventfulness). and in the discourse structure. that the principles of analogy [things will tend to be as they were before: MT] and local interpretation [if there is a change. the point is made that many accounts are vulnerable to the criticism that they appeal largely 42 . Brown & Yule emphasize the inherent contextualization that accompanies any verbal text and the role of normal expectations. some contributions attempt to combine TL and cognitive or receptionist concerns (e. that is. assume it is minimal: MT] constrain the experience” (Brown & Yule 1983: 66–7). For such reasons.” Brown & Yule (1983) emphasise the human bias in favor of assuming a coherent message amenable to coherent interpretation. a search for their covert presence is warranted. A corollary of this is that a speaker or writer can be assumed to be continuing to speak or write of the same spatiotemporal setting and the same characters. As Bublitz (1999: 2) recognizes in his somewhat negatively-phrased definition. humans “naturally assume coherence. also containing valuable discussion of coherence. Citing the doting parents of babbling infants as simply an extreme example of “interpretive charity. Ultimately. Echoing Grice (1975). Addressees “naturally” attribute relevance and coherence to any text or discourse until evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. Firthian collocational ideas have recently been elaborated in a different direction in Hoey’s theory of lexical priming (2005). guided by cultural norms. Differentiating thus would make it possible to include among coherent texts those that the reader has imbued with implicit connections” (Yaron 2008: 139). coherence is “a cognitive category that depends on the language user’s interpretation and is not an invariant property of discourse. which contains many observations oriented to helping clarify what makes for discourse coherence (a more recent introductory text. but rather a division of labor and of disciplinary interest. Toolan 2009 on narrative progression). orderliness. in the paragraph. Most fundamentally. language users are primed to expect certain patterns of word-choice. In the latter. appearing at certain points (and not others) in the sentence. One of the richer overviews remains that of Brown & Yule (1983). cognitive scripts and schemata. Yaron has argued that analysts should calibrate texts in terms of their displaying “high or low degrees of explicit coherence. they argue that a rational assumption of relevance has shaped any speaker’s (or writer’s) contribution.g. certain approaches to narrativity (→ Narrativity). Emmott 1997 on comprehension. which argues that for a large number of texts conforming to one genre or another.

influenced by context and assumed background knowledge. and for what purpose. Additionally. Thus anything approximating a grammar of narrative coherence will sooner or later fail. As Georgakopoulou & Goutsos ([1997] 2004: 16) note. Lesser & Milroy (1993) make this point concerning discourse coherence generally: notwithstanding certain kinds of familiar scripts and stereotyped textual structure.” fits together. much of this is dependent on genre and text-type conventions and their cultural and historical variation. the norms are susceptible to variation and change. 3. like any grammar. we must conclude that coherence and full interpretation of a text often requires that we have access to more than the text alone. and of a situation of stability developing a disequilibrium following which a renewed but altered equilibrium emerges (closure). and forms a (spoken or written) text. in the creation or designing for coherence in 43 . that decontextualized standards for the specifying of coherence are unsatisfactory.” One of the challenges and interests of much literary narration. by virtue of its insensitivity to context. Discourse and discourse coherence is so often a joint production. lies in the radical under-specification or unreliability of answers to many of these questions. we often need to know “who the text-producer is. according to addressee judgments. and more importantly. Any text is coherent or projects coherence if it is interpretable as parts comprising an effective or useable whole. degrees of coherence. however. being merely the parts from which various (different) texts might be assembled. The more particular interest here is in what constitutes a whole narrative text (as distinct from a text of no particular kind). Similarly. For all the above reasons.2 Degrees of Coherence There are degrees of TL cohesion. broad user assumptions about the sub-type of text involved help to guide or constrain coherence norms and expectations. what the time and place of text-production and reception are […] and the purpose or function of the text in the speech community in which it has been created. In the case of narratives. An immediate complication. And even here. in a particular context of speaking or writing. by postulating a set of rules by reference to which discourses can be judged ill-formed or coherent. The implied contrast is with randomly assembled phrases or sentences or utterances having no discernible sense of connection between them. relative to particular genres or culture-specific types of narrative. there are arguably minimal and maximal notions of coherence. where and when events are reported to have taken place (in which storyworld?). of focus on one or a few characters undergoing change. which prompts participants or observers to judge that the full sequence “makes sense. As implied above. top-down models which attempt to extend syntactic analytic methods. such generic norms include the presence of story or plot. Literary narratives give rise to much-debated uncertainty concerning “who speaks?” in particular stories or passages. an entirely text-immanent treatment (or grammar) of narrative coherence seems only locally possible. have tended to fail. rather than universally valid. ranging from the minimal to the maximal. of an inter-related event sequence. whereas ultimately cultural norms and expectations cannot be excluded from the calculation of eventfulness (see Hühn 2008). Minimal or basic coherence is that property attributed to sequences of utterances or sentences. as this concept has been developed and applied in linguistics generally and narrative studies in particular. what the intended audience is.

in buildings and in texts. so that coherence is in effect “a mental entity” (Gernsbacher & Givón 1995: vii). and many approaches to inferability and its putative steps or degrees have been proposed: see Ingarden (1931) on reading as the creation of coherence. the site of informal sociality. or in some other way) fit together in multiple respects. Longer or more complex narratives where every segment fits and is indispensable for coherence seem rare. Prototype theory (Rosch 1978. coherence is viewed as established by means of a collaboration of the text (spoken or written) and the receiving mind of the listener or reader. But there seems to be no possibility of a fully autonomous and generalizable set of prescriptions as to what will count as relevant but unretrievable in any particular case. on the contrary. absence or presence of a few sentences or of a few shots—provided they are semantically congruent with adjacent material—rarely causes significant damage to the work’s perceived coherence. So the limits and scope of coherence. sentence by sentence.3 Coherence in Psychological Studies In the psychological literature relating to narrative representations. typification as an interpretive resource is very important in Stanzel 1955. is by no means a settled question. even if addressee attention to prototypical narrative patterns. Bortolussi & Dixon 2003) has been shown to be relevant to projections of narrative coherence. But such an absolute standard is neither usual nor even optimal. with “no required material or information missing. the less coherent the narrative will be. the implied. cf. this would accord with general linguistic principles of acceptable ellipsis and redundancy: not everything needs to be “spelled out” in communication (interpreters can tolerate reasonable gaps). scripts. and contextually unretrievable relevant information: the more there appears to be of the latter. sub-genres. a study without a wall sealing it off from the noisy lounge. and perhaps especially in narratives. to the point that every segment is deemed an indispensable part of the whole. attention to relevant context and background knowledge. by contrast with various walls and materials whose present or absence has little or no effect on the robustness of the main building. one might be inclined to say that “on coherence grounds” it does not matter whether the wall is present or is removed.g. So the key contrast here. By that reasoning. In a novel or film of normal length. A maximal notion of coherence is invoked where analysts demand that all the segments of a text (however that segmentation is imposed: e. but iterative statement is also often acceptable. inference. And yet one might immediately make the rejoinder that. also Schmid (2003) on narrativity and eventfulness. however: by “missing” here is meant “total absence from the text” without reasonable possibility of retrieval by means of ellipsis-detection. the unsaid but inferable or adducible (such that a text has a covert wholeness). or shot by shot or scene by scene in film. and cognitive frames can help to 44 . 3. A text is deemed coherent if it is judged intelligible. with respect to coherence. is between contextually retrievable relevant information. where the wall between the lounge and the study is non-load-bearing. is no longer a fully coherent or coherently-functional study. is the elliptical. It may be that coherence is analogous to the main load-bearing structure of a house. or similar textuallyfacilitated means. But the reader’s mental contribution is judged essential.texts generally.” Immediately a clarification is needed. genres.

character is perhaps the most striking domain in which coherence within the storyworld normally needs to be protected by the author: recent work on characterization and narrative comprehension (Margolin 1983. then the sense of coherence is undermined. it may be that narrative coherence is threatened or damaged where “basic inferencing” of this kind cannot easily or obviously apply. Schneider 2001) has done much to chart how interpreters draw on a text’s characterizations. the criteria of coherence may change with genre. and the ambient conditions within the storyworld (if those conditions are fantastical or magical realist ones.delimit the problem space.5 The Pragmatics of Coherence: Cooperativeness and Relevance 45 . by the reader/listener) of particular relations between the segments of a narrative: e. as in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. a rich projection of the entire. in interaction with the given or assumed background and non-specific real-world knowledge. 3. 2006. But under a second definition it is the representation (or possibility of representation. In these respects. seeing one segment as a consequence following a reported cause. Herman 2002. Culpeper 2001. each character will be expected to be physically. In short. Narrative coherence is often regarded as the representation (or the possibility of producing a representation) of the narrative under scrutiny as conforming to a “grammar” for the presentation. then coherence may well be maintained). unreliability. and culture. Emmott 1997. and so on. Gerrig 1993. developing situation in which events. inconsistency. Goldman et al. at the novel’s opening. much of this inferencing is basic interpretation. 3. of a series of related events and states. epoch. 2009). where there are two quite distinct Quentins (uncle and niece). characters and their variously motivated actions are embedded. emotionally and mentally self-consistent— within reasonable or narrated limits. 1999). in licensed sequence. Also relevant here is the cognitive narratological idea of a narrative storyworld (Herman 2002.g. 2009) or mental model. where a dead character can return to life in some other form. As Chatman implies. a further segment as an emotional response to a reported consequence. But even the assumption of co-reference among uses of a proper name can be overridden. Where such reconstruction or imagining is thwarted (e. by narratorial or character-derived vagueness. to understand and evaluate characters. eds. but the changes that are apparent are congruent with the experiences also narrated. Much psycholinguistic work on narrative is devoted to exploring the kinds and richness of inferencing that readers make in the course of interpreting stories (cf. many years earlier in the storyworld. Emmott et al. Thus a character at the close of a novel may not be quite the same person disclosed. Emmott 1997. Beyond consistency of naming. the interpreter must reconstruct a storyworld (Ryan 1991.g. Werth 1999. Gerrig 1993. 1990. or even self-contradiction).4 Creating a Storyworld A more contemporary narratological approach to coherence might be derived from the cognitivist idea that for full understanding and experiencing of a narrative.

” sourced in oral storytelling (for a recent overview of discussions of narrativity. closure.. The several understandings of narrativity on offer nevertheless 46 . different again is Fludernik’s emphasis on narrativity as “mediated experientiality. discussions of narrativity can soon become “a tangled web” of differently emphasized elements (Abbott [2002] 2008: 25). and as one authoritative introduction states. calling that process narrativization (Fludernik 1996: 34). If a coherent narrative is one in which there are sufficient overt or covert clues for the reader to see links. Bortolussi & Dixon 2003). relevance.6 Narrativity. and by implication four at least partly distinct aspects: as inherent or extensional. etc. such that a text that is judged high in narrativity will by the same token be high in coherence? Everything depends on how these terms are understood. including literature (e. and Coherence Is narrative coherence essentially a matter of narrativity. annoyance. it is to pragmatics that many narrative analysts look for a general account of coherence. and draws on powers of inferencing to fill out the sense of the information conveyed by the teller where these seems calculatedly incomplete or indirect. And since coherence (like conversation cooperativeness) is such a strong norm. informative. the sense of a narrative arc. making their contributions—all other things being equal—suitably truthful. 3. and. Following Grice. and psycholinguistics. For some. its absence in turn may give rise to strong reactions of frustration. Abbott (→ Narrativity) discusses narrativity under four headings. of yielding little or no benefits for the interpretive relevancecalculating efforts invested). as varying according to narrative type or genre. On a par with Gricean conversational implicature is the notion of narrative implicature: the reader of a narrative assumes the general cooperativeness of the teller. understand the text as a totality (i. for a thought-provoking rebuttal of narratology’s over-determining of progression. the focus is primarily on plot or event-progression. or valueless (irrelevant in the Sperber & Wilson sense. Pratt 1977. others emphasize the creation of a storyworld. rejection of the text as “unnatural. and as a mode among modes. Sperber & Wilson (1986). and some attempts have been made to develop a specifically relevance-theoretical account of narrative implicature (Walsh 2007). others have extended with due qualifications and adjustments to other uses of language. then an incoherent narrative is one in which such clues seem to be insufficient. and orderliness.Despite the steady advance in the descriptions of narrative coherence from TL. (2008).” absurd. see Tammi 2005). Tellability.g. and orderly. Mention should also be made of Pier & García Landa eds. as scalar or intensional (perhaps the most widely-adopted conception). substantially overlapping with the latter. the double logic of narration—a telling here and now of a unified sequence of events that happened then and there—is felt to be sustained). one party to a conversation is entitled and can be expected to derive what Grice called “conversational implicatures” where another’s contribution seems intentionally to diverge from reasonable truthfulness. Elsewhere. relevant. What Grice applied to idealized conversational meaning. point. see a point and a tellability (→ Tellability).e. informativity. knowing this. but moving in a more explicitly cognitivist direction. Watts 1981) and narrative (Bhaya Nair 2002. Grice (1975) propounds the idea that participants in a conversation are predisposed to cooperate. and to the seminal ideas of Grice in particular. Fludernik treats narrativity as the quality of narrativehood that a reader can impose on a text by reading it as a narrative. cognitive linguistics. see Prince 1999.

Another kind of challenge to perceptible coherence can come in a narrative centered upon the unfamiliar equipment and discourse of some specialist field or activity (neurosurgery. so perhaps need not be covered here as a threatening of coherence. reference can be made to patterns of grammatical and lexical cohesion at the level of récit or discours. Besides metaphor. Generic and cultural narrative norms concerning tellability.suggest that it is a property of texts that is of a different order from coherence. 3. Different again. on the other hand. may be grounds for suspecting incoherence. sarcasm. in subsequent narration. a reader’s ability to interpret superficially unconnected entities or processes as metaphorical can enable the recognition of coherence.” it is consistently about that person or situation. With unreliable narration. the perception of coherence will be put to the test. Iago’s wicked storytelling to Othello). Alber 2005. is usual. significantly. each coherent version implies the false coherence of the others. radically divided or indeterminate between two deictic centers of utterance or footing. texts can be high or low in coherence independently of their being high or low in narrativity. electronic engineering). litotes. but a manipulation of it. Lying and misrepresentation often constitute an attempted counter-coherence. Emmott 1997. Flouting of the simplest topic-continuity and -progression does not invariably lead to incoherence (cf. continuity in the schemata (frames or scripts) activated on the discours level and in the references to the context. milder threats to coherence include hyperbole. fly fishing. event and eventfulness. All the foregoing concepts are in part ways of addressing the issue of coherence in narrative. a multiplicity of relevant discoursal continuations can reasonably be made and so must be chosen from. perhaps a coherence that seems more compelling or rewarding than the truth (cf.7 Challenges to Coherence One form of challenge to coherence is. But typically. and metalepsis (→ Metalepsis). narrativity. But by their very nature. Norms of narrativity and narrative comprehension are discussed (in addition to the authors cited above) by Kindt & Müller 2003. almost a design feature of modern literary narratives: free indirect discourse. but not conclusive 47 . Where metaphor is intended but fails to be detected by the reader or listener. or of making a distinction between what it consists in and how it is produced. But it remains controversial to claim that they are essential. without digressions or irrelevances. Being “unspeakable” sentences. Tristram Shandy as an early novelistic testing of topic and narrativity expectations). No less challenging is metaphor. Culler 1975. at any transition point. and the nature of the narrator or implied author are crucial in the shaping of reception (on which the work of Iser 1976 was seminal). to the point that the average addressee has only limited understanding of “what is going on. irony.” One of the most basic of all challenges concerns continuity of topic: the sense that whatever a narrative is judged to be “about. and to the normal expectation of multiple connections in the projected storyworld and in the sequence of incidents (chiefly at the level of histoire). literary narratives are sufficiently multidimensional that. free indirect discourse text is inherently problematic on first encounter. similarly. Lack of inferrable topic-attentiveness. Regarding the latter. and much more troubling for the reader/addressee. and all point to the difficulty of teasing apart what can be called the intensional and the extensional aspects of narrative coherence. the reader is able to reconstruct two or more coherent versions of events and their motivation. is the narration which is or is suspected of being unreliable.

such as Kafka’s Metamorphosis or the films of David Lynch (e. and a general uncertainty as to “what happens. A different kind of challenge is presented by the following brief narrative: The lone ranger rode off into the sunset and jumped on his horse. and narrative literacy. as exemplifying incoherence. unplotted sequencing of events leading to an “unfitting” outcome. so they are often shunned on grounds of tellability and verisimilitude (even though we know that “inexplicable” tragedy or comedy are not uncommon in the real world). is widely felt to tell a coherent narrative about a generic young couple. such as the listing and chanting. Striking the most satisfactory balance between what is explicitly told or shown and what is left unsaid or unshown but to be inferred is as much an art as a science. time. story or film under scrutiny. and perceptibility of change of state. more local coherence or processing challenges can be presented where the teller has opted for extensive narrative ellipsis. the whole is judged to make more sense when treated as a narrative than if not.” Despite various textual markers and cues which seem not to guarantee particularity of agentive existents (characters) or a clear sequence from opening lack to attempted final completion. What is the opposite of coherence. events. and event-chain are accompanied by “senseless” tragedy or comedy: the hero abruptly kills his lover without a shred of motivation or justification. or e. and thus to naturalize it as adequate and tellable narrative. In such narratives containing absurd or “senseless” tragic or comic reversal. despite its interpretive challenges to the reader. cutting.grounds if. This sentence is used in the pragmatics literature to exemplify the conventional sequential implicature of “and” (over and above its atemporal conjoining function. and indeed the poem was adapted into a short film by George Lucas. as in “eggs and bacon” or “buy and sell”). on the grounds that the ranger must have jumped on his horse before riding off into the sunset. Mulholland Drive). But if we judge the report to be narratively incoherent. some more global or macro-textual perspective can “repair” the textual situation by seeing a macro-thematic relevance among the seemingly unrelated material. then this highlights the special coherence demands always created by the “double-logic” of narration (built on a sequence of events which are 48 . or gaps. Whatever the mode in which a narrative appears. e. the greatest challenge to narrative coherence? It is common to cite “texts” comprising randomly concatenated sentences. This nine-stanza poem. and again will vary with audience. anyone and no-one. One means of further exploring coherence and its apparent absence is by trying to pinpoint the source of “incoherence” (where alleged) in notorious cases. By no reasonable means can the reader detect any covert sense in or behind the text. The naturalizing interpretive procedure is essentially probabilistic: given the kinds of genre-reflective clues in the poem. rather than form. What are at issue here are not forms of irrationality or immorality (there need be no lack of coherence—and plenty of interest and tellability—in narratives driven by these). culture.g. But there are textual characteristics which at first seem to militate against narrative coherence. but seemingly purely random unplanned. including particularity and continuity of settings. or the wealthy main character is suddenly and inexplicably showered with untold wealth. with perhaps equally random sequencing of unconnected words within those sentences. skilled readers find enough here to impose just such a narrativity frame on the text. These are such challenges to narrative expectation and norms of causation as to destabilize coherence-patterns concerning content. subsequently. But another kind of coherencechallenge is presented by the narrative in which continuities of character. characters. no hidden chain of unfolding events can be found. there is no prima facie incoherence. cummings’s poem “anyone lived in a pretty how town” (Cummings 1991). place.

we can postulate that where some form of more global coherence is detectable. whatever its anachronies and shifts of voice or viewpoint. And as a rule of thumb. A large body of poetry with greater or lesser degrees of narrativity (and not just postmodern poetry) challenges our canons of continuity without being dismissable as non-text or incoherent. Narrative’s emphasis on a unifiable lack and its attempted resolution means that there is a natural place here for the Aristotelian unities of time. by means of recontextualizing or interpreting selected items or events metaphorically (a literary theoretical term for such processes is “naturalization”.g. one must be guarded about assuming that continuity alone (however defined) is what differentiates a text from “a random sequence of sentences (a non-text)” (Charolles & Ehrlich 1991: 254). human psychology (McAdams 2006). but global (appropriate relevance of most if not all sentences to an overarching theme or purpose. Linde 1993. appropriate anaphoric or cohesive links between sentences). If at the ideational core of most narratives some kind of lack or problem is introduced. and work with high-functioning autistic or learningdisabled children and adults (e.8 Perceived Coherence Coherence must be not merely local (i. places.” which is now frequently invoked in (inter alia) theories and practices of psychiatry (Fiese ed. 4 Topics for Further Investigation What may have escaped notice is the borrowing of the more particular notion of “narrative coherence. etc. cf. We preferentially look for “just one thing” to be narrated. By contrast. psychotherapy (e. in the eye or mind of the beholder. e. 2006). as further standard measures of coherence (to be departed from where this is justified). is ultimately matched to a projected (imagined) prior event-sequence story.g.e. in all necessary detail.potentially reportable via a different sequence of textual or filmic segments). 49 . However. times. Goldman et al.). 1999). 1999). 3. Furthermore. human language-users can be remarkably resourceful in making sense (global coherence) even where none is immediately apparent. and “completely. place. and an attempted resolution or completion of that lack or problem is then reported. Because the narrative discourse. 2001). and action. provided they can eventually be seen to interrelate. Reinhart 1980. coherence seems finally to be perceptual. it cannot radically misrepresent that story without risking incoherence.g. a seemingly unmotivated and unpredictable shifting of attention through a multiplicity of things is usually rejected as producing narrative incoherence. Like beauty. equally relevant is Fludernik’s 1996 conception of “narrativization”). Kintsch & van Dijk 1978. cf.” This may involve a shifting of attention among numerous different things (characters. Roberts & Holmes eds. then forms of narrative that are judged to move far from this core will tend to be seen as less than fully coherent. this will override or displace local discontinuities or incoherences. eds. Culler 1975: 134–60. Diehl et al.

Cognition. political or ecological positions depicted in life stories and many other public narratives evaluate their consistency and fairness by reference to coherence. E. G. 251–67. Language and Characterisation: People in Plays and other Texts. (1991). Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. • Culpeper. Text and Text Processing.” G. Jan (2005). • Chatman. • Diehl. J. London: Longman. (eds). • Culler. • Bhaya Nair.Some of the most interesting use of the notion of coherence in narrative studies has focused on the macrothematic and the largest long-term consequences of a series of events. London: Longman.g. Marisa & Peter Dixon (2003). 50 . et al. (eds). Rukmini (2002). et al. 87–102. Catherine (1997).” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 34. Discourse Analysis. Robert & Wolfgang U. 5 Bibliography 5. For example. Narrative Comprehension: A Discourse Perspective. Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism. Amsterdam: Elsevier. B. (2006). life-story analyses often focus on the coherence within those stories (Linde 1993. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. “Introduction: views of coherence“. Introduction to Text Linguistics. Coherence in Spoken and Written Discourse. “Aspects of Textual Continuity: Linguistic Approaches. Seymour (1978). Ed. 386–87. Herman et al. • Alber. Culture.1 Works Cited • Abbott. • Charolles. E. illness narratives: Hawkins 1993). Dressler (1981). Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Wolfram (1999). W. Porter ([2002] 2008). New York: Liveright. H. “Narrativisation. Complete Poems: 1904-1962. “Story recall and narrative coherence of high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorders. Delhi: Oxford UP. Linguistics and the Study of Literature. The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. • Brown. • Emmott. • de Beaugrande. Psychonarratology: Foundations for the Empirical Study of Literary Response. Narrative Gravity: Conversation. Denhière & J. And analysts of narratives who are most interested in the ideological. Jonathan (1975). 1–7. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Ochs & Capps 2001) in the course of understanding experiences which are problematic or painful: coherence is integral to the therapeutic or identity-affirming work undertaken (e. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Firmage. Rossi (eds). Marc & Marie-France Ehrlich (1991). Cambridge: Cambridge UP.” D. How to Create It and How to Describe It.-P. London: Routledge. • Bortolussi. • Cummings. Jonathan (2001). Joshua. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Gillian & George Yule (1983). Cambridge: Cambridge UP. • Bublitz.

51 . Theorizing Narrativity. Herbert Paul (1975).” Poetics Today 6. Mahwah: Erlbaum.” P. Hoey. 1–30. Vol. Gerrig. West Lafayette: Purdue UP. K. Life Stories: The Creation of Coherence. 141–63. et al. Kock. Kindt. Alexandra & Dionysis Goutsos ([1997] 2004). Malden: Wiley-Blackwell. L. Barbara. K. Rachel (1985). (1993). Occasional Papers 1976-1977. Christian (1978). Morgan (eds). Morton Ann & Talmy Givón (1995). Grice. Hans Robert ([1977] 1982). “Logic and Conversation. What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Anne (1993). (eds). Cohesion in English. Roman ([1931] 1973). Hühn. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Ruth & Lesley Milroy (1993). New Haven: Yale UP. “Narrative Tropes: A study of points in plots.” J. M. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Caie et al.” G. Susan R. Giora. “Capturing the attention of readers? Stylistic and psychological perspectives on the use and effect of text fragmentation in narratives. London: Routledge. Narrative Interaction and Relationship Beliefs. 202–52. van Dijk (1978). Michael A. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP. David (2002). Narrative Comprehension. London: Longman. The Stories That Families Tell: Narrative Coherence. Tom & Hans-Harald Müller (2003). Goldman. Basic Elements of Narrative. Bauformen des Erzählens. Causality. Berlin: de Gruyter. Coherence in Spontaneous Text.” Psychological Review 85. Lexical Priming: A New Theory of Words and Language. “Functions and Forms of Eventfulness in Narrative Fiction. Á. Walter & Teun A. The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Wolfgang ([1976] 1978). Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. 699–715. Fiese. et al. Ingarden. Fludernik. Herman.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Oxford: Oxford UP. Emmott. 41–58.” Journal of Literary Semantics 35. London: Longman. Cole & J. (2006). Lämmert. Halliday.. Experiencing Narrative Worlds: On the Psychological Activities of Reading. “Toward a Model of Text Comprehension and Production. Berlin: de Gruyter. Herman. Monika (1996). ”Narrative theory and/or/as Theory of Interpretation. Gernsbacher. Jauss. Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag. Speech Acts. (eds). “Notes Towards a Theory of Text Coherence. Linguistics and Aphasia: Psycholinguistic and Pragmatic Aspects of Intervention. & H. David (2009). Cathrine. 363–94. and Coherence: Essays in Honor of Tom Trabasso. Syntax and Semantics. Story Logic: Problems and Possibilities of Narrative. The Literary Work of Art. eds. Stuttgart: Metzler. Kintsch. Discourse Analysis: An Introduction. Linde. & Ruqaiya Hasan (1976). (2001). Towards a ‘Natural’ Narratology. ed. London: Routledge. Reconstructing Illness: Studies in Pathography. Hawkins. (1999). García Landa (eds). Iser. London: Routledge. New York: Oxford UP. Eberhard (1955).-H. 3. Richard J. Peter (2008). Evanston: Northwestern UP. Charlotte (1993). 205–19. Georgakopoulou. Pier & J.” T. Michael (2005). New York: Academic Press. Lesser. D. Toward an Aesthetic of Reception.

([1955] 1971). Cognition and Categorization. “An analysis of story comprehension in elementary school children. (2006). “Conditions for Text Coherence.-H. Wolf (2003). MobyDick.” Cognitive Psychology 9.” The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Artificial Intelligence. Norwood: Ablex. • Tammi. Gerald (1973). Towards an Analysis of Discourse: The English Used by Teachers and Pupils. • Poe. (1999). Dan & Deirdre Wilson ([1986] 1995). Relevance: Communication and Cognition. 111–51. New York: Oxford UP.” E. • Stubbs. • Ryan. • Stanzel. eds. Pekka (2005). Marie-Laure (1991).” R.” Poetics Today 11. • Stein. 843–71. Glenn & Jeremy Holmes. “Revisiting Narrativity. • Stanzel. (1977). Advances in Discourse Processes: Vol. Towards a Speech Act Theory of Literary Discourse. “Narrativity and Eventfulness. • Prince. 27–48. • Margolin Uri (1983). 17–33. 1–14. Theorizing Narrativity. “Toward a Cognitive Theory of Literary Character: The Dynamics of Mental-Model Construction. 43–51.” Neophilologus 67. “Characterization in Narrative: Some Theoretical Prolegomena. 19– 40. Discourse Analysis: the Sociolinguistic Analysis of Natural Language. Ulysses. Healing Stories: Narrative in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. 161–80. • Sperber. 53–119. “Cognitive structures in comprehension and memory of 52 . • Roberts. Dan P. Tanya (1980). Solbach (eds). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Jean & Nancy Johnson (1977). • Rosch. A Theory of Narrative. D. Gerald (1999). Perry W. Austin: U of Texas P. A Grammar of Stories: An Introduction. Grenzüberschreitungen: Narratologie im Kontext / Transcending Boundaries: Narratology in Context. Uri (1990).1. • Schneider. “The Philosophy of Composition. “Against Narrative (‘A Boring Story’). “Individuals in Narrative Worlds: An Ontological Perspective. & B. Possible Worlds.” Journal of Constructivist Psychology 19. Eleanor & Lisa Capps (2001). “Principles of Categorization. Müller (eds). John & José Ángel García Landa (eds) (2008). London: Oxford UP. Lloyd (eds). Mary Louise (1977). • McAdams. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Franz K.” A. New Directions in Discourse Processing. and Narrative Theory. • Ochs. Eleanor (1978). 889–907. Nancy & Christine Glenn (1979). Tübingen: Narr. Bloomington: Indiana UP. • Prince. • Pier. B. Franz K. Kindt & H.” Style 35. 607–40. Morphology of the Folktale. • Thorndyke.” Poetics Today 1. 109–25. The Ambassadors. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Harmondsworth: Penguin. & Malcolm Coulthard (1975). R. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Ralf (2001). • Propp. “The Problem of Narrative Coherence. “Remembrance of things parsed: Story structure and recall. • Reinhart. John M. Hillsdale: Erlbaum. • Pratt. 2. Living Narrative: Creating Lives in Everyday Storytelling. The Hague: Mouton. Edgar Allan ([1846] 1982). • Sinclair. Berlin: de Gruyter. • Schmid. Freedle (ed).• Mandler. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Oxford: Blackwell. Michael (1983). ([1979] 1984). Berlin: de Gruyter. Narrative Situations in the Novel: Tom Jones.” Partial Answers 4. Grunzweig & A.” T. Vladimir ([1928] 1968). • Margolin.

Herman et al. Cultural. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 397–414. The Rhetoric of Fictionality. Michel. “How Narrativity Makes a Difference. • Bordwell.” Cognitive Psychology 9. • Trabasso. Yaron. 77–110. Bloomington: Indiana UP. “Events and Event Types. Suspense: Conceptualizations. Genres in Discourse. (eds). Tübingen: Narr. Peter (2005). Rubik (eds). (2008). (1999). 5. 129–50. et al. Amsterdam: Rodopi. Olivi (eds).” Journal of Literary Semantics 37. • Sternberg. Teun A. MüllerZettelmann & M. “Plotting the Lyric: Forms of Narration in Poetry. Todorov. van Dijk. Richard (2007). Tzvetan ([1971] 1977). Theory into Poetry: New Approaches to the Lyric. David (2006). 115–22. Walsh. eds.” The Hague: Mouton. Grammaire du “Décaméron. (eds). Hillsdale: Erlbaum. Madison: U of Wisconsin P. 151–52. • Richardson. • Herman. Cognitive. David (1985). Narrative Beginnings.” Narrative 9. eds. (1981). ed. and Empirical Explorations. Iris (2008). Gillian (1995). Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Speakers. Todorov. et al. Richard J. Todorov. and Linguistic Aspects of Narrative Production. • Chafe.” E. From Verbal Constitution to Symbolic Meaning. Learning and Comprehension of Text. • Vorderer. “Causal cohesion and story coherence. Narration in the Fiction Film. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Narrative Progression in the Short Story: a corpus stylistic approach. Theoretical Analyses. Michael (2009). (1984). “What is a ‘Difficult Poem’? Towards a Definition. David (2005). Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Some Aspects of Text Grammars. Tzvetan (1969). • Charolles. Hamburg: Buske.” H. Watts. et al. Berkeley: U of California P. Ithaca: Cornell UP. The Poetics of Prose. Mahwah: Erlbaum. • Hühn. Tzvetan ([1978] 1990).• • • • • • • • • narrative discourse. Paul. Wallace. Mandl et al.2 Further Reading • Bordwell. • Viehoff. Coherence in Spoken and Written Discourse: How to Create it and How to Describe It. Expositional Modes and Temporal Ordering in Fiction. The Hague: Mouton. Wolfram. The Pragmalinguistic Analysis of Narrative Texts. Paul (1999).” J. Meir (1993). The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies. • Brown. Brian. Werth. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Reinhold (1988). ed. Tom. Columbus: Ohio State UP. • Bublitz. Norwood: Ablex. Theories and Practices.” D. Hamburg: Buske. London: Routledge. The Pear Stories. Meir (2001). (1980). Amsterdam: Benjamins. Text Worlds: Representing Conceptual Space in Discourse. (1986). 83–111. 147–72. Toolan. (1972). Research in Text Connexity and Text Coherence: A Survey. (1996). “Preliminary Remarks to ‘Coherence’ in Understanding Poems. Listeners and Communication. 53 . London: Longman. • Sternberg. et al. Petöfi & T.

uni-hamburg. It refers to the evocation of characters’ mode of utterance (especially in terms of dialect and colloquiality) in the written representation of speech.sub. inspired by discourse analysis. Fludernik and others. More recently. 2 Explication The basic prototype of oral narrative is spontaneous conversational Narration". Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. This work has additionally had a close affinity with cognitive studies (→ Cognitive Narratology). oral narrative has been important at two different stages of the discipline. For narratology. oral bardic poetry. (eds. analyzing plot-related motifs and the repetition of epitheta and formulae on the discourse level.Oral Narration Last modified: 9 June 2011 Monika Fludernik 1 Definition “Oral narrative” is a term that covers a number of different types of storytelling: spontaneous conversational narrative (“natural narrative”). institutionalized oral narrative in an oral culture context. The technique of pseudo-orality. is a secondary phenomenon. finally. Institutionalized oral narrative as in the Homeric epics focuses on both the deep and the surface structure of narrative. This covers narratives produced in face-to-face exchanges in a variety of contexts such as storytelling sequences at dinner parties. which had their basis in orally transmitted storytelling. 12 Mar 2012.php?title=Conversational_Narration__Oral_Narration&oldid=1477 Conversational Narration . Monika: "Conversational Narration . simulations of orality in written texts by means of narrative strategies such as pseudo-orality or skaz. Peter et al. have concentrated on conversational storytelling both as an interesting type of narrative in and by itself and as a prototype of all narration. Herman.): the living handbbook of narratology. brief narratives interspersed in telephone conversations or in doctor/patient and lawyer/client exchanges. In Russian formalism (especially in the work of Propp) and during the 1960s (especially in the work of Bremond and Greimas) fairytales. Hühn. were used to analyze the deep structure of narrative and to discover functions of plot elements and typical actant structures (→ Character). Labov & Waletzky (1967) use the term “natural 54 . http://hup.

By contrast.) The second and third prototypes of oral narration characterize institutionalized storytelling in an oral culture context. 1971). nor is it framed by an ongoing conversation between a small number of interlocutors in which stories are longer turns in verbal exchange.narrative” for this type of oral narration. exempla. It could be argued that anecdotes. providing for audience/bard interaction in ritualized responses. Based partly on the work of Lord (1960) and Parry (ed. the term Alltagserzählung (e. this includes oral poetry. Parry’s insights into the Homeric epics and Lord’s analyses of contemporary guslar poetry raise questions regarding transformation from the oral to the written poetic tradition. Much of this research focuses on the complexity of epic poetry and on how oral production manages to create and sustain it with the help of formulaic elements. traditional and not necessarily poetic (i. narratives are inserted into ongoing oral discourse (as in spontaneous conversational narratives). In these contexts. In the corpus of the Survey of English Usage (London). In addition. On the one hand. telephone conversations. and in India. story sequences may emerge in which the conversation develops into a series of narratives (one joke after the other. in social gatherings. 1980) is current. e.). Ong (1982). in African countries.g. speeches or lectures constitute an intermediate type of oral narration. on the other. the evocation of orality in literary narrative has nothing to 55 . In contrast to spontaneous conversational storytelling. the material comes from solicited narratives in which interviewers asked African-American youths to tell stories about specific personal experiences. Goetsch 1985). Such oral narratives can be found in various parts of the world. etc. one story after the other about one’s worst experience with doctors. but it is also present in much informal exchange on the telephone. The fourth type of oral narrative is “pseudo-oral discourse” (fingierte Mündlichkeit. mealtime conversations. Spontaneous (or unsolicited) conversational narrative must be distinguished from solicited narratives told to interviewers. in Labov’s (1972) study. Even so.e. where long epics in verse are performed. literally. Psathas 1995. 1999. Johnstone 2002 for the former. Although. in Canada (Tedlock 1983). cf. Jaworksi & Coupland eds.g. parables and similar short narrative forms introduced into sermons. but with one dominant speaker (as in oral poetry) rather than a framing conversational exchange. verse-form) storytelling. In the latter case. serving as a kind of chorus or speaker of refrains. Unsolicited conversational storytelling takes place in very diverse circumstances. etc. oral poetry and oral storytelling in traditional cultural contexts do have a frame: the institutional frame which gives the storyteller his exclusive “turn” as performer. 1995) and others have studied the emergence of traditional epic poetry and noted extensive similarities in structure and style between Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey and the oral epics of the Balkans (guslar poetry). this type of storytelling has an appointed bard who is a practiced performer. Schegloff 2007 for the latter. The same method was adopted for more extended acts of storytelling in Terkel (1984). and Atkinson & Heritage eds. were taped in which narratives spontaneously occurred without solicitation or elicitation by the researcher. Foley (1990. emphasizing the fact that conversational narrative occurs in the framework of everyday interaction. In addition to the tradition of oral poetry. Ehlich ed. In German. 1984. etc. Spontaneously occurring natural narrative has received extensive analysis in the linguistic sub-disciplines of discourse analysis and conversation analysis. there are cultures in which narratives are presented by a storyteller to an audience that interacts with the narrator while the story is being told. (See Hutchby & Wooffitt 1998.

thus setting themselves off from the typical narrators of literary texts—aloof.” or effet de réel. the register of the legal or administrative elite. reliable. a closer look will be taken at research results in discourse analysis and conversation analysis before going on to discuss their relevance for present-day narratology. informality. Schmid 2005: 156–76) often falls under this category of the pseudo-oral. Scott or Trollope). they keep interrupting themselves and tend to address a fictive listener or audience familiarly. Such evocation of orality in narrative report can be based on the combination of several techniques. The technique is also used to characterize the narrator persona. to which they apparently belong. but at times undermines the mimetic quality of the represented discourse by having a naïve peasant narrator resort to inappropriately elevated diction. class ascription. it requires the avoidance of literate vocabulary and complex syntax. In addition to narratives that evoke linguistic alterity by stressing stereotypical features. and also do not shy away from expressing their feelings and views emphatically. Vinogradov 1925. D.g. spontaneous conversational narratives. Pseudo-orality occurs in two forms in literary (and sometimes in non-literary) narratives: the representation of dialect or foreign speech in written dialogue and the evocation of an oral narrator persona. In English literature. such as Holden in J. e. 3. Thus. but at accentuating typical dialect features.1 Discourse Analysis and Conversation Analysis 56 . 3 History of the Concept and its Study Returning to the first category. lack of education. cultural difference. contradictory and illogical. just as dialect in the dialogue of 19th-century fiction tends to underline class difference. they seem to have an intimate rapport with the fictional world. The simplifications and exaggerations of the linguistic features of orality and/or register therefore serve the purpose of facilitating with actual conversational storytelling. this phenomenon is widespread in literary texts and therefore of crucial importance to the narratologist. By orthographic means. Russian skaz (cf. As pointed out by Leech & Short (1981: 167–70). What counts for narrative purposes is not a faithful copy of the “original” utterance in all its linguistic detail. repetitive. lack of education or idiosyncrasy (cf. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. are often garrulous. bland. stereotyping. Ėjxenbaum 1918. pseudooral narrators. neutral. intimacy. a teller figure whose style suggests that the discourse has been uttered rather than written down. as in the skaz (Ėjxenbaum 1918). It must be noted that the evocation of orality in literary texts is just that: an evocation or stylization produced by highlighting the most striking features of oral language. “local color. authors thus seek to highlight the differences between standard written language and dialectal forms. the transcription of oral speech in literary dialogue aims not at a phonologically precise rendering of dialect. Dickens. but the effect of deviation from the norm through quaintness. there are narratives that give prominence to a pseudo-oral narrative voice.

Discourse analysis developed as a sub-discipline of pragmatics. Abstract and coda provide a link with the conversational frame. In ordinary conversation. language in use (Levinson 1983). “I wanted… (pause) I was wondering… (pause) could you tell me when flight LS 03 comes in?” These frame conditions have a significant impact on how narratives are produced in spontaneous conversational narrative.” His initial research (in 1972) was followed by a landmark contribution (Sacks et al. Labov & Waletzky (1967) propose a model of episodic narrative consisting of a basic structure: abstract. → Tellability). but they also proceed in fits and starts and may start their sentences over (repair): e. request/agreement or compliance. Gail Jefferson. notably (in narrative sequences) “turn-taking. question/answer. including narratives. result.e. Labov collected narratives elicited in interviews with young African-American males.” “repair” and “abstracts. Conversational narratives also employ narrative and non-narrative “discourse markers” (Schiffrin 1987). natural narrative is often repetitious and interlaced with verbatim dialogue by the participants in the events and even quotations from their thoughts.g. The authors also introduced the terms “point” and “reportability” or “tellability”: to be effective. and from this material he developed a model of the structure of natural narrative. command/compliance.” “adjacency pairs. In narratives. It was found that conversations are structured by turns taken and held by each speaker. identification/recognition (telephone). etc. namely particles (mostly adverbs) placed in conjunct or adjunct position of a clause but whose “meaning” remains vague. it derives from the work of sociologists. orientation. particularly at the beginning of exchanges: greeting/greeting. speakers are allowed longer turns. They serve primarily macrostructural discourse functions such as initiation of a new topic. come not in sentences but in discourse units (Chafe calls them “idea” or “intonation units”) which are set apart by pauses and the completion of frames (Ono & Thompson 1995). turns often come in adjacency pairs. Conversational exchanges. Tannen. To keep an audience’s interest. Many fruitful insights into natural narrative and oral exchange have been gained by Schegloff. Discourse analysis since Sacks and Labov has developed in great strides. which remains fundamental to the study of conversational narrative. this research has moved into elucidating the psychological and cultural functions of conversational storytelling (Bamberg ed. Quasthoff. the construction of identity (Lucius-Hoene & Deppermann 2004). Ochs & Capps 2001). Sacks began by analyzing telephone exchanges at a call center and then went on to establish the basic rules of conversation. in particular Sacks (1992). while the orientation section introduces characters and setting. narratives must be “newsworthy” (reportable) and have a “point” (demonstrate something). 1989. narrative clauses (insert clauses of delayed orientation and evaluation). Chafe. thus fictionalizing and dramatizing stories in ways that are reminiscent of novels or short stories (Tannen 1984. 1974) which concentrated on turn-taking. These features play a crucial role in Fludernik’s definition of experientiality.” “overlap. Fludernik 1993: 398–433). etc. coda. return from a side remark to 57 . which consists in the dialectic of tellability and point (1996: 26– 30. and questions of gender (Tannen 1990) as well as the aesthetic effects of using quoted speech or thought (Schiffrin 1981). provided the interlocutors are alerted to the speaker’s intention to delve into a story. Schiffrin. Discourse analysis has also been heavily influenced by Labov (1972) and his school of discourse study. i. More immediately. Interlocutors frequently interrupt each other and overlap (B starts to speak while A is completing his/her turn). 1997. Besides focusing on the structure and syntactic and lexical peculiarities of natural narrative.

” Whole verse lines are repeated nearly verbatim in order to facilitate oral composition and delivery. Carter 1997. capturing the interlocutors’ attention. analyzed short forms of narrative (the fairytale). burial of the fallen hero. Longacre 1983. Two handbooks of discourse analysis also discuss some aspects of critical discourse analysis (van Dijk ed.3 Relevance of Conversational Narrative for Narratology While classical narratology. However. Schegloff 2007). 3. raising of the cup. The formulaic repertoire of the epic was found to employ recurring epitheta for common objects and heroes such as “the crafty Ulysses. 1996). conversation analysis has been established as a still more refined research discipline for examining conversational exchange. and they also mark the key points of narrative episodes (Fludernik 1991. 58 . discourse analysis describes the systematic. Narratological models such as those of Genette and Stanzel shifted their interest to the discourse level of narratives but were primarily concerned with the novel. Hutchby & Wooffitt 1998. Between the complexity and sophistication of the novel and seemingly unstructured. due to narratology’s concentration on the novel and on prose fiction. More narratologically relevant are discussions of narrative episodes based on Bremond (1973). 2001). Another sub-discipline. transmit and perpetuate ideologies and interpellate readers. the emphasis fell on event sequences rather than on the oral delivery of such tales (in the absence of tape recordings. revealing the affinity between the structure of the epic and that of the fairy tale (cf. there has been little narratological analysis of epic verse narrative. largely disregarding narratives prior to the 18th century and all forms of oral narration. is critical discourse analysis (Hodge & Kress 1979. 2005) being an exception. a wide gap was perceived. eds. few conversation analysts deal with narrative. having more literary credentials. 1997.the main topic. written transcriptions were used). Specifically narrative discourse markers shift between the on-plot and the off-plot levels of conversational narratives. 3. which studies how discourses generate. 1992b.2 Oral Poetry and Narratology Analyses of oral poetry have concentrated on two questions: formulaicity and motifs. 1984. According to Hutchby & Wooffitt (1998). Wittig 1978). in the foundational work of Propp (1928) and Bremond (1973). However. 1992a. whereas conversation analysis is concerned with the performative and interactive aspects of conversational exchange. etc. embarkation. rule-governed features of natural narrative. More recently. In particular. conversation analysis studies the online production of utterances and the unfamiliar shape of oral syntax (Atkinson & Heritage eds. Blommaert 2005). felt to be unbridgeable. The oral epic is also characterized by a recurrence of typical motifs such as greeting between host and guest. Quasthoff & Becker (eds. syntactically misformed conversational narratives. Schiffrin et al.

analyzing them in their own right. and negotiation of identities. 2005. two researchers have drawn inspiration from conversational narrative as a major source of their own work. describing conversational narrative as a process of ego construction.” Based on a cognitive model in which producers of stories and their listeners rely on cognitive action schemata and inferences drawn from the events related or from information provided by the narrator. Quasthoff & Becker eds. presentation of self.However. Fludernik (1996) went on to define conversational storytelling as a prototype of narrative tout court. One sophisticated model of conversational storytelling is provided by Lucius-Hoene & Deppermann (2004). Herman (1997. therefore providing a bridge between oral and written forms of narrative on the basis of narrativity (→ Narrativity) and the purpose of storytelling (point and tellability). Kerbrat-Orecchioni 1996. Bamberg ed. Much of it was gathered in medical or therapeutic contexts (cf. In the field of narratology. Fludernik moved into the study of conversational narrative through the problem of the historical present tense. in the 1970s discourse analysts increasingly undertook research into the structure of conversational narratives. Taking a cue from Young (1999). 1992a). serving a highlighting function (in modification of Wolfson 1982). She maintains that conversational narrative is basically about experientiality and that this is also true of the fictional narrative of novels and short stories (53–91). Herman proposes a model of conversational storytelling treated as an interactive process in which the borders between ongoing conversation and story are marked. She further demonstrates that substrata of the oral pattern of narrative episodes can be traced in English medieval and early modern texts (92–128). 1980. massive material has become available to discourse analysts. who examines the performative nature of spontaneous conversational narrative and the creation and maintenance of self in patient/doctor exchanges. She developed a model of episodic narrative structure (a modification of Labov) in which the historical present tense can occur at key points in a narrative episode (1991. Herman presents narratives (in his example: elicited ghost stories) as relying on “a process of negotiation between storytellers and their interlocutors” (239). Over the past forty years. 4 Topics for Further Research 59 . He underlines the “jointly referential and evaluating function” (1999: 231) of modal expressions and repetitions in conversational narratives and emphasizes their “interactional achievement. Quasthoff 1980. In focusing on these performative issues. Johnstone and Chafe for English. which looks so very different from that of conversational narratives. Mondada ed. 2001). Brinker & Sager 2006) and French (Gülich 1970. but oral history has also produced extensive records (Perks & Thomson eds. In the history of English literature. developed slowly out of its oral roots in episodic narrative. His ultimate aim is to examine narrative competence in conversational narrative. Tannen. 1999) pleads for the relevance of natural narratives for postclassical narratology. In addition to studies by Labov. major work was carried out for German (Ehlich ed. 1990). 1997). the authors come strikingly close to the kind of analysis of literary narratives undertaken by literary critics (→ Identity and Narration). 1995. the formal structure of the novel.

Special Issue of Journal of Narrative and Life History 7.” Text 11. and Time. The Fictions of Language and the Languages of Fiction. Sager ([1989] 2006). Monika (1993). (1997).” The Journal of Literary Semantics 21. “The Historical Present Tense Yet Again: Tense Switching and Narrative Dynamics in Oral and Quasi-Oral Storytelling. Monika (1992a). 365–98. (1984). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Boris (Eikhenbaum) ([1918] 1975). Berlin: Schmidt. • Fludernik. • Fludernik. Discourse Analysis. Investigating English Discourse. • Foley. Norwood: Ablex. The Linguistic Representation of Speech and Consciousness.Now that so much conversational narrative is available in transcript. London: Routledge. “The Illusion of ‘Skaz’. Discourse. ed. • Carter. Chicago: U of Chicago P. • Chafe. Logique du récit. Monika (1992b). Traditional Oral Epic. Gillian & George Yule (1983). The Odyssey. 77–107. Structures of Social Action: Studies in Conversation Analysis. • Fludernik. Monika (1996). • Brinker. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. “Narrative Schemata and Temporal Anchoring. • Bremond. ([1980] 2006). • Fludernik. Wallace.1 Works Cited • Atkinson. The handling of dialogue and thought processes in conversational narratives. Three Decades of Narrative Analysis. Cognitive. Ronald (1997). “The Historical Present Tense in English Literature: An Oral Pattern and its Literary Adaptation. London: Routledge. 5 Bibliography 5. (1980). the management of time schemata. • Blommaert. Klaus & Sven F. and the Serbo60 . Oral Versions of Personal Experience. ed. • Brown. Monika (1991). London: Routledge. 118–53. and Linguistic Aspects of Narrative Production. Michael. eds. the question of whether the concept of focalization (→ Focalization) should be used in the analysis of conversational narratives—these topics and more could well come into the scope of extensive research. Paris: Seuil. Konrad. Discourse. Miles (1990). • Ėjxenbaum. Cultural. Linguistische Gesprächsanalyse. John Maxwell & John Heritage. Jan (2005). The Flow and Displacement of Conscious Experience in Speaking and Writing. Erzählen im Alltag. ed. • Fludernik.” Russian Literature 12. Consciousness. • Chafe. Claude (1973). Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Towards a ‛Natural’ Narratology. deictic shifts. • Ehlich. such an emphasis on naturally occurring stories could provide an increasing awareness of the affinity between natural narrative and more literary and elaborated forms of storytelling. Pear Stories. Beowulf. Particularly with the narrative turn at the end of the 20th century. • Bamberg. there is ample opportunity for narratological analysis of this material. 233–36.” Language and Literature 17. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Wallace (1994).

Propp. Mondada. Ian & Robin Wooffitt (1998). The Grammar of Discourse. The Collected Papers of Milman Parry. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Alternative Linguistics: Descriptive and Theoretical Modes. Sequences. Leech. ed. Thompson (1995). Paris: Nathan. Goetsch. Gabriele & Arnulf Deppermann (2004). Short (1981). London: Routledge. (1999). Bloomington: Indiana UP. ed. Tsuyoshi & Sandra A. (1971). Gülich. Rekonstruktion narrativer Identität: Ein Arbeitsbuch zur Analyse narrativer Interviews. Robert & Alistair Thomson. Herman. Lucius-Hoene. Vladimir ([1928] 1968). Elements of a Postclassical Narratology. Catherine (2001). Principles. Adam & Nikolas Coupland. “Narrative Analysis: Oral Versions of Personal Experience. Ono. Labov. Kerbrat-Orecchioni. (1983). Cambridge: Harvard UP. Berkeley: U of California P. Miles (1995). William & Joshua Waletzky (1967). Elisabeth (1970). München: Fink. Makrosyntax der Gliederungssignale im gesprochenen Französisch. David (1997). Labov. Kerbrat-Orecchioni. The Singer of Tales. Hodge.” D. Stephen C. Applications. “What Can Conversation Tell Us About Syntax?” P. Foley. “Fingierte Mündlichkeit in der Erzählkunst entwickelter Schriftkultur. A Linguistic Introduction to English Fictional Prose. Johnstone. and Stories. Paul (1985). Discourse Analysis. Narratologies. London: Routledge. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Style in Fiction. 218–46. The Singer of Tales in Performance. “Scripts. William (1972). 12–44. (1995). The Discourse Reader. Essays on the Verbal and Visual Arts. Barbara ([2002] 2008). Albert (1960). Walter (1982). Cambridge: Polity. Living Narrative: Creating Lives in Everyday Storytelling. Columbus: Ohio State UP. Lorenza. Helm (ed). Pragmatics. Austin: U of Texas P. La conversation. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. Davis (ed). Paris: Seuil. New York: Plenum. Adam. ([1990] 2006). Parry. Conversation Analysis. Longacre. Catherine (1996). Formes linguistiques et dynamiques interactionelles. eds. eds. Herman (ed). 61 . Perks. Herman. Ong. New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis. 202–18. Ochs. 213–71. Seattle: U of Washington P. “Toward a Socionarratology: New Ways of Analyzing Natural-Language Narratives. Robert E. London: Longman. Cambridge: Harvard UP. 1046–59. Language in the Inner City: Studies in the Black English Vernacular. & Michael H. Lausanne: Institut de Linguistique des Sciences du Langage. The Making of Homeric Verse.” J.” PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 112. The Oral History Reader.” Poetica 17. Morphology of the Folktale. Levinson. W. David (1999). Théorie et fonctionnement. London: Routledge. Oxford: Blackwell. Geoffrey N.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Croatian Return Song. Wiesbaden: VS für Sozalwissenschaften. Lord. Practices. Les actes de langage dans le discours. Oxford: Clarendon. ([1983] 1996). Language as Ideology. Jaworski. Elinor & Lisa Capps (2001). Hutchby. Bob & Gunther Kress ([1979] 1993). Orality and Literacy. London: Methuen.

• Wolfson. Talking Voices. Breaking the Discursive Body out of Postmodernism. • Quasthoff. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Vol. Elemente der Narratologie. 696–735. Deborah (1990). Cambridge: Cambridge UP.. • Polanyi. Analyzing Talk Among Friends. Katherine (1999). Teun A. Dordrecht: Foris. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. 62 . 31–74. Dennis (1983). • Vinogradov. New York: Morrow. Telling the American Story: A Structural and Cultural Analysis of Conversational Storytelling. Conversational Historical Present in American English Narrative. Viktor ([1925] 1980). (2001). Sudnow (ed). Columbus: Ohio State UP. Uta & Tabea Becker. • van Dijk. “A Simple Systematics for the Organization of Turntaking for Conversation. 2 vols. Nessa (1982). • Schmid.2 Further Reading • Norrick. Sequence Organization in Interaction: A Primer in Conversation Analysis. Thousand Oaks: Sage. “The Problem of Skaz in Stylistics. Conversational Style.” Language 50. Susan (1978).’ An Oral History of World War Two. London: Sage. • Tannen. Deborah et al. Ann Arbor: Ardis. • Schiffrin. Narratologies. 45–62. Tübingen: Narr. Deborah (1981). You Just Don’t Understand. Herman (ed).” Language 57. Repetition. • Sacks. 5. • Sacks. “An Initial Investigation of the Usability of Conversational Data for Doing Sociology. Dialogue.” E. (1974). G. (2000). • Young. • Quasthoff. Berlin: de Gruyter. Austin: U of Texas P. Discourse Markers. and Imagery in Conversational Discourse. • Terkel. Lectures in Conversation. Uta (1980). Women and Men in Conversation. ed. The Ardis Anthology of Russian Futurism. Discourse Studies. (2007). R. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Oxford: Blackwell. Stylistic and Narrative Structures in the Middle English Romances. • Schegloff. Erzählen in Gesprächen.” D. Harvey et al. • Schiffrin. “Tense Variation in Narrative. eds. • Wittig. Studs ([1984] 1990). Ed. “Narratives of Indeterminacy: Breaking the Medical Body into its Discourses.” D. Harvey (1972). • Tannen. CHP. 1.• Psathas. Deborah (1989). • Tedlock. Conversational Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. ‘The Good War. Livia (1985). Studies in Social Interaction. Wolf (2005). • Schiffrin. Emanuel A. New York: Ballantine. The Spoken Word and the Work of Interpretation. Handbook of Discourse Analysis. New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis. New York: Free P. Deborah (1984). (2005). Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 197–217. Deborah (1987). (1997). George (1995). Proffer (eds). Proffer & C. Norwood: Ablex. Harvey(1992). • Sacks. Oxford: Blackwell. Conversation Analysis. • Tannen. Narrative Interaction. Jefferson. 2 vols. Neal R. Norwood: Ablex. eds.

Doing Conversation Analysis. Amsterdam: Benjamins. An Introduction. Paul (1999). Paul ([1983] 1990). 63 . A Practical Guide. • Zumthor.• Renkema. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. • Ten Have. Oral Poetry. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Jan (2004). Introduction to Discourse Studies.

2 Explication Dialogism is overwhelmingly associated in accounts of literary theory in general. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. / The living utterance. to which it responds. Indeed. Williams 2005).php?title=Dialogism&oldid=1559 Dialogism Last modified: 4 August 2011 David Shepherd 1 Definition The term “dialogism” is most commonly used to denote the quality of an instance of discourse that explicitly acknowledges that it is defined by its relationship to other instances. cannot fail to brush up against thousands of living dialogic threads.): the living handbbook of narratology. 12 Mar 2012. recoils from others. is woven into their complex interrelationships. intersects with yet a third group: and all this may in an essential manner shape the word. Peter et al. may leave a trace in all its semantic layers. merges with some. Hühn. the utterance arises out of this dialogue as a 64 . whose response it anticipates. (eds. Phelan 2005. Although Baxtin first used the words dialogizm and dialogičnost’ (literally “dialogicality” or “dialogical quality”) in his 1929 study of Dostoevskij. a word enters a dialogically agitated and tense environment of alien words. and future. woven by socioideological consciousness around the given object of the utterance. the locus classicus of his understanding of dialogism is found in his 1934/35 essay “Slovo v romane.” translated as “Discourse in the Novel”: “Directed toward its” denoting the refusal of discourse to acknowledge its relational constitution and its misrecognition of itself as independent and unquestionably authoritative. http://hup. David: "Dialogism". both past. Prince [1987] 2003: 19–20.sub.Shepherd. and of narratology in particular (e. The positive connotations of dialogism are often reinforced by a contrast with “monologism. may complicate its expression and influence its entire stylistic profile. evaluations and accents. it cannot fail to become an active participant in social dialogue.unihamburg. with the work of the Russian thinker Baxtin and the Baxtin Circle.g. having taken meaning and shape at a particular historical moment in a socially specific environment.

1963). accounting for the Russian thinker’s originality. The collection The Dialogic Imagination is symptomatic: its title. Tihanov 2000). this oversimplification of Baxtin’s intellectual biography is a consequence of his coming to prominence in the Soviet Union. perhaps unavoidable at the time. but it has become for many a convenient denotation of the whole tenor of his work. only be dialogic discourse that misrecognizes or misreads. Recent work has uncovered the extent to which Baxtin’s interest in the novel was driven less by literary-critical concerns than by a philosophical agenda that draws on the work of a range of thinkers including Bergson.” As the title of the essay suggests. in turn. whose own interests were in significant measure shaped by their participation in the research programmes of the academic institutions where they worked. translation modified). Cassirer. although refined and rearticulated over the course of decades. 3 History of the Concept and its Study Not only is dialogism predominantly associated with Baxtin. that Baxtin underwent in the late 1920s the “linguistic turn” (Hirschkop 65 . remained in essence unchanged. 120–32. in Baxtin’s terms. exemplified most completely by the works of Dostoevskij. shorthand for a theoretical position that. was to mask the resonances of many of Baxtin’s texts (already obscured by his Russian editors’ excision of a large number of his references) with the philosophical and philological traditions with which they engaged. lends the dialogic a particular prominence and allure and exemplifies the translation’s anachronistic alignment of Baxtin’s texts with the alien time and place of the 1980s theory boom. and therefore also of the circumstances in which he became well known elsewhere. Furthermore. It was largely thanks to Vološinov and Medvedev. and indeed in the years after his death. epic or in any other medium or genre) can. that is the acme of the novelist’s “orchestration” of raznorečie (usually translated as heteroglossia (→ Heteroglossia). This extended quotation brings together many of the principal features—utterance. and that is marked by simultaneous adherence to contradictory neo-Kantian and Hegelian principles (Brandist 2002: esp. Lukács and Mixajlovskij. grounded and user-friendly version of positions associated with poststructuralism. allowing them to appear to offer an unusually sophisticated. the diversity of socially specific discourses. until recently consistently misrepresented as mere acolytes of Baxtin. but now recognized as important figures in their own right. towards the end of his life. it is the polyphonic novel. evaluation. furnished by its translators (and impossible to render convincingly in Russian). In large measure. Misch. Baxtin’s promotion of the novel relies to a large extent on a contrast between prose as dialogic and epic and poetry as monologic. Baxtin 1929. after decades of provincial obscurity. social dialogue—associated with the Baxtinian account of dialogism. its own relationship to other discourse in order to present itself as authoritative. Vossler.continuation of it and as a rejoinder to it—it does not approach the object from the sidelines” (Baxtin [1934/35] 1981: 276–77. an opposition that is clearly unsustainable if all discourse is indeed inherently dialogic: monologic discourse (whether in poetry. accent. the account of discourse that is part of this philosophical project is likewise crucially dependent on the work of others. other terms from the essay that have gained widespread currency as denotations of discourse encapsulating social dialogue include “hybridized” and “double-voiced. The effect. for Baxtin the most effective means of representing the inherently dialogic quality of discourse is the novel. wilfully or otherwise.

affiliated.2001) that allowed dialogue and the dialogic to assume such importance in his works of the 1930s. Vološinov’s account of discursive interaction (Vološinov 1926. In particular. is the concept that underpins it. Brentanian psychology. are consequences of a failure to recognize and engage with the concept’s place in intellectual history. The implication of all this would appear to be not so much that dialogism is not relevant for narratology. both directly and indirectly. but a set of problems in the study of human language. 1929). But to assert this would be to disregard the prospect that theory describable as “dialogic” does hold out of a sensitive and sophisticated approach. it has also been subject to misinterpretation as a relativistic rather than relational model. Overall. Shepherd 2005). Gestalt theory. a sustained plea that we should always see all sides of an argument. and of the traditions to which he was. not least in what Nünning (2003) describes as the “postclassical” phase in which it seeks to move beyond structuralist typologization (Herman 1999). but that there is a mismatch between the complexities of understanding dialogism in historical perspective on the one hand.Point of View) and voice (→ Speech Representation) to be combined with reference to factors social and ideological. communication and cognition (Linell 1998). 3. was a precondition for the dialogic theory of the utterance that usually but misleadingly bears Baxtin’s name. which drew on. it is essential to recognize that a number of key terms and concepts for which Baxtin tends to be given the sole or principal credit are in fact products and properties of the contexts in which he worked. Bühler’s “organon model” of communication. the work of the linguist Jakubinskij (1923). and on the other narratology’s apparent requirement for an instrument enabling more or less objective description and analysis of certain properties of narrative texts and their effects. apart from dialogism itself. firmly anchored in an account of the concrete institutions in which fiction is produced and consumed. It would also be to disparage unduly the achievements and. the “elaboration of an explicit.1 Relevance for Narratology If the account of dialogic discourse associated with Baxtin has proved attractive. inter alia. the word usually used (although more accurate and appropriate would be “heterology”) to translate the Russian term raznorečie that is often considered a Baxtinian neologism. However. In large measure. the ease with which dialogism has been appropriated as a tool for (not only) literary analysis. complete. heteroglossia. potential of narratology. to questions of authorial. especially. or that “faced with a choice of competing interpretations we must always choose both” (Booker & Juraga 1995: 16). thereby offering apparent cover against accusations of arid narratological neglect of the referent. Perhaps the most notable instance. Brandist 2003. and Cassirer’s Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. and empirically grounded model of narrative accounting for narrative competence (the ability to produce narratives and to process texts as narratives) [that] ultimately constitutes the most significant narratological endeavor” (2003: 12). and the blunting of this tool by casual use. narratorial and readerly agency and interdependence—in Prince’s terms. but that was in fact widely employed by contemporaneous linguists (Zbinden 1999. 66 . with the philosophical and philological contexts in which dialogism denotes not an identifiable quality of a narrative text. this may be because it enables detailed description of aspects of fictional narrative such as point of view (→ Perspective .

M. The Novelness of Bakhtin: Perspectives and Possibilities. Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics. Problemy tvorčestva Dostoevskogo. • Booker. 249–56. (ed). David (1999). Lundquist (eds). H. 71–87. “Discourse in the Novel.” P. • Jakubinskij. an excellent beginning to this investigation is offered by Lock 2001). Sobranie sočinenij. Amsterdam: Benjamins. • Linell.” Dialogism 5–6. • Brandist. Is dialogism a solution to a (narratological) problem. philosophie. and Modern Russian Fiction: Carnival. and History. • Brandist. 59–83. • Nünning. “On Dialogic Speech. • Hirschkop. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum P. • Herman. “Bakhtine. Craig (2002). Austin: U of Texas P. 259–422. London: Pluto P. Melixova (eds).. Narratologies: New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis.” D. Per (1998). Lev P. “Bakhtin’s Linguistic Turn. vol. “Introduction: Narratologies. Bakhtin. Mixail (Bakhtin.4 Topics for Further Investigation (a) The precise relationship between dialogism and other terms used to denote modes of representing point of view (focalization. • Lock. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Keith & Dubravka Juraga (1995). Culture and Politics. Mixail ([1929] 2000). Charles (2001). Bočarov & L. or a convenient denotation of a set of complex (philosophical and linguistic) problems in search of a solution? 5 Bibliography 5. Columbus: Ohio State UP. Lausanne: Presses Centrales de Lausanne. “Narratology or Narratologies? Taking Stock of Recent 67 . la sociologie du langage et le roman. • Baxtin. Sharing Words: Bakhtin’s Dialogism and the History of the Theory of Free Indirect Discourse. Ansgar (2003). Le Discours sur la langue en URSS à l’époque stalinienne (épistémologie. 2. Ken (2001).” M. Micail ([1963] 1984).” PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 112. Craig (2003). S. polyphony. free indirect discourse. “Double Voicing. • Baxtin. Approaching Dialogue: Talk. 21–34. Westport: Greenwood P. idéologie). B. Mikhail) ([1934/35] 1981). The Bakhtin Circle: Philosophy. Interaction and Contexts in Dialogical Perspectives. Dialogism. Sériot (ed). etc. Moskva: Russkie slovari. 1–30. (Iakubinskii) ([1923] 1997). Stalin. 5–175. Manchester: Manchester UP. (b) The implications of the philosophical and philological lineage of dialogism for the project of narratology (this is simply one expression of the broader question of the extent to which literary/critical theory does or does not recognize its historical affiliations). S.1 Works Cited • Baxtin. Bruhn & J. G.” J.

239–75.” D. The Bakhtin Circle: In the Master’s Absence. Herman et al. Michael (2002). Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics. • Brandist.” C. Karine (1999). 5–30. Gerald ([1987] 2003). Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. (Voloshinov) ([1926] 1983).” D. Zbinden. • Morson. Mikhail) (1986). Vološinov. • de Man.” T. Frédéric (2003). M. Mikhail Bakhtin: An Aesthetic for Democracy. Cambridge: Harvard UP.• • • • • • • • • Developments. Ken (1986). Valentin N. Voloshinov) ([1929] 1973). Lausanne: Centre de Traduction Littéraire de Lausanne.” Essays in Poetics 11. “Surveying Narratology. and the Ideas of Their Time. Herman et al.” Dialogism 2. • Matejka. Weber Henking (eds). “Dialogic Characteristics of Philosophical Discourse: The Case of Plato’s Dialogues. Gary Saul & Caryl Emerson (1990). Paul (1983). Mixail (Bakhtin.” C. Bakhtin School Papers. 99–107. “Traducing Bakhtin and Missing Heteroglossia.-H. Narratology. Berlin: de Gruyter. “Dialogism. décalage. “Rhetorical Approaches to Narrative. 41–59. 97–124. 500–04. Ken (1992). Oxford: Clarendon P. • Hirschkop. “Deconstructing Bakhtin.-H. “The Domestication of M. (eds). Shukman (ed). London: Routledge. and Poetics. discordance. La Quadrature du Cercle Bakhtine: traductions. Dictionary of Narratology. 257–66. Ladislav (1996). Gerald (2003). “Discourse in Life and Discourse in Poetry. (eds).” Poetics Today 4.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 36. Dialogism: Bakhtin and His World. Hamarneh (eds).” A.” K. “La Pensée de Bakhtine: dialogisme. Manchester: Manchester UP. David (2005). • Holquist. 102–13. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Kindt & H. The Master and the Slave: Lukács. Prince.2 Further Reading • Baxtin. Valentin N. Müller (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Routledge Encyclopaedia of Narrative Theory. 48–76. Shepherd. influences et remises en contexte. Müller (eds). Toronto: U of Toronto P. Kindt & H. Ken (1999). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory.” T. 1–16. Stanford: Stanford UP. Vološinov. James (2005). • Cossutta. Fiction Updated: Theories of Fictionality. Tihanov. 1983. • Hirschkop. What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Mihailescu & W. Williams. “Dialogue and Dialogism. Prince. Bakhtin. 5. London: Routledge. “Voloshinov’s Dilemma: On the Philosophical Roots of the Dialogic Theory of the Utterance. 68 . • Hirschkop. Craig (2004). Oxford: RPT Publications. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Galin (2000). London: Routledge.-A. Phelan. (eds). 76–87. Berlin: de Gruyter. Austin: U of Texas P. 5–25. 104–05. Critique and Modest Proposals for Future Usages of the Term. Bakhtin. “Is Dialogism for Real?” Social Text 30. Patrick (2005). * Brandist et al. Oxford: Oxford UP. Zbinden & I.

Dialogue and Rhetoric. 69 . London: Routledge.htm>.• Mikhail Bakhtin: The Word in the World. Bergen: U of Bergen. Wolf (1999).uva. Tzvetan ([1981] 1984).Communication Strategies in Russian Text and Theory. 9–23. • Schmid. Lunde (ed).hum. • Todorov. Mikhail Bakhtin: The Dialogical Principle. “Dialogizität in der narrativen Kommunikation. Manchester: Manchester UP. and Amsterdam International Electronic Journal for Cultural Narratology 1 (2005) <http://cf. Graham (2007).” I.

on the one hand.sub. Peter: "Event and Eventfulness". 12 Mar 2012. (eds. usually with reference to a character (agent or patient) or a group of characters. context-dependent decision —with certain features such as relevance. Peter et al. a type of event that satisfies certain additional conditions. A change of state qualifies as a type II event if it is accredited—in an interpretive. one of the constitutive features of narrativity. The difference between event I and event II lies in the degree of specificity of change to which 70 .): the living handbbook of narratology.php?title=Event_and_Eventfulness&oldid=1446 Event and Eventfulness Last modified: 7 June 2011 Peter Hühn 1 Definition The term “event” refers to a change of state.Hühn. on the The concept of event is used primarily in two contexts to define two basic types of narration: a type of narration that can be described linguistically and manifests itself in predicates that express changes (event I). Hühn. and event II.and context-dependent type of narration that implies changes of a special kind (event II). We can distinguish between event I. and unusualness. Both categories are characterized by the presence of a change of state—the transition from one state (situation) to another. unexpectedness. an interpretation. http://hup. 2 Explication The concept of event has become prominent in recent work on narratology. which is a constitutive aspect of narration and distinguishes it from other forms of discourse such as description or argumentation.unihamburg. A type I event is present for every change of state explicitly or implicitly represented in a text. The two types of event correspond to broad and narrow definitions of narrativity respectively: narration as the relation of changes of any kind and narration as the representation of changes with certain qualities. it is generally used to help define narrativity in terms of the sequentiality inherent to the narrated story (→ Narrativity). a general type of event that has no special requirements. This sequentiality involves changes of state in the represented world and thereby implies the presence of temporality time). Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

is integral to a particular type of narrative. of being a decisive. in psychology (Bruner 1991). XI. in research on everyday narratives (Labov 1972). It must. largely objective and independent of interpretation. the sentence “Eveline stepped onto the ship” contains a type I event. the type II event. of the plot in tragedies 71 . each with a different scope. Aristotle’s description. Next. and also in historiography (Suter & Hettling 2001. Herman 2005). Whether these additional conditions are met is a matter of interpretation. The concept of the type II event. unlike event I. Contextual reference of this kind can allow a type I event or a combination of type I events to be transformed into a type II event. and numerous stucturalist approaches (from the Russian formalists to the French and American narratologists of the 1960s to the 1970s).g. In and of itself. Rathmann 2003). XIII). as is implied by event in everyday language. If the historian here describes the Revolution as a type II event on the basis of the profound changes set in motion at the time. 3 History of the Concept and its Study 3. for example. expected course of things. The type I event is treated as a defining feature inherent to every kind of narrative (e. whereas event II concerns a special kind of change that meets certain additional conditions in the sense.1 The Concept of Event in the Poetics of the Tragedy and the Novella The earliest theoretical conceptualization of type II eventfulness specifically refers to drama. event II is therefore a hermeneutic category. has been discussed above all in the context of Lotman’s idea of plot concept. Event I involves all kinds of change of state. or reader) that comprehends and interprets the change of state involved. or as process narration vs. providing the foundation for its raison d’être. These two basic types of narrativity can be contrasted (drawing on Lotman 1970) as plotless narration vs. have been studied primarily in linguistics (Frawley 1992). narration that possesses plot. event-based narration. A type II event. emigration as a new beginning). on the other hand.they refer. in literary theory. Consider the following examples. or reader) to a social context does it acquire special relevance and thereby become a type II event in the sense of being a deviation from what is normal and expected (e. be brought into being and related to its surroundings by an entity (character. A type I event is linguistically expressed by the difference of predicates (Prince 1987). a deviation from the normal. but of a multiplicity of type I events.g. which can largely be described objectively. take a historiographical narrative in which the French Revolution is treated in the context of long-term socio-political developments in France. to a literary or cultural context. X. unpredictable turn in the narrated happenings. narrator. Prince 1987. we are dealing with the transformation not of a single type I event. on the other hand. that is to say. literary computing (Meister 2003). only as a result of reference (via character. acquires the relevance and additional features that constitute it only with reference to intradiegetic expectations. → Tellability). or tellability (Labov 1972. in Poetics (Halliwell 1987: chaps. The two types of event imply different definitions of narrativity. on the other hand. Type I events. narrator.

decisive turn that takes place in the public sphere or is significant in constituting the subject (cf.” in Goethe Wörterbuch 1989). and suffering (pathos). there is a close connection between the event II concept and the genesis and development of the novella genre. not the states. 21–6. Begebenheit means a disquieting. Pabst 1953: 27–41. Tieck describes the central feature of the Novelle as the “turn in the story. if rarely and only at a late stage. In Boccaccio’s Decameron. not the world-view reflected in it. The power of natural desire. anagnorisis and pathos specify its concrete―cognitive and existential―manifestations. with respect to poetological reflection. reprinted in Kunz ed. [1969] 1973: 67–8. it refers to what is new. the unusual as a defining feature of the event. The most concise formulation is to be found in Goethe’s conversations with Eckermann (29 January 1827): “what is a Novelle if not an unheard-of occurrence [Begebenheit] that has taken place. frequently presented with the help of earlier subject matter. reprinted in Kunz ed. In the 19th century. is not as such a theme of the author’s theoretical statements (to be found in the introductory passages). above all. are what matters here. He distinguishes three types of change which singly or —ideally—combined constitute a tragic plot: reversal (peripeteia). Eventfulness II is first mentioned explicitly as a defining feature of the Novelle by Goethe and participants in the German Novelle debate of the 19th century. singular character of facticity (Perels 1998: 179–80. the event. Tieck and Heyse stand out for making the event the defining property of the Novelle in their turning point and falcon theories respectively. however. The obvious eventfulness of the narratives. Aust [1990] 2006: 26–36). As to narrative fiction proper. Contrasting with the cases of eventfulness. This is also the sense in which the term is used in the Conversations of German Refugees (Goethe [1795] 1960: 188). it is instead hidden behind his apologetic stance. frequently assisted by the role of chance. “Begebenheit. Boccaccio and Goethe. and function of providing entertainment.” These words stress both the exceptional nature of an event and its special. In this respect. The relevant authors include. 72 . 181–89): in Goethe’s usage. the plot frequently involves the violation of a prohibition or the crossing of a boundary imposed by moral norms (the affirmation of sexuality) or the social order (the flaunting of class differences). 37).as defined by a decisive turning point. the genre term “novella” is not specific. This implies a revolt against literary tradition (Pabst 1953: 1–7). esp. [1968] 1973: 53). although they refer only to certain aspects of it and then only in a formulaic manner (Swales 1977: 16. conversational style. we also find narratives aligned with the medieval exemplum tradition. which plays down the disruption of norms by diverting attention to the inferiority of the genre (with its orality. leads to an anarchic break with the established order that has the character of an event (Schlaffer 1993: 22–3). Heyse highlights the anomalous.” and “the ‘falcon’ [is] the special quality that distinguishes this story from a thousand others” (1871. but also from ignorance to knowledge. however. that point at which it unexpectedly begins to take an entirely new course” (1829. implicitly with respect to plot structure and explicitly. While peripeteia is to be understood as the formal designation of eventful change. colloquial language. especially in his reference to the falcon (drawn from a Boccaccio novella). in which he says that “the story. The tragic hero thus undergoes a (primarily negative) eventful change from prosperity to adversity. but also to trivial and contemporary affairs. italics in original). recognition (anagnorisis).

and thus serve as the central motivation for reading.g. is also dependent on the presence of deviation from what is normal and on the relevance of such deviation (132–51). was put forward by Labov (1972: 363–70) in his study of everyday narratives. the story of quest or trickery in the fairy tale. These include external evaluation (direct identification). (b) repetition of narrative sequences (e. and self-contradiction. and whether tellability is really determined by the text alone. depth. As a result. as is the isolation of textual structures from (cultural. Kock describes the plot structures concerned with the help of the concept of the narrative trope. Ryan defines tellability in terms of the complexity of the plot sequences that she situates in an “underlying system of purely virtual embedded narratives” (156)—in. Ryan (1991: 148–66) develops a theory of tellability concerning the level of the narrated happenings. Pratt (1977: 63–78) transfers Labov’s approach to literature and shows that his categories apply to literary narrative texts as well. as with event II. Kock (1978) represents an example of such an approach. and the detective novel awake in the reader and the genre-specific plot structures of those genres. thereby generating tension between two levels (intention vs. that is to say. which he uses to refer to aspects of the narrated happenings that have two functions.2 The Concept of Event in the Context of Tellability and the “Point of the Narrative” The event II concept has played no more than a peripheral role in narrative studies to date. In a second take on this issue. they have led to the suggestion that events are one of the reasons why stories are narrated. embedding (of utterances of a character or the narrator in the narrated happenings). but without the term itself being used. He draws a direct link between the interest that genres such as tragedy. however. rejected. the equation of structural complexity with tellability is problematic. as a case of incest. the definitions involved remain unspecific. imagined) courses of action. she suggests. appearances vs. An example of this occurs when the protagonist in a tragic or comic text unwittingly brings about a setback through his own actions. have been highlighted in other contexts and in the guise of different terminology. the tellability of a literary narrative. However. Aspects of the phenomenon. In this way. literary) contexts. the marriage of Oedipus and Jocasta functions as a reward. An early approach to describing narrative noteworthiness. surface vs. outcome. the tellability of a story is derived from the structure of its course and the complexity of that structure. identify the crucial switches or changes in the genres in question. etc.3.g. in which the term “tellability” was introduced. reality. Discussions of tellability and the “point of the narrative” (Labov 1972: 366) are the main examples of such contexts. evaluative action (in which case emotional involvement in the decisive action is reported). but it too is 73 . unrealized (desired. A different kind of approach to defining tellability turns to conventionalized genres rather than individual stories in its study of the crucial points in plot development. its raison d’être. and evaluation by suspension of the action (in which case the central aspect is highlighted by interrupting the reported action). This approach does.). for it is questionable whether complex texts are tellable simply because they are complex. Particularly relevant to eventfulness is her distinction between three types of progression in the narrated happenings (155–56): (a) sudden switches in the plot. and (c) elements of the narrated happenings that have multiple meanings (e. contrasts between the goals and results of characters’ actions. which it examines in terms of structural switches or contrasts. In contrast to Labov’s concentration on mediation techniques. He used evaluation (366–75) as a category for covering the means that the narrator uses to mark what he calls the point of the narrative. and as the fulfillment of a prophecy). it is true. the three wishes or three attempts found in fairy tales). a network of realized and alternative.

marked by concern for scientific accuracy. and the discursive foundations of the event. (b) the grounds on which the sequence of actions is considered surprising and disquieting must be collective in nature—part. The definition of eventfulness proposed in this context displays affinities with the narratological concept of the type II event (3. without criteria (a) and (b). the importance of deviation. Equally. however. as mutually dependent categories. they are set in motion as unpredictable and unique occurrences by individuals and individual actions (Rathmann 2003. first in France. and (c) the sequence of actions must result in structural changes that are perceived and discursively processed by those involved. Differences exist regarding the point of reference. the abstract author. 3. The affinities with the narratological type II event lie in contextual reference. was directed at aspects of the historical event that depend on interpretation: its singularity. However. This criticism. later in Germany. the need for interpretation and perception. it was subjected to increasing theoretical criticism. one factor at work here is the realization that events are an irrefutably relevant aspect of historical processes. whereas narratologists distinguish various points of reference: a change can be eventful for characters.nonetheless vulnerable to the criticism outlined above regarding a definition of eventfulness that is based purely on textual structure-cultural dependency. Thereafter. that is. 74 . the historian or a later generation can be postulated as a possible frame of reference in the case of historical events. Event-based history was superseded by structural history and the history of ordinary life. and the involvement of the subject. see also the volumes edited by these scholars). a renaissance of the event can be observed in recent historiography. Rathmann (2003: 12–4) argues that fulfillment of criterion (c) alone. like the relevance of textinternal norms.4 below). is enough to constitute an event if the change is presented and discursively mediated as a case of major upheaval. or the intended (or actual) reader. Long-term tendencies. of a social horizon of expectations. structures. was an accepted historiographical category until the turn of the 19th century. the narrator. This definition seeks to connect structure and the event. its instantaneous nature. Historical changes do not take place simply because of structural conditions. The event. though. collective mentalities. however: Suter & Hettling and Rathmann suggest primarily that reference is made to the consciousness of contemporaries. too (Rathmann 2003: 3–11). albeit changeable heritage in historiography. processes. Suter & Hettling (2001: 24–5) use three criteria to distinguish events from simple happenings: (a) contemporaries must experience a sequence of actions as disquieting and breaking with expectations. and superindividual regularities were now the object of attention. which usually lacked the foundations of an explicit definition. Suter & Hettling 2001.3 The Concept of Event in Historiographical Theory The concept of event has a long. is ignored. since incidents may turn out to be eventful only in retrospect. the role of relevance. long held to be incompatible with one another.

Todorov (1971: 39) defines change in time as a necessary component of narration by referring to two principles of narrative: successiveness and transformation. in his programmatic definition of a minimal story. → Mediacy and Narrative Mediation). This is the background against which Prince (1973: 31) describes changes as causal-chronological sequences of three elements: “A minimal story consists of three conjoined events: The first and third events are stative.4. the representation of a change (of state. narration alone is set apart from other forms of discourse by the fact that what is represented is marked by temporality (Sternberg 2001: 115. although representations in language or other media—narratives.3. “Explication” above): event I (general changes of any kind) and event II (changes that meet further qualitative conditions). he arrives at a typology of narrative organization that should be understood as involving different kinds of event: mythological. 3. 2005: 11–6). that is. or behavioral norms (40. a change of STATE manifested in DISCOURSE by a process statement in the mode of Do or Happen. By further distinguishing between different kinds of transformation. of situation. Numerous theorists define the minimal story or identify the event as a basic element of narration in the context of an operational explication of the phenomenon of change of state. the third event is the inverse of the first. 42). Stanzel 1955.” Stempel (1973: 328–30) defines the minimal narrative schema syntactically as a sequence of sentential statements that meet the following conditions: the subjects must have the same reference. With respect to the basic elements of the structure of narrative progression.1 Event I The approaches to defining narrativity based on event I are many and varied.” Approaches to a definition that are based on changes in time can be divided into two basic types (cf.4 Discussion of the Concept of Event in Literary Theory The use of the concept of event to define narrativity in the debates of literary theory supersedes (in most cases earlier) attempts to capture the special quality of narration by referring to the role of mediation (e. emphasis in original) uses event to mean a change: “event.g. Event-based approaches are supported by the insight that. In a later take on the issue. are thus a prerequisite for narrative. it must be possible to contrast and correlate the predicates. and the predicates must be chronologically ordered. by Meister (2003: 116.” Similarly Herman (2005: 151): “Events. Prince ([1987] 2003: 28. cognition. but also descriptions and arguments—are always mediated. emphasis in original): “by an EVENT we understand the attribution of distinct properties to an identical event object under a stable EVENT FOCUS” (the term “event focus” refers to the point of reference for the change involved).and place-specific transitions from some source state S […] to some target state S’ […]. Furthermore. gnoseological. on a higher level of abstraction. Friedemann 1910. of a form of behavior) that takes place in time has been identified as constitutive of narration. as in Ryan’s (1991: 124) explanation of her “narrative as state-transition diagram”: “the most widely accepted claim about the nature of narrative is that it represents a chronologically ordered sequence of states and events. Schmid 2003. Todorov ([1968] 1977: 111) proposes a three-stage configuration: initial equilibrium—destabilization—new equilibrium. Bremond ([1966] 1980: 387–88) sets out a more flexible dynamic way of modeling change in which alternatives are also 75 . for example. and ideological transformations—changes. The same idea of the event is put forward. conceived as time.” “Event” here refers to stative and dynamic states of affairs (17). involving situation. Accordingly. the second active.

considered. newspaper articles. Examples include Frawley (1992: 182–95). however. with amelioration or degradation as variants of change (390–92). The study of linguistics has witnessed comparable efforts to draw up predicatebased typologies of events or their components. respectively. and Vendler (1967).2 Event II Use of the concept of event in literary theory requires that type II events meet certain 76 . that can be formalized independently of interpretation and context. general formulas of this kind. who distinguishes between activity. to manifest (non-)realization. Ryan’s system also includes outcomes (the successes or failures that result from actions) and plans (the planning of actions). At any rate. and resultatives. In the terminology of Meister (2003: 107–08. the aim is either to provide no more than a qualitative classification of kinds of change or to distinguish between different types of narrative on the basis of such a classification (which. (a) If they define narrativity in terms of temporality. He puts forward the idea of a three-part elementary sequence of events leading from the virtuality (of a goal or an expectation). for it seems likely that the specific type of eventfulness associated with a genre can be identified only hermeneutically—in terms of event II. particularly in terms of the level of intentionality involved. the epic. they do so with reference to the presence of change on the level of the represented happenings. Herman (2002: 27–51) refers to the selection and linking of such event components in an attempt to define individual narrative genres (e. inchoatives. though. (b) If different types of event are distinguished from one another. wherein the changes take place on the discourse level. The necessity of linguistic mediation is highlighted in the process. 3. Chatman 1978: 92–5) that the crucial processes and aspects of meaning in narrative texts cannot be grasped by means of categories. as conflict resolution). Drawing on Frawley and Vendler. Actions are contrasted with happenings (changes with and without human causation respectively) and moves with passive moves (plan-based action and lack of action. the difference. It was recognized at an early date (Culler 1975: 205–07. and state. concerns merely the recipient’s acts of cognitive interpretation involving the events. all these definitions seek to achieve an objectivizing operationalization of the definition of the event on the basis of linguistic expressions without considering the scope of reference to literary contexts and normative social contexts as a source of meaning. actives.g. the attainment or non-attainment of the goal. 1987) are no different in this respect. such as these. is excluded. we are dealing with object events. which he distinguishes from what he refers to as discourse events. is inadequate as far as the dimension of meaning is concerned). Ryan (1991: 127–47) uses a similar kind of sequential structure with multiple stages to classify events with reference to the causes or driving forces behind them. It is also questionable whether the distinctive nature of a genre can be delineated so clearly from that of other genres or be captured in simple. 114–16). not to changes on the level of discourse (presentation). via the act of (non-)actualization. The undertaking is not a convincing success. The proposals regarding sentence-based definitions (Stempel 1973. Prince 1973. that is to say. Todorov 1968. The hermeneutic role of the reader. who distinguishes between statives. All these different ways of conceptualizing event I have two features in common. ghost stories) in terms of their event structures.4. achievement. accomplishment. but in the vast majority of cases this implies reference to changes in the narrated world alone. that is—rather than on a linguistic level.

In certain historical cultural contexts. → Reader). Bruner uses the idea of “hermeneutic composability” (7– 11) to stress the fact that stories do not exist in the world. First. but also on literary. is a necessary condition of tellability. or one or more characters. and non-iterativity (singularity of the change). requires that a change actually take place (rather than being simply desired or imagined) and that it reach a conclusion (rather than having simply begun or being in progress). the level of relevance often differs depending on whether the point of reference is the real author. momentous. the modality of deviation. unpredictable. we must distinguish the expectations of protagonists from the scripts of author and reader. too. which will now be reviewed not in historical order but systematically. from the principles of the general order of the world). conventions. resulting in a break with expectations. whereas the nature and magnitude of the five additional criteria are predominantly dependent on cultural. Eventfulness. the conventional ideas about the nature of society and reality. unpredictability (deviation from what is expected. or irreversible depends on the established system of norms. Finally. He uses the phrase “canonicity and breach” (11–3) to describe how a precipitating event. progressing from approaches concerned with definition to ones involving methodology and analysis. that is to say.additional conditions. Thus. In theory. Schmid (2003. genre-specific. the place of norms as a point of reference. In order to distinguish event II from event I. In his discussion of the role of narration in structuring reality as part of human existence. This is ultimately true of facticity and resultativity as conditions for full type II eventfulness. irreversibility (persistence and irrevocability of the change’s consequences). The extent to which a change in the narrated world qualifies as significant. → Characters. These criteria allow 77 . are more or less eventful depending on the extent to which these five properties are present. and context sensitivity. the criteria are those of relevance (significance in the represented world). but depend for their existence on human consciousness to provide the horizon against which they stand. if it is to qualify as eventful in the manner of a type II event. historical. Changes. that is to say. or literary contexts and can be interpreted in different ways by the various participants in narrative communication (→ Author. a deviation from what is normal and from routine scripts. current in any given case. changes that are only imagined or not fully realized can acquire (reduced) eventful status in so far as the act of imagining. or similar functions as a sign of a (beginning or faltering) change in a character. effect (implications of the change for the character concerned or the narrated world). e. → Narrator. Breaks of this kind always involve norms (15–6). The relevance of a change can be evaluated differently from different standpoints. 2005: 20–7) defines additional criteria that a change of state must fulfill in order to qualify as an event in this narrower sense. the necessary conditions of facticity and resultativity are binary and contextindependent. Bruner (1991) draws attention to all the central dimensions of eventfulness involved in event II: the hermeneutic component. Specifically. in particular Lotman’s plot model. facticity and resultativity are specified as necessary conditions. the narrator. and can therefore vary historically between different mentalities and cultures. Such conditions have been identified from various perspectives. What for a hero is an unpredictable event can for the reader be a central part of a genre’s script. These binary conditions are supplemented by five properties that can be present to different degrees and must also be displayed by a change. which has proved particularly productive in practice. planning. these features give rise to the context sensitivity (16–8) that makes real-world narration “such a viable instrument for cultural negotiation” (17).g. In the case of unpredictability.

the modality of deviation. By adding the mobility of one or several characters.g. that its function in creating world structure is culturally and historically specific and in this respect embodies the link between text and context. according to how strict the system of norms is and how stable its order. Lotman uses topological terms as the basis for his definition of an event. in the 21st century). By plot. which he defines in terms of spatial semantics as a “unit of plot construction. to be positioned at various points on the plot scale (236). be more or less impermeable. The boundary between the subsets can. a text that possesses plot is created and an event produced (237–38).g. serving. from what it is not. that is to say. can be integrated into the second semantic subset. whose only function is one of classification. Lotman’s plot model (1970) offers a comprehensive approach that combines a contextsensitive and norm-related concept of type II eventfulness with a practical apparatus for analyzing texts in terms of their event structures (Titzmann 2003: 3077–84. but he can also return to the first subset and negate the event (meaning that the established order and norms are affirmed) or remain in 78 . to be broken down into a spread of features. Lotman explicitly distinguishes two kinds of event: a basic concept of event of the event I variety. that is. Determining eventfulness is therefore a hermeneutic process. worthless) tend to be described using spatial images and oppositions (e. good vs. Whether or not a change (e. above vs. which under normal circumstances is impenetrable. Hauschild 2009). for example. ruling vs. In this way. below. as also suggested by Bruner. a boundary crossing. A semantic field represents a normative order. and a concept of event of the event II variety. near vs. Lotman’s plot model provides a powerful set of tools that makes it possible to describe with precision the many forms and degrees of eventfulness in narrative texts.g. 2) the border between these subsets. it would be so to a far lesser degree. valuable vs. An event therefore represents a violation of the established order. left. open vs. after the boundary crossing has taken place. closed. The protagonist. to this plotless substrate. Thus. context sensitivity. if at all. set apart. assembled on a higher level.” writing that “an event in a text is the shifting of a persona across the borders of a semantic field” (233). far. emphasis in original). but he stresses the normative relevance of the definition by pointing out that normative values (e. though in a given instance (a text with a plot always deals with a given instance) it proves to be penetrable for the hero-agent. and the relevance of norms. a deviation from the norm. The concept of the semantic field is shaped by Lotman’s belief that artistic language represents a “secondary modeling system” (9). making it possible for events to have different levels of eventfulness. Lotman defines as plotless a text that simply describes a normative framework and anchors the characters in both subspaces without the possibility of change—a text. the marriage of a female servant and a nobleman) is eventful depends on the historically variable class structure of society (such a marriage was eventful in 18th-century England. moving vs. in extreme cases a “revolutionary event” (238). evil. right vs. that is. normative complexes. Lotman’s spatial semantics should be understood as a metaphor for nonspatial. described as “the smallest indivisible unit of plot construction” (Lotman [1970] 1977: 233). stationary). and thereby become immobile.the role of interpretation. Lotman takes the semantic field with its binary subdivisions as a point of reference for establishing and elucidating the normative dimension of eventfulness and also its dependence on cultural and social historical contexts. 3) the hero-agent” (240. Lotman means an eventful action sequence with three components: “1) some semantic field divided into two mutually complementary subsets. subdivided like any other order into two binary subsets.

inside/outside). the world order itself (if. or an event can also—as a meta-event (Titzmann 2003)—take place as a transformation of the spatial opposition. culture. phenomenon.motion. Subspaces can represent autonomous alternatives in formal terms. changing position within the space. present. normality vs. as opposed to instantaneous. but also the modification of the entire field. everyday vs. 2004). and go through another important change. 2004) reformulates Lotman’s spatial metaphor in terms of set theory. of nature vs. deviation. The approach stresses the fact that eventfulness is dependent on cultural and historical context. to narrative literature on the other. in particular. alternatively. fantasies. wishes contrasting with reality). Titzmann introduces the concept of the modalization of semantic spaces. whether Renner’s extreme formalization of Lotman’s categories really represents a step forward for analysis in practice. however. Typologies of this kind allow the phenomenon of eventfulness to be identified more precisely in texts. the 79 . 2007). or they can be related to one another functionally as contrastive spaces or by their relationship to a certain standpoint (system/environment. foreign. Schönert et al. he introduces the concept of the meta-event. An important prerequisite for this refinement lies in the observation that spaces are not homogeneous but can display a graded structure with respect to their ordering principles: at some stage. Second. adopts opposing ones (adapts to the other field). Hühn 2005. Renner (1983. An event can take place in the form of a boundary crossing by a character in which that character retains his features unchanged or. Subcategories of spatial opposition and boundary crossing. Members of the Narratology Research Group in Hamburg have combined Lotman’s plot and concept of events with schema theory (→ Schemata) to produce a text model designed around narrative theory and a practical model for narratological analysis that includes a detailed typology of events (Hühn & Schönert 2002. set forth again. home vs. removal. Reference is made to lyric poetry on the one hand. 2008. because of his cumulative opposition to the dominant ordering statements. absorption into the opposing space. and Krah (1999) seek to increase the practical suitability of Lotman’s model for textual analysis by refining its concepts and formalizing its categories. for example. Titzmann (2003). First. Spatial subdivisions can also be conceptually defined in many ways. It is questionable. Hühn & Kiefer 2005. or metaleveling (retracting the reorganization of the spatial opposition). are suggested by Krah (1999: 7–9) in the context of a closer study of certain aspects of the concept of space. in terms. the protagonist. Renner (1983. exotic. and it proposes that the relevant contexts be treated in terms of the schemata (frames and scripts) called to mind and activated by the text—that is. This corresponds to forms of event-leveling (by which Krah means ways of continuing after an event has taken place): return to the initial space. the boundary crossing results in the social opposition between the subsets being reconfigured as a morally defined division in the field). or replacement of such ordering statements. past vs. thereby supplying a prerequisite for a closer analysis of it. Titzmann (2003) puts forward two additional categories to supplement those of Lotman. which involves not only the passage of the protagonist from the first to the second subset as a result of his boundary crossing. 240–41). as well as from a gender-specific perspective. reaches an extreme point that qualifies as an event (the extreme point rule). triggering a realignment of field structure (what was the second subset becomes the first subset of a new overall and differently defined field. describing the normative regularities of the semantic space as a set of “ordering statements” so that spatial change can be redefined as a successive process of disruption. for example. This picture of how the boundary crossing takes place provides a more precise impression of it as a potentially progressive. which accounts for the fact that it is possible for subsets to differ from one another in terms of their modality (as dreams.

e. its relationship to different types of culture and social world orders. etc. Asia. or literary. from a break with expectations. this differentiation between event types. since its occurrence involves neither the protagonist nor the narrator as agent. In the context of practical analysis. This prompts readers to undergo an eventful mental change or arrive at a decisive increase in understanding—in both cases ‘against’ the text. 2008). With this in mind. a full expression of the event is distinctively omitted from the text. requires consideration. i. it must be enacted by the (ideal) reader in place of the protagonist or the narrator because they are unwilling or unable to do so.e. based on the structure of the narrative text. one or more characters in the narrated world. the crucial change affects the protagonist on the level of the narrated happenings. can be combined with Krah’s concrete categorizations. or tellability. the crucial change takes place neither on the level of the happenings nor on that of presentation. 4 Topics for Further Investigation (a) The historical dimension of the category of event. gossip. as in the dramatic monologue (Browning. In events in the happenings. in Hühn & Kiefer 2005: 246–51. 5 Bibliography 80 . etc. particularly film and painting. schema theory (whose script concept makes it possible to model processes of change) and plot theory in the Lotman style (which uses the boundary crossing to model deviation and break with the norm) can be combined in the search for a precise definition of eventfulness (Hühn 2008). three types of event can be distinguished (Hühn. (b) The potent concept of event forged by Lotman is particularly well suited for use with literary narrative texts. The presence of eventfulness results from deviation from a script. remains open to study: does it appear—as a sign of the new —more frequently in periods when traditional orders are disintegrating or being weakened (in the modern and modernist periods)? Are events to be found in tradition-bound societies or cultures that operate in terms of tradition and continuity? It would be interesting in this respect to provide a comparison with narrative texts from ‘distant’ cultures not yet affected by the West (South America. such as drama and lyric poetry. Eventful changes involve a participant in the action (an agent or a patient) and can be located on various levels of textual structure (→ Narrative Levels). 2005). but relative and a matter of degree: a text can be more or less eventful depending on the amount of deviation involved (Schmid 2003. news reports. As levels of deviation can be more or less pronounced. Instead. Africa)..) that also involve surprises and the unexpected? (c) The expression of the concept of event in other literary genres. the story of the narrator (Schmid 1982). newspaper articles. Presentation events involve the extradiegetic level. In such cases. genre-specific plot schemata). Correspondingly. In reception events. since they concern the narratorial figure as an agent. How might we describe points of eventfulness. Tennyson) or in Joyce’s Dubliners. eventfulness is not an absolute quality. in the case of other text types (anecdotes.meaning-bearing cultural or literary patterns relevant in each case (such as conventional patterns for how to proceed in choosing a partner. (d) It is also necessary to investigate the expression of the concept of event in other media. i. jokes.

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3028–103.” Diacritics 1. • Prince. • Renner. Berlin: de Gruyter. Passau: Stutz. A Dictionary of Narratology. • Prince. Berlin: de Gruyter. MobyDick.” T. Hannelore (1993). Mary Louise (1977). • Pratt. Kindt & H. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Stempel (eds). 7–32. Poetik der Novelle. Tzvetan (1971). • Sternberg. R. Frank & W. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Karl Nikolaus (2004). 3. Meir (2001).• Pabst. Kunst und Literatur. Christoph (1998). • Swales. Lotman. Marie-Laure (1991). Jahrhundert. Suter & M. “Struktur und Ereignis―Wege zu einer Sozialgeschichte des Ereignisses. • Titzmann. Tübingen: Niemeyer. de Gruyter. Lyrik und Narratologie: Text-Analysen zu deutschsprachigen Gedichten vom 16. Beschreibung und der historische Diskurs. Novellentheorie und Novellendichtung: Zur Geschichte ihrer Antinomie in den romanischen Literaturen. 83–110. “Der Begriff der Begebenheit in Goethes Bemerkungen zur Erzählkunst. Köln: Böhlau. Karl Nikolaus (1983). • Schmid. P. • Schmid. Artificial Intelligence. • Rathmann. Towards a Speech Act Theory of Literary Discourse. “Die narrativen Ebenen ‘Geschehen. Possible Worlds. Wolf (1982). • Schmid. Franz ([1955] 1971). The German ‘Novelle. Struktur und Ereignis.” Ch. Narrative Situations in the Novel: Tom Jones. Semiotik / Semiotics. Zeno (1967). (ed). München: Fink.’ ‘Erzählung’ und ‘Präsentation der Erzählung’. Elemente der Narratologie. 325–45. Müller (eds). M. Medien und Wirtschaft. 177–89.” Th.” G.” Narrative 9. Wolf-Dieter (1973). Posner et al. • Suter. Geschichte und Gesellschaft. “Ereignisse Konstrukte Geschichten. “Semiotische Aspekte der Literaturwissenschaft: Literatursemiotik.’ ‘Geschichte. “The Grammar of Narrative. The Poetics of Prose. bis zum 20. Prinzipien einer adäquaten Wiedergabe narrativer Strukturen. Gerald ([1987] 2003). Goethe in seiner Epoche. What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory.” R.-D. Andreas & Manfred Hettling (2001). • Perels. Stuttgart: Metzler. Wolf (2005). • Renner. T. Koselleck & W. • Stanzel. Der Findling: Eine Erzählung von Heinrich von Kleist und ein Film von George Moorse. The Hague: Mouton.-H. Michael (2003). München: Fink. Thomas (2003). “Grenze und Ereignis: Weiterführende Überlegungen zum Ereigniskonzept von J. Geschichte―Ereignis und Erzählung. “Erzählung. Ulysses. Berlin: de Gruyter. • Todorov. 17–33. Gerald (1973). Walter (1953). Berlin: de Gruyter. • Ryan. Martin (1977). “How Narrativity Makes a Difference. 82 . Bloomington: Indiana UP. and Narrative Theory. Hettling (eds). (eds). vol. 357–81. 1–119. (2007).’ Princeton: Princeton UP. Hamburg: Cram. Wolf (2003). • Todorov. 115–22. et al. Tzvetan ([1968] 1977). 37–44. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Ereignis: Konzeptionen eines Begriffs in Geschichte. “Narrativity and Eventfulness. Bloomington: Indiana UP. • Schönert. • Stempel. Norm―Grenze―Abweichung: Kultursemiotische Studien zu Literatur. 108–19. • Vendler. “The 2 Principles of Narrative.” Wiener Slawistischer Almanach 9.” R. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Lukas (eds). Jörg.” A. • Schlaffer.” T. Linguistics in Philosophy. A Grammar of Stories: An Introduction. The Ambassadors. Ithaca: Cornell UP.

Stefan (2003). Lublin: Folium. Approaches to Fiction. 140–55. Narrativity: How Visual Arts. Straub (eds). • Meuter. 83 . Krisis! Krisenszenarien. Ansgar (2007). Théorie du récit. 209–26. Köln: Böhlau.5. München: Fink.2 Further Reading • Audet. Schmid (ed). “Zur Entstehung von Begriffen aus dem Ungeordneten des Gesprächs. Berlin: de Gruyter. Diagnosen und Diskursstrategien. Zwischen Drama und Erzählung: Ein Beitrag zur Theorie geschehensdarstellender Literatur. Anna (1996). Villeneuve d’Ascq: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion. 2. Stuttgart: Metzler. Reinhart & Wolf-Dieter Stempel. München: Fink. “An (Un)Eventful Story: ‘Events’ in Frank O’Connor’s Short Story ‘The Frying Pan’. Emphatische Prosa: Das Problem der Wirklichkeit der Ereignisse in der Literatur des 19.” Th. 261–89. Pfister (eds).” J. Köln: Böhlau. “Approche descriptive de l’intrigue et de la construction de l’intrigue par la théorie des systèmes. Rathmann (ed). (2007). • Korthals. • Lotman. (1973). • Koselleck. S. Geschichten analysieren. Cinema and Literature are Telling the World Today. Jäger & J.” Th. “Geschichten erzählen. Stuttgart: Steiner. 48– 71. Jurij M. Russische Proto-Narratologie. Das narrativistische Paradigma in den Kulturwissenschaften. Pier (ed). Kunst und Literatur. vol. Ereignis: Konzeptionen eines Begriffs in Geschichte. René. “Zum künstlerischen Raum und zum Problem des Sujets. Handbuch der Kulturwissenschaften: Paradigmen und Disziplinen. Paris: Dis Voir. Ereignis: Konzeptionen eines Begriffs in Geschichte. Eckehard (1992). • Nünning. Kolek (ed).” L. Holger (2003). et al. Kunst und Literatur. 71–80. 103–18. eds. Grunwald & M. Jahrhunderts. Berlin: Schmidt. • Czucka. L’apport de la recherche allemande. • Hühn. “Ereigniskonstruktionen als Literatur. (2009). Barbara (2003). • Kędra-Kardela.” G.” W. Norbert (2004). 63–84. “Grundzüge einer Narratologie der Krise: Wie aus einer Situation ein Plot und eine Krise (konstruiert) werden. Texte in kommentierten Übersetzungen. • Scherer. Rathmann (ed). Peter & Jens Kiefer (2007).” F. Geschichte―Ereignis und Erzählung. • Naumann.

php? title=Fictional_vs. Peter et al.1 The Validity of the Fact/Fiction Opposition Poststructuralist philosophers. narratological in nature: in factual narrative author and narrator are the same person whereas in fictional narrative the narrator (who is part of the fictional world) differs from the author (who is part of the world we are living in) (Genette [1991] 1993: 78–88).): the living handbbook of narratology. this approach insists on the “fictionalizing” nature of narrative because every narrative constructs a world. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. But this fourth definition is better seen as a consequence of the pragmatic definition of fiction. Three major competing definitions have been proposed: (a) semantic definition: factual narrative is referential whereas fictional narrative has no reference (at least not in “our” world). that fact itself is a mode of fiction (a fictio in the sense of a “making up”). Factual Narration Last modified: 4 May 2010 Jean-Marie Schaeffer 1 Definition Factual and fictional narrative are generally defined as a pair of opposites. Factual Narration". anthropologists and literary critics have questioned the validity of the fact/fiction distinction as such. But at least in real-life situations. in a Nietzschean vein. 2 Explication 2. However. One could add a fourth (b) syntactic definition: factual narrative and fictional narrative can be distinguished by their logico-linguistic syntax._Factual_Narration&oldid=759 Fictional vs. Applied to the domain of narrative. (eds. (c) pragmatic definition: factual narrative advances claims of referential truthfulness whereas fictional narrative advances no such claims. sometimes contending. http://hup.Schaeffer. Hühn.uni-hamburg. Jean-Marie: "Fictional vs. 12 Mar 2012. the distinction between factual 84 . there is no consensus as to the rationale of this opposition.sub.

cannot be accounted for in terms of the dichotomy between fact and fiction. notably myths. and more precisely that it is a model projected onto reality.2 Fact and Fiction. Narrative and Non-narrative The relationship between narratology (→ Narratology) and theory of fiction long remained inexistent. It was only at a later stage that narratologists explicitly investigated the relationship between narrative techniques and the fictionality/factuality distinction (Genette 1991. it is clearly considered a type of factual discourse: people adhere to it as serious discourse referring to something real (this is also the case of the Bible. For example. 2. it would be necessary to show independently that the constructive nature of discourse in general or of narrative in particular makes them fictional or at least implies a “fictionalizing” dynamics. One could object to this common-sense assertion that not all societies produce fictional narratives and that often the socially most important narratives. but that what counts as a fact may be relative to a specific “truth program. nor is 85 . But even if it may be true that fictional narrative as a socially recognized practice is not an interculturally universal fact. people can be endowed with powers nobody would imagine them having in everyday life. To rule out ontological realism. As shown by Veyne (1983). Finally.” Furthermore. the profane as distinct from the sacred). The classical models by Genette (1972. and so the common-sense hypothesis remains the default option. as far as myth is concerned.” The poststructuralist criticism of the fact/fiction dichotomy has pointed out that every (narrative) representation is a human construction. therefore. Cohn 1999). for example. developmental psychology and comparative ethnology have shown that the distinction between representations having truth claims and “make-believe” representations is crucial in the ontogenetic development of the cognitive structure of the infant psyche and that this phenomenon is transcultural (see Goldman & Emmison 1995. since mistaking a fictional narrative for a factual one (or vice versa) can have dramatic consequences. Goldman 1998). treated as serious and referring to some reality).g. 1990). all human communities seem to distinguish between actions and discourses that are meant to be taken “seriously” and others whose status is different: they are recognized as “playful pretense” or as “make-believe. It is important. But the fact that discourse in general. that the problem of the distinction between factual and fictional narrative be placed in its wider context. First. were general narratologies whose sole input was fictional texts. the social construction of “truthful discourse” posits an array of “truth programs” linked to various ontological domains (e. 1979). The theory was intended to be valid for all narratives. This proof has never been delivered. This does not imply that there is no distinction between fact and fiction. in myth and its corresponding reality. although in reality the classical narratologists drew only on fictional texts. are constructions does not by itself disqualify ontological realism or the distinction between fact and fiction. in part because classical narratology rarely addressed the question of the fact/fiction difference.e. not every verbal utterance is narrative.and fictional narrative seems to be unavoidable. Thus “myth” can be “true” (i. and narrative discourse in particular. 1983) and Stanzel (1964. even if believing in its truth enters into conflict with what in another ontological domain is accepted as truthful. see Sternberg 1985.

“fiction. is experienced as a fiction. postulating. be they verbal or not. of giving it a form (as in the art of the sculptor). contrary to cognitive fictions. quite different from narrative fiction. Willful deception (lies and manipulations) are. reference is not necessarily verbal: it can also be visual (e. and very often are. true and false belief. fictional). Thus discursive reference cannot be reduced to narrative reference. More generally. and its species narrative fiction. a photograph makes reference claims without being of a discursive nature). Now. It is part of the definition of a cognitive fiction that it is not experienced as a fiction. 86 . for otherwise the result of willful deception will be haphazard. Pt IV. In Latin. this type of fiction. Hume used the term in this sense when he spoke about causality or about a unified self. calling them “fictions” (Hume [1739] 1992: Bk I.” stemming from the second sense of the Latin meaning. it designated acts of pretending. The term fiction has also often been used to designate willful acts of deception intended to be misleading or to produce false beliefs. or even every verbal fiction. And of course not every verbal utterance without factual content is a fiction: erroneous assertions and plain lies are also utterances without factual content. or hypothesizing. on the other hand. Indeed. deceptive fiction resembles cognitive fiction. This means that narrative fictions. by contrast. On the contrary. In classical philosophy. it referred to the act of modeling something. error and lie. should not produce real-world beliefs (even if in fact they sometimes do: fiction has its own pathologies). once again. are best understood as a specific way of producing and using mental representations and semiotic devices. A narrative fiction. Not every fiction is verbal (paintings can be. which implies that at some level pretense is experienced as pretense. the production of a false belief depends at least partly on the existence of true beliefs entertained by the person engaged in deceiving others: to induce willfully false beliefs. is quite different from fiction in the artistic field.g. 2. Sec VI). This means that narrative and fiction are intersecting categories and must be studied as such (see Martínez & Scheffel 2003). one must hold at least some correct beliefs concerning the state of affairs about which false beliefs are to be produced. fiction. Hence the term has usually been linked to questions of existence and nonexistence. Interestingly. is narrative: both a painted portrait of a unicorn and a verbal description of a unicorn are fictions without being narrations. or hypothesizing. In this sense. as Hume himself explicitly stated. Factual narrative is a species of referential representation.” The sense which is most current today—that of a representation portraying an imaginary/invented universe or world—is not its original nor its historically most prominent domain of reference.3 Types of Fiction The difficulty of getting a clear picture of the distinction between factual and fictional narrative results in part from a long history of shifting uses of the term “fiction. “fiction” was often used to designate what we today would call a cognitive illusion (→ Illusion (Aesthetic)). But in the case of willful deception.every referential utterance narrative. and not every fiction. fictio had at least two different meanings: on the one hand. was used in reference to serious ways of pretending. The same holds for fiction. supposing. just as fictional narrative is a species of non-factual representation. the second sense of the Latin term fictio did not put emphasis on the playful dimension of the act of pretending. during most of its long history.

etc. part of the real stuff of reality. Validating (or rejecting) a thought experiment is achieved through technical controversies between specialists who accept it or not. the term is sometimes applied to theoretical entities postulated to account for observational regularities which otherwise would be unexplainable. this may seem to be a situation which resembles that of narrative fiction. by contrast. fictionality is due to the fact that the ontological status (theoretical terms/real entities) of the entities is indeterminate. a narrative fiction. the situation is quite different from fictional entities in the context of narrative fiction: such entities do not operate in real-world commitments. think about how its relevance could be increased or refuted. narrative fictional entities are entities which. etc. Admittedly. Finally. “Fiction.” used this way. Electrons and other elementary particles have been called “fictions” in this sense. 87 . To state the difference more bluntly: a thought experiment is an experimental device of a logical nature. Theoretical fictions are postulated entities whose ontological status remains unclear but which operate in real-world cognitive commitments. if they existed. does not designate something known to be non-existent. a narrative fiction cannot be a thought experiment in the technical sense. and contrary to theoretical entities. but rather that it is successful or unsuccessful in terms of its “effectiveness” as a vector of immersion. Superficially. by contrast. this is also quite different from validating a thought experiment. But all this has nothing to do with validating a thought experiment. for the attitude adopted when creating or reading a thought experiment is an attitude of logical discrimination: we have to verify its formal validity. In other words.In science. its “felicity conditions” are tied primarily to its immersion-inducing effectiveness and to its capacity for producing an aesthetically satisfying experience of its mimetic and artifactual properties. the term is also used to designate thought experiments. its richness as a universe. invites mental or perceptual immersion in an invented universe. is activated in an immersive way: it is “lived” and stored in the reader’s or spectator’s memory as a universe closed on itself. but in fact. would have a canonical ontological status. Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment and Putnam’s Brain in a Vat or Twin Earth thought experiments are fictions in this sense of the word. determine whether or not it is conclusive. reformulate or modify it using criteria of logical consistency and necessity. So the difference is the following: in the case of theoretical fictions. Thought experiments are generally counterfactual deductive devices giving rise to valid conclusions which are integrated into the real-world belief system. a suppositional or counterfactual propositional universe intended to help resolve a philosophical problem. Here again. but is rather the hypothetical postulation of an operative entity whose ontological status remains indeterminate. On the other hand. A narrative fiction. As far as validating it is concerned. or if their existence were asserted. The principal reason why this assimilation is impossible is that the mental experience induced by a narrative fiction and its validation are very different from those of a thought experiment. fictionality is due to the fact that the entities are not inferentially linked to real-world existential propositions. in the case of narrative fictions. narrative fictions can be evaluated in terms of the consistency of the fictional universe or in those of their plausibility in relation to supposed real-world situations or in terms of the desirable character or not of their explicit or implicit standards. engaging the reader or the spectator on an affective level with the persons and events that are depicted or described. since one would not say of an narrative fiction that it is conclusive or faulty.

whereas according to the modal realism defended by Lewis. For the fact/fiction problem. while history only expresses the particular (that which has happened): history relates the life of the individual Alcibiades. Doležel 1998. in which the poet speaks through his characters (as in tragedy and comedy). Mimetic representation is even considered by Aristotle to be superior to history because poetry expresses the general (i. In fact. Ronen 1994. that of verisimilitude or of necessity. According to modal fictionalism. in Plato’s Republic (1974: chap. contrary to rational argument. but also that these powers are of a higher order than those of factual discourse. according to Aristotle. meaning that he pretends to be someone else.” and as such it is opposed to truth: mimesis can never be more than a “make-believe” (for the concept of “make-believe. The Aristotelian conception must be distinguished from “possible worlds” theories of fiction (Pavel 1986. Possible worlds theories of fiction therefore do not claim that fictional truth is more general than factual truth: it is simply true in another world or universe. more specifically. is far from being a unified notion. Plato’s preference goes to pure narration. where pure narration is mixed with characters’ discourse). narrative fiction has not been the Latin concept of fictio. mimesis is a specific form of cognition. it differs from other possible worlds because it is the only one which is also actual. he distinguishes between: (a) a pure story (haple diegesis). Unfortunately. only one is of interest: according to Aristotle. Most classical literary theories which assert that fiction possesses its own truth value do so by reactivating some form or another of the Aristotelian distinction between “mere” factual truth representing contingent actualities and a more “general” type of truth. in which the poet speaks in his own name (as in dithyrambs) without pretending to be someone else. Speaking about stories and myths. which means that it is cut off from truth. is an imitation of appearances. an “as if. The concept of mimesis developed by Aristotle in his Poetics diverges from Plato in several important regards. for he disapproves of representation by mimesis (in Book X of The Republic. He further posits a strong opposition between mimesis and diegesis. 88 . 9. he goes so far as to exclude mimetic artists from the “ideal city”). the probable or necessary relations between events). mimesis triggers cognitive powers of a different kind from those of history. 1980) or Lewis (1973. In fact. but the Greek concept of mimesis. Ryan 1991. 1999). (b) a story by mimesis (imitation). the key concept for analyzing and describing fiction in the sense of artistic and. inspired by the possible worlds logics of Kripke (1963. III and X) and a little later in Aristotle’s Poetics. mimesis. (c) a mixed form combining the two previous forms (as in epic poetry.4 Mimesis and the Fact/Fiction Distinction Historically (at least in Western culture). develop two quite divergent conceptions which have structured Western attitudes toward fiction up to this day. it differs from other possible worlds (which are as real as “our” world) only by the contingent fact that we happen to live in it. representing onto-logical possibilities. Plato’s theory of representation is founded on a strong opposition between imitation of ideas and imitation of appearances (the empirical world): representation of events as such. the real world is also a possible world. Mimesis is a simulacrum. while poetry is a mimetic rendering of the typical actions that an Alcibiades-like individual would probably or by necessity carry out (1996: chap. the first two important discussions of mimesis. like fictio.” see Walton 1990).e. This means not only that. 1978). a fictional world is a counterfactual world.2. but simply an alternative world. In terms of possible worlds theories. 1451b). but this counterfactual world is as individual as the world we live in: the counterfactual world is not of a superior kind to our actual world (whereas in Aristotle mimetic reference attains a higher order of truth than factual reference).

Other mixed situations are even more difficult to handle. for example. firstly. since an assertion which states something about an entity that is nonexistent is ipso facto referentially void. It emphasizes the ontological status of represented entities and/or the truth value status of the proposition or the sequence of propositions which assert these entities. say. since semantic definitions (with the exception of possible worlds semantic definitions: see Doležel 1999) are by necessity “segregationist” (Pavel 1986: 11–7). This is the case for example of the subgenre of counterfactual novels which. Chateaubriand or Stendhal? Does it lose its truth value when it is integrated into a novel? Most advocates of semantic definitions of the fact/fiction dichotomy give a positive answer to this question: the proper name Napoleon. The ontological status of entities and the truth value status of propositions are related. like counterfactual history (see Ferguson ed. Counterfactual fictions seem on the face of it easy to manage. it is difficult to distinguish counterfactual fiction from counterfactual history on these grounds. Hitler winning World War II). Zipfel 2001). However. for example. Ryan 1991. that a narrative in which Napoleon wins the battle of Waterloo is not an example of outright falsehood. But is it the same Napoleon? The principle of “minimal departure” (Lewis 1973.g. These mixed situations are difficult to integrate into a semantic definition of the fact/fiction distinction (see e. does not refer to the real Napoleon but to some fictional counterpart (e. Ronen 1994). for in a historical novel it is important for the reader that the proper names referring to historical persons really do refer to the historical persons as he knows them outside of fiction. 1997). These models being ontologically holistic. but the holism of the possible worlds approach (each possible world being complete) suggests a negative answer. For example. Ryan 1991) suggests a positive answer. Secondly. as in historical novels that often contain a fair amount of factual information. when used in the novel. But it is important to bear in mind.g. the sentence “Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo” seems to express a plain simple truth. it can be said. It was defended by Frege in his famous “On Sense and Reference” (1892) and by Russell in the no less famous “On Denoting” (1905). Counterfactual fictions give rise to an analogous problem: it seems counterintuitive to say that in an autofiction. historical persons and descriptions of their real historical actions figure prominently in fictional texts. but refers to a possible world in which Napoleon wins the battle of Waterloo. Does its status change when it is read in a historical novel as compared to when it is read in a biography of. and not to some fictional homonym of those real persons (see Searle 1975).3 History of the Concepts and their Study 3. Autofiction can be seen as a special case of such counterfactual fictions. proper names lose their referential power. two seminal papers of 20th-century philosophical theories of reference. ascribe fictional actions to historical persons (e. at least in terms of possible worlds semantic models. Whatever the answer. that some types of fiction assign “fictive” properties and actions to proper names that refer to existing entities.1 The Semantic Definition of the Fact/Fiction Difference The semantic definition of the distinction between factual and fictional narrative is the most classical one. since the point of autofiction is precisely the idea that fictional assertions apply to an existing person 89 .g. this seems counterintuitive.

although her theory is formulated in a much more technical way (based on Chomskyan generative grammar). in theory. Banfield. according to Hamburger. and “fiction proper.2 Syntactic Definitions Syntactic definitions of the distinction between factual and fictional narrative commend themselves by their promise of economy: if it were possible to distinguish factual and fictional narrative on purely syntactic grounds. Even so. Among the anomalies defining the novel understood this way. are excluded from factual narrative. It would then be possible to arrive at a purely “formal” definition of the two domains. fictional sentences are “unspeakable.” In fact.” which is a simulation of imaginary universes indexed to perspectively organized mental states and which defines non-factual third-person narrative. at least in the first edition of her book (1957). This special shifter suspends the “one text / one speaker” rule that governs discourse outside of fiction and which is grounded in the principle that deictics shift referent with each new E (each new speaker). defends a position similar to that of the German critic. there would be no need to take a position as far as semantic problems are concerned. the specific grammar of the novel consists in a double phenomenon: elimination of the first person except in inner direct speech coinciding with the construction of a special third-person pronoun (called “the E-level shifter” by Banfield). Therefore. a view sharply opposed to mainstream narratology according to which the narrator (not necessarily personified) is a structural element of any narration. first-person or third-person. in the narrative realm only third-person narrative is fictional. be they epistemological or ontological. This does not amount to saying that semantic criteria are irrelevant. This situation is of course impossible in real-life communication. Banfield puts particular emphasis on the specific use of deictics and free indirect discourse.” which is a simulation of real utterances and defines the status of first-person non-factual narrative. In other words. She develops a “grammatical definition” (Banfield 1982. contrary to pretense. The best-known theories that seek to define fiction on a syntactic level have been elaborated by Hamburger (1957) and Banfield (1982). a new point of view need not correspond to a new referent of the first person and hence to a new text. 3.(the author himself). contends that. Banfield’s “E-level shifter” is functionally equivalent to Hamburger’s floating “narrative function” which can move freely between different “I-origins.” which in fact is a definition of internally focalized heterodiegetic fiction. that of pretended utterances. Hamburger famously stated that the domain of what is usually regarded as fiction divides into two radically disjoined fields: “pretense. In a novel. be it factual or fictional. where each point of view is tied to a specific person. According to her theory. Both theories define fictional narrative by syntactic traits which. and for this reason the idea of the non-referential status of the universe portrayed is part of our standard understanding of fictional narrative. fiction is narratorless. Thus a narrative in which every sentence is true (referentially) and which nevertheless pretends to be a fiction would not be easily accepted as a fiction.” 90 . for the idea that there is a semantic difference between fact and fiction certainly is part of our conception of fiction. Hamburger. 2002) of the genre “novel. Invented entities and actions are the common stuff of fiction. this does not necessarily mean that a semantic definition of fiction is workable. non-factual first-person narrative belonging to another logical field.

1999: 179–97). All of these phenomena are tied to what Banfield aptly calls a “special” third-person pronoun which is able to shift freely between different Egos. it would be necessary to accept the counterintuitive conclusion that most fictional texts fall short of the definition of fiction. as definitions they have severe shortcomings: to accept them. If we take a broad historical and intercultural outlook.) perspective (Schaeffer 1998: 148–66. If semantic definitions of fiction are generally too weak (they fail to distinguish between a fiction and a lie). So instead of interpreting the symptoms of fictionality in an essentialist way and trying to use them as definitional criteria of fiction. Whatever the importance of the insights gained by syntactic definitions of the fact/fiction distinction. experiencing the fictional world as it is seen perspectively by the characters from within or sometimes. On the side of the reader. etc. 3. cultural. from a point of view that remains empty (in terms of a specific “I”). as Hamburger and Banfield do. these deviating practices are in fact the grammatical third-person transcription of the imaginative simulation of “fictive I-origins” (→ Character). in the 20th-century fiction. are a case in point. and cognitive perspective: why did verbal fiction in the course of its evolution develop devices aimed at neutralizing the enunciative structure of language in favor of a purely “presentational” use? To our best knowledge.3 The Pragmatic Status of Narrative Fiction: Imagination and Playful Pretense 91 . syntactic definitions are generally too strong (many texts must be excluded which common sense considers to be fictional). This is especially true of free indirect discourse and grammatical anomalies of spatial and temporal deictics. the systematic use of internal (variable) focalization is fairly recent (as Banfield and Hamburger acknowledge).” and which correspond to Plato’s haple diegesis. it is no less true that the majority of heterodiegetic fictions also contain elements that are best described as simulations of factual narrative statements (Schaeffer 1999: 61–132). The symptoms of fictionality (see Schmid 2005: 37–46) analyzed by Hamburger and Banfield all share the same characteristic: they use a third-person grammatical perspective to present a first-person mental (perceptual. it appears that heterodiegetic fictions without any element of formal mimesis in third-person factual narrative are relatively rare except in some 19thcentury fiction and. Contra Hamburger and Banfield. On the side of the writer. Furthermore.Hamburger and Banfield have clearly identified linguistic processes which are typical of internally focalized heterodiegetic fiction (→ Focalization) and which cannot be easily accounted for in terms of pretense in third-person factual narrative. The textual passages which Banfield calls “pure narration. More generally. They invite an analysis of fictional narrative in terms of direct simulation of imaginary universes presented perspectively and (on the side of the reader) in terms of immersion (see Ryan 2001: 89–171). however. more frequently. we should study them in a historical. they activate an immersive dynamics: the reader “slips into” the characters. as Banfield suggests. if we look at the history of narrative fiction. it would be necessary either to exclude first-person narration from the realm of fiction (Hamburger) or to distinguish between a grammar of epic narration and a grammar of the novel (Banfield). the answer to this question has to do with the processes of immersive simulation induced by narrative and maximized by fictional narrative.

It could be argued. In the light of this pragmatic definition. the domain of pictorial depiction: paintings cannot be described in terms of pretended speech acts because pictorial depiction is not a speech act (1990: Part I. It could be argued. what distinguishes fictional narrative from factual narrative is not that the former is referentially void and the latter referentially full. The pragmatic definition of fiction also highlights the difference between narrative fiction qua playful or artistic fiction and the types of fiction which are tied to the question of truth value and belief. have been specifically designed to do so. As propounded by Searle. What distinguishes them is the fact that in the case of fictional narrative the 92 . however. Walton.e. Even so. whose contribution to a pragmatics of fiction is as important as Searle’s. public representations only possess derived intentionality. and most of the time narrative texts which publicly function as props in a game of make-believe or as playful pretenses are intended to function in this way and. but for the competent reader there also exist many textual “signposts” (Cohn 1990) signaling fictionality or factuality (see Iser 1983: 121– 52). So if it is true that fictional intention cannot define fiction as a pragmatic stance. error. and manipulation are opposed to truth. It has also been objected to Searle that his definition of fiction as intended playful pretense is unable to explain the fact that many texts intended to be factual end up being read as fictions. and a general definition of fiction in terms of intended playful pretense. meaning that a fiction is a fiction because it functions as such independently of the question of whether or not somebody intended it to function in that way. Narrative fiction qua artistic fiction is not opposed to truth in the way cognitive illusion. even though the idea of defining fiction pragmatically is much older than Searle. among other things. These signals are often paratextual. which implies that mental intentionality is not transparent across minds: it has to be communicated by conventional means. i. 2. that Searle’s theory operates at two levels: a definition of verbal narrative fiction in terms of pretended speech acts. using verbal or other signals. A pragmatic theory of narrative fiction was implicitly defended by Hume. but Searle’s interest lies primarily in the canonical public status of narrative fiction. people link them to their pragmatic specificity because it is only by treating representations in this particular way that they become fictional representations (instead of false statements or lies). that wherever and whenever public representations function as fictions. Walton argues that fictional intention cannot be a defining property of fiction: a fiction is any object which serves as a prop in a game of make-believe.The pragmatic definition of fiction is generally linked to the name of Searle. It is important to distinguish the question of the structural function of intentionality from that of the communication of that intentionality. Walton is surely right. objected to the latter’s definition that the notion of a pretended speech act cannot yield a general definition of fiction because it has no application in. more generally. Searle’s definition of verbal fiction in terms of pretended speech acts ([1975] 1979: 58–75) is certainly one of the most important and influential contemporary pragmatic analyses of the fact/fiction distinction in the domain of verbal narrative. it is best characterized by the irrelevance of realworld truth conditions. more importantly.6). This is true also for the intention of fictionality: as shown by Koselleck (1979). it is nevertheless the existence of a shared intention which explains the fact that the emergence of fictional devices has the cultural and technical history it has. who is certainly its most important proponent. According to Searle. nor is it constrained by realworld truth conditions in the way the suppositional and counterfactual fictions of thought experiments are. the intention to create a factual or a fictional text has to be communicated by signals to be effective.

simulation is a very broad concept which encompasses much more than fiction. The conditions for satisfying the criteria of fictional narrative are pragmatic: the truth claims a text would make if it (the same text. Immersion and the Fact/Fiction Divide In recent years. the pragmatic definition claims that the syntactic status of fiction depends on its formal make-up. Genette (1991: chap. but not what fiction is. So Searle’s thesis is compatible with the fact that fictional texts and factual texts generally differ syntactically. Searle has been criticized for excluding the possibility of any syntactical criterion of fictionality (Cohn 1990). but that its status as fiction (or not) depends on the way the representations implemented by the text are processed or used. 2). The conditions for satisfying the criteria of factual narrative are semantic: a factual narrative is either true or false. Theories of mental simulation were originally developed in order to account for “mind reading. Zipfel 2001: 185–95). Pt III. invites the reader to imagine the content transmitted by the pretended speech acts (see Crittenden 1991: 45–52. In conclusion. 3. he only claims that syntactical markers of fictionality are neither necessary (a fictional text can be textually indistinguishable from a factual counterpart) nor sufficient (a factual text may use fictional techniques). A more important criticism is that Searle’s pragmatic definition is only negative: it tells us what fiction is not. the ability to explain and predict the intentional behaviors and reactions of others. but the use to which it is put will differ according to the pragmatic attitude (see Hume [1739] 1992: Bk I. The notion of simulation and its cognate immersion seem especially fruitful and may well lead to a better understanding of both the distinction between fact and fiction in narrative and their interplay. Even if it is willfully false (as is the case if it is a lie). a partly sub-personal process (Dokic & Proust 2002: intro.” i. Could it be that the mental specificity of fictional narrative is to be found in mental simulation? Actually. The same fact was pointed out long ago by Hume: one and the same text may be read both as fiction and nonfiction. but that which is in fact the case. alternatively.question of referentiality is irrelevant.e.4 Simulation. while accepting Searle’s definition of fiction as a series of non-serious utterances. This would imply that the pair fact/fiction is logically heterogeneous.. its semantic status on its relationship to reality. whereas in non-fictional narrative contexts it is important to know whether the narrative propositions are referentially void or not. theories of fiction and narratology have been renewed by cognitive science (→ Cognitive Narratology). In fact. vii). Simulation and playful pretense are basic human capacities whose roots are situated in mental simulation. or. proposed to amend it by distinguishing two levels of illocution: a literal level—the level of the pretended speech acts —concealing a figural or indirect level that transmits a serious speech act (a declaration or a demand) which declares fictionally that such and such an event occurred. what determines its truth or its untruth is not its (hidden) pragmatic intention. The text (in its syntactic and semantic dimensions) remains the same whatever the type of pragmatic attitude. from the syntactic point of view) were a factual text (be these claims true or false) must be bracketed out. Sec VII). The assumption of simulation theories is that the competence of mind reading makes it possible to 93 .

but rather they have arisen slowly out of the practice of writing fiction. by a comparison between behaviors predicted by the simulation and an actually occurring behavior). but that this “playing into” is pretty much indirect. not every narrative is fictional. both fictional and non-fictional narrative texts invite readers to imagine a world (2001: 93): this “recreative” imagination (Currie & Ravenscroft 2002) is a process of immersive simulation.e. the agents and actions are invented in and through the process of simulation. Basically it can be said that if every fiction results from a process of mental simulation. narrative (heterodiegetic) fiction implies the existence of a narrator or not (→ Narrator). the postulated entities of fictional representations are not fed into our belief system concerning the trappings of the real world. fictional devices are generally (but not always and not necessarily) constructed so as to maximize their immersion-inducing power. Of course. as the “mind reader” immerses himself in scenarios and scripts. But. they are not random. mental representations triggered by fictional simulation are not fed into real-world feedback loops. it is constrained by the necessity of correctly identifying and assessing the real properties of the person whose mental states are being simulated as well as by the context in which that person is found. Cognitive science also has shown that simulation and immersive processes are not limited to fictional narratives.put oneself imaginatively “into someone else’s shoes. Among other things. simulation theories may also help to achieve a better understanding of the grammatical deviations or anomalies of internal focalization in heterodiegetic fictional narrative as studied by Hamburger and Banfield. narrative immersion is not limited to fiction. Finally. the results of a fictional narrative simulation are not fed into ongoing real-world interactions.” It is true that mind reading has a strong narrative component. of course. i. but also a pragmatically encapsulated activity of simulation.g. both options are open. however. Nevertheless. or into a narrative act depicting a world? Does narrative fiction induce immersion through mimetic primers feigning descriptive utterances. In the case of fictional simulation. Another point where simulation theories could be illuminating concerns the ongoing debate in narrative studies as to whether. the opposite is not the case. depending on the structure of the text. Except for pathological cases. What is at stake here is in fact the question of the target domain of narrative immersion: does the reader or spectator immerge into a (fictional) world. contrary to referentially oriented representing devices. This means that. but on the contrary structurally coherent and functionally pertinent. (b) simulation must reproduce that person’s intentional states in a reliable way. Mind reading has a strong epistemic component: (a) it simulates the mental states of a really existing person. as is the case in factual narrative. This does not mean that make-believe beliefs do not play into the inferential processes concerning real-world situations. or simply through a perspectively organized mentally centered and phenomenologically saturated presentation of a universe? As Currie & Ravenscroft (2002) have shown. As Ryan has convincingly shown. At the same time. contrary to the results of mind reading. that every simulation produces a fiction. Every narrative induces varying degrees of immersive experience. It could therefore be hypothesized that they are the result of deep-level linguistic rearrangements due to cognitive-representational pressures stemming 94 .e. This process is not referentially constrained and cannot be validated or invalidated in a direct way (e. These “deviations” are not the result of conscious stipulations or decisions. Fictional (narrative) simulation is not only off-line representational activity (as is every simulation). i.

Ann (1982). • Crittenden.” Poetics Today 11. Heath. Columbus: Ohio State UP. Tr. Cornell: Cornell UP. Narrative Discourse Revisited. • Genette. Oxford: Oxford UP. Narratologies: New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis. • Goldman. the real aim of the immersive process becomes how to maximize it. Ann (2002). 56–78. Dorrit (1990). 753–74. Herman (ed. Ithaca: Cornell UP. and if these linguistic anomalies were to be read as a cooptation of language by fictional simulation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP.). 4. • Doležel. Lubomír (1999). Heterocosmica: Fiction and Possible Worlds. Recreative Minds. Gregory & Ian Ravenscroft (2002). Harmondsworth: Penguin. ed. Simulation and Knowledge of Action. Mimesis and Make-Believe. but also phenomenological and imaginative. Gottlob ([1862] 1960). • Banfield. Lubomír (1998). • Cohn. “A Grammatical Definition of the Genre ‘Novel’. Ithaca: Cornell UP. this would imply that at some deep level the immersion induced by verbal narrative is never only propositional. If such were the case. Gérard ([1991] 1993). Child’s Play: Myth. • Doležel. “Fictional and Historical Narrative: Meeting the Postmodernist Challenge.” D. Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactual. Laurence (1998). • Banfield. Ithaca: Cornell UP. “On Sense and Reference. Jérôme & Joëlle Proust (2002). Black (eds). “Signposts of Fictionality. • Currie. The difference between factual and fictional narrative as far as simulation is concerned could thus be explained by the fact that once narrative is liberated from the epistemic constraints of truth value.” P. Amsterdam: Benjamins. This in turn would serve to account for the development of the anomalies studied by Hamburger and Banfield. • Genette. The fact that the evolution of third-person fiction has given rise to techniques for neutralizing the enunciative anchoring of sentences could be interpreted as a symptom of the fact that narration as such induces this type of phenomenological immersion. M. New 95 . • Dokic. • Frege. Fiction and Diction. Dorrit (1999). Unreality: The Metaphysics of Fictional Objects. (1997).1 Works Cited • Aristotle (1996).” Polyphonie – linguistique et littéraire / Lingvistik og litterær polyfoni No. 77–100. Poetics. The Distinction of Fiction. • Cohn. Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Gérard ([1983] 1988). London: Picador. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Gérard ([1972] 1980). Geach & M. Oxford: Blackwell. • Genette. 4 Bibliography 4. 247–73. Charles (1991).from the immersive process of mental simulation. Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege. Niall. • Ferguson. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction.

Elemente der Narratologie. 37– 46. Bertrand ([1905] 2005).( [1979] 1984). Reinhard (1979). Schwartz (ed). David ([1739] 1992). Pourquoi la fiction? Paris: Seuil. Pavel. Franz K. Berlin: Schmidt. Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Ryan. Walton.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • York: Berg. David (1978). Russell. Funktionen des Fiktiven. Tr. 221–38. Myth. Wolf (2005). “Narratology and Theory of Fiction: Remarks on a Complex Relationship. David (1973). L. Harmondsworth: Penguin.” Special Issue: 100 Years of “On Denoting. Saul (1963). Thomas (1986). Oder: Was ist das Fiktive im fiktionalen Text?” D. Frank (2001).M. ” R. Schmid. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Possible Worlds. München: Fink. and Narrative Theory. Expression and Meaning. Ronen. Kendall (1990). Pretense and Narration. Naming and Necessity. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 148–66. Kindt & H. Zur Semantik geschichtlicher Zeiten. Schaeffer. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. “Semantical Considerations on Modal Logic. Kripke. Käte ([1957] 1973). Cambridge: Harvard UP. 83–94. Bloomington: Indiana UP.” American Philosophical Quarterly 15. Laurence & Michael Emmison (1995).” J. Matías & Michael Scheffel (2003). “Make-Believe Play among Huli Children: Performance. “The logical status of fictional discourse. John ([1975] 1979). Meir (1985). Franz K.” Mind 114. Frankfurt a. “Truth in Fiction. Les Grecs croyaient-ils à leurs mythes? Paris: Seuil. Fiktionalität: Analysen zur Fiktion in der Literatur und zum Fiktionsbegriff in der Literaturwissenschaft. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Goldman. Mimesis as Make-Believe.” T. Zipfel. Kripke. Veyne.” Acta Philosophica Fennica 16. Stanzel. Fiktivität.” Ethnology 34. Iser (eds). Koselleck. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Buffalo: Prometheus Books. Jean-Marie (1998). “On Denoting. Schaeffer. Searle. The Book and the Text: The Bible and Literary Theory. “Fiction. Counterfactuals. Ryan. Sternberg.” Style 32. Cambridge: Harvard UP. S. The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading. Sternberg. Possible Worlds in Fictional Literature. Typische Formen des Romans. Lewis. Cambridge: Harvard UP. (1964). Fiktion. Hume. Plato (1974). Saul (1980). Lewis. Desmond. Fictional Worlds. The Logic of Literature. Berlin: de Gruyter. Martínez. 96 . Marie-Laure (1991). Henrich & W. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Wolfgang (1983).: Suhrkamp. Ruth (1994). Hamburger. Müller (eds). Vergangene Zukunft. Treatise of Human Nature. Marie-Laure (2001). 58–75. Stanzel. “Time and Space in Biblical (Hi)story Telling: The Grand Chronology. Berlin: de Gruyter. “Akte des Fingierens. Meir (1990). 225–55. Jean-Marie (1999). Artificial Intelligence.-H. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Iser. and Imagination. Narrative as Virtual Reality. 873–87. What Is Narratology: Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Paul (1983). 121–52. The Republic. A Theory of Narrative. Oxford: Blackwell.

Columbus: Ohio State UP. 97 .4. Practical and Religious Fictions of Mankind. Towards a Speech Act Theory of Narrative Discourse. Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel. London: Routledge. Lisa (2006). A System of the Theoretical. • Pratt. Fictional Minds. Mary Louise (1977). Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Karl ([1911] 1984). • Vaihinger. Bloomington: Indiana UP.2 Further Reading • Palmer. • Zunshine. The Philosophy of “As If”. Alan (2002).

de/lhn/index. however.sub. may be defined as a selection or restriction of narrative information in relation to the experience and knowledge of the narrator. Narrator = Character (the narrator says only what a given character knows). Narrator < Character (the narrator says less than the character knows). Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. a term coined by Genette (1972). 98 . describing it as a mere “reformulation” ([1983] 1988: 65) and “general presentation of the standard idea of ‘point of view’” (84).’ and which Todorov symbolizes by the formula Narrator > Character (where the narrator knows more than the character. internal and external—and explains his typology by relating it to previous theories: “The first term [zero focalization] corresponds to what English-language criticism calls narrative with omniscient narrator and Pouillon ‘vision from behind. Peter et al. says more than any of the characters knows). more hypothetical entities in the storyworld.): the living handbbook of narratology. (eds.php?title=Focalization&oldid=1561 Focalization Last modified: 4 August 2011 Burkhard Niederhoff 1 Definition Focalization. or with ‘restricted field’ after Blin. Burkhard: "Focalization". In the second term [internal focalization]. Pouillon calls it ‘vision with. what Pouillon calls ‘vision from without’” ([1972] 1980: 188–89).unihamburg. 12 Mar 2012. Genette distinguishes three types or degrees of focalization—zero. This.’ In the third term [external focalization]. Hühn. or more exactly. He considers it to be more or less synonymous with these terms. is an underestimation of the conceptual differences between focalization and the traditional terms. http://hup.Point of View). 2 Explication Genette introduced the term “focalization” as a replacement for “perspective” and “point of view” (→ Perspective . the characters or other.Niederhoff. this is the ‘objective’ or ‘behaviorist’ narrative. this is narrative with ‘point of view’ after Lubbock.

That these two models are not equivalent has been shown by Kablitz (1988). more simply. a measurement of the relative length of the normative and the transgressive portions of the text. Most previous theories analyze such categories as first-person narrator. To tell a story from a character’s point of view means to present the events as they are perceived. Genette believes that such cavalier treatments of the subject “suffer from a regrettable confusion […] between the question who is the character whose point of view orients the narrative perspective? and the very different question who is the narrator—or. 99 . her examples and her analyses show that “legitimacy” in matters of focalization is far from self-evident. If focalization is to be more than a mere “reformulation” of point of view. e. Genette himself leans in the direction of the Todorovian. he talks about focalization in terms of the point-of-view paradigm.g. amounts or kinds of information that are accessible under the norms of a particular focalization. felt. He thus defines it as “a restriction of ‘field’ […]. and a more traditional one based on the metaphors of vision and point of view. it is this aspect of the term. when he describes it as placing narrative focus at a particular “point” ([1983] 1988: 73). and for how long she has been living in a certain town. Genette’s emphasis on knowledge and information is also revealed by his extensive treatment of alterations ([1972] 1980: 194–98). defined as a transgression of the informational norm established by the focalization of a text. omniscience. Genette consistently writes “focalisation sur” in French: while a story is told from a particular point of view. or restriction to. interpreted and evaluated by her at a particular moment. This preposition indicates the selection of. and paralipsis. Instead. but in general. information-based model. which is derived from Pouillon and Lubbock. a narrative focuses on something. the norms that are violated by these transgressions cannot be defined in advance (e. it rests on rather arbitrary assumptions about the limited knowledge of first-person narrators and the unlimited knowledge of third-person narrators. he thinks of focalization in terms of knowledge and information. According to Genette. Shen disagrees with this view. a position that has ignited a considerable amount of controversy. However. Alterations take two forms: paralepsis. arguing that it boils down to a merely quantitative approach. usually point of view. the question who sees? and the question who speaks?” ([1972] 1980: 186). If a novel begins by telling us who a character is. it will reveal no more than the character knows herself. but no one would describe such a beginning as an example of “vision with” or character point of view. In her case. the norms are established by each particular text: “The decisive criterion is not so much material possibility or even psychological plausibility as it is textual coherence and narrative tonality” (208).The passage synthesizes two models: a quasi-mathematical one in which the amount of narrative information is indicated by the formulas derived from Todorov. to whom she is married. the information-based model. the inclusion of an event against the norm of a particular focalization. by commonsensical inferences as to what a particular narrator may have learnt about the story he or she tells). This emphasis is also implied by the very term itself and the preposition that goes along with it. a similarly transgressive omission of such an event. What follows from the separation of the two questions is a plea for a relatively free combination of narrator types and focalization types.g. On occasion. and camera perspective under one umbrella term. a selection of narrative information with respect to what was traditionally called omniscience” ([1983] 1988: 74). she suggests that there is a more general “legitimacy” that is violated by alterations (2001: 168–69). which should be emphasized. A major point in Genette’s theory is his rigorous separation between focalization and the narrator (referred to with the grammatical metaphor of “voice”).

Nünning 1990: 255–56). including the separation and free combination of narrator and focalization types. Edmiston 1991: X. Bal [1985] 1997: 143. Genette himself claims that his term is preferable because it is less visual and metaphorical than the traditional ones ([1972] 1980: 189). Nor is it improved by the fact that some of them use the new term while still thinking along the lines of the old. The continuing influence of the point-of-view paradigm also seems to underlie Bal’s reconceptualization of Genette’s typology in terms of focalizing subjects and focalized objects. Hence the need for Genette’s term” (1990: 144). the main argument is that the term dispels the confusion of the questions who sees? and who speaks? This argument has become a veritable commonplace (e. for example. Nelles 1990: 366. It is perfectly possible to embrace Genette’s scheme.3 History of the Concept and its Study Genette’s theory was welcomed as a considerable advance on the previous paradigm of perspective or point of view. Füger 1993: 44). the distinction between Genette’s zero 100 . Füger. but he does not establish a connection between these polemics and his neologism—nor is there such a connection. and she points out that Genette ought to have written “focalisation par” instead of “focalisation sur” (1977: 29). On the contrary. Nünning 1990: 253. focalization. The rendering of sur as through speaks volumes. at least by narratologists. the connection between the question who sees? and point of view should be a little more evident than between who sees? and focalization. narrative voice and focalization. i.g. It seems that the translator is under the spell of the point-of-view paradigm. Finney states it as follows: “‘Focalization’ is a term coined by Gérard Genette to distinguish between narrative agency and visual mediation. Thus she admits that perspective “reflects precisely” what she means by focalization ([1985] 1997: 143). However.e. Rimmon-Kenan [1983] 2002: 71. focalization dispels the confusion of seeing and speaking no more than the traditional terms do. Other critics prefer it because it is not part of everyday speech and thus more suitable as a technical term with a specialized meaning (Bal [1985] 1997: 144. which is nothing but a roundabout paraphrase of point of view. explains that internal and external focalization can be distinguished by the “situation of the agent of the process of perception” (1993: 47). Bal’s influential revision of Genette’s theory is another example of the reinterpretation of focalization in terms of point of view. ‘Point of View’ confuses speaking and seeing. overlooking the semantic differences between them and neglecting the new conceptual emphasis of the neologism. “[T]he narrative mood of the Recherche is very often internal focalization through the hero” ([1972] 1980: 199). It is true that Genette introduces the term focalization immediately after his polemics against the typological conflation of who sees? and who speaks?. Instead of thinking about focalization as a selection of or a focusing on a particular region of the storyworld—in this case the mind of the protagonist—the translator regards this mind as a kind of window through or from which the world is perceived. As a term. while referring to his three focalizations as points of view. A characteristic instance of the reinterpretation of focalization in terms of point of view is a change of preposition in the English translation of Genette’s study: “[L]e mode narratif de la Recherche est bien souvent la focalisation interne sur le héros” (1972: 214). and the neologism of focalization has been widely adopted. The case that the advocates of focalization have made for its superiority to point of view is by no means beyond dispute. O’Neill 1992: 331. although she is more aware of this than others. According to her.

appearances. Furthermore.focalization and his internal focalization lies in the agent or subject that “sees” the story (the narrator in the first case. but they cannot be dissociated totally. this point would appear to lie outside the characters in both cases. a character in the second). If one thinks about Genette’s zero and external focalization in terms of a point from which the characters are viewed. Furthermore. The equation of focalization with perception is also made by David Herman in “Hypothetical Focalization” (1994).]. It ultimately reduces the analysis of focalization to a paraphrase of narrative content. There are two types of focalization: character-bound or internal (Genette’s internal focalization) and external (Genette’s zero and external focalization combined into one). as though there were no correlation between them” (1991: 153). the “focalized object” is a misleading concept: the crucial distinction concerning such objects is between “perceptible” and “imperceptible” ones. including the characters’ minds. whereas his internal and external types differ in the focalized objects. in the range of objects that can be represented. feelings. who explicitly states that his “discussion links focalization only to the perception of the narrated by (or through. The first provides us with complete access to all the regions of the storyworld. hypothetical or fantasized) presented in whatever form (narrated. it must be said that. however. Another feature of Bal’s theory. etc. pointed out and criticized by Jahn. among other things. At least some of the elements in this reconceptualization result from Bal’s adherence to the point-of-view paradigm. actions and appearances in the second). to identifying acts of perception. It is simply erroneous to claim that Genette’s zero and internal types are distinguished by the focalizing subjects. All of Genette’s focalizations vary. whereas in the second the access is extremely limited and no inside views are possible. the difference between Genette’s internal and external focalization.. this change makes some sense. has nothing to do with the subject that “sees” but with the object that is “seen” (thoughts and feelings in the first case. However. quoted. notably the elimination of the distinction between Genette’s zero and external types (merged by Bal into external focalization). However. or ‘with’) an entity in that narrated” (2001: 47). real. Within the point-of-view model. reported. or scenically represented) counts as a case of focalization” (Jahn 1996: 260). This is a problematic premise. Thus she ends up with a system of two binary distinctions that replace Genette’s triple typology. Bal is not the only one to equate focalization with perception. these modifications are hardly compelling. there are two types of focalized objects: imperceptible (thoughts. which means that the subjective element of perception that Bal has previously eliminated is reintroduced by way of the adjective. Margolin (2009) and Prince. which perhaps stems from taking Genette’s question who sees? rather too literally. if a narrative tells us that Mary sees John. despite Bal’s efforts to separate them [. This premise is also shared by Herman & Vervaeck (2004). if one thinks in terms of knowledge and information.. a critical reading of this article revealing the problems inherent in the 101 . etc. Subject and object [of focalization] may be analyzed separately. is “that […] any act of perception (brief or extended.) and perceptible (actions. his zero focalization and his internal focalization (distinguished in terms of the focalizing subjects by Bal) are also dissimilar in this respect. As Edmiston writes: “[T]he focalizer can be characterized by his objects of focalization. While it is possible to explain the motivation of Bal’s modifications of Genette’s theory by pointing out her adherence to point of view. it would appear to depend very much on how this is told and what the context is whether the narrative is also focalized “by” (to use Bal’s preferred preposition) Mary.). However. in themselves. zero and external focalization are worlds apart.

the possibility of regarding the narrator as a focalizer ([1983] 1988: 72–3). This passage focuses on the thoughts and perceptions of the boy.” it also contains additions.). It is more appropriate to analyze focalization as a more abstract and variable feature of the text. an attitude shared by Nelles. the discovery is not hypothetical at all for the simple reason that the narrator utters it. The discovery of the fissure by Poe’s imaginary observer is hypothetical only in comparison with the case of a character actually seeing this fissure. who considers it redundant (1990: 374). whereas the experiencing I seems to be unaware of it when he approaches the house for the first time. To talk about characters as focalizers is to confuse focalization and perception. made its way down the wall […]” ([1839] 1956: 97–8). While Bal’s revision of Genette’s theory involves deletions such as “external focalization. This concept has spawned a considerable amount of controversy. tells us how. It makes little sense here to ask whether or not the boy is the focalizer in this passage. which. instances of hypothetical perception would appear to point in the direction of zero focalization (or narratorial point of view in the traditional paradigm). either the narrator or a character. rejects character focalizers but concedes.” i.” the narrator invokes an imaginary onlooker of this kind when he describes the house: “Perhaps the eye of a scrutinizing observer might have discovered a barely perceptible fissure. However. but they can hardly focalize a narrative of whose existence they are not aware.e. wavering between the knowledge and the attitudes of the adult narrator and the experience of the child character. including a more specific debate about the question of whether narrators can be focalizers. such as an internally focalized version of Fielding’s Tom Jones. he does not see any great need for the term. the concept of focalizer is misleading because it suggests that a given text or segment of text is always focalized by one person. But this is a simplification. In terms of the focalization of Poe’s story. extending from the roof of the building in front. Chatman (1990) and Prince (2001) argue that characters can focalize while narrators cannot. Bal. Phelan (2001) and many others assume that both characters and narrators can be focalizers. Hypothetical focalization in the strict sense is a focalization option that is conceivable but not realized in a text. primarily through style (elaborate language. This leaves us with the narrator (or the author?) as the only focalizer. with some reluctance.equation. If all the different focalization options can be attributed to one agent. just like the “report [of] what a character did not in fact think or say” discussed by Chatman ([1978] 1980: 225). What he discusses is not hypothetical focalization. an inference whose interest is primarily scholastic. this attribution does not provide us with any conceptual tools that we can use in distinguishing and analyzing texts. Genette. There is a basic problem with Herman’s article. Thus. he visited the graves of his family and drew some highly imaginative conclusions about his relatives from the shape of their tombstones. Drawing on possible-worlds semantics. Characters can see and hear. on the other hand. Consider the famous beginning of Dickens’s Great Expectations in which Pip. Furthermore. the first-person narrator. etc. 102 . but hypothetical perception. but it also communicates the knowledge and the attitude of the adult narrator. ironically inflated lexis. The skepticism of the latter two critics seems to be justified. Herman examines passages that explicitly describe what might have been seen at a particular point in the story if there had been someone to see it. the “agent that sees” in a given focalization (Bal [1985] 1997: 146). as a little orphan. Whether a text itself can achieve or suggest such hypothetical focalization is an interesting question awaiting an answer. notably the “focalizer. in Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher. Generally speaking. It has an effect on the focalization in that it contributes to the distancing of the narrating I from the experiencing I: the narrating I knows there was a fissure because he has seen it very clearly at the end of the story.

non-dogmatic analysis of texts that shows which of these terms is more appropriate to which kind of text. (b) The question raised by Herman’s (1994) article remains to be investigated: Is there such a thing as hypothetical focalization? In other words. mystery. filter. an awareness of the differences between the two terms and of their respective strengths and weaknesses is indispensable. Hindsight and Insight: Focalization in Four EighteenthCentury French Novels. 4 Topics for Further Investigation (a) The most pressing need is for an analysis of the specific conceptual features of the focalization metaphor in comparison with related metaphors such as perspective. Mieke (1977).To sum up. If focalization theory is to make any progress. the various theoretical innovations introduced by the advocates of focalization are fraught with considerable problems. Narratologie: Essais sur la signification narrative dans quatre romans modernes. can a text suggest or imply a focalization that is not present in this text? 5 Bibliography 5. “Suture in Literary Analysis. Brian (1990). puzzlement. Focalization is a more fitting term when one analyses selections of narrative information that are not designed to render the subjective experience of a character but to create other effects such as suspense. Coming to Terms: The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Film. William F.” LIT: Literature Interpretation 103 . Mieke ([1985] 1997). Point of view seems to be the more powerful metaphor when it comes to narratives that attempt to render the subjective experience of a character. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP.1 Works Cited • Bal. making a case for peaceful coexistence of and complementarity between the two. • Chatman. There is room for both because each highlights different aspects of a complex and elusive phenomenon. Niederhoff (2001) compares the meanings and merits of the terms. focalization is hardly so much superior to point of view that the old term can be discarded. point of view. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Seymour ([1978] 1980). Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. etc. Ithaca: Cornell UP. stating that a story is told from the point of view of the character makes more sense than to claim that there is an internal focalization on the character. • Chatman. • Finney. Paris: Klincksieck. • Edmiston. Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. Seymour (1990). (1991). • Bal. etc. Toronto: U of Toronto P. This needs to be complemented by a thorough.

Berlin: de Gruyter. Shlomith ([1983] 2002). Edgar Allan ([1839] 1956). Patrick (1992). An Essay in Method. Foltinek et al. London: Routledge. van Peer & S.” Poetics Today 11. ed. Tales and their “telling difference”: Zur Theorie und Geschichte der Narrativik. Narrative Discourse. Nünning. Burkhard (2001). Modeling Mediation in Narrative. van Peer & S. “Breaking Conventional Barriers: Transgressions of Modes of Focalization. 51–64. Herman. Herman. 115–38. Dan (2001). 5.” Literatur in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 23. 249–68. Essays on Fiction and Perspective. Berlin: de Gruyter 48–58. Selected Writings. “‘Point of view’ oder ‘focalization’? Über einige Grundlagen und Kategorien konkurrierender Modelle der erzählerischen Vermittlung.” H. William (1990). Chatman (eds). “Stimmbrüche: Varianten und Spielräume narrativer Fokalisation. Kablitz. (eds). Gerald (2001). van Peer & S. Gérard ([1972] 1980). Poe. Hühn et al. 237–55. Genette. Wilhelm (1993). Point of View.2 Further Reading • Rossholm. David (1994). Margolin.” W.” Narrative 2. Luc & Bart Vervaeck (2004). New Perspectives on Narrative Perspective. Genette. Gérard (1972). 331–50. 104 .” W. O’Neill. “A Point of View on Point of View or Refocusing Focalization. Manfred (1996). “Focalization: Where Do We Go from Here?” P. 43–59. Prince. (2004). Nelles. Göran. Albany: SUNY. Albany: SUNY. “Focalization between Classical and Postclassical Narratology. Figures III. 241–67. G. “Getting Focalization into Focus. Paris: Seuil.” W.” G. Füger. Rimmon-Kenan. New Perspectives on Narrative Perspective.” Style 30. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. “Erzählperspektive—Point of View—Focalisation: Überlegungen zu einem Konzept der Erzähltheorie. Ithaca: Cornell UP. 67–282.” J. Festschrift zum 70. Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics.” Zeitschrift für französische Sprache und Literatur 98. “Discours du récit. and Focalization. “Points of Origin: On Focalization in Narrative. Niederhoff. Phelan.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Theory 2. James (2001). Chatman (eds). Albany: SUNY. Jahn. Perspective. Ansgar (1990). Oxford: Blackwell. Heidelberg: Winter. Gérard ([1983] 1988). Narrative Discourse Revisited. 363–82. Chatman (eds). 1–21. Uri (2009). Genette. New Perspectives on Narrative Perspective. The Dynamics of Narrative Form: Studies in Anglo-American Narratology. “Why Narrators Can Be Focalizers—and Why It Matters. 43–50. “Fokalisation und Perspektive: Ein Plädoyer für friedliche Koexistenz. Pier (ed).” Poetica 33. “Windows of Focalization: Deconstructing and Reconstructing a Narratological Concept. 230–53. Geburtstag von Franz K. (eds). Stanzel. Shen. Andreas (1988). Bern: Lang. “Hypothetical Focalization. 131–44.” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature / Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée 19.

• van Peer. New Perspectives on Narrative Perspective. Willie & Seymour Chatman. eds. 105 . Albany: SUNY. (2001).

): the living handbbook of narratology. involving two or more codes between which links of selection and connotation emerge. that is.Tjupa.unihamburg. a process teeming with future and former languages. depending on their degree of social scope and on the ideological area in which they are employed” (Baxtin [1934/35] 1981: 356–57). a process of heteroglot development. The former kind of link is based on the use of different words to 106 . a struggle. with parvenu-languages and with countless pretenders to the status of language which are all more or less successful. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.” who is also a “speaking person. but with a multitude of discourse practices that form in their totality a dynamic verbal culture belonging to the society concerned: “language is something that is historically real. a certain tone of emotion and intention that can be described as “glossality.” operates not with language as an abstract regulatory norm. Narration not only takes place from a particular standpoint in time and space. 2 Explication The category of heteroglossia has entered the scholarly apparatus of narratology because the verbal presentation of the narration necessarily possesses certain linguistic characteristics that create the effect of a voice. Hühn.php?title=Heteroglossia&oldid=772 Heteroglossia Last modified: 4 May 2010 Valerij Tjupa 1 Definition This term results from a translation (Morson & Emerson 1990) of Mixail Baxtin’s neologism raznoreč” agonal structure of verbal communication whose essence lies in the fact that “within the arena of almost every utterance an intense interaction and struggle between one’s own and another’s word is being waged” (Baxtin [1934/35] 1981: 354).” This is directed at the reader’s ability to hear (Tjupa 2006: 35–7). (eds. According to Baxtin’s understanding of language use. Heteroglossia is a “dialogical. with prim but moribund aristocrat-languages. a “social person. 12 Mar 2012. http://hup. Peter et al.sub. but also inevitably has a certain stylistic color. Valerij: "Heteroglossia".

describe one and the same reality in different languages; the latter kind of link on the description of different realities using the same words in different languages. The phenomenon of heteroglossia is relevant to narratology in so far as the narrative text is composed of two elements, the narrator’s (→ Narrator) text and the characters’ (→ Character) text (Doležel 1960, 1973; Schmid 1973, 2005). The second of these “heteroglot” texts that are “alien” to one another presents itself as “utterance within utterance,” whereas the first is encountered as “utterance about utterance” (Vološinov [1929] 1973: 115), as a “framing context” that, “like the sculptor’s chisel, hews out the rough outlines of someone else’s speech, and carves the image of language out of the raw empirical data of speech life” (Baxtin [1934/35] 1981: 358). The text framed by narrative can be a diverse one (a bundle of heterogeneous texts produced by various characters) or a zero text (in the case of a silent hero whose position within the event is not verbalized). In the latter case, the character’s text is indeed pushed out of the presentation of the narration, but it cannot be eliminated from the story of narration of whose chain of events it is a part. As a silent dialogizing background to the narrator’s speech, it can have a crucial influence on that speech, on its stylistically relevant lexical features, its syntax, and its tonality of emotion and intention (consider Dostoevskij’s “Gentle Spirit”). And in the opposite case, that of a text stylized as skaz, in which “the narrator’s speech has at one and the same time the function of representing and of being represented” (Schmid 2003: 191), the role of an actively silent dialogizing background is performed by the virtual zero text of the author, who would have told the story in question in different words (→ Author). The effect of heteroglossia can be used in widely different ways by the presentation of the narration, ranging from a “war of languages” (Barthes 1984) to their tautology (zero heteroglossia). Between these poles we find various ways of incorporating intratextual discourses into the narrator’s text in the manner of quotation, as well as various forms of “textual interference” (Schmid 2003: 177–222) or, as Baxtin ([1934/35] 1981: 304) puts it, “hybrid construction,” namely “an utterance that […] contains mixed within it two utterances, two speech manners, two styles, two ‘languages,’ two semantic and axiological belief systems.” The discourse related by the narrator can, for him, have the status of an authoritative linguistic action. The turn to the authoritative text-behind-the-text (the reading of the Gospel at the end of Tolstoj’s Resurrection, or the psalter in Bunin’s story “Exodus”) creates the effect of a hierarchically constructed heteroglossia. The opposite of this kind of hierarchy occurs when a narrator occupies a position of power where he appears as “editor” (Uspenskij [1970] 1973: 43) of the characters’ direct speech, transforming it as he sees it and thereby reducing the overall level of heteroglossia in the text. Following the norm established in the classical realism of the 19th century, the direct speech of a character often serves to express that character’s linguistic view of the world, which can differ to a greater or lesser extent from the view of the world on which the narration is based. In such cases, the lexical, grammatical, and intonation-related syntactic features of the character’s text contrast with the narrator’s text and combine to form a certain voice belonging to a different subject. The quoted voice does not have the same compositional standing as the quoting voice: fragments of the characters’ speech are extracted from the flow of the characters’ verbal activity by the narrator in a manner similar to the way in which the narrator makes selections from the flow of connected events belonging to (historically real or 107

invented) reality. The axiological hierarchy need not be present here, though. In certain special cases, texts-in-texts of this kind can be presented in a different national language, e.g. French in Tolstoj’s War and Peace: “When foreign and irregular speech is represented […], the author stresses the distance between the speaking character and the describing observer” (Uspenskij [1970] 1973: 51). Even in the context of a single national language, however, the heteroglossia that results from the distance between two or more “socio-linguistic belief systems” (Baxtin [1934/35] 1981: 356) can act as an effective means of organizing the narrative world of a work. Thus, in Lermontov’s “The Fatalist” (a chapter of the novel A Hero of our Times), the words of the Cossacks on the one hand and of Maksim Maksimyč on the other are stylistically brief, but clearly set apart from the speech of Pečorin (the narrator). They are the voices of another life, the life of the “others.” The replies by Vulič and the unnamed officers, on the other hand, cannot be stylistically distinguished from the text of the narrator. In this case, zero heteroglossia points not to the anonymity of an act of narration that is inextricably bound to the world of transmission it shares with the characters (as in Homer’s Iliad), but to the potential power of the narrator where discourse is concerned: for him, the characters (primarily Vulič, Pečorin’s inner Doppelgänger) seem in some way to be actors in a drama taking place inside his lonely mind. This is the zero heteroglossia of Romantic discourse. By providing other characters with lexical, grammatical, and intonation-related syntactic voices, however, Lermontov brings his prose beyond the boundary of the cultural paradigm of romanticism. Interference, or “contaminations” (Uspenskij [1970] 1983: 32), between the narrator’s text and the characters’ text can take place through forms of indirect speech and free indirect speech (→ Speech Representation), for which Schmid (2003: 216–39, 2005: 177–222) suggests a detailed classification. The leading role in a textual interference with many forms is performed by the narrator’s text, which can be characterized with reference to its intention regarding the characters’ text (its language, its style, its horizon of values). Using Baxtin’s terms, we can distinguish here between (a) “assimilation,” (b) “demarcation” (razmeževanie), and (c) “dialogized interillumination” as fundamental intentions. In the case of (a), we are concerned with the incomplete absorption of the characters’ text by the narrator’s text: a lexical, grammatical, or syntactic remnant of a foreign discourse can be identified in the narrator’s speech. In the case of (b), there is an axiological divergence, a confrontation of horizons in which every foreign word is carefully preserved but given an undertone of caricature in the narrator’s speech. In the case of (c), we would speak of a convergence of horizons that have equal axiological status and contain “truths” of equal value complementing each another. The types of textual interference just described can be mutually interrelated and intertwined in a complex manner. In Dostoevskij’s story “Mr Prokharčin,” for example, this leads to mental conflict, intensified to extremes, between the eponymous hero, characterized by his egocentric, self-directed speech, and his surroundings, the brotherhood of the officials who formulate their views of life in a flowery style. In the process, the narrator (a biographer who represents the story with a sideways glance at the lovers of a noble style) manipulates all three possible intentions of heteroglossia with virtuosity in his efforts to establish a balance between the opposing positions. More recent prose (since Čechov) has seen the possibility of having mutually complementary narrative entities emerge and establish themselves; this makes the convergence of narrator’s text and characters’ text an all-encompassing principle of narration. Here, without losing its crucial compositional function, the “voice of the narrator” draws near to the “axiological and 108

linguistic horizon of the hero” (Schmid 2003: 233); the narrator, declining to exercise his power, does not give himself the last word, leaving no more than meaningful pointers behind instead (consider Solženicyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovič). This device, which bears a superficial resemblance to skaz but is really the opposite of skaz styling, has been given the name “free indirect authorial narration” (nesobstvenno-avtorskoe povestvovanie; Koževnikova 1994). This choice of term, though, does not seem entirely appropriate: the narrative text, as the result of the aesthetic verbal activity of “indirect speaking” (Baxtin [1959/60] 1996: 314, 1986: 110), is never directly correlated with the author; there are always mediating entities, and so the narrative text is always an indirect authorial utterance. For the most part, the phenomenon of heteroglossia in narrative discourse is treated as an aspect of the more general problem of point of view (Uspenskij 1970); it is described in such cases as “phraseological perspective” (Korman 1975) or “linguistic” perspective (Schmid 2003, 2005). Assuming that the terms are equivalent in this way, though, can give cause for objection. The discursive practice to which a text (or the quoted words of a text) belongs does not end with perspective: behind the discourse there lies a certain axiological and cultural, ideological and linguistic, socio-psychological horizon attached to those who are speaking/writing. This horizon contains all the potential objects, found by the mind in question, of a subjective stance concerning them; it is a potential field of reference for the discourse. Perspective, on the other hand, is always actual: it represents a “single (unique, ‘immediate’) relationship between subject and object” (Korman [1975] 2006: 184), it activates a certain segment of the horizon and positions the subject itself within that horizon. As a narratological category, it may well be sufficient to define narrative perspective as a “position of the ‘observer’ (the narrator, the character) in the represented world,” as a position that “expresses the author’s evaluative stance toward this subject and its mental horizon” (Tamarčenko 2004: 221). Even in the text, the horizon of a narrating entity itself has only a potential existence: it is represented by the stylistic “symptoms” of its boundaries which are activated by the contrapuntal and/or polyphonic heteroglossia of the multi-voiced text. In Lermontov’s novel, for example, the fatalist Vulič is provided with an ideological and chronotopic perspective, but does not have a voice of his own, since his axiological horizon is, as that of a special being, potentially equivalent to the horizon of Pečorin the narrator himself, another special being who remains a doubting officer.

3 History of the Concept and its Study Baxtin’s pupil and successor Vološinov (1926, 1929) must be credited with providing the first fundamental formulation of the problem of heteroglossia. In particular, he set up the term “speech interference” (Vološinov [1929] 1973: 148). In Russian literary studies, the terms “voice” and “socio-linguistic horizon” have become established in the wake of Baxtin’s work on Dostoevskij (1929, 1963) and of his studies on the genre of the novel (Baxtin 1934/35). Baxtin conceives of voice in two dimensions at once: as one of the products of the general language-producing “language-intention” of the speaker and as a special stylistically realized “language” of a speaker, a language with its own picture of the world (“its own world inextricably bound up with the parodied language” [1934/35] 1981: 364). The term “voice” was introduced to Western literary studies by Lubbock ([1921] 1957: 68), who believes that the author can make use of both his own language and the languages (of the 109

minds) of his characters. Western scholarship became acquainted with Baxtin’s ideas about heteroglossia via the work of Kristeva (1966, 1970), whose writings have enjoyed a wide and favorable international reception. In enthusiastically adapting Baxtin’s theory to the emerging ideology of postmodernism, however, this French scholar distorted his ideas significantly: she replaced Baxtin’s “plentitude of speech” with the concept of intertextuality; she speaks of an “insight first introduced into literary theory by Baxtin: any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another. The notion of intertextuality replaces that of intersubjectivity, and poetic language is read as at least double” (Kristeva [1966] 1980: 66; italics in original). In reality, Baxtin saw intersubjectivity as one of the fundamental concepts of his ontological and gnoseological deliberations, and the text was never conceived of as an anonymous “mosaic” (in the sense of Kristeva’s thesis that “any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations”). For Baxtin, the text was a compositionally unitary utterance of a particular (in literature fictive) subject, a subject within which there are foreign words and entire foreign intratextual discourses that can enter into various relationships with the discourse surrounding them: subordinated and subordinating relationships, relationships of discussion as equals, and relationships of solidarity. Somewhat later, without turning to Baxtin for support, Barthes (1984) considered the phenomenon of heteroglossia in his essays “The Division of Languages” and “The War of Languages.” Barthes, though, treated it as a negative phenomenon, one that must be overcome by “progressive” écriture (Barthes [1984] 1986: 124). In his Encyclopedia entry “Texte,” Barthes (1973)—who similarly to Baxtin conceives of language as a multiplicity of voices surrounding the text on all sides—treats the text as no more than a “new fabric woven out of old quotations.” This is the path that led to deconstruction, which replaces heteroglossia with intertextuality and thereby effectively suspends the narratological problem of narrating as a positioning of the narrator in discourse. Among the works that have restored an appropriate understanding of Baxtin’s “plentitude of speech,” special mention must be made of a book by the creators of the English term “heteroglossia” (Morson & Emerson 1990). This study has had a visible influence on contemporary narratology, despite the authors’ critical stance toward the narratological approach to the study of literature. Close reading and an appropriate development of the possibilities contained in Baxtin’s typology of the prose word are typical of Schmid’s narratology (2005). In Russian-language scholarship, Baxtin’s narratological ideas, particularly that of heteroglossia, have been developed by Tamarčenko (2004) and Tjupa (2006), as well as in Schmid’s book (2003, 2005).

4 Topics for Further Investigation An important starting point for narratological studies is the need to distinguish between the categories of perspectivization (the system of points of view) and glossality (the system of voices), which are of equal status and complement each other. Genette ([1972] 1980: 186) had already begun making this distinction when he separated the question “who sees?” from that of “who speaks?” (Translated by Alastair Matthews)


5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited • Barthes, Roland (1973). “Texte.” Encyclopædia universalis. Paris: Seuil, vol. 15, 1013–17. • Barthes([1984] 1986). The Rustle of Language. Oxford: Blackwell. • Baxtin, Mixail (1929). “Problemy tvorčestva Dostoevskogo.” Sobr. soč. v 7 tt. Moskva: Russkie slovari, vol. 2, 5–175. • Baxtin, Mixail (Bakhtin, Mikhail) ([1934/35] 1981). “Discourse in the novel.” M. M. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Austin: U of Texas P, 259–422. • Baxtin, Mixail ([1959/60] 1996). “Problema teksta.” Sobr. soč. v 7 tt. Moskva: Russkie slovari, vol. 5, 306–26. • Baxtin, Mixail (Bakhtin, Mikhail) ([1963] 1984). M. M. Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. • Baxtin, Mixail (Bakhtin, Mikhail) (1986). Speech Genres and Other late Essays. Austin: U of Texas P. • Doležel, Lubomír (1960). O stylu moderní ceské prózy. Vystavba textu. Praha: Nakl. Československé Akad. Věd. • Doležel, Lubomír (1973). Narrative Modes in Czech Literature. Toronto: U of Toronto P. • Genette, Gérard ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Ithaca: Cornell UP. • Korman, Boris O. ([1975] 2006). “Zametki o točke zrenija.” Teorija literatury. Iževsk: Izd. Udmurtskogo un-teta, 180–85. • Koževnikova, Natal’ja A. (1994). Tipy povestvovanija v russkoj literature XIX–XX vv. Moskva: Nauka. • Kristeva, Julia ([1966] 1980). “Word, Dialogue and Novel.” J. K. Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. New York: Columbia UP, 64– 91. • Kristeva, Julia (1970). Le texte du roman. Approche sémiologique d’une structure discursive transformationelle. La Haye: Mouton. • Lubbock, Percy ([1921] 1957). The Craft of Fiction. London: Cape. • Morson, Gary Saul & Caryl Emerson (1990). Mikhail Bakhtin. Creation of a Prosaics. Stanford: Stanford UP. • Schmid, Wolf ([1973] 1986). Der Textaufbau in den Erzählungen Dostoevskijs. Amsterdam: Grüner. • Schmid, Wolf (2003). Narratologija. Мoskva: Jazyki slavjanskoj literatury. • Schmid, Wolf (2005). Elemente der Narratologie. Berlin: de Gruyter. • Tamarčenko, Natan D. (2004). “‘Sobytie rasskazyvanija’: struktura teksta i ponjatija narratologii.” N. D. T. et al. (eds). Teorija literatury. Moskva: Academia, t. 1, 205–42. • Тjupa, Valerij I. (2006). Analiz khudožestvennogo teksta. Moskva: Academia. • Uspenskij, Boris A. ([1970] 1973). A Poetics of Composition. Berkeley: U of 111

California P. • Vološinov, Valentin N. ([1926] 1995). “Slovo v žizni i slovo v poėzii.” Filosofija i sociologija gumanitarnykh nauk. S-Peterburg: Asta-Press, 59–87. • Vološinov, Valentin N. (Voloshinov) ([1929] 1973). Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. New York: Seminar P.

5.2 Further Reading • Padučeva, Elena V. (1996). “Semantika narrativa.” Semantičeskie issledovanija. Мoskva: Jazyki russkoj kul’tury, 193–418. • Schmid, Wolf (1998). Proza kak poėzija. S-Peterburg: Inapress. • Todorov, Tzvetan ([1981] 1984). Mikhail Bakhtin: The Dialogic Principle. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. • van den Heuvel, Pierre (1985). Parole, mot, silence: Pour une poétique de l’énonciation. Paris: Corti. • Zbinden, K. (1999). “Traducing Bakhtin and Missing Heteroglossia.” Dialogism: An International Journal of Bakhtin Studies 2, 41–59.


Bamberg, Michael: "Identity and Narration". 12 Mar 2012. Hühn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Identity and Narration
Last modified: 11 May 2010 Michael Bamberg

1 Definition Identity designates the attempt to differentiate and integrate a sense of self along different social and personal dimensions such as gender, age, race, occupation, gangs, socio-economic status, ethnicity, class, nation states, or regional territory. Any claim of identity faces three dilemmas: (a) sameness of a sense of self over time in the face of constant change; (b) uniqueness of the individual vis-à-vis others faced with being the same as everyone else; and (c) the construction of agency as constituted by self (with a selfto-world direction of fit) and world (with a world-to-self direction of fit). Claims to identity begin with the continuity/change dilemma and from there venture into issues of uniqueness and agency; self and sense of self begin by constructing agency and differentiating self from others and then go on to navigate the waters of continuity and change. Engaging in any activity requires acts of self-identification by relying on repertoires that identify and contextualize speakers/writers along varying socio-cultural categories, often compared to mental or linguistic representations (→ Schemata) that are less fixed depending on context and function. Narrating, a speech activity that involves ordering characters in space and time, is a privileged genre for identity construction because it requires situating characters in time and space through gesture, posture, facial cues, and gaze in coordination with speech. In addition, narrating, whether in the form of fictional or factual narration (→ Fictional vs. Factual Narration), tends toward “human life”—something more than what is reportable or tellable (→ Tellability), something that is life- and live-worthy (Taylor 1989). Thus, narrating enables speakers/writers to disassociate the speaking/writing self from the act of speaking, to take a reflective position vis-à-vis self as character (→ Character).

2 Explication 113

Taking a reflective position on self as character has been elaborated in the narratological differentiation between author (→ Author), narrator (→ Narrator), and character. The reflective process takes place in the present but refers to past or fictitious time-space, making past (or imagined) events relevant for the act of telling, pointing toward the meaningfulness of relationships and worthwhile lives, and exemplifying “the human good” (Aristotle 1996: 1461a). It is against this backdrop that narrating in recent decades has established itself as a privileged site for identity analysis—a new territory for inquiry (cf. Ricœur 1990; Strawson 2004). Designing characters in fictitious timespace has the potential of opening up territory for exploring identity, reaching beyond traditional boundaries, and testing out novel identities. Narratives rooted in factual past-time events, by contrast, are dominated by an opposite orientation. The delineation of what happened, whose agency was involved, and the potential transformation of characters from one state to another serve to demarcate the identity of the reflective self under investigation. If past-time narration is triggered by the question “Who am I?,” having the narrator’s quest for identity or sense of self as its goal, the leeway for ambiguity, transgression of boundaries, or exploration of novel identities is more restricted: the goal is rather to condense and unite, to resolve ambiguity, and to deliver answers that lay further inquiry into past and identity to rest. However, the reduction of identity to the depiction of characters and their development in a story leaves out the communicative space within which identities are negotiated in interaction with others. Limiting narratives to what they are about restricts identity to the referential or cognitive level of speech activities and disregards real life, where identities are under construction, formed, performed, and change over time. It is within the space of everyday talk in interaction with others that narration plays its constitutive role in the formation and navigation of identities as part of everyday practices and that the potential for orientation toward human values takes form. When considering the emergence of identity, the narrating subject must be regarded: (a) as neither locked into stability nor drifting through constant change, but rather as something that is multiple, contradictory, and distributed over time and place, held together contextually and locally; (b) in terms of membership positions vis-à-vis others that help to trace the narrator’s identity within the context of social relationships, groups, and institutions; and (c) as the active and agentive locus of control, though simultaneously attributing agency to outside forces that are situated in a broader sociohistorical context. Along these lines, identity is not confined by just one societal discourse but open to change. Identity is able to transform itself and adapt to the challenges of growing cultural multiplicities in increasingly globalizing environments. Based on the assumption that narration at its origin was a verbal act performed locally in interactional contexts and from there evolved toward other, differently constituted and contextualized media (writing, electronic, and digital media, etc.; cf. Ryan 2006), the function of narration in identity formation processes cannot be reduced to the verbal means used or to the messages conveyed. Rather, the local interactional environments in which narrative units emerge form the foundation for inquiry into identity formation and the sense of self. While transformations from oral to written forms of expression have been studied (e.g. Ong 1982) and text-critical analysis has been undertaken from the perspective of the hermeneutic circle, work with transcripts from audio recordings is relatively new. More recent are concerted efforts to record narratives audio-visually and to analyze the way they emerge in interaction, including the sophisticated ways in which they are performed. Audio-visual material, of 114

nation states. feeling. Recently. this type of micro-analytic analysis has been applied to identity as achieved in narration under the heading of “positioning analysis” (Bamberg 1997. 3 History of the Concept and its Study Self and identity are traditionally bound up with what is taken to be the essence of the individual person which continues over time and space in phylo. Modern notions of self and individuality (cf.1 will further explore the connection between self and identity dilemmas (b) and (c). essentialist views of self and identity camouflage the links between these concepts and their counterparts in narration and narrative practices. Gergen 1991) are taken to be closely intertwined with the emergence of local communities. while section 3.” are highly specific morphological items of the English lexicon. life-writing. the narratological distinctions between “narrating self” and “narrated self” and between narrator and protagonist). like “I” and “me. Heelas & Lock eds. new forms of knowledge and reflection (“rationalization”).as well as in socio. however. take place in the small stories told on everyday occasions in which tellers affirm a sense of who they are. 3. Elias 1987. A closer look reveals that these concepts most often have a history of their own that varies in illuminating ways (cf. Navigating and connecting temporal continuity and discontinuity. that operates on verbal texts or cognitive representations (→ Cognitive Narratology). 1981. 2003. self-narration (autobiography. Bamberg & Georgakopoulou 2008) in order to focus more effectively on the situated nature of identification processes that emerge from the three identity dilemmas mentioned above. moment-by-moment interactive engagements. largely undertheorized and often dismissed in traditional identity inquiry. and the direction of fit between person and world. and perception—all in conjunction with increasing interiorization and psychologization. Triandis 1989). content. self and other differentiation. they are commonly assumed to refer universally to corresponding concepts in other languages—an assumption that has been contested.course. potentially 115 . In this process of becoming individualized. It is precisely this sense of self and identity grounded in sequential.2 will be devoted to identity and dilemma (a). However. Acts of thematizing and displacing the self as character in past time and space become the basis for other self-related actions such as self-disclosure. Section 3. and performance features (→ Performativity) in the service of identity formation processes.1 Self and Narration Although self.and onto-genetic terms. In addition. this overlooks how conceptions of self and identity have evolved historically and culturally and also how each individual’s personal ontogenesis undergoes continuous change. autofiction) springs to the fore as the basic practice-ground for marking the self off from “I” as speaker/agent and “me” as character/actor (cf. can be more fully (micro-analytically) scrutinized in terms of the contextualized coordination of narrative form. self-reflection and self-criticism.

3). and discontinuous chaos. The strength of how scholars (and laypeople) in the past have made use of this connection. Freeman’s (1993) and Mishler’s (1986) work with autobiographical memories focuses particularly on the interrelationship between memory. (b) it can posit and balance this “Ime” distinction with “we”. With narration thus defined. a-temporal. as differentiated from other by developing the ability to account for itself (as agent or as undergoer). Another. see also Ricœur 1985): the answer to non-human. can now begin to look for something like temporal continuity. Ricœur 1990). and (c) it can differentiate this “we” as “us” from “them” as “other. 3. Character. Lives can be told as following an epic script or as if consisting of unconnected patches. Most often. apparently.2 Identity and Narration: Biography and Life-Writing The ability to conceive of life as an integrated narrative forms the cornerstone for what Erikson (1950) called “ego identity. It is this analogy between life and story—or better: the metaphoric process of seeing life as storied (in narratological terms: story and discourse) that has given substantive fuel to the narrative turn. and simultaneously between “I-we-us” and “them-other” (Elias 1987).leading to self-control. an external condition of character development. there is a relatively loose connection according to which we tell stories of lives by using particular narrative formats. What further comes to light in this process is an increasing differentiation between (and integration of) “I” and “me” (James 1890).” Bruner (1986) and Polkinghorne (1988) similarly vie for the argument that there is a particular cognitive mode of making sense of the (social) world which is organized “narratively” (an important theme in cognitive psychology. to self-reflect. and to self-augment. when placed in the right order. and self-discipline. and coherence. unity. 116 . cf. 2009). life transcends the animalistic and unruly body so that narration gains the power to organize “human temporality” (Punday 2003. and episodes into a life story.” This process of differentiation must be taken into account when talking about “self” as different from “other” and viewing self “in relation to self” (as in self-reflection and selfcontrol).e.” The underlying assumption here is that life begins to cojell into building blocks that. Thus. varies: on the one hand. takes plot as the overarching principle that lends order to human action in response to the threat of a discontinuous and seemingly meaningless life by a set of possible continuities (often referred to by cognitive narratologists as “schemata” or “scripts”. a set of traits organizing underlying actions and the course of events as outcomes of motives that spring from this interiority. though. particularly in modern times. identity across a life (cf. cf. lives are told by depicting characters and how they develop. though. Self. cohere: important moments tie into important events. events into episodes. rests on an internal and an external form of organization. The latter. Herman 2002. i. Herman 2002: chap. It also should be noted that the arrangement of interiority as governed by the availability of plots gives answers—at least to a degree—to the “direction-of-fit” or “agency” identity dilemma. The former is typically a complex interiority. self. This interplay of human (and humane) interiority and culturally available models of continuity (plots) gives narrative a powerful role in the process of seeing life as narrative. self-constraint. is the product of an “I” that manages three processes of differentiation and integration: (a) it can posit a “me” (as distinct from “I”). and probably stronger reason for employing the narrative metaphor for life starts with the assumption of a “narrative mode of thinking.

life-writing and biography. Narration. The methodological principles were laid out in the early work by Schütze (1977) and later picked up and refined in current narrative interview approaches by Fischer-Rosenthal & Rosenthal (1997). A teller accounts for how s/he (a) has emerged (as character) over time. without these origins and the works of Bertaux (1981) and Plummer (1983). Managing these three dilemmas in concert is taken to establish what is essential to identity. However. Since then. has turned the assumption of selves plotting themselves in and across time into a life-story model of identity.autobiographical memory. Retrospectively. The origins of these efforts stretch across a wide range of disciplines including psychology.” Sartwell (2000) has questioned (a) whether life really has the purpose and meaningfulness that narrative theorists metaphorically attempt to attribute to it and (b) whether narratives themselves have the kind of coherence (→ Coherence) and telic quality 117 . and narrative. It emerged as a concerted attempt to wed self-differentiation (self that can reflect upon itself) and narration (plotting a sense of characterhood across time)—in narratological terms: “narrating self” and “narrated self”—into an answer that addresses the three dilemmas of identity laid out earlier. lacked the analytic component of modern day narrative inquiry. McAdams’ efforts to connect the study of lives to life stories is paralleled in a wider turn to biographic methods in the social sciences. However. it is clearer how the relatively massive turn in the social sciences toward biography and life writing was able to gain ground as a new approach to identity research. that they have a defining character: “our narrative identities are the stories we live by” (McAdams et al. 3. 2006: 4). it can be argued that the early studies by the members of the Chicago School. life history methods have spread from the study of attitudes in social psychology to community studies in sociology. and Murray (1938). building on narrative theorists such as Bruner. Goodson & Sikes (2001: 129) date the origins of life history methods in the form of autobiographies back to the beginning of the 20th century. particularly within the Chicago School. Polkinghorne. Thanks to these developments. and Identity The link between life and narration and the exploration of lives (including selves and identity) through the exploration of narratives have traditions going back to Freud (1900). Allport (1937). sociology. McAdams (1985). the foundation of the Research Committee on Biography and Society (within the International Sociological Association) would have been unthinkable. and Sarbin. leading to Lieblich & Josselson’s eleven-volume series titled The Narrative Study of Lives.3 Problems of Linking Life. and anthropology. and simultaneously (c) how s/he views her-/himself as a (responsible) agent. Consequently. and forty years later back into psychology. this close connection between life and narrative is said to require a particular retrospectiveness that values “life as reflected” and discredits “life as lived. become privileged arenas for identity research. but that focuses on interaction and relationships. preferably as autobiography or life story. and in particular “oral history” popularized by the works of Studs Terkel. (b) as different from others (but same). Mishler early on propagated the use of autobiographic narrative interview data in the form of a “contextual approach” which is not limited to recording data about human experience or to looking “behind” the author. His model clearly states that life stories are more than recapitulations of past events and episodes.

Rather than empowering the subject with meaning in life.g. Bamberg & Georgakopoulou 2008) have tried to develop an alternative approach to big story narrative research that takes “narratives-in-interaction.” i. cf. More recent attempts to integrate this acknowledgment into empirical analysis center around a number of key positions. conceived this way. First is the proposal to resituate narration as performative moves (cf.e. while a life story can employ the first-person pronoun to feign the identity of author. Gubrium & Holstein (2008) argue for a narrative ethnography—one that is able to analyze the complex interplay between “experience.4 Narration as Identity Formation in Narrative Practice Attempts to transport interactional context and performance-oriented aspects of narration into the analysis of identities reach back to Burke (1945) and Goffman (1959) and have been reiterated repeatedly by others in the field of biography research (e. purposes at hand. audiences. Another difficulty resulting from the close linkage between life. Thus. and identity. and identity consists in what Lejeune (1975) termed “the autobiographical pact. have monopolized the inquiry into tellers’ representations of past events and themselves in light of these events” (Georgakopoulou 2007: 147. Sartwell argues. is said to gain its life-worthy quality only in light of its surrounding moments. a number of researchers have launched a large-scale critique of the biographic turn as reducing language to its referential and ideational functions and thereby overextending (and simplifying) narration as the root metaphor for the person. the way it is “sensed” and experienced. 3. (sense of) self. and character. and the environments that condition storytelling” (250). narrative unreliability). Riessman 2008). since it is based on a “pact” between author and reader that is not directly traceable down into the textual qualities. the way stories surface in everyday conversation (small stories). what counts as autobiography is somewhat blurry. While most research on biography has been quite aware of the situated and locally occasioned nature of people’s accounts (often in institutional settings) and the problems this poses for claims with regard to the speaker/narrator’s sense of self or identity. as the locus where identities are continuously practiced and tested out. narrator. drains and blocks him or her from finding pleasure and joy in the here-and-now.” According to Lejeune. be they in the form of life stories or of stories of landmark events. This approach allows for exploring self at the level of the talked-about and at the level of tellership in the 118 .that narrative theorists often assume. Genette’s 1990 distinction between fictional narrative and factual narrative). 2003. calling for the analysis of embodied practices and material conditions of narrative productions. Autobiographical fiction thrives on the blurring of these boundaries. use of the third-person pronoun may serve to camouflage this identity (cf. narrative. descriptive resources. Mishler 1986. Of interest here are “the perennial theoretical questions of authenticity and reference” (Porter 2008: 25) leading up to the larger issue of the connection between referentiality and narration (cf. narration. Georgakopoulou (2006. Similarly. Strawson 2004). The subject is overpowered by narrative as a normalizing machine. storying practices. 2007) and Bamberg (1997. At the core of these voices is the call for a much “needed antidote to the longstanding tradition of ‘big stories’ which. The problem Sartwell sees in this kind of approach is that the lived moment. Langellier & Peterson 2004).

However well-established the line of identities-in-interaction may be in the context of the analysis of conversational data. continuously challenging and confirming each others’ positions. 1998. A final aim is to advance a project of documenting identity as a process of constant change that. moments of trouble and tension. while big story research analyzes the stories as representations of world and identities within them. the aim becomes to legitimize the management of different and often competing and contradictory positions as the mainstay of identity through narrative. At the same time. it is the action orientation of the participants in small story events that forms the basic point of departure for this functionalist-informed approach to narration and. with more or less implicit and indirect referencing and orientation to social positions and discourses above and beyond the here-and-now. contradictions. Through the scrutiny of small stories in a variety of sites and contexts. big stories that can be elicited under certain conditions. i. Usually. Antaki & Widdicombe eds. sequentially gauging themselves to prior and upcoming talk. it is possible to show how the referential world (what the story is about) is constructed as a function of interactive engagement.e.” how they index their sense of self. ambiguities. By contrast. This seems to be what makes this type of work with small stories crucially different from work with big stories: the aim is to analyze how people use small stories in their interactive engagements to construct a sense of who they are. → Dialogism). this question is decided on 119 . Consequently. of a storytelling situation. and the tellers’ constant navigation and finessing between different versions of selfhood and identity in local interactional contexts. Simultaneously. it recognizes that small story participants generally attune their stories to various local. are brought off and come into existence. fashioned and refashioned in local interactive practices (cf. Furthermore. Both of these levels feed into the larger project at work in the global situatedness within which selves are already positioned.e.e. 4 Topics for Further Investigation (a) Whether narratives actually constitute a privileged territory for inquiry into life and identity requires further theoretical and empirical inquiry. Placing emphasis on small stories allows for the study of how people as agentive actors position themselves—and in doing so become positioned. It is in and through this type of relational activity that representations in the form of content.e. this emphasis still contrasts with the longstanding privileging of coherence by traditional approaches to narrative theory. story analyses that remain fixated on the represented contents of the story in order to conclude from there how the teller reflects on him-/herself miss out on the very interactive and relational constructedness of content and reflection. to a lesser degree. when practiced over and over again. Behind this way of approaching and working with stories is an action orientation that urges the analyst to look at constructions of self and identity as necessarily dialogical and relational. i. i. This model of positioning affords the possibility of viewing identity constructions as two-fold: analyzing the way the referential world is constructed. has the potential to result in a sense of constancy and sameness. interpersonal purposes. what the talk is intended to be about. the way the referential world is put together points to how tellers “want to be understood. what is represented or reflected upon in the stories told. this kind of analysis aims at scrutinizing the inconsistencies. with characters (self and others) emerging in time and space as protagonists and antagonists.

• Antaki. ([1950] 1963). Biography and Society: The Life History Approach in the Social Sciences. Sozialwissenschaftliche Hermeneutik. • Bruner. and the relationship to mapping out possible reconstructions from being re-active to becoming proactive in the construction of patients’ “healing dramas. Childhood and Society. Heath. 377–96. Erik H. • Bamberg. • Burke. Gordon W. (b) The use of narrative methods in the exploration of hybrid or hyphenated identities constitutes an interesting new development in recent trends of social science research in a turn to questions of citizenship. Michael & Alexandra Georgakopoulou (2008). now joined by discursive/performative approaches) has led to the question whether there is still a common core to the original “narrative approach” as an alternative to the study of subjectivity. • Elias. imagined communities. self. Possible Worlds.” (d) The increasing diversification into different narrative methods and approaches (content/thematic vs. Hitzler & A. London: Sage. Actual Minds. Kenneth (1945). epistemological (if not ontological) stance. Horner (eds). their inherent action potential. M. 120 . New York: Norton. • Aristotle (1996). Daiute & C. • Bertaux. Cambridge: Harvard UP. (1998).the basis of a pre-theoretical. Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics. Norbert ([1987] 1991). (c) Illness and traumatic experiences are typically viewed as disruptions of continuity and coherence. • Erikson. But the question itself may be open to different interpretations. in retrospect. and even general processes of globalization. “Narrationsanalyse biographischer Selbstrepräsentation. London: Sage. “Small Stories as a New Perspective in Narrative and Identity Analysis. Charles & Sue Widdicombe. A Grammar of Motives. New York: Holt. Tellings. structural/formal methods. posing challenges to the formation of a sense of self and (biographic) identity as well as to our sense of agency. 335–42. (1937).” C. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Poetics. symbolic representations of belonging. Personality: A Psychological Interpretation. Jerome (1986). eds. cultural exclusion. “Positioning with Davie Hogan: Stories. Michael (1997). New York: Prentice-Hall. Recent discussions about the plottypes employed in illness narratives and how patients’ narrative accounts can be made use of more productively in narrative medicine bring up interesting questions with regard to the construction of paths and trajectories of experiences. • Bamberg. Lightfoot (eds). 133–64. “Positioning between Structure and Performance. it seemed to have begun about thirty-five years ago. Opladen: Leske & Budrich. Daniel (1981). and identity—the way. London: Sage. 135–57. The Society of Individuals. and Identities.” Journal of Narrative and Life History 7. Narrative Analysis: Studying the Development of Individuals in Society. Identities in Talk. Michael (2003).” Text & Talk 28.1 Works Cited • Allport. • Fisher-Rosenthal. • Bamberg. 5 Bibliography 5. Wolfram & Gabriele Rosenthal (1997). Tr.” R.

& Pat Sikes (2001). • Riessman.” S. P. Story Logic: Problems and Possibilities of Narrative. Dan P. Mark P. (1986). Donald (1988). Philippe ([1975] 1989). Factual Narrative. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. • Polkinghorne. • Ricœur. • Mishler. Erving (1959). McA. Time and Narrative. Intimacy. Narrative. “Narrative Ethnography. Elliot G. Explorations in Personality. Vol. Rewriting the Self. Albany: State U of New York P. Small Stories. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Storytelling in Daily Life: Performing Narrative. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Kristin M. Power. New York: Macmillan. • Heelas. HesseBiber & P. (1993). Research Interviewing. 3. London: Academic P. “Introduction. New York: Guildford P. Leavy (eds). William ([1890] 1900). London: Routledge.” Poetics Today 11. (eds). Garden City: Doubleday. Paul ([1990] 1992). et al. • Georgakopoulou. David (2002). et al. Documents of Life. Indigenous Psychologies: The Anthropology of the Self. 1–11. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. I. New York: Basic Books. Interaction and Identities. Fuchs & C. On Autobiography. New York: Oxford UP. • Murray. • Goodson. Basic Elements of Narrative. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Identity and Story. • Langellier. B. Paul ([1985] 1988). Malden: Wiley-Blackwell. 755–74. Life History Research in Educational Settings: Learning from Lives. 23–31. • Freud.• Freeman. eds. “Fictional Narrative. Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. Jaber F. Philadelphia: Temple UP. (1981). “The Other Side of the Story: Towards a Narrative Analysis of Narratives-in-Interaction. Paul & Andrew Lock. • McAdams. • Punday. 121 . The Interpretation of Dreams. • McAdams. • Lejeune. • Ricœur. (2008). • Herman. London: Allen & Unwin. Narrative Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Narratology. Handbook of Emergent Methods. Oneself as Another. Kenneth (1991). New York: Palgrave. Washington: American Psychological Association. David (2009). Principles of Psychology. Walter (1982). Daniel (2003). Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. • Goffman. Alexandra (2006). 265–87. • Ong. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.” D. • Gergen. Kenneth (1983). Henry A. Roger J. Context and Narrative. New York: Holt & Co. • James. • Genette.. Catherine Kohler (2008). (1938). • Gubrium. and the Life Story: Personological Inquiries into Identity. New York: Guildford P. & James A. New York: Modern Language Association of America. • Herman. Peterson (2004). Sigmund ([1900] 1913). London: Methuen. Buckingham: Open UP. • Plummer. Dan P. Holstein (2008). Gérard (1990). “Introduction to World Narrative. & Eric E.” Discourse Studies 8. 241–64. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Vol.” M. (1985). Memory. Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. Alexandra (2007). • Georgakopoulou. Howes (eds). (2006). • Porter. Ivor F. Teaching Life Writing Texts. History. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P.

Taylor. (2006). Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. et al. Avatars of Story. Albany: State U of New York P. ed.” Ratio n. (1989). Michael. Narrative and Identity: Studies in Autobiography. “The Self and Social Behavior in Differing Contexts. “Narrative. (2001). & Jaber F. Marie-Laure (2006). Washington: American Psychological Association. 428–52. Toward an Annihilation of Language and History.. Fritz (1977). Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Self and Culture. eds. “Against Narrativity. Identity and Story. Amsterdam: Benjamins. (2007). Dan P. (2007). Anna.” M. New York: Oxford UP. Strawson. R. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Die Technik des narrativen Interviews in Interaktionsfeldstudien dargestellt an einem Projekt zur Erforschiung von kommunikativen Machtstrukturen. and Modes. eds. Galen (2004). Discourse and Identity. Ryan.” Psychological Review 96.• • • • • • Thousand Oaks: Sage. Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity. Triandis. Harry Ch. Crispin (2000). et al.2 Further Reading • Bamberg. 17. Gubrium (2000). Schütze. • Holstein. Michael. 3–30. Media. 5. (2006). Jens & Donal Carbaugh. Narrative—State of the Art. • McAdams. • de Fina. eds.s. James A. eds.-L. • Bamberg. The Self We Live By: Narrative Identity in a Postmodern World. • Brockmeier. Selves and Identities in Narrative and Discourse. Charles (1989). et al. End of Story. 506–20. Universität Bielefeld: Department of Sociology. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Sartwell. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 122 .

of total rational distance (disinterested “observation” of an artifact as such [Walton 1990: 273]) and complete immersion (“psychological participation” [240–89]) in the 123 . Werner: "Illusion (Aesthetic)".de/lhn/index. however. Hühn. This ambivalence derives from the positioning of aesthetic illusion on a scale between two poles. but a complex phenomenon characterized by an asymmetrical ambivalence.php?title=Illusion_(Aesthetic)&oldid=1563 Illusion (Aesthetic) Last modified: 4 August 2011 Werner Wolf 1 Definition Aesthetic illusion is a basically pleasurable mental state that emerges during the reception of many representational texts. Peter et al.): the living handbbook of narratology. artifacts or performances.Wolf. (b) in the reception process and the recipients. 2 Explication 2. Like all reception effects. texts or performances. mutually exclusive. Moreover. and (c) in cultural and historical contexts. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.3 and 4). These representations may be fictional or factual. http://hup. 12 Mar 2012. with variable intensity. At the same time. (eds. it is distinct from delusions in that it is neither a conceptual nor a perceptual error.unihamburg. aesthetic illusion is elicited by a conjunction of factors that are located (a) in the representations themselves.1 The Nature of Aesthetic Illusion Aesthetic illusion is distinguished from real-life hallucinations and dreams in that it is induced by the perception of concrete representational artifacts. Aesthetic illusion consists primarily of a feeling. and in particular include narratives (2. of being imaginatively and emotionally immersed in a represented world and of experiencing this world in a way similar (but not identical) to real life. this impression of immersion is counterbalanced by a latent rational distance resulting from a culturally acquired awareness of the difference between representation and reality.sub.

Strictly speaking. for fantasy or science fiction. Balter 2002)—the rational distance induced by the underlying awareness of the non-natural character of representation is disregarded. and (b) in the foreground as a mainly intuitive mental simulation where this awareness is bracketed out in favor of an imaginary experience of represented worlds “from within. a referential dimension: the tendency to credit illusionist representation with having indeed taken place in the real world. This “willing construction of disbelief” (Gerrig 1993: 230) can be triggered not only by the recipient. also Walton 1990: 273): (a) in the background as a latent. but not restricted to. visual imagination).” one of whose stipulations Coleridge described as “the willing suspension of disbelief for the moment” ([1817] 1965: 169). “involvement” and “psychological participation” (Walton 1990: 240–89). rational awareness “from without. the term “aesthetic illusion. In all cases. aesthetic illusion constitutes one of the most effective ways of ensuring the reception of representations. it is even erroneous to call aesthetic illusion simply “illusion” or “immersion” except by way of abbreviation. is more satisfactory than the various synonyms used in research: “absorption” (Cohen 2001: 258). aesthetic illusion implies the subjective impression of being experientially “re-centered” in a represented world. Illusion. Functionally. 239) rather than to identification with a character (→ Character). This referential aspect is not always at issue. Owing to its dual nature. however. which in many cases seems to be the default option during the reception process of representations and therefore continues to hold on subsequent readings (Walton 1990: 262–63). the latter being a special case of feeling recentered. advertising or propaganda purposes. “effet de réel” (Barthes 1968). can nevertheless induce a powerful aesthetic illusion. “recentering” and “immersion” (Ryan 1991: 21–3. can be suspended or undermined at any given moment by the actualization of the latent consciousness of representationality. thanks to metalepsis (→ Metalepsis) and to other illusion-breaking devices employed by metafictionality (→ Metanarration and Metafiction). an impression that amounts to a “side-participant stance” (Gerrig 1993: 108.” where “aesthetic” implies awareness that “illusion” is triggered by an artifact. to the extent it is aesthetic. in addition. but also by the work itself. Immersion. A persuasive purpose may be seen also at work in the potential of aesthetic illusion to make the recipient accept more readily the tendency of aesthetic representations to introduce an 124 . “transportation” (Gerrig 1993: 12 passim). Since illusionist works provide a simulation of real-life experience. or due to interference by contextual factors. but also reason to the extent that a certain rationality is required to make sense of the represented world. aesthetic illusion always has a quasi-experiential quality about it and sometimes. also Schaeffer 1999: 243 passim). whether factual or fictional. Aesthetic illusion thus involves several mental/psychic spheres and operates within two dimensions (cf. since it can cater to various human desires and offers vicarious experience without serious consequences.” This simulation involves emotions and sensory quasiperceptions (including. presupposes the implicit acceptance of a “reception contract.represented world and moreover from the fact that the position between these poles always maintains a certain proximity to the pole of immersion. which make no pretense at referring to reality. In view of this. since by this—as in all of these alternative terms (and also in the misleading attempt to regard aesthetic illusion as a form of magic. aesthetic illusion is gradable according to the degree of immersion or distance and is thus unstable. cf. The general attractiveness of aesthetic illusion also qualifies it as a vehicle of persuasion for didactic.” namely that the illusioninducing artifact is a mere representation.

aesthetic belief has progressively filled the place occupied by philosophical and religious beliefs as tacit basis of meaning. someone else.2 Factors Contributing to Aesthetic Illusion Aesthetic illusion is produced by several factors.) must all be taken into account as factors in a theory of illusion. 2. results in the recipients and the reception process becoming decisive. even though. Generally. i. illusionist representations are accessible with relative facility.” using it along with their own world-knowledge and empathetic abilities for “projection” onto their mind’s “screen. under the influence of generic conventions. interests. Moreover. to present worlds whose closure and meaningfulness. for the relevance of illusion appears to have increased proportionally as belief in the self-evident meaningfulness of the world and religiously inspired representations has decreased. Owing to the quasi-experiential nature of this state of mind. poetic justice. real-life experience. a recipient’s illusionist response to an artifact remains heavily dependent on individual factors. They offer potential recipients with material to lure them into the represented worlds and create a sense of verisimilitude. however. Thus the representation. but also the situation of reception and. the mind’s activity is not freefloating. From a historical point of view. It seems that with the increase of credibility invested in individual works. age. they offer contents that correspond to the objects and scripts encountered in. factors in the production of aesthetic illusion.” Such projection takes place in the mind of the recipient. although generic conventions may serve to counteract improbable elements. belief in the power of representation as such persists. the recipient and the context (situational. gender. outside deconstructionist and postmodernist circles. etc.” This activity. or applicable to.. As for the latter factor. While the illusionist representation provides the script. and the ability to read works of art aesthetically. immersion seems to satisfy a powerful psychological predisposition. cultural. may be regarded as deviating from the contingency of life. described by Gombrich (1960: 169) as elements contributing to a “guided projection.unrealistic surplus of coherence and meaning. through such devices as the use of coincidence. The individual representation is the guiding “script” that provides the raw material for what will appear on the mental “screen” and serves to trigger aesthetic illusion. a prerequisite for the emergence of aesthetic illusion. successful illusionist representations furnish formal analogies to the structures and features of real-life experience. These include range of experience. in some other time) is an anthropological constant. etc. but rather guided by the illusionist representation. to integrate into the reception such 125 . at least to a certain extent. albeit problematic. cultural background.e. as well as the nature of the mental screen. For even if it is conceded that the principal precondition of aesthetic illusion (namely the human ability to mentally dissociate oneself from the here-and-now and imagine being somewhere else. the recipients are called on to act as its (mental) “directors” or “producers. the persuasiveness of aesthetic illusion may even be regarded as related to the process of secularization in the Western world. both recipient and representation being influenced by contexts which in turn also contribute to the illusionist projection. even enabling one. When it is in a state of aesthetic illusion. the recipient’s willingness to “participat[e] psychologically in [a] game of make-believe” (Walton 1990: 242). of course.

It is these schemata and epistemic frameworks together with certain experiential contents that govern verisimilitude as a prime condition of aesthetic illusion. Another relevant and equally variable contextual factor is the set of frames. but remains distanced enough not to become enmeshed in experiential or referential delusion. technique. can in fact be postulated. a worldview that favors enchantment prevails. For these variables make it difficult. 126 . for instance. for it means that aesthetic illusion can be conceived of as the effect of a relative correspondence or analogy between a representation and essential culturally and historically induced concepts of reality and schemata of perception. in contrast to works that obstruct illusionist access such as radically experimental postmodernist fictions. If. Rather. etc. everything that can be said about the core of all text-centered approaches to aesthetic illusion. In fact. in the following argument. a number of points regarding the illusionist potential of a given representation can in fact be made. With the two variables recipient and context in mind. including generic conventions. terms such as “characteristics” and “principles” are employed. owing to which specific artifacts are regarded as numinous realities. the characteristics and principles of illusionist representation are to be regarded as deriving from prototypes that possess a particularly high degree of illusionist potential according to aesthetic theory and testimonies of reception of the past and/or of personal experience. they are not meant to function in the illusionist reception process as essences with fixed effects. Western cultural history of this period offers an extensive corpus of primary works that continue to be read as illusionist. Historically and culturally. any disparities between the contexts of production and those of reception may substantially affect aesthetic illusion. Since there is no universally valid perception and experience of reality. contributing to the theoretical construct of an “average” recipient. However. if not impossible. this does not mean that nothing at all can be said about the factor artifact or text. representations will appear as more or less illusionist according to intra-compositional factors. This context dependence has significant consequences. text. Most important. for all periods and all individuals. that rule the production and reception of the arts and media in a given period. One essential similarity among recipients. Verisimilitude—and with it aesthetic illusion—is therefore to a large extent a historical and cultural variable. although to a lesser degree when a text. its author and its reader are contemporary and form part of the same culture. As for cultural and historical contexts—the “rooms” in which potentially illusionist scripts are originally located and the locations where guided projections take place—a plurality of such contexts must always be assumed. to decide on the actual illusionist effect of a given work. becomes problematic. is the question of the extent to which aesthetic illusion itself and an aesthetic approach to artworks that implies aesthetic distance are practiced or known in a given culture or period or whether. namely illusionist representation itself. for given similar recipients and similar reception contexts. however. the average reader (→ Reader) as a factor in a theory of illusion can be restricted to the past few centuries of Western culture during which the evolution of aesthetic verisimilitude and responses to illusionist art are comparatively well documented.blatantly non-realistic phenomena as non-diegetic film music (Cohen 2001: 254). let alone a worldview that is generally acknowledged to be natural. With this illusionist corpus and its features in mind. namely that the recipient is prepared and able to “willingly suspend disbelief” when confronted with illusionist artifacts.

as their storyworlds are characterized by a certain extension and complexity. In narratological terms. 3. If this process is too short owing to a minimal text basis. typically illusionist novels (e.3): (a) their content or story level is the central text level. at least in part. a media-specific theory in each case and also because. consistency and life-likeness of the story. photography. (c) the content and its transmission tend to be serious. The consistency and life-likeness (or probability) of realistic narratives are actually facets of a more general quality of illusionist worlds. and contemporary virtual realities such as computer games (Ryan 2006: 181–203). 2. namely that it be triggered by a representation. while excluding (most) instrumental music (Ryan 2001: 15) from the range of potentially illuding media. narrative or descriptive (a fact often overlooked in narratological treatments of immersion. Highlighting of the content level (a) can be explained by the attempt to portray a represented world in which recipients can become experientially immersed. are consistent. film. some comment is required. namely their accessibility. Müller-Zettelmann 2000: chap. painting. As not all of these traits are self-explanatory. This factor also accounts for the relative complexity of typical illusionist worlds.6. one illusionist prototype is the 19th-century realist novel. Represented worlds can provide different degrees and types of accessibility (Ryan 1991: 32–3). a genre that has always been credited with a particularly high potential for eliciting illusionist immersion. There is no restriction as to their being factual or fictional. Aesthetic illusion is therefore a transmedial. in Schaeffer & Vultur 2005).3 Typical Characteristics of Illusionist Representations and the Principles of Illusion-making: the Case of Narrative Fiction Aesthetic illusion can be elicited by a broad range of texts and works. (d) illusionist texts are predominantly hetero-referential. Eliot’s Adam Bede or Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles) display the following four characteristic features (Wolf 1993a: chap. it is possible to single out illusion-relevant textual features and link them to principles of fictional illusion-making which contribute to producing these features through specific narrative devices. lyric poetry (Wolf 1998.g. There is only one general proviso. Since describing aesthetic illusion in the various media would require. as e. Although this may seem a special feature of realist fiction only.2. It is obvious that 127 . sculpture.g. Hühn & Kiefer 2005).2. (b) their transmission or discourse level remains comparatively inconspicuous and ‘transparent. and they may occur in a wide variety of media and genres. it is in fact in keeping with the general illusionist effect of re-centering the recipient in a world whose quality as “world” is enhanced by both extension and complexity. transmodal and transgeneric phenomenon. tend to be life-like in their inventory and thus elicit the interest of the (contemporary) reader. In the history of prose fiction. verbal narratives are characterized by a special affinity to aesthetic illusion. the following discussion will focus on certain features and principles at work in illusionist representations with reference to narrative fiction. Realist novels draw their readers into their worlds by maintaining a feeling of verisimilitude and experientiality while minimizing aesthetic distance. including narrative fiction.’ serving mainly to depict the storyworld and to enhance the tellability (→ Tellability). as will become clear below. drama. A certain textual extension is typical of illusionist worlds because aesthetic illusion is a state that emerges during a process in which a transition must occur from the perceptions normally experienced in everyday life to aesthetic reception. immersion may fail to take place. Considering illusionist texts such as these.

schemata and scripts stored in the recipient’s mind. are representational: they evoke or “re-present” a world that seems to exist outside the artifact. The relative inconspicuousness of the transmission level (b). (a) The principle of access-facilitating construction and vivid presentation of the represented world’s inventory. The shunning of aesthetic distance can also be witnessed in a no less typical tendency of illusionist works toward seriousness (c). These principles regulate the predominant immersive facet of illusionist works. typically illusionist works. corresponds to the centrality of the content level and is closely related to the tendency of illusionist immersion to predominate over aesthetic distance. The following four principles. while the latent distance also implied in aesthetic illusion is usually regulated by framing devices (e. even those that ultimately play with illusion. This does not mean. stemming mostly from previous real-life experience.enhanced accessibility facilitates illusionist immersion and that illusionist works therefore tend to lower the threshold of access as much as possible. and in particular realist novels. temporal (contemporary) and social settings but also. and they appear to refer to something other than the works in question. Therefore. emotions and seriousness can be seen not only in realist fiction. nor that all illusionist texts must be either realistic (they may also be modernist) or mimetic in the sense of imitating a slice of life (science fiction. while comedy frequently suspends illusion. plus two additional principles that contribute to the persuasiveness peculiar to the rhetoricity of illusionist texts. In realism. the cumulative effect of which is to produce its typical features of illusion-making as detailed above. in terms of norms. The main function of this principle is to provide the inventory or repertoire of an illusionist world with activating concepts. 2. which shape the material. 2004). The basic characteristics found at the textual level of illusionist fiction can be linked to a number of intra-compositional principles of illusion-making. but also in drama: tragedy tends toward aesthetic illusion (Aristotle’s catharsis presupposes empathetic immersion). although this does not exclude the comic from illusionism entirely. which runs counter to the strong affinity between emotional involvement and aesthetic illusion.g. ideals and epistemological preconceptions about the “readability” of reality. Comedy and laughter imply emotional distance. The interrelation between illusion. the realistic novel is in fact strongly hetero-referential. these principles can only be regarded as tendencies that enhance a potential of aesthetic illusion but cannot guarantee its realization per se. coherence and presentation of an illusionist world. These schemata (→ Schemata) are bound mainly to concrete phenomena (story existents in the case of narratives) rather than 128 . which is responsible for the mediality (→ Narration in Various Media) but also for the artificiality of representation and thus for potentially distance-creating factors. historical kind of mimesis. this tendency is manifest in the construction and presentation of fictional worlds that seem to be an extension of the recipients’ real world in terms of spatial. however. that mimesis alone guarantees the emergence of aesthetic illusion. usually keep distancing elements to a minimum. in defiance of such imitation. As a special. for instance. The predominant hetero-referentiality of realist fiction (d) is a consequence of the general fact that all illusionist artifacts. can also be illusionist). the paratextual or metatextual marking of a novel as such [Wolf 2006]). Owing to the extra-compositional factors involved in the emergence of aesthetic illusion. however.2. must be distinguished (Wolf 1993a: chap.

This is an active rhetorical principle resulting from the use of various devices of 129 . for instance. or identical to. certain deviations may remain illusioncompatible. thereby activating aesthetic distance and undermining immersion. Representations rely on semiotic macro-frames (typically narrative and descriptive ones). the inevitable limitation of perception according to the point of view (→ Perspective .abstract ones. Consistency operates according to Ryan’s “principle of minimal departure” (1991: 51): it is a default option. Thus the overall tendency is to ensure a fundamental analogy between the illusionist world and the perception of the real world. All of this produces the impression of consistency and invites meaningful interpretations while avoiding contradictions (the “natural” quality of the resulting representations is what renders the level of transmission relatively inconspicuous). the principle of perspectivity may come into conflict with the principle of consistency. media and genres employed. etc. are the result of other principles as well.e. and they also employ specific media and genres. and in particular emotional interest. in the represented world. (d) The principle of respecting and exploiting the potentials of the representational macroframes. Illusionist works enhance the probability of their worlds by linking their inventory according to abstract “syntactic” concepts (in narratives this includes chronology. this development has resulted in the increasing use of internal focalization (→ Focalization) since the 18th-century first-person epistolary novel and later in modernist third-person “figural narration” with its covert narrators and effect of immediacy. The experientiality and probability of illusionist representations. As a result. illusionist narratives show the basic features of narrativity (→ Narrativity) and employ descriptions in a way that is compatible with both the medium and the narrative macro-frame. In this way. Again. for example. principle (e)) as well as by providing graphic details about this world. On the other hand—and this illustrates the fact that aesthetic illusion is frequently the result of a fine balance between the various principles of illusion—extreme curtailment of overt narrators can also threaten textual coherence. All of these basic frames of individual representations have particular potentials and limits. thus obtaining a secondary kind of plausibility. (c) The principle of life-like perspectivity. In Western fiction. causality. for example) would highlight mediality as such and foreground the conventionality of narrative or of certain narrative genres. This principle also ensures easy access to the worlds thus constructed and facilitates imaginative immersion by maintaining a certain balance between familiarity and novelty (cf.Point of View) and the horizon of the perceiver—one of the noteworthy characteristics in the history of illusionism (in both painting and literature) is the development and perfection of techniques that imitate this perspectivity. provided they are explained or linked to generic conventions. The principle under discussion is responsible for keeping illusionist representations within these limits in order to ensure easy accessibility and avoid self-reflexive foregrounding of the means of transmission. Motivated by the perspectivity of everyday experience—i. (b) The principle of consistency of the represented world. but going too much against the grain of these basic frames of representation (as in the hypertrophy of description in the French nouveau roman. the reader’s focus would shift from the represented world as the center of aesthetic illusion to the conditions of its construction and transmission. As a result. although departures are possible and may even remain compatible with illusion. which tend to provide recipients with “deictic centers” as a vantage point from which to experience the represented worlds (Zwaan 1999: 15).) on the basis of fundamental logical and epistemological rules that are compatible with. (e) The principle of generating interest. the rules that (appear to) govern real life.

owing to his magisterial Art and Illusion (1960). 1657). in accordance with the rhetoric of antiquity and post-medieval aesthetics. Oelmüller ed.” “deceive”) has both a negative sense (“deceit.g. fictionality by avoiding paradox-creating devices such as (non-naturalizable) metalepsis and abstaining from overly intrusive metatextual elements and. in Abbé d’Aubignac’s Pratique du théâtre. Shortly afterwards. The tendency of illusionist fiction to minimize aesthetic distance and the inconspicuousness of its discourse is regulated mainly by a principle which. generally. notably in classical rhetoric. one particular area of this principle is appeal to the recipient’s emotions. of elements such as carnivalesque comedy.g. The means by which the recipient’s interest is elicited are highly variable. the term can be encountered as an aesthetic notion denoting dramatic illusion in French aesthetic theory (e. Old French and Middle English to Shakespeare. A neutral or positive meaning re-emerges only in the 17th century. where applicable. illusio (from illudere [in+ludere]: “make fun of. In the 20th century. They often include moderate departures from conventions and expectations as mentioned in connection with other illusionist principles.” The negative sense acquires Christian overtones in post-classical times. it is the art historian Gombrich who.” “jeer. as this tends to reduce emotional involvement. from devices that lay bare scripts and clichés as constituents of the represented world (although in some cases authenticity-enhancing metatextual devices may be illusion-compatible). has done most to disseminate the term. as in illusiones diaboli (the devil’s deceits). It imitates real-life perception in that perception is usually motivated by certain interests.” “jeering”) and a neutral or positive sense. 1982). (f) The principle of celare artem. This principle favors immersion by concealing the mediacy and mediality of representation.1 History of the Term In Latin. sex and crime) to topical references and discursive devices intended to create suspense. and it is also in the 18th century that the term begins to be used in an aesthetic sense in German (often equated with Schein. but Coleridge began to use the term “Dramatic Illusion” ([1804/05] 1960. illusion becomes a much discussed term. In French 18th-century aesthetic theory from Dubos to Marmontel and Diderot. In accordance with the importance of feelings for illusionist immersion. Henry Home. but also. This principle is also responsible for the scarcity. It continues to be used in spite of 130 . Similarly to other illusionist principles. may be called the principle of celare artem. In English. celare artem contributes to forming an analogy with a condition of real-life perception. 1: 176). and retains this negative meaning through Medieval Latin. namely the tendency to disregard the fact that perception is limited owing to its inevitable mediacy. and they may range from catering to recipients’ desires by providing certain inventory-elements (e. as can be seen in the title of Corneille’s comedy L’Illusion comique (1636). perhaps. Lord Kames called illusion an “ideal presence” (Home 1762). where illusio is an acceptable device sometimes used as a synonym of “irony. 3 History of the Concept and its Study 3.persuasio that render representations attractive and keep distance at a minimum. in typically illusionist representations. vol.

Most important. notably in Romanticism (in texts characterized by romantic irony). It can thus be said to inaugurate two antagonistic traditions: the great tradition of illusionist fiction. as can be seen in Cervantes’s Don Quixote and in Shakespeare (Wolf 1993b). the hitherto unsurpassed climax of anti-illusionism. aesthetic illusion became a consciously produced effect in literature and was even the object of metatextual commentary (although not under this term). In contemporary post-postmodernist fiction. Alter 1975): the novel is informed by both pro-illusionist elements (thanks to its realistic opposition to the improbable chivalric romances it parodies) and playful antiillusionism (resulting from its obtrusive metafictional dimension). also points toward aesthetic illusion while further evidence of literary illusion can be found in the form of the playful incursions in classical Greek comedy. Nowadays. In the history of fiction. and an anti-illusionist counter-tradition in which various devices of “defamiliarization” (ostrananie) were developed. During the Renaissance. the pro-illusionist position prevailed with the aesthetics of sensibility (represented inter alia by Diderot) and with realism (endorsed inter alia by Henry James) propagating an illusionism that was fuelled by an emphasis on the emotional and moral 131 . 3. Don Quixote is a particularly remarkable milestone. is Plato’s hostility toward the mimetic arts due to the illusory nature of artistic representation. owing to its illusionist ambivalence (Wolf 1993a: chap.Brinker’s plea that the “concept” (he actually means “term”) be “eliminate[d] from aesthetic theory” (1977/78: 191). a compromise seems to have been achieved in which an often ironic return to illusionism is combined with moderate illusion-breaking devices in doublelayered ambivalent texts. The famous anecdote of the illusionist contest between the trompe-l’œil painters Parrhasios and Zeuxis is a good illustration of this new approach to art. which hinges on the notion of mimesis in conjunction with the triggering of the emotional effects of eleos and phobos. “immersion” is often used in place of illusion. in modernism and in the experimentations of radical postmodernism.2 History of the Concept The beginnings of the Western tradition of aesthetic illusion (“illusionism”) were located by Gombrich (1960: 108) for the visual arts in the so-called “Greek revolution” which took place between the 6th and the 4th centuries B. aesthetic illusion has been accompanied by controversial evaluations. The transition from the magical and religious use of artworks (in which representational meaning was to be “read” without recourse to an illusionist “matching” to real-life appearance) to aesthetic objects which aimed at persuasive life-likeness inaugurated the Western tradition of illusionist representation. Aristotle’s theory of tragedy. From the 17th to the end of the 19th century. however. With reference to literature.C. which found its peak in the 19th-century realist novel. the first manifestation of which can be seen in the differing stances taken by Plato and Aristotle toward immersion as an effect of mimesis. 3. 4.3 Influential Positions Ever since it has been cognized as such.

and “metafiction” for anti-illusionism) have been discussed from various angles. particularly in recent cultural history. landscape painting. genre scenes. a moment in time or a static state. Bortolussi & Dixon 2003). Lobsien 1975. 3. notably in the mass media. aesthetic illusion seems to be more alive than ever. a focus which also informs part of empirical reader response research (Miall 1995) and cognitive and/or psychological approaches (Walton 1990. However. Strube 1971. Yet another factor was the Romantic and. It is true that experience can relate merely to space. “to move. there is a special relationship between aesthetic illusion and narrative and. With reference to literature. Both aesthetic illusion and anti-illusionism (often designated by other terms such as “realism” and “immersion” for illusion. Gombrich 1960. still lives. Up to the 1990s. especially if unexpected. as illustrated by important forms of nonnarrative illusionist painting (portraits. since immersion appears to cater well to a fundamental human need for imaginary experience.4 Relevance for Narratology Aesthetic illusion is not restricted to narratives. Brecht)—a position overlooking the fact that all reception is an active process. More recently. It does not come as a surprise.” “to ride”). 2001) as well as in the context of emotion research (Mellmann 2002. which was thought to prevent its political efficiency (cf. While in some cases this may be true (e. If there is indeed a special but not necessary relationship between narrative and aesthetic illusion. Marmontel opposes Diderot’s ideal of complete illusion). Experientiality has therefore justly been viewed as one of the fundamental elements of narrativity (Fludernik 1996).g. etc. while life is in turn often experienced according to narrative patterns. postmodernist diffidence with regard to the pre-condition of all aesthetic illusion.).effects of literature and art as well as on a probabilistic persuasiveness rivaling non-fictional discourses. a special relevance of this phenomenon to narratology.g. another factor was distrust of complacent passivity in the reception of literature. in part. Gerrig 1993. containing fahren. It has been claimed that this is the narrating process and thus the narrator (Nünning 2000. The illusion-critical position was motivated by equally diverse factors. Anderson 1996. Another link. 2006). the question arises with reference to fiction as to which aspect or part of narratortransmitted stories is most important for providing spaces for the “projection” of illusion. however. The link between illusion and narrative resides in the quasi-experiential quality of all aesthetic illusion and the characteristic experientiality of typical narratives. historical approaches (e. but that movement and change. one factor was concern for the aesthetic appreciation of literature as an art (in his entry on “Illusion” in the Encyclopédie. Smuda 1979) as well as text-centered approaches (Wolf 1993a) prevailed. namely representation. Zwaan 1999. phenomenological and reader-response approaches (e. aesthetic illusion has been viewed from the perspective of possible-worlds theory (Ryan 1991. in Tristram Shandy). that despite fierce opposition. privileging the narrator in this general way would render stories with covert narrators or narratives without 132 . is that aesthetic illusion provides life-like experience and that illusionist works provide analogies to structures and contents of real-life experience. have a particular affinity to experience (as the German Erfahrung suggests. 2001). Alter 1975). closely related. consequently.g. later. pointing to narrative as the most important cognitive macro-frame man has developed to make sense of experience in and of time.

a desideratum for future research is certainly interdisciplinary cooperation. its nature and functions in the various media (narrative as well as descriptive media). and closer to aesthetic concerns. leaving open several areas for additional research.3) by collecting responses of contemporary readers to certain representations and determining to what degree they reflect these principles. Robert (1975). 4 Topics for Further Investigation In spite of the fact that aesthetic illusion is an extremely widespread phenomenon in the reception of artistic representations. transmodal and transgeneric phenomenon. 5 Bibliography 5. which is clearly not the case. but also. Cognitive psychology. to a general theory of aesthetic illusion that transcends individual genres.” Communications No. and if this is taken into account. • Anderson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Joseph D. and this shows that the primary center of illusion in narratives is the story. The Reality of Illusion: An Ecological Approach to Cognitive Film Theory. • Bortolussi. Last but not least. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP. a still better understanding of it will be achieved. modes of representation and media. “Magic and the Aesthetic Illusion. i. Leon (2002). We may experience a single voice (including a narrator’s voice). Psychonarratology: Foundations for the Empirical Study of Literary Response.narrators (drama. owing to the dependency of immersion on the semiotic macro-frames of narrative and description as well as on the media and the genres used. art history and film studies. it has received amazingly scant attention in research. • Barthes. Investigations could focus on a broader systematic search for historical evidence of aesthetic illusion. For aesthetic illusion is a transmedial. together with empirical enquiries. rather than narration. particularly if it is focused on the link between immersion and emotion and the analogy between real-life experience and the experience provided by illusionist works.e. characters and events (→ Event and Eventfulness). yet a whole world usually has a higher potential of experientiality. perhaps. Roland (1968). ultimately leading.” Journal of the American Psychoanalytical Society 50. (1996). 1163–196. between narratology and drama theory. Partial Magic: The Novel as a Self-Conscious Genre. in particular if it is a narrative world with a high degree of tellability. Berkeley: U of California P. and also on empirical testing of illusion-creating principles (3. 84–9. also seems to provide a promising approach to aesthetic illusion. 11. Marisa & Peter Dixon (2003). film) less prone to illusion.1 Works Cited • Alter. 133 . not only between narratologists and cognitive psychologists. • Balter. “L’Effet de réel.

• Cohen. Heuristiken der Literaturwissenschaft. 13–47. 275–98. Watson. Experiencing Narrative Worlds: On the Psychological Activities of Reading. Middleton Raysor. • Coleridge. Stuttgart: Metzler. Ansgar (2001). 249–72. “Literatur als emotionale Attrappe: Eine evolutionspsychologische Lösung des ‘paradox of fiction’. Typologie und Funktionsgeschichte des Akts des Erzählens und der Metanarration. • Lobsien. Virtual Contacts and the Reality of Emotions. G.• Brinker. Juslin & J.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 16. • Mellmann. Klein et al. Paderborn: Mentis. • Ryan. • Nünning. New Haven: Yale UP. 2: Ästhetischer Schein. London: Routledge. “‘Great Wits Jump’: Die literarische Inszenierung von Erzählillusion als vernachlässigte Entwicklungslinie des englischen Romans von Laurence Sterne bis Stevie Smith. Jean-Marie (1999). Oxford: Oxford UP. A. Ansgar (2000). • Miall. N. (1995). • Mellmann. ed. Hildesheim: Olms. Sloboda (eds).und deutschsprachigen Dichtkunst. 145–66. • Schaeffer. • Coleridge. Peter & Jens Kiefer (2005). (1993). Eva (2000). London: Dent. Bloomington: Indiana UP. • Hühn. Marie-Laure (2001). 67–91. Lineages of the Novel: Essays in Honour of Raimund Borgmeier. 134 .” J. Helbig (ed).edu/ipsa/journal/2002_mellmann01. R. London: Dent. “E-Motion: Being Moved by Fiction and Media? Notes on Fictional Worlds. Possible Worlds. Trier: WVT.” P. • Gombrich. Voigts-Virchow (eds). Reitz & E. Ed. Menachem (1977/78). Paderborn: Schöningh. Vol. Katja (2006). Biographia Literaria. Willi. “Mimesis des Erzählens: Prolegomena zu einer Wirkungsästhetik. Henry. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. • Oelmüller. • Müller-Zettelmann. Ernst H.clas. 2006). • Fludernik. “Anticipation and Feeling in Literary Response: A Neuropsychological Perspective. Jahrhundert: Festschrift für Wilhelm Füger. Marie-Laure (1991). (1960). Lord Kames ([1762] 1970). Article 020604 <http://www. (eds). David S. Pourquoi la fiction? Paris: Seuil. Ed. Music and Emotion: Theory and Research. Th. • Nünning. Elements of Shakespearean Criticism. Berlin: de Gruyter. Marie-Laure (2006). Samuel Taylor ([1804/05] 1960). • Ryan. (1982). Artificial Intelligence and Narrative Theory. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Eckhard (1975).ufl.” B. Katja (2002). Richard J. Voitle.” U. • Ryan. • Home. Heidelberg: Winter. Oxford: Phaidon. “Music as a Source of Emotion in Film. Monika (1996).” Poetics 23. (2001). • Gerrig. 2 vols. Heidelberg: Winter. Ed. Theorie literarischer Illusionsbildung. The Narratological Analysis of Lyric Poetry: Studies in English Poetry from the 16th to the 20th Century. Annabel J. 191–96. “Aesthetic Illusion. Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation. Erzählen und Erzähltheorie im 20. Kolloquium Kunst und Philosophie. Towards a ‘Natural’ Narratology.shtml> (accessed March 23. Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. Samuel Taylor ([1817] 1965). Elements of Criticism. Lyrik und Metalyrik: Theorie einer Gattung und ihrer Selbstbespiegelung anhand von Beispielen aus der englisch. Avatars of Story.” PsyArt: A Hyperlink Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts.

.s. Jean-Marie & Ioana Vultur (2005). • Wolf. Framing Borders in Literature and Other Media.” Style 38. 237–39. 43. Über die Erforschung literarischer Figuren.” The British Journal of Aesthetics 23. Ritter & K. “Immersion. Mimesis as Make-Believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts. Werner (1976). “Illusion. “Is Aesthetic Illusion ‘illusion référentielle’? ‘Immersion’ and its Relationship to Fictionality and Factuality. Werner (1971). “Aesthetic Illusion as an Effect of Fiction. • Wolf. U of Bochum. • Smuda. • Strube. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Werner (2004). Darmstadt: WBG. 204–15. Bernhart (eds). Theorie und Geschichte mit Schwerpunkt auf englischem illusionsstörenden Erzählen.1. • Wolf. 53–60. Berlin: de Gruyter.• Schaeffer. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. • Zwaan. Amsterdam: Rodopi. Dorothy (1983). 4. 135 . “Aesthetic Illusion in Lyric Poetry?” Poetica 30. “Shakespeare und die Entstehung ästhetischer Illusion im englischen Drama. Herbert (1978). PhD Diss. 251–89. (1990). Walter & Frederick Burwick eds. vol. 325–51. Rolf A.2 Further Reading • Burwick. Frederick & Walter Pape. • Wolf. Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion. Culture and the Arts. “Situation Models: The Mental Leap into Imagined Worlds. Oliver (2003). “Wie aus Sätzen Personen werden . • Pape. (1999). • Grau. Wolf & W. Werner (1998). München: Fink. “The Non-Delusive Illusion of Literary Art. London: Routledge. Ästhetische Illusion und Illusionsdurchbrechung in der Erzählkunst. 405–28. Herman et al.” Poetica 10. Werner (2008). Werner (1993a). • Wolf. 99– 126. Berlin: de Gruyter. Werner (1993b). 15–8. Manfred (1979).” W. • Walsh. • Strube. Aesthetic Illusion: Theoretical and Historical Approaches.” Germanisch-Romanische Monatsschrift.. • Wolf. Kendall L. • Walton. Jahrhunderts. Perception and Appearance in Literature. (1990). Cambridge: MIT P. 279–301. Werner (2006). (eds). Framings and Framing Borders in Literature and Other Media. (1995). • Grabes. n.” D. “Introduction: Frames. Der Gegenstand in der bildenden Kunst und Literatur: Typologische Untersuchungen zur Theorie des ästhetischen Gegenstands. eds. 1–40. Ästhetische Illusion: Ein kritischer Beitrag zur Geschichte der Wirkungsästhetik des 18. 171–73.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 8.” J.” Journal of Literary Theory 2. 5. Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie. Gründer (eds).

in the sense of Bühler’s expressive function of language (1918/20). the deployment of a narrator and his or her perspective (→ 136 . Wolf: "Implied Author". however. but these indexes are perceived and evaluated differently by each individual reader (→ Reader). particularly in narratological contexts. but not represented. on the other hand.): the living handbbook of narratology. become a widespread term for a concept referring to the author contained. Any of the acts that produced a work can function as an indexical sign bearing this indirect form of self-expression. and aesthetic properties for which indexical signs can be found in the text. in a work. In neither of these usages it is claimed that authors have the intention of creating an image of themselves in their works. Thus. This concept presents itself in various forms. We have the implied author in mind when we say that each and every cultural product contains an image of its maker. Peter et al.php?title=Implied_Author&oldid=1586 Implied Author Last modified: 28 August 2011 Wolf Schmid 1 Definition The concept of implied author refers to the author-image contained in a work and constituted by the stylistic. 2 Explication The implied author has. necessarily accompany each and every symbolic representation. In particular. Hühn.unihamburg. the image is understood as one of the byproducts that. these acts include the fabrication of a represented world. http://hup. The implied author is therefore not a category specific to verbal narration. after being introduced by Booth (1961). Instead. Many users treat it as a term for an entity positioned between the real author (→ Author) and the fictive narrator (→ Narrator) in the communication structure of narrative works. use it as a term for a reader-generated construct without an equivalent pragmatic role in the narrative work. most often discussed in relation to linguistic texts. ideological. characters (→ Character). and actions.sub. it the implied author has an objective and a subjective side: it is grounded in the indexes of the text. 12 Mar 2012.Schmid. the invention of a story with situations. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. Those adopting a critical stance. (eds. the selection of a particular action logic with a more or less pronounced world-view.

or ideological intentions.” At its center lies the study of the author as the “consciousness of the work.” Korman’s approach differs from the theory of his predecessors in two ways. like the readings of different recipients. For Korman. it has a subjective component relating to reception: the implied author is seen as a product of the reader’s meaning-making activity. the various interpretations of a single reader are each associated with a different implied author. 3 History of the Concept and its Study 3. concentrates primarily on the relations between the various centers of consciousness in the work.” which he uses to refer to a work’s internal abstract authorial entity. Korman’s deliberations are dominated by poetics. Korman (1977) developed a method that he described as “systemically subjectbased. And whereas Baxtin’s interest in the problem of the author’s image is primarily philosophical and aesthetic in nature.Perspective . it must be remembered that. a scholar of language and style with links to the formalist movement. Gölz 2009). and finally. Drawing on Vinogradov’s concept of the author’s image and Baxtin’s theory of dialogic interaction between different points of meaning. The formalist Tynjanov ([1927] 1971: 75) coined the term “literary personality.” as “drawing together the entire system of the linguistic structures of the characters in their correlation with the narrator or narrators. the focus of the whole” (Vinogradov 1971: 118). He later defined this image as “the concentrated embodiment of the essence of the work. on the other hand.Point of View). Korman. the presentation of the narrative in particular linguistic (or visual) forms. began developing the concept of the author’s image (obraz avtora) in 1926 (1992: 237–42. the author in the work—which he calls the “conceived author”—is realized “in the 137 . The relative importance of these two aspects varies depending on how the concept is used: essentialists insist on the importance of the work’s structure in defining the implied author.1 Russian Formalism. practical. The concept has provoked questions above all because it has two dissimilar aspects. whereas constructivists highlight the role played by the freedom of interpretation. At any rate. In the 1970s. Vinogradov. the author’s image is described stylistically and presented as the product obtained when the different styles brought into play in a work are drawn together. On the one hand. In Vinogradov’s writings. it has an objective component: the implied author is seen as a hypostasis of the work’s structure. Czech and Polish Structuralism The concept of the implied author was first formulated systematically against the background of Russian formalism. the implied author will be reconstructed as having predominantly aesthetic. On the other hand. the transformation of the story into a narrative with the aid of techniques such as flattening simultaneous events into a linear progression and rearranging the order of episodes. and thereby being the conceptual stylistic centre. Depending on the function a work is believed to have had according to a given reading. Russian thought on the idea of the author in the text was taken further by Korman (Rymar’ & Skobelev 1994: 60–102).

in other words.” 3. without forcing us to suppress the inner richness and personal color that points back to the concrete author. […] the picture the reader gets of his presence is one of the author’s most important effects. but an implied version of ‘himself’ that is different from the implied authors we meet in other men’s works. Fieguth (1975: 16). Where Vinogradov introduces the concept of the “author’s image. there had existed a view according to which authors should be objective. it is possible to find indications pointing to the presence of this abstract subject. However impersonal he may try to be. Mukařovský adds.e. those subjects whose consciousnesses are expressed in the text” (Korman 1977: 120). the introduction of the implied author concept was linked to work on the notion of the unreliable narrator.” or “personality”—the entity that Mukařovský called the “abstract subject”—is the “signified. which must never be identified with an actual individual such as the author or the recipient. Since Flaubert. Taking the ideas of his teacher as his starting point.e.” Balcerzan (1968) uses the term “internal author” to refer to the same entity.correlation of all the constituent textual elements of the work in question with its subjects of speech. underlined the inescapable subjectivity of the author: “As he writes. the axiological disconnection of the narrator from the horizon of values against which a work operates. that is to say neutral and impassionnate. i.” Sławiński refers to the “subject of the creative acts” or the “maker of the rules of speech. contained in the structure of the work. 2006b).” the “aesthetic object” of the literary work. At the beginning of Polish research on the subject of the work we find Sławiński (1966. whose writings reflect the ideas of Vinogradov and Mukařovský. The paradigmatic form of the concept was developed by Booth (1961). In the context of Czech structuralism. However. These words have been understood by some as referring to a self-image intentionally created by the author. and the subjects of consciousness. He writes that the subject of the work “in its abstraction […] merely makes it possible to project these personalities into the internal structure of the work” (353). in contrast. 1967).” In any given work. Booth. an American literary scholar belonging to the Chicago School (Kindt & Müller 1999. Mukařovský (1937: 353) spoke at an early date of the author in the work as an “abstract subject that. Okopień-Sławińska’s German translator and commentator. those subjects to whom the text is attributed. the work itself being treated as an index in the Peircean sense (Červenka 1969). [the real author] creates not simply an ideal. describes it as the “subject of the use of literary rules in the work. “Subject of the work” is the name given to the authorial entity in the work in the framework of literary communication outlined by Okopień-Sławińska (1971). it is more likely that Booth’s rather imprecise formulation was meant to capture the idea that the creator of every product is inevitably and involuntarily represented 138 . For Červenka. is merely a point from which it is possible to survey the entire work at a glance. the “personality” thus defined embodies the principle by which all the semantic levels of the work are dynamically united. his reader will inevitably construct a picture of the [author] who writes in this manner” (Booth [1961] 1983: 70–1). the second-generation Czech structuralist Červenka suggested that the “subject of the work.2 Approaches in the West In Western narratology. 2006a. i. impersonal ‘man in general’.

” Over two decades later.” Bal has established herself as a bitter opponent of Booth’s implied author and Schmid’s abstract author. Hempfer (1977: 10) passed categorical judgment over the concepts of the implied (in his words “implizit. Booth’s approach has subsequently been taken up and refined on many occasions (cf. Schmid (1973) introduced the term “abstract author” (taken up by. Equivalent concepts have also been introduced. for example. “This would have made it possible to condemn a text without condemning its author and vice versa—a very attractive proposition to the autonomists of the ’60s” (1981b: 42). The objections raised can be summarized as follows: (a) Unlike the fictive narrator. Chatman (1978: 151) puts forward a model in which the implied author functions as a participant in communication —which is. Zipfel (2001: 120) presented a similar indictment of the implied author.3 The Implied Author Dispute The concept of the implied author has given rise to heated debate.indexically in it. some closely associated with Booth’s.” and even “the narrative interest” itself. that between the speech situation in the text and that outside it. to make it possible to talk about a work’s meaning and intention without falling foul of the criminal heresies. Toolan [1988] 2001: 64) and as such should not be personified (Nünning 1989: 31–32). for example. 1993: 9).” which he treats as an interpretive hypothesis of the empirical reader. Rimmon-Kenan [1983] 2002: 87–8). who subscribed to the criticism of the “intentional fallacy” presented by Wimsatt & Beardsley (1946). and Easthope (1983: 30–72) draws on the linguistic work of Émile Benveniste in suggesting the term “subject of enunciation. These “superfluous” concepts (1981a: 208–09). writing that the two entities “not only seem to be of no theoretical use but also obscure the real fundamental distinction.” and “terminologically imprecise. As Booth (1968: 112–13) objected. cf. hoped to sidestep two tenets of the New Criticism with the help of the implied author concept: the doctrine of autonomy and the insistence on the need to concentrate solely on the work itself. (c) despite repeated warnings against an overly anthropomorphic understanding of the implied author. More balanced criticism has been put forward in many forms. speaks of the “model author. have fostered the misguided practice of isolating authors from the ideologies of their works. Booth. Link 1976: 40.” “hopelessly vague. 3.” i.” Building on the Slavic origins of the concept. which he has subsequently defended against criticism (Schmid 1986: 300–06. precisely what the implied 139 . also the revision in Schmid [2005] 2008: 45–64). she believes. (b) the implied author is no more than a reader-created construct (Rimmon-Kenan [1983] 2002: 87. Lintvelt [1981] 1989: 17–22. condemning the concept as “superfluous to narrative theory. the implied author is not a pragmatic agent but a semantic entity (Nünning 1989: 33. the “world of ideas and beliefs. is a deceptive notion that promised to account for the ideology of the text. Eco (1979). The concept of authorship in the work was meant to provide a way round these obstacles.e. in particular Iser 1972. others less so. The implied author. “implicit”) author and reader. the New Criticism’s fight against a string of “fallacies” and “heresies” served to rule out not just the author but also the audience. she believes. Chatman 1978: 147–49. according to Rimmon-Kenan ([1983] 2002: 89). Hoek 1981).

which led to a certain amount of criticism (e. turn this “idea of the author” into a narrative agent. clearly because no better term can be found for expressing that authorial element whose presence is inferred in a work. His answer to the question “is the implied author a necessary and (therefore) valid agent between the narrator and the real author?” (139.g. they suggest. but they are not sufficient to justify excluding the implied author from the attention of narratology. Detailed analysis in the latter work leads to a conclusion that is not at all unfavorable to the implied author. Bronzwaer 1978. But we should is not. Genette observes first that. Rimmon 1976: 58. Hoek 1981. he then devoted an entire chapter to it in Narrative Discourse Revisited ([1983] 1988: 135–54). or even implicitly. “text design”. Bronzwaer 1978: 3). The implied author is not an intentional creation of the concrete author and differs categorically in this respect from the narrator.” “theoretically inadequate. In a chapter “In Defense of the Implied Author. none of whom intend to make the implied author a narrative agent.” (Since texts as such do not have intentions. but is conceivably an ideal agent: “the implied author is everything the text lets us know about the author” (148). the concept of the implied author belongs to the poetics of interpretation rather than the poetics of narration (Diengott 1993: 189). who believes that it is “terminologically imprecise. Many critics continue to use the concept.4 Towards an Impartial Definition The implied author can be defined as the correlate of all the indexical signs in a text that refer to the author of that text. This places Genette in a position not so different from that of the proponents of “full-blown models” of narrative communication to which he refers (Schmid 1973. or. (e) Booth and those who have used the concept after him have not shown how to identify the implied author of any given text (Kindt & Müller 2006b: 167–68). the latter term brings with it an undesirable metonymic shift from maker to product. It is also striking that those who advocate abandoning the implied author have put forward few convincing alternatives.” Chatman (1990: 74–89) suggests a series of alternatives for readers uneasy with the term implied author: “text implication”. if a non-intentionalistic concept of meaning is to be retained. because it is not specific to the récit. These signs mark out a specific world-view and aesthetic standpoint. (d) in so far as it involves a semantic rather than a structural phenomenon.” Finally. Nünning. represented entity. for example. either replace the term implied author with that of “author” itself (which would attract familiar objections from anti-intentionalistic quarters). The implied author belongs to a different level of the work. We should. The implied author.) The case of Genette sheds light on the double-sided view of the implied author concept held by many theorists. the auteur impliqué is not the concern of narratology. Kindt & Müller (1999: 285–86) identify two courses of action. Lintvelt 1981). who is always an explicitly. Chatman 1978. “text instance”. Genette warns. the implied 140 .” and “unusable in practice. 3. or simply “text intent. emphasis in original) is ambivalent. we should speak instead of “text intention. These criticisms are perfectly legitimate. is clearly not an actual agent. Genette did not cover the implied author in his Narrative Discourse (1972).” suggests replacing it with the “totality of all the formal and structural relations in a text” (1989: 36). he says.

And despite the connotations of the German impliziter Autor (implicit author. The implied authors of various works by a single concrete author display certain common features and thereby constitute what we might call an œuvre author. Conversely. The late Tolstoj was much less convinced by many of his ideas than his implied authors. the implied author can be more radical than the real author ever really was or. It would therefore be more appropriate to speak of reconstruction instead of construction. adopting in the process standpoints on certain issues that they could not or would not wish to adopt in reality. authors use their works to depict possibilities that cannot be realized in the context of their real-life existence. who points out that “without the implied author it is difficult to analyze the ‘norms’ of the text. which brings with it a shift from the reception-based orientation of implied to an ontologizing concept). 3.5 Relevance to Narratology Why should a semantic entity that is neither a pragmatic participant in communication nor a specific component of the narrative work be the concern of narratology at all? Recall here Rimmon (1976: 58). In some cases. taking concrete shape only with the help of the reader. it is also possible for the ideological horizons of the implied author to be broader than the more or less markedly ideologically constrained ones of the real author. the entire work as a created object. especially when they differ from those of the narrator.” There are also more general author stereotypes that relate not to an œuvre but to literary schools. stylistic currents. a stereotype that Booth (1979: 270) refers to as a “career author. it must be based on the evidence in the text and the constraints this places on the freedom of interpretation. to put it more carefully. It has no voice of its own. An example of this is Dostoevskij. and genres.” 141 . the principle behind the composition of the work (note here Hühn’s “subject of composition” [1995: 5]. who in his late novels developed a remarkable understanding of ideologies that he vehemently attacked as a journalist. periods. and took to stands for the principle behind the fabrication of a narrator and the represented world in its entirety. than we imagine him or her to have been on the basis of the evidence available. In such cases. the implied author cannot be modeled as the mouthpiece of the real author. no text. Such radicalization of the implied author is characteristic. which is responsible for him in the same way as he is responsible for the diegesis. It is not unusual for authors to experiment with their worldviews and put their beliefs to the test in their works.” Similarly.” the relation between the implied author and the real author should not be pictured in such a way that the former becomes a reflection or copy of the latter. The implied author has only a virtual existence in the work and can be grasped only by turning to the traces left behind in the work by the creative acts of production. the latter embodied. for example. of Tolstoj’s late works. If the process of construction is not to simply confirm to the meanings that readers want to find in the first place. a development of Easthope’s “subject of enunciation” [1983]). for example. one particular dimension of Tolstoj’s thought. Its position is defined by both ideological and aesthetic norms. Its word is the entire text with all its levels. Bronzwaer (1978: 3) notes that “we need an instance that calls the extradiegetic narrator into existence. Contrary to the impression given by the term “author’s image. The implied author is a construct formed by the reader on the basis of his or her reading of the work.

3.” Korman (1977: 127) himself had paired the “author as bearer of the work’s concept” with the corresponding entity of the “reader as postulated addressee. In the first. but by the text itself. Among the theorists who have worked on the implied reader. not part of the represented world but nonetheless part of the work. Only on the level of the implied author do these meanings acquire their ultimate semantic intention.Chatman (1990: 76) points out another advantage of the concept when he writes that “positing an implied author inhibits the overhasty assumption that the reader has direct access through the fictional text to the real author’s intentions and ideology. he is a construct and in no way to be identified with any real reader” (Iser 1978: 34). 1976) deserves special mention. the ability to transform the potentiality of the work into an aesthetic object. to be distinguished from the addressee of the fictive narrator. Rymar’ & Skobelev (1994: 119–21) use the term “conceived reader. the implied reader as a concept has his roots firmly planted in the structure of the text. Iser describes the implied reader (or impliziter Leser. above the characters and the narrator and their associated levels of meaning.” In Russia. Eco (1979) pairs the “model author” with the “model reader.” Similarly.6 Implied Reader In many discussions. The existence of the implied author. It is tempting to assume.” defined by him as a hypothesis formed by the empirical author. known as the “narratee” (Prince 1971) or “fictive reader” (Schmid 1973). If the implied author is an image of 142 . The presence of the implied author in the work. Iser (1972.” by which he means the implied reader. following on from Korman. establishes a new semantic level arching over the whole work: the authorial level (→ Narrative Levels). and the meanings expressed in them are all represented.” The concept of the implied author is particularly useful in textual interpretation because it helps us describe the layered process by which meaning is generated. who often appears as master of the situation and seems to have control over the semantic order of the work. then the overall meaning of the work’s addressee is the totality of the interpretive abilities required: the ability to use the same codes and develop their material analogously to the creative activity of the speaker. He then goes on (to quote his subsequent English version of the text) to say that the implied reader “embodies all those predispositions necessary for a literary work to exercise its effect—predispositions laid down. German version of The Act of Reading. that the relationship between implied author and implied reader is a symmetrical one. as he calls it) as a “structure inscribed in the texts” not having any real existence (Iser 1976: 60). Consequently. ideal principle of reception. Červenka ([1969] 1978: 174–75) characterizes the “addressee’s personality. not by an empirical outside reality. as several theorists have indeed done. their texts. The presence of the implied author in the model of epic communication highlights the fact that narrators. casts a shadow over the narrator. with the statement that “if the subject of the work was the correlate of the totality of the acts of creative choice. the implied author is paired with a recipient entity occupying a supposedly equivalent position on the opposite side of the communication situation: the “implied reader” (as in Booth 1961).

” Z zagadnień teorii przekładu. Two hypostases of the (re)constructed implied reader should be distinguished on the basis of the functions it can be thought to have. Chicago: Chicago UP.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 1. 143 . First. 202– 10. 2007). and to distinguish between author. 41–59. Mieke (1981b). for there is no symmetry between the ways in which the two abstract entities are formed.the real author created by the real reader.” Poetics Today 2. and genres has yet to be examined in detail. and aesthetic ideas must be taken account of if the work is to be understood. Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy im. • Balcerzan. ([1961] 1983). • Booth. 14–16. The implied reader is ultimately one of the attributes of the concrete reader’s reconstructed implied author. In this function. Second. text types. ideological norms. or: on Focalisation. Wayne C. the implied reader can be seen as an image of the ideal recipient who understands the work in a way that optimally matches its structure and who adopts the interpretive position and aesthetic standpoint put forward by the work (Schmid [2005] 2008: 68–72. we might be inclined to conclude.and narrator-specific indexes. • Bal. Edward (1968). It follows that the implied reader is no less dependent on the reader’s individual acts of reconstruction than the implied author whose attribute it is.” Poetics Today 2. of course. • Booth. Wayne C. “The Laughing Mice. The true state of affairs. cultural spheres. then. the implied reader must be the image of the real reader envisaged by the real author. (Translated by Alastair Matthews) 5 Bibliography 5. “Styl i poetyka twórczości dwujęzycznej Brunona Jasińskiego. 4 Topics for Further Research (a) Where systematic considerations and practical applications are concerned. the implied reader bears the factual codes and norms that it is assumed the audience will use. “‘The Rhetoric of Fiction’ and the Poetics of Fictions. Ossolinskich. “Notes on Narrative Embedding. the implied reader can be seen as an assumed addressee to whom the work is directed and whose linguistic codes. (b) The manifestation of the implied author in different periods. there is a pressing need to identify the indexical signs that refer to the implied author. The Rhetoric of Fiction. 105–17. (1968). is more complicated. Mieke (1981a).1 Works Cited • Bal.

219–64. Story and Discourse. Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Rolf (1975). Wilhelmus J. Berlin: de Gruyter. • Lintvelt. • Kindt. Aleksandr (1992). • Easthope. Rezeptionsforschung. Karl (1918/20). Concept and Controversy. • Hempfer. • Bronzwaer. 1. vol. Iževsk: Izd. Tom & Hans-Harald Müller (2006a). V. • Gölz. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Extradiegetic Narrator and Public Reader.” Théorie 144 . The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response. Wolfgang ([1972] 1974). Heidelberg: Quelle & Meyer. Ithaca: Cornell UP. • Iser. • Diengott. Gérard ([1983] 1988). Klaus W. • Kindt. Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. 9–22.” Neophilologus 62. • Bühler. • Iser. Wolfgang (1978). “Kritische Musterung der neueren Theorien des Satzes. “O celostnosti literaturnogo proizvedenija. • Čudakov.” W. Seymour (1978). London: Methuen. The Implied Author. Schmid (ed). • Chatman. Leo H. • Korman.” Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte 48. (1978). Nilli (1993). Peter (1995).” W. “Zur pragmatischen Fundierung der Texttypologie. Seymour (1990). Christine (2009). 1–18. 1–26. Poetry as Discourse. The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Film. Jannidis et al. Geschichte der englischen Lyrik. 163–90. Le “point de vue.” Indogermanisches Jahrbuch 4. Wolfgang (1976). 273–87. Kronberg: Scriptor. “Der implizite Autor. Miroslav ([1969] 1978). • Kindt. München: Fink. Der Akt des Lesens: Theorie ästhetischer Wirkung. • Genette.” Orbis Litterarum 48. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. (1981). 1–20. Antony (1983). La Haye: Mouton. • Link. La marque du titre. (eds). 181–93. Hinck (ed). Boris (1977). 119–28. Umberto (1979).” Izbrannye trudy po teorii i istorii literatury. • Eco. Tom & Hans-Harald Müller (2006b). Zur Karriere und Kritik eines Begriffs zwischen Narratologie und Interpretationstheorie. “Autortheorien im slavischen Funktionalismus. 187–237. Chicago: Chicago UP. • Červenka. • Fieguth. Wayne C. “V. Motivation and Theme and Their Problematic Status. “Implied Author. Tübingen: Niemeyer.” Slovo―vešč’―mir. • Hühn. Hannelore (1976). Narrative Discourse Revisited. • Iser. München: Fink. Moskva: Sovremennyj pisatel’. Jaap ([1981] 1989). M. Tübingen: Francke. F. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. • Hoek. “Einleitung. Literarische Kommunikation.• Booth. Zur Explikation und Verwendung eines umstrittenen Begriffs. Rückkehr des Autors. The Role of the Reader. “Das literarische Werk als Zeichen. The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. • Chatman. Bloomington: Indiana UP.” F. Slavische Erzähltheorie. (1979). Berlin: de Gruyter. 163–83. Gérard ([1972] 1980). Udmurtskogo un-ta. Tom & Hans-Harald Müller (1999). Coming to Terms. Critical Understanding: The Powers and Limits of Pluralism.” Der Bedeutungsaufbau des literarischen Werks. Vinogradov i ego teorija poėtiki. (1977). “Der implizite Autor. “Implied Author.” R. Essai de typologie narrative. Textsortenlehre―Gattungsgeschichte. • Genette. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Russische und tschechische Ansätze.

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Tübingen: Niemeyer. • Schönert.2 Further Reading • Kahrmann. ([1977] 1996). 289–94. Weinheim: Beltz. Susan R. Impliziter Autor und Lyrisches Ich. “Empirischer Autor. Cordula.” F. & Inge Crosman eds. (1980). (eds): Rückkehr des Autors. • Suleiman. Erzähltextanalyse. The Reader in the Text. Princeton: Princeton UP.5. 146 . et al. Jörg (1999). Jannidis et al.

or perceive. Either the story is openly transmitted through a narrator who functions as a teller of the tale (“teller mode”) or the mediation is apparently occluded by a direct.uni-hamburg. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. In recent years. Monika: "Mediacy and Narrative Mediation". speaks of “narrative transmission” (1978: 22). and comment as if they were transmitting a piece of news or a message. http://hup.php? title=Mediacy_and_Narrative_Mediation&oldid=1453 Mediacy and Narrative Mediation Last modified: 8 June 2011 Jan Alber & Monika Fludernik 1 Definition The term “mediacy” was coined by Stanzel ([1955] 1971: 6) and describes the fact that the story is mediated by the narrator’s discourse in one of two ways. on the other hand. (eds. and other genres and forms of narrative. Stanzel discriminates between teller. Rather. hypertext narratives. drama.. the emphasis on different media using narrative has resulted in the term mediation being applied to the way in which a story is told in film. inform. they mediate story material.): the living handbbook of narratology.sub. Jan & Fludernik. In the reflector mode. Peter et al. im-mediate presentation of the story through the consciousness of a reflector (character). in different ways. Prince ([1987] 2003: 58) defines narrative as always having a mediating narratorial level. In Genette. who looks at film and non-verbal narratives like ballet. feel. mediation is two-fold on the levels of the discourse (récit) and the narrator’s act of telling (narration) ([1972] 1980: 27. Reflector-characters. 2 Explication Narratives can be mediated by narrators who tell and comment on the story or through agents who merely think. and Chatman. [1983] 1988: 13). music. However. Tellercharacters narrate. Hühn.] fictional events” ([1979] 1984: 150)..Alber. we seem to see the storyworld through the eyes of a character and there seems to be no narrator operating as a mediator. ballet.e. arguing that they are “mediators of [. the 147 . the fact of a mediate presentation of the story has become a general foundation in structuralist narratology. cartoons. event sequences.and reflectorcharacters. Since the introduction of Stanzel’s term. pictures. do not narrate or transmit. 12 Mar 2012.

In Plato’s diegetic or “pure” mode. the process of narrative transmission centrally concerns the relationship between story time and discourse time as well as issues of voice and point of view. or audio-visual) sign system (narrative) ([1983] 1988: 13).1 Mediacy from Plato to Stanzel Stanzel’s notion of mediacy has roots in the distinction between mimesis and haple diegesis in Plato’s Republic (cf. as in epic poetry (Plato 1937: 392c–95. In Stanzel’s account. In contrast. While most narrative theorists define narrative in terms of event sequences. narratives can be told or shown. the poet “delivers a speech as if he were someone else. and Friedman [1955: 1161–65]). Teller-mode narratives are mediated by the consciousness of a narrator. More specifically. however. and neutral narratives by the reader who “views” and constructs narrative experience (1996: 50). Chatman speaks of the process of “narrative transmission” as “the source or authority for the story” (1978: 22). reflector-mode narratives by the consciousness of a protagonist. For Genette. Although Plato talks about speech 148 .” the latter defining narrative stricto sensu as a “verbal transmission” ([1983] 1988: 16). Fludernik argues that all narrative is built on the mediating function of consciousness. the so-called “narrating instance” ([1972] 1980: 212) is the communicative act that initiates both the story and the narrative discourse that produces the story. and “covert narrators. Stanzel and Genette reject blanket uses of the term “narrative. while (verbal) narrative is a mediated representation—mediated by the discourse of a narrator (openly mediated) or a reflector (obliquely mediated by presenting an illusion of im-mediacy). She integrates Stanzel’s mediacy into a more general cognitive model of narrative transmission based on “real-life” schemata. Fludernik’s redefinition of narrativity on the basis of experientiality. Chatman discriminates between “overt narrators. cf. movies. Underlying the question of what constitutes narrative is the concept of mediacy. there are “diegetic” and “mimetic” forms of narrative. and this veiled mediacy produces what Stanzel calls “the illusion of immediacy” (141). 3 History of the Concept and its Study 3. also Schaeffer & Vultur 2005: 309). “the quasi-mimetic evocation of ‘real-life experience’” (1996: 12). drama and film are im-mediate renderings of story.” who communicate directly to the reader. but also to oral storytelling and some kinds of poetry. also Lubbock [1921: 62].” who remain more or less hidden in the narrative’s discursive shadows (1990: 115). visual. and cartoons to be narrative because they present stories (1990: 117). a complex “natural” category with several available cognitive frames to choose from. For him. the narrating instance represents events and existents (story). Finally. Chatman also considers plays. Blackmur [1934: xvii–xviii].e. i. For him. and they are thereby mediated in a particular (verbal.” According to Plato. the poet “himself is the speaker and does not even attempt to suggest to us that anyone but himself is speaking. the poet may also combine these two modes and use the mixed mode.reader perceives the action through the eyes of the reflector character.” In the mimetic mode. and its mediation through consciousness allows her to open up the field of narrative inquiry not only to drama and film.

is based on the relations between the narrator and the characters. he points out that mediacy is more or less foregrounded (as revealed by the presence or absence of comments by an authorial narrator). Stanzel presents the concept of mediacy as the linchpin for a definition of the term “narrative. “pure” narratives and direct representations are two varieties of what he calls mimesis because both represent a world (2002: 1448a). perspective. narrative including dialogue insets). In the final version of his model. the act of telling). More specifically. Perspective directs the reader’s attention to the way in which s/he perceives the fictional world. While for Plato (and later Stanzel) the term “diegetic” refers to narratorial discourse (i. extending from internal (perception located in the main character or within the events) to external (perception located at the periphery of the events) (→ Perspective/Point of View). unmediated representation of story) therefore aligns immediacy with mimesis and mediacy with diegesis in the Platonic sense (→ Speech Representation).e. In opposing the teller mode and the reflector mode. From the beginning. by instituting two basic types of mediacy: teller-mode and reflector-mode mediacy. Genette uses the term diégèse (adopted from Souriau 1951) to denote the fictional world of the characters ([1972] 1980: 27 n. he significantly reformulates his original typology.” and he puts forth a sophisticated argument for mediacy as a gradable concept ([1955] 1971: 6). and it ranges from identity (first-person reference) to non-identity (third-person reference) of the realms of existence of the narrator (→ Narrator) and the characters (→ Character). since the narrator is evocative of actual experience of the world. it is the narrator “who evaluates. and mode (mediacy). Stanzel’s assignment of drama to the pole of immediacy (i. “the diégèse is [. but its absence in the figural narrative situation is merely apparent. free indirect speech) and the generic distinction between narrative and drama. the Platonic mimesis/diegesis distinction as a dichotomy (rather than a triad) has been used to support both models of speech and thought representation (direct vs.. Similarly. The first element of the narrative situation. According to Friedemann. who is sensitively aware.. For Genette.e. Stanzel’s proposal is closely related to Friedemann’s argument that the presence of a narrator in prose writings is in no way inferior to immediacy in drama. For Aristotle.e. Genette’s term diégèse has many affinities with Aristotle’s notion of mimesis. who observes” ([1910] 1965: 26).representation (“pure” narrative and poetry vs. Stanzel’s concept of mediacy is directed against Spielhagen’s prescriptive demand for “objectivity. the narrator’s speech act produces the story through the narrative discourse. Stanzel revises the figural narrative situation by integrating it into the illusion of immediacy in order to constitute the reflector mode of narration. In this discussion. 2. Despite this terminological disparity.” i. which is responsible for producing this illusion. thus conveying an image of the world as s/he sees it. “pure” drama vs. not as it is in a depersonalized objectivity. who argued that the narrator should remain completely invisible throughout the narrative and thus wished to see every trace of a narrator erased. immediacy of presentation ([1883] 1967: 220). even though for Genette this is achieved through the narrating instance. specifically excluding the narratorial discourse which is constitutive of both Plato’s and (in his wake) Stanzel’s understandings of diegesis. [1983] 1988: 17–8). Genette and Stanzel agree with regard to the constitutive narratorial mediation of narrative. Genette’s notion of diégèse refers to the primary story level. however. person. Stanzel seeks to counter the excessive demands of “neutralists” like Spielhagen. For him. 149 .] the universe in which the story takes place” ([1983] 1988: 17). Stanzel proceeds from three pairs of oppositions arranged as scaled categories of person. dating from 1955.

and figural) as descriptions of basic possibilities of theorizing narration as mediacy. Cohn additionally points out that Stanzel’s category of perspective merges the “presentation of space (the visible outer world)” into the “presentation of consciousness (the invisible inner world)” (175).F. In his view. Besides these proportions. 245).” i. Stanzel’s distinction between teller. teller vs. narrative rhythm.]” and “covert [./M. concerns the distribution of narratorial emphasis in a specific novel and refers to the fact that in most novels.A. Genette’s model is based on the cross-tabulation of heterodiegetic and homodiegetic forms of narrating (“who speaks?”) and the three types of focalization (zero. internal perspective. or. And since perspectives on fictional space and fictional minds do not always coincide (Uspenskij 1973: 105–07). reflector modes) and emphasis on the dynamization of the narrative situation tend to foreground “mode” (i. the incidence of direct speech vs.Finally.e. Cohn considers this axis to be less unified than the other two (cf.. person (“who speaks?”) with that of mood or.]” (Stanzel [1979] 1984: 141). the distinction between tellers and reflectors) and to background “person” (Cohn 1981: 168). resurfacing only at moments of narrative report. In his remarks on narrative dynamization. authorial.e. indirect and free indirect speech and thought representation is also taken into account. Genette considers this taxonomy to be an improvement because it is more systematic and includes less common narrative forms such as Hemingway’s “The Killers.F. more precisely.. J. Stanzel regards the three narrative situations (first-person. external) (“who sees?”) (21. perspective (“who sees?”).or herself prominently at the beginning of the text and sometimes at the end.] altogether too limited to the most frequent situations” (119). he discusses narrative profile and narrative rhythm. commentary. He thus revises Cohn’s amendment of Stanzel by proposing a different taxonomy which “diversifies an initial typology that was [. She therefore proposes to simplify Stanzel’s typological circle by subsuming the category of perspective under the heading of mode (1981: 179).] mediacy which produces the illusion of immediacy in the reader [reflector mode. The result of this configuration is a simultaneous “decrease in these authorial intrusions [which] parallels the increase of the hero’s ‘perspective solipsism’” ([1979] 1984: 69). or description. J.and reflector-characters confuses the question of voice. but then lapses into inactivity when the plot becomes exciting.2 Mediacy in Genette and Chatman Genette considers Stanzel’s category of mode to be superfluous. a study of “the variations of the narrative situation during the course of the narrative process. mode breaks down into “overt mediacy of narration [teller mode./M. 3. Nevertheless. He also introduces a dynamic analysis into narrative transmission by demonstrating that narrative situations do not span entire novels uniformly.. it must be noted that the introduction of the three axes (identity vs. also Cohn 1990). specifically [on] their purely quantitative ratio and their distribution” ([1979] 1984: 63–7). and Camus’s 150 .A. external vs. non-identity of realms of existence. [1972] 1980: 189–94. internal.. The second term. that is. as he finds it “easily reducible to our common category of perspective” ([1983] 1988: 116). Although this dynamization is defined as a dynamization “of the narrative situation. to dialogue and dramatized scene. more precisely. the narrator figure manifests him.” the subsequent analysis actually focuses on the “relation of the narrative parts.” a form of heterodiegetic narration with external focalization (the neutral subtype in Stanzel [(1955) 1971: 93]).

the presence of narratorial comments. in which an illusion of immediacy is projected.L’Étranger. the fact that in order to read an extended passage as internal focalization.” even when “the agent bears no signs of human personality” (1990: 115). of which the fabula is a memorial trace that remains with the reader after the reading ([1985] 1997: 5). Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) establish a representation of the narrative world which is (or seems to be) filtered through the consciousness of the protagonist (cf. he argues that all narratives have a narrator. the narrating act shapes and transforms the story through the narrative discourse. Similarly.g. film. that narrates them).e. When Chatman introduced the principle of “narrative transmission. the very fact of recounting)” ([1983] 1988: 13). and narrating (the real or fictive act that produces that discourse—in other words. a pronounced teller must not interfere because such a foregrounded narrative voice would impede a reading of the text from the character’s perspective. and narration ([1983] 2002: 3). also James [1909]: 322–25). What the two terminologies fail to take into account. to put it differently. oral or written. see Schmid 1968). equivalent to Stanzel’s mediacy. since it is equally necessary to have a predominant internal perspective to produce the 151 . By contrast. narrative (the discourse. Stanzel’s mediacy is equivalent to what Genette calls “narrating act” and “narrative. The three authors agree that narratives always present a story which is mediated by a narrator’s discourse. Chatman stresses the conjunction of story and mediatory discourse by pointing out that “narrative entails movement through time not only ‘externally’ (the duration of the presentation of the novel. Stanzel shows that Modernist novels (e.” and forms of “non-narration” for neutral narratives (1978: 22). from subjective and foregrounded tellers to “objective. however. narratively presented” (1990: 115).” “covert narrators. and the use of evaluative phrases.” More specifically. Chatman provides a sliding scale from overt to covert narrators based on the linguistic markers of subjectivity. Chatman rejects the idea of non-narration by arguing that “every narrative is by definition narrated—that is. Chatman argues that “narrative presentation entails an agent. play). Like Stanzel and Genette. so that all three theorists clearly oppose the Banfieldian “nonarrator” theory (1982).” neutral. except that he includes drama and film among the narrative genres and therefore does not reduce narrative transmission or mediacy to the discourse of a narrative voice. and backgrounded narration). however. Later. with regard to Stanzel’s reflector-mode narrative. according to which certain sentences of fiction cannot possibly be enunciated by a narrator. while Genette ([1983] 1988: 115) describes such a scenario as heterodiegetic narration with internal focalization. Furthermore. but he maintains the distinction between overt and covert narrators. His model is in close agreement with Stanzel’s. By distinguishing between a teller and a reflector mode. Genette discriminates between “story (the totality of the narrated events). Rimmon-Kenan uses the terms story. a form of homodiegetic narration with external focalization. but also ‘internally’ (the duration of the sequence of events that constitute the plot)” (9). while Bal modifies Genette’s terminology by arguing that it is by way of the text that the reader has access to the story. It is quite apparent that Stanzel’s teller mode corresponds to Chatman’s scale which ranges from overt to covert narration (i.” he discriminated between “overt narrators. text. the mere reduction of the narratorial voice to a default existence is not sufficient to characterize the reflector mode. This effect can only be achieved by completely backgrounding the narrative voice reporting on external events (for a critique of this claim. In this model. is the prototypical absence of a foregrounded narrator in reflector-mode narratives or. Chatman (1978: 198) argues that a covert narrator expresses the thoughts of a character.

but experientiality. Erzählung (plot). 3. In this text. In addition. The narrator then transforms the story into a narrative plot. arguing that all mediacy (or mediation) occurs through cognitive schemata (→ Schemata) and that what is being mediated is not primarily a story (although in the vast majority of narratives such a series of events does indeed occur). the mediating narrator first selects particular situations. And finally. and qualities from the invented story material and transforms them into a story. that of the narrative voice. He goes on to posit three processes of transformation between these levels. Fludernik (1996) takes Stanzel’s concept of mediacy further by locating all mediation in narrative transmission through consciousness (which can surface on several levels and in different shapes). she broadens the analysis to include a wide variety of narratives. However. but there cannot be narratives without a human experiencer of some sort at some narrative level. Fludernik argues that there can be narratives without plot. The only thing we learn is that a body is trapped in a small. all narratives operate through the projection of consciousness—the character’s. the narrator presents the narrative by verbalizing it in a particular style. going through a process that correlates with the linearization of simultaneous event sequences and the permutation of chronological story segments. fictional narratives do not typically transform something pre-existent into a narrative. as Cohn argues. event sequences underlie experientiality.or third-person) teller-mode narrative which is mediated by an explicit transmitter.3 Newer Developments Schmid (1982) puts forth an alternative model of narrative mediation by breaking down the story vs. Other emotions or thoughts may be foregrounded. Geschichte (fabula or story). It is therefore worth noting that Schmid assumes an ideal-genetic perspective: the invented story material logically precedes the presentation of the narrative. For her. or the reader’s.relevant effect. 1990: 115) and Bal ([1985] 1997: 5). Since experience is closely associated with actions. She redefines narrativity in terms of experientiality. with embodiment constituting the most basic feature of experientiality: embodiment evokes all the parameters of a real-life schema of existence which has to be situated in a specific time and space frame. a disembodied voice presents us with repeated descriptions of the same strange world which is somewhat reminiscent of a prison scenario. with suspense fulfilling a prominent role. however. and some narratives (though few) actually operate without plot. While most narrative theorists define narrative through sequentiality or progression. characters. all of which are accomplished by the narrator. Beckett’s short prose work “Ping” is an example of a plotless narrative. Präsentation der Erzählung (narrative discourse). The reflector mode as mode only makes sense theoretically when one conceives of a different type of transmission through the character’s perspective or consciousness in contrast to the prominent (first. and they are thus plotted rather than emplotted (1990: 781). Fludernik proposes to expand the ways in which narrative transmission occurs. a conjunction of reportability and point (→ Tellability). discourse dichotomy into four terms: Geschehen (events). events. According to Schmid. She also departs from the general tendency to identify narrativity (→ Narrativity) with the presence of a story/plot transmitted in narrative discourse. 152 . following on from Chatman (1978: 96. “Reportability” characterizes the interest which tellers and listeners entertain in narratives while “point” refers to the motivations for telling the story.

or the author” (2007: 78). omniscience is not a faculty possessed by a certain class of narrators. but it clearly depicts consciousness and might be read as the agonized ruminations of the body’s mind struggling with some kind of traumatic experience (Alber 2002). For him.white container. “extradiegetic heterodiegetic narrators […]. literary. On this basis. Walsh speaks of “the author.4 Mediacy and Narrative Media As pointed out in Nünning & Nünning (2002) and Wolf (2002). created version of the real man” [Booth (1961) 1983: 75]) as the mediating agent of narrative. While some theoreticians infer from this an implied author (→ Implied Author) (“an ideal. but a quality of the author’s imagination. or some lesser or intermittent version of it” (73).rather than production-oriented (Alber 2005). all of which relate to our real-world knowledge (about telling. and schemata lead in the direction of transmedial and transgeneric narratology. resorting to these four schemata but also to generic concepts and narratological tools as well as basic real-world knowledge (such as our understanding of intentionality as a goal-oriented process) which is also stored in scripts and frames (Fludernik 1996: 12–52). the (evidently superhuman) agent of narration must indeed have such power. Consciousness mediates these frames in the reading process in which readers narrativize what they read as narrative. who argues quite provocatively that “the narrator is always either a character who narrates. → Narration in Poetry and Drama. While the first case aligns with Stanzel’s illusion of immediacy. this model is grounded in the real-world frames of everyday experience and is reader. First. scripts. Mediacy is constituted by the following cognitive frames or schemata. experiencing. and reflecting) and provide us with access to the narrative: (a) the “telling” frame (narratives focusing on a teller figure). why should it be problematic to argue that third-person narrators can occasionally have “supernatural” (Ryan 1991: 67) or “unnatural” (Cohn 1999: 106) powers? 3. (b) the “experiencing” frame (narratives roughly corresponding to reflectormode narratives). the definition of narrativity in reference to experientiality and the extension of mediacy to include an open list of cognitive frames. Walsh maintains that the only way to account for the knowledge of an authorial narrator would be to take quite literally the figurative concept of omniscient narration: “in order to know rather than imagine. Like all cognitive approaches. (d) the “reflecting” frame (when narratives project a ruminating consciousness). the difference between Booth’s implied author and Walsh’s interpretation of the author is of course minimal or nonexistent. viewing/observing. Thus. Second. as proposed in Fludernik (1996.” stating that “our idea of the author of a written narrative is no more than an interpretation” (2007: 84). (c) the “viewing” frame (this frame occurs less frequently than (a) or (b). are in no way distinguishable from authors” (84). Two things are worth noting here. natural narratology moves away from the idea of the narrator or the illusion of narration to a wider spectrum of cognitive frames and processes on different levels which feed into the constitution of narrative and its reception. but relies on a basic witness position in relation to observed events). The question of mediacy in narrative fiction has also been examined by Walsh. This prose work lacks events. Walsh suggests eradicating both “impersonal” and “authorial” narrators. who cannot be represented without thereby being rendered homodiegetic or intradiegetic. the second differs radically from Stanzel’s distinction between authors and authorial narrators. → Narration 153 .

but like epic forms it is closely bound up with sequentiality and thus invites 154 . mediacy does not refer to mediating through a (narrator’s) discourse. some of the media that have come into focus since the turn towards transmedial narratology are hard to analyze on the basis of narratological categories. Hühn 2002. In this area. All types of poetry (narrative and lyric) are mediated by a speaker. Although he reintroduces a so-called “cinematic narrator” for film. putting the concept of narrative under a new light. On the one hand. the question of who (or what) mediates a film as a whole remains highly disputed.” or “experiencing” frame. 2006). The lyric persona also clearly operates as a mediator on the “reflecting” frame. Chatman sees narrative transmission as media-related. ed. theoreticians such as Gaut speak of an “implied filmmaker” who mediates the film (2004: 248). 2004. Hühn & Schönert 2002. With poetry. we are confronted with the musings of a disembodied voice about feelings or abstract ideas. observing. the situation is more vexed. experiencing. ballet. However. Ryan 2001. As shown by Wolf (2002). Wolf 2002. Chatman (1978. and he therefore dissociates narrativity from the figure of a human narrator (1990: 116. Schönert et al. this does of course not turn lyric poetry into a narrative genre. The notion is similar to what Jahn calls the “filmic composition device (FCD). Drama has long been a neglected object of narratological analysis. 2007). many lyric poems exist that are also readable as narratives or contain narrative elements (Fludernik 1996: 304–10. More specifically. drama. and that consequently cinematic narration is created by the viewer (1985: 61). for one. Rather. 1990) was an important innovator. Lyric poetry does not typically evoke experientiality. 2003b. and reflecting (and maybe others) also play an important role. From this perspective. new media such as hypertext narratives or computer games require the introduction of new cognitive frames into the model proposed by Various Media). argues that film has narration but no narrator. comic strips. These aesthetic products lack crucial elements of experientiality in what they are able to represent (most types of music are perhaps not able to represent anything at all). Lothe (like Chatman) posits a cinematic or film narrator as “the superordinate ‘instance’ that presents all the means of communication that film has at its disposal” (2000: 30). On the other hand. and thus lacks the situatedness of narrative. 2011. poetry. even painting and music (Ryan 2006.” “reflecting. Nünning & Nünning 2002). Müller-Zettelmann 2002. one can alternatively argue that film resorts more generally to the “viewing” frame than to the “telling. 2005. there is narrative poetry (the epic. Bordwell. 2004. the term denotes “the organizational and sending agency” (1990: 127) behind the film and fulfills a neutral or covert shower or arranger function. this figure is not a human or humanlike narrator as in novels. And finally. a genre much neglected by narrative theory.e. Drama was the focus not only of Aristotle’s discussion of mimesis and has thus become a subtext of all narrative theory. From the perspective of natural narratology. cf. the ballad). cognitive frames such as viewing. we can gain access to these new media through the identification of consciousness.1). paintings and music can only occasionally be narrativized. 2003a. i. hypertext narrative. for it was he who staked out a place for film in narratology (→ Narration in Film) and who also confronted narrative with other text-types. On the other hand. In prototypical cases of lyric poetry. Many forays have recently been made into the area of narratological approaches to film. However. but mediation through consciousness. The verbal medium of a teller/narrator is only one possibility among many others.” which refers to “the theoretical agency behind a film’s organization and arrangement” (2003: F4. Even so. temporal and spatial parameters. Like experimental literary narratives (Alber 2009).

lighting. then kinesis. and Nünning & Sommer (2002. Filming results in one fixed copy of the narrative. Since plays represent experientiality. to know where the author wants him to stand” ([1961] 1983: 73). Much of this work analyzes elements in drama which have to do with mediacy such as the introduction of teller figures (the Stage Manager in Wilder’s Our Town). is not required to bring plays within the domain of narrative.1). Jahn (2001). or the fictionalizing of stage directions to include psychonarration. in the world of values. and sound would acquire narratological significance only if they are explicitly grounded in the script. By contrast. these impositions of a teller figure on the plot level. one could enquire whether the notion of mediacy might here be an exclusively reception-oriented one. Pfister (1977) undertakes a narrative analysis of drama.. If only the script and a possible performative realization are focused on as the relevant medium of drama. assuming performance to be the basic medium of drama requires taking account of the acoustic. the real author’s “second self. This suggestion is of course reminiscent of Chatman’s distinction between overt and covert narrators. or authorial commentary (Fludernik 2008). in a performance may either take the totally unmetaphorical shape of a vocally and bodily present narrator figure [. 2008). Fludernik (1996.narratological analysis. according to Booth. satisfies “the reader’s need to know where. In fact. or the narrativization of stage directions are not really relevant due to the fact that the mediacy of drama is constituted by other factors. 1991. From this perspective. For the present purpose. and none of them (unless videotaped) is accessible except in a viewer’s experience of watching the performance. Does one treat only performances as drama in which performance is the discourse and the script merely the plot with instructions on how to perform? Or is performance a separate manifestation of the play and the play script the equivalent of the dramatic discourse? If one takes the text as central. a problem very similar to that of film arises: what is the discourse level of drama? Here.] or remain an anonymous and impersonal narrative function in charge of selection.” which. kinetic. whereas with plays a variety of productions and different performances within each production occur. Is the story mediated to the audience through the experience of the performance? This question indicates 155 . Hence. and spatial aspects of a performance within narratological description. In other words. studying the relationship between story time and discourse time. if the performance is to be taken as the only acceptable discourse. the introduction of an extradiegetic frame into the play. arrangement.. that is. it could be argued that an idealized abstract performance is sketched in it and that a unique center of origin can be posited for the performance: the text underwrites a singular “meaning” of the play that one might associate with “the implied author. for example. Most crucially. they are narrative. Plays partake of the same stock of cognitive parameters and depend on the same reception frames as do other narratives. The performance level in drama is much more complicated than in film. Jahn in fact argues that plays “are structurally mediated by a first-degree narrative agency which. might be appropriate. Performance poses quite difficult problems for mediacy.e. and focalization” (2001: 674). also Jahn 2001: 675). having a narrating character on stage. 1988. 2006). there results a collaborative venture—as in film—for which the term “dramatic composition device. Since then.” in analogy with Jahn’s “filmic composition device” (2003: F4. 2008) have started to focus on drama and its relation to narrative. irrespective of narrator figures or additional narrative techniques (such as the use of music). first-person narrators (Henry Carr in Stoppard’s dream play Travesties). Richardson (1987. he stands. It is obvious from these remarks that playscripts are much easier to handle for narratologists and that they allow a much clearer idea of how story and discourse are related to one another. visual.” i. the dramatic performance needs to be distinguished from the dramatic text (→ Performativity) (cf. puns.

Ithaca: Cornell UP. Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Jan (2005). • Blackmur. 2004. “‘Natural’ Narratology. “The ‘Moreness’ or ‘Lessness’ of ‘Natural’ Narratology: Samuel Beckett’s ‘Lessness’ Reconsidered. vii–xxxix. it certainly makes sense to discriminate between the author and the authorial or impersonal narrator. 79–96. The Art of the Novel: Critical Prefaces. 113–24). New York: Scribner’s. Ann (1982).” D. ([1961] 1983). (1934).and heterodiegetic narrators in novels and short stories. (c) It is also necessary to investigate the development of new cognitive frames of mediation in relation to experimental literary narratives and new media (hypertext narratives and computer games).” Style 36. • Banfield. London: Routledge. Coming To Terms: The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction 156 . • Chatman. “Impossible Storyworlds―And What To Do With Them. 5 Bibliography 5. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul. • Alber. David (1985).” Storyworlds: A Journal of Narrative Studies 1. Jan (2002). • Bal. • Booth. Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Chicago: U of Chicago P. On Poetics. Tr. Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction. Richard P. S.1 Works Cited • Alber. • Chatman. (eds). • Bordwell. James. Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. Jan (2009). South Bend: St. Seymour (1990). 394–95. Narration in the Fiction Film. 54–75 (reprinted in: Short Story Criticism 74. Seymour (1978). • Aristotle (2002). David. Augustine’s P. In most cases. Mieke ([1985] 1997). 4 Topics for Further Investigation (a) The role of mediacy in drama and film remains open to study: does it make sense to posit a dramatic or cinematic narrator? Can one argue that they are mediated by the performance? Or should we assume that plays and films are mediated by an implied author or filmmaker? Or are all of these terms dispensable so that we can simply speak of the author or filmmaker (a larger group of professionals) as mediating instances? (b) One should also address the question of whether we can follow Walsh’s proposal to dispense with all extra. London: Routledge.that current research on mediacy has some distinct limits or horizons and that there are numerous matters waiting to be resolved by further research. Toronto: U of Toronto P. “Introduction. Herman et al. • Alber.” H. The Rhetoric of Fiction. Benardete & M. Wayne C.

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Ryan. “Zur Erzähltechnik und Bewusstseinstechnik in Dostoevskijs ‘Večnyj muž’. 231–40. P. bis zum 20. Avatars of Story.” V. Pfister. Franz K. Marie-Laure (2006). Rimmon-Kenan. intermediale und interdisziplinäre Ansätze in der Erzähltheorie. Jörg. et al. Bloomington: Indiana UP. 1–22. The Rhetoric of Fictionality: Narrative Theory and the Idea of Fiction. ed. 23– 104. “Pinter’s Landscape and the Boundaries of Narrative. (eds). The Republic. Nünning & A. Franz K.” Die Welt der Slaven 13. Ryan. Wolf. Richardson. Jahrhundert. Problems of Definition and a 158 . 193–214. Lincoln: U Nebraska P. Berkley: U of California P. Brian (1991). Spielhagen. 37–45. Possible Worlds. Ulysses. and Narrative Theory. “Mimesis. Werner (2002). “Time is Out of Joint: Narrative Models and the Temporality of the Drama. Jean-Marie & Ioana Vultur (2005). Friedrich ([1883] 1967). ([1955] 1971).• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Transgenerische. Narrative Situations in the Novel: Tom Jones. Stanzel. and the Author’s Voice on Stage. Schmid. Nünning & A. “The Narratorial Functions: Breaking Down a Theoretical Primitive. 83–110. Beiträge zur Theorie und Technik des Romans.” Essays in Literature 18. Brian (1988). ([1979] 1984). Schaeffer. intermedial. 294–306. interdisziplinär. Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. 299–310.’ ‘Geschichte. “Das Problem der Narrativität in Literatur. Shorey. Marie-Laure (1991). Wolf (1982) “Die narrativen Ebenen ‘Geschehen. Lyrik und Narratologie: Text-Analysen zu deutschsprachigen Gedichten vom 16. Manfred ([1977] 1988). Erzähltheorie transgenerisch. Trier: WVT. Artificial Intelligence. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P.” V. London: Routledge. “Point of View in Drama: Diegetic Monologue. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Shlomith ([1983] 2002). Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Ryan. Richard (2007). (2007). Trier: WVT. Boris (Uspensky) (1973). The Ambassadors. Ryan. Etienne (1951). Schmid. The Theory and Analysis of Drama. intermedial.” Poetics Today 8. Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library. MobyDick. Werner (2003a). Erzähltheorie transgenerisch. Marie-Laure.’ ‘Erzählung’ und ‘Präsentation der Erzählung. A Theory of Narrative. Prince. Stanzel. Wolf. Unreliable Narrators. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Tr. Uspenskij.” Narrative 9.” Comparative Drama 22. Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. A Poetics of Composition: The Structure of the Artistic Text and Typology of a Compositional Form. A Dictionary of Narratology. 146–42. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Nünning (eds).’” Wiener Slawistischer Almanach 9. Gerald ([1987] 2003). 309–10. Souriau. (2004). Wolf (1968). Herman et al.” D. Brian (2006). Columbus: Ohio State UP. Marie-Laure (2001). bildender Kunst und Musik: Ein Beitrag zu einer intermedialen Erzähltheorie. “The Lyric—an Elusive Genre. Plato (1937). Schönert. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Unnatural Voices: Extreme Narration in Modern and Postmodern Contemporary Fiction. Nünning (eds). Richardson. Brian (1987). Richardson. Berlin: de Gruyter. Columbus: Ohio State UP. London: Methuen. Walsh. interdisziplinär.” Revue internationale de filmologie 7/8. Richardson. “La structure de l’univers filmique et le vocabulaire de la filmologie.

(eds). “‘Cross the Border—Close that Gap’: Towards an Intermedial Narratology. London: Routledge. • Stivers. Manfred (2005). Herman et al. 159–73. 5.” D. • Wolf. “Witnessing the Invisible: Narrative Mediation in The Princess Casamassima.” The Henry James Review 28.2 Further Reading • Jahn.Proposal for Reconceptualization. 81–103.” Arbeiten aus Anglistik und Amerikanistik 28. • Wolf. 59– 91. Werner (2003b). “Mediacy. 292–93.” European Journal of English Studies 8. Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. David (2007). “Narrative and Narrativity: A Narratological Reconceptualization and its Applicability to the Visual Arts. Werner (2004). 159 . 180– 97.” Word & Image 19.

). Peter et al.Pier. metalepsis. Described as “taking hold of (telling) by changing level” (235 n. Such considerations raise not only the question of the metatextual status of metalepsis (→ Metanarration and Metafiction) and that of rhetorical as opposed to ontological metalepsis together with an array of topics bearing on transmediality (→ Narration in Various Media) and transdisciplinarity (→ Narration in Various Disciplines).): the living handbbook of narratology. as a “narrative short circuit” causing “a sudden collapse of the narrative system” (Wolf 1993: 356–58). etc. Factual Narration). a violation of semantic thresholds of representation that involves the beholder in an ontological transgression of universes and points toward a theory of fiction (→ Fictional vs. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. John: "Metalepsis". but also a deviant referential operation. http://hup. to say the least. is a paradoxical contamination between the world of the telling and the world of the told: “any intrusion by the extradiegetic narrator or narratee into the diegetic universe (or by diegetic characters into a metadiegetic universe. for metalepsis has been characterized as “undermining the separation between narration and story” (Rimmon-Kenan [1983] 2002: 93).” It produces an effect of “humor” or of “the fantastic” or “some mixture of the two […]. fictional narrative betrays “at least the potential for narrative metalepsis” (Nelles 1997: 152). 12 Mar 2012.unihamburg. then. bound to the paradox of “a current presentation of 160 . than localized rhetorical or stylistic devices. Unlike factual narrative. as a “strange loop” (Hofstadter 1979) in the structure of narrative levels or a “short circuit” between the “fictional world and the ontological level occupied by the author” (McHale 1987: 119. More is at issue. (eds. unless it functions as a figure of the creative imagination […]” (Genette [1983] 1988: 88).php?title=Metalepsis&oldid=1509 Metalepsis Last modified: 11 June 2011 John Pier 1 Definition In its narratological sense. 213). or the inverse […]” ([1972] 1980: 234–35). as producing a “disruptive effect on the fabric of narrative” (Malina 2002: 1).de/lhn/index. first identified by Genette. Genette (2004) also argues that not only is metalepsis a violation of the separation between syntactically defined levels. but they also suggest that fictional narrative is by nature metaleptic. moreover. etc. Hühn. 51) and thus combining the principle of narrative levels (→ Narrative Levels) with the rhetorical figure of metalepsis originating in ancient legal discourse.sub. narrative metalepsis is a “deliberate transgression of the threshold of embedding” resulting in “intrusions [that] disturb. the distinction between levels.

being incipiently transgressive. one of the least debated of his theoretical innovations for many years.1 Rhetorical vs. parallel to the distinction between illocutionary boundary at discourse level and ontological boundary at story level. (b) narratorial or type 1 ontological metalepsis (in Eliot’s Adam Bede. It has been shown by Fludernik. leaps the boundary between narrator (→ Narrator) and extradiegetic narratee on the communicative plane and puts story time on hold while the narrator intervenes with a metanarrative comment. the world in which one tells. the 161 . Following a proposal by Ryan (2005. metalepsis functions with varying dosages of three parameters: (a) illusion of contemporaneousness between the time of the telling and the time of the told (→ Illusion (Aesthetic)). and the operation ends up reasserting the existence of the boundaries” (2006: 207). (b) transgressive merging of two or more levels. emphasizing “a shifting but sacred frontier between two worlds. “Rhetorical metalepsis. it is not useless to explain…”—a “minimal” metalepsis (cf. demonstrating the latent metaleptic quality of narrative embedding in general. 2 Explication Narrative metalepsis as a concept results from the convergence of rhetoric (placing it alongside metaphor and metonymy as tropes of transformation. however. the narrator invites the narratee to accompany him to Reverend Irwine’s study): transgression from the extradiegetic to the intradiegetic level is illusionary. (c) lectorial or type 2 ontological metalepsis (in a story by Cortázar. It is with subsequent and more differentiated developments that the scope and import of this narrative practice that goes against the grain of codified narratological categories has come to be more fully appreciated. or that “[a]ll fictions are woven through with metalepses” (Genette 2004: 131). Pier 2005: 249–50) which. 246–48). stake out the key features of metalepsis.the past” (Bessière 2005). foregrounding the inventedness of the story. 2006: 204–30. These features are illustrated by Balzac’s “While the venerable churchman climbs the ramps of Angoulême. “opens a small window that allows a quick glance across levels. (c) doubling of the narrator/narratee axis with the author/reader axis. Ontological Metalepsis Genette’s remarks. 2. drawing a fine line between the reader’s immersion and lifting of the mimetic illusion. that Genette’s narrative metalepsis is in effect an umbrella term containing an implicit typology that integrates Ryan’s distinction (Fludernik 2003: 382–89): (a) authorial metalepsis (Virgil “has Dido die”): a metafictional strategy that undermines mimetic illusion. Genette ([1972] 1980: 232–34) explains that metadiegetic (or second-degree) narrative bears either an explanatory. and it is under the latter that his comments on metalepsis are included. substitution and succession) and the principle of narrative levels. it is now widely acknowledged that metalepsis breaks down into a rhetorical (Genette) and an ontological variety (McHale). a thematic or an enunciative (rather than content-based) relation to the primary narrative. but the window closes after a few sentences. the world of which one tells” (236).” Ryan claims. though concise. Essentially.

represent. Called into question is the Coleridgean “willing suspension of disbelief. Given the fluid transitions between these types. and in the case of metalepsis “fictively literalized. the role such violations play in artistic representation (cf. setting up a reading contract based not on verisimilitude.) forms the “embryo” or “outline” (esquisse) of a fiction (Genette 2004: 16–8). 25): with metalepsis.e. the other ontological—what is at stake are the forms and degrees of violation of the boundary between the telling and the told. it can be seen that the more pronounced forms of metalepsis are contained embryonically in the fourth variety. fiction can be regarded as a figure taken à la lettre. is defined as “a figure taken literally and treated as an actual event” (20). In effect.). taking form in the passage between figure as a formal but semantically weak verbal schema and figure as a transfer of meaning. Ryan (2005: 205 n.” it introduces into narratology the problem of ontological transgression in representation. but on the functioning of representation and the intersection of narrative and fiction. the rhetorical and the ontological conceptions may represent not so much two types of metalepsis as they point to the two main approaches to the phenomenon. and also that “figural” and “fictional” metalepsis correspond roughly to “rhetorical” and “ontological” metalepsis (2006: 247 n.2 From Figure to Fiction Genette’s rhetorical theory of metalepsis highlights the relation between “figural” and “fictional” metalepsis. 3) notes that Genette’s discussion bears on the two types without differentiating them. not disbelief. such that a figure of substitution (i.reader of a novel is [almost] killed by a character in that novel): implication of the narratee on the story level or passage of a character from an embedded to an embedding level (also occurs in second-person narration). 162 . while the ontological approach takes the transdisciplinary ramifications of scientific logic as its reference point. the one based primarily in the (rhetorical) effects produced by representation through discourse or other semiotic means. 2. Both “figure” and “fiction” derive from the Latin fingere (to fashion. Genette [1972] 1980: 30). analepsis. With emphasis on authorial metalepsis as a particular type of metonymy in which cause is expressed for effect or effect for cause and on the figural and fictional transgressions this entails. it is the reader’s belief. that for Genette fiction is addressed in rhetorical and pragmatic terms. suggesting that rhetorical metalepsis covers all four—whence the present author’s proposal to rename Fludernik’s and Ryan’s rhetorical metalepsis “minimal” metalepsis. that is suspended. the other in the problems of logical paradox encountered by modern science. cf. two aspects of the effects of narrative discourse and. It is useful to bear in mind. metonymy. a trope such as metaphor. but on “a shared knowledge of illusion” (Baron 2005: 298.” triggering “a playful simulation of belief. Rather than two distinct types of metalepsis—one rhetorical. however. This can in fact be seen in the partially overlapping concerns of the two orientations. invent). a fiction. more generally.” as in the fantastic or the marvelous mode (Genette 2004: 23. In contrast to narrative considered as the “expansion” of a verb (cf. etc. (d) rhetorical or discourse metalepsis (the Balzac example above). 3). The focus falls no longer on metalepsis as a narrative category forming a system with other describable categories (prolepsis. feign. litote. etc. 2001: 40–3 on the “accentuation” of metaleptic relations). Macé 2007).

since it is freely resorted to in popular culture. the pictorial arts. 3 History of the Concept and its Study It is important to bear in mind that although narrative metalepsis is a recent concept in the history of poetics. can be highly metaleptic. or both. possess considerable metaleptic potential. a particular form of synonymy. more generally.” the transfer of sense implying “a few harvests” and “a 163 . are metalepsis-friendly. under different denominations or none at all. it has been identified: (a) in simple form. as witnessed by reality TV or by unscripted spectator interventions at sporting events. or expression of the consequent understood as the precedent or vice versa and.” Metalepsis has a complex history in that it has been regarded either as a variety of metonymy.3 Metaleptic Affinities Originating in rhetoric. where boundaries between levels are more difficult to define.1. Thus metalepsis. suggesting that metalepsis is bound to the question of representation. And finally. Pier & Schaeffer 2005: 10–1. later to be integrated into narrative theory. 3.1 Rhetoric The etymology of metalepsis is disputed. Furthermore. (b) as a chain of associations (“a few ears of corn” for “a few years. but this is not the case of sculpture. is more likely to be cultivated by the baroque. metalepsis is manifested in various ways and to different degrees: the theater arts. but its sense can readily be grasped from the word’s Latin equivalent—transumptio: “assuming one thing for another. by romanticism or by certain types of modernism than by mimetically inclined classicism or realism. thanks to the possibilities of audience participation. as demonstrated by the works of Escher and Magritte. with its technical capacity for hypotyposis (what is presented is depicted as though it were before one’s very eyes). extends back to antiquity. 2006). on representation as a cultural phenomenon. being paradoxical. metalepsis is not restricted to high culture. are fertile terrain for ontological transgressions. much as it shows a greater propensity for the comic and the ironic than it does for the tragic or the lyric (cf. with their capacity for generating virtual realities. the cinema. contrary to music. As metonymy. the practice itself. being restricted by neither genre nor media.2. digital media. The fact that as a concept it can now be theorized and applied according to definable criteria casts a new light on the theory and analysis of narrative and. eds. Grabe et al. metalepsis is now seen as a more widespread phenomenon than initially thought and also to have affinities that vary according to different factors.1 The Historical Background 3.

levels. this model provides for metalepsis of enunciation and metalepsis of the enunciate in which each functions either vertically (bottomup or top-down) or horizontally. metalepsis is seen as producing an effect of strangeness. either comical or fantastic.g. 3. (c) with transgression of the diegetic.few summers”). notes that metalepsis shares with metaphor and metonymy the principle of transfer of sense and considers it (following Dumarsais) a metonymy of the simple type. he argues. Meyer-Minnemann 2005: 140–43. the other at story level with violation of the coordinates of the enunciate (in corpore transgression). he then expands it (with Fontanier) beyond the single word to include an entire proposition. Genette (2004: 7–16). paradox is central. Burkhardt 2001. as it involves the logically inconsistent passage between two separate domains through suspension of the excluded middle.1. affirming the existence of the very boundaries that are effaced. originating in logic and mathematics. there occurs a vertical metalepsis of the enunciate. so that transgression of the threshold of embedding merges with that of the threshold of representation. The inevitable paradox is captured by Gödel’s theorem. At issue is the problem. without change of level (dubbed “perilepsis” by Prince 2006: 628). drawing on the first two types above.2 Logical Paradox For narrative metalepsis in an ontological perspective. i. (b) a horizontal metalepsis of enunciation occurs with the juxtaposition of two communicative situations at the same level. Taking a cue from Genette. see Häsner 2001: 20–7. Woody Allen enters the world of Madame Bovary.e. Firstly. an endeavor that requires the addition of recursive meta-levels ad infinitum. There have also been proposals to refer narrative metalepsis back to metalepsis as use of an inappropriate synonym. two positions derive from the rhetoric of metalepsis. combines cause for effect or effect for cause with substitution of an indirect for a direct expression. by which an author “is represented or represents himself as producing what. as though it were the original). He points out the importance. In this system. in the final analysis. but it is not regarded as a figure of fictionality in Genette’s sense (on the fictionality of paradoxical narration. He draws attention to the proximity for the two rhetoricians of metalepsis and hypotyposis (a figure in which the copy is treated. spatial or temporal order. (d) a horizontal metalepsis of the enunciate is produced when e. To take only a few illustrations: (a) a vertical metalepsis of enunciation (topdown) would be the Balzac example cited above. Roussin 2005: 40–4. however. of authorial metalepsis. on metalepsis and evidentia. but on the paradoxical transgression of boundaries. in narrative. illusorily. but particularly to the fact that with metalepsis. see Meyer-Minnemann 2006). he only relates” (Fontanier). From the perspective of narrative theory. resulting in an inappropriate synonym (Morier 1961. Cornils 2005). notably by Meyer-Minnemann (2005) and Schlickers (2005) (see also Nelles 1997: 152–57). Metalepsis. The emphasis here is not on authorial metalepsis as a type of metonymy. of maintaining distinct levels through avoidance of self-reference by elaborating meta. of which there are two main types: one at discourse level with breaching of the “me-here-now” of enunciation (in verbis transgression). the author pretends to intervene in a story which is in fact a representation. ontological. Metalepsis can also be understood in Quintilian’s sense as the intermediate step or transition between a term which is transferred and the thing to which it is transferred. although it has long plagued scientific thought in the 164 .

qtd. although the term appears nowhere in the book. whose definition of metalepsis combines ontology with possible worlds theory (93). however. Adopting an ontology taken from possible worlds theory (33–6). “Authorship Triangle”.1 and 2. McHale has integrated these paradoxes into the poetics of postmodernist fiction. Fludernik’s 2003: 389 lectorial or type 2 ontological metalepsis). even providing a recursive dialogue (103–26) that illustrates the problem of metalepsis. computational powers are quickly exhausted and “Program Space Full/looping error” is displayed. by moving upwards (or downwards) through the levels of some hierarchical system. Klein’s bottle and Escher’s drawings. dubbed “metaleptic machine” by Ryan. 3. A case in point is the “Metalepticon. In particular.” a phenomenon that occurs “whenever. he recasts Genette’s narrative levels in terms of ontological levels so that a metalepsis produced by violation of levels raises ontological considerations resulting from recursive embedding (120). in McHale 1987: 119). A particular capacity for generating feedback loops and hierarchies of levels is demonstrated by the computer. Hofstadter (1979) has examined various manifestations of this paradox in his important transdisciplinary study. 688–89)—a situation not unlike that of authorial metalepsis.” 165 .g. that the creator of Drawing Hands occupies a space outside the representation in question. a type of writing that “foregrounds ontological issues of text and world” (1987: 27). it is also conveyed visually by the Möbius strip. for example.” a computer algorithm designed by Meister (2005) to reproduce the recursive structures of Escher’s Drawing Hands: here. Ontological approaches tend to focus on the latter while rhetorical approaches also take account of the metaleptic potential of e. Hofstadter 1979: 94–95. even though that creator can in turn be portrayed in a (meta-) representation (cf. He also draws attention to the metaleptic function of the second-person pronoun (223–25). a survey of which reveals that to varying degrees theories of metalepsis discriminate between minimally and conspicuously transgressive changes of level. Since then. Genette’s original conception of narrative metalepsis hinted at a typology without actually proposing one. as does Genette (2004: 96–9. we unexpectedly find ourselves right back where we started. a number of typologies have been elaborated. 691. On the other hand. but he does not distinguish between rhetorical and ontological metalepsis. Meister concludes from this unrealizable abstract formal model that metalepsis annuls the “contract of representation” required for the cognitive and hermeneutic processing of esthetically incarnated metalepses (245–46). McHale identifies metalepsis with the “Strange Loop.2 above. the apostrophic “gentle reader. the recursive chain is broken when it is recognized.2 Typologies As seen in 2. Also related to issues of communication is metalepsis as a virtual reality (possibility for the beholder to physically enter the imagined world) and as an existential phenomenon (Emma Bovary modeling her life after the heroine of a sentimental novel) (Ryan 2006: 227).” Strange Loops occur within a “Tangled Hierarchy”: “when what you presume are clean hierarchical levels take you by surprise and fold back in a hierarchy-violating way” (Hofstadter 1979: 10. cf.form of the liar’s paradox (Epimenides is a Cretan and says “All Cretans are liars”). nor does Wolf (2005b).

Herman (1997: 133–36) analyzes metalepsis firstly by identifying the textual markers that. referring narrative metalepsis back to metonymy as trope (Quintilian). Häsner 2001: 40–3).” a structure distinct from hierarchy in that it possesses no single “highest level” (cf. Defamiliarization and composition point to the Russian formalists’ use of metalepsis. are a metafictional technique characterized as a “narrative short circuit” and are likened to Hofstadter’s (1979: 134 passim) “heterarchy. considering the forms of disturbance of mimetic illusion caused by the failure to observe ontological boundaries. “lay bare” the relations between the time of the telling and the time of the told. but “laying bear the device”: the deliberate distortion of form aimed at highlighting the artificial relations between “form” and “materials. Metalepsis occurs (a) between the extradiegetic and the intradiegetic levels or (b) between the intradiegetic and one or more hypodiegetic (metadiegetic) levels (on “exterior” vs. at a given level. amplitude and frequency can have a significant impact on the strategy and readability of a narrative (cf. Herman adopts Goffman’s concept of frame analysis as a set of expectations about narrative universes in place of diegetic level. see Cohn 2005). According to Pier (2005: 253). in the formal sense. He also draws attention to circulation.Nelles (1997: 152–57). punctual short circuits between intradiegetic “reality” and 166 . sets the mixing of extra-fictional reality with textually produced fiction off from violations of levels in inner-fictional boundaries (1993: 349–72). and the fact the art is “made” of devices.” between sujet and fabula. not the world. of the compositional distribution of metalepses: their location. “transgression of the ontological boundaries.and metadiegetic levels. Wagner (2002: 243–48). ”interior” metalepsis. Since. subdividing each type into analeptic and proleptic forms on the temporal plane (on “inward” vs. Wagner takes up the question. Wolf. see Malina 2002: 46–50). differentiates “unmarked” (at discourse level) from “distinctly marked” (at story level) metalepsis and. At issue was neither a rhetorical figure nor an ontological paradox or a typology of its use. signal “illicit movements up or down the hierarchy of diegetic levels structuring narrative discourse” and. not unlike the “horizontal” metalepses included in the Meyer-Minnemann/Schlickers model. Both (a). McHale 1987: 120). The latter. marked by punctual violations of levels by characters and/or their words. there is a tendency in intrametaleptic movements to favor the narrator/narratee relation. from the functional perspective. largely neglected. and in extrametaleptic movements the character/narrator relation. is the content of the novel (cf. although the term was not employed by them. etc. in this account.” In terms of possible worlds theory. and (b). “intrametalepsis” (movement from the embedding to the embedded level) from “extrametalepsis” (movement in the opposite direction). intra. And finally. between collateral fictive universes. thus conflating narration and action in a seemingly unmotivated way and drawing attention to the idea that form. metalepsis solicits temporary entry of the reader into a re-centered modal system. for the latter. the numerous digressions. metalepses. “outward” metalepses. for whom the metatextual nature of metalepsis signals the constructedness of narrative along the lines of the Russian formalist notion of “defamiliarization. Schmid 2005). As shown in particular by Šklovskij (1921) in his essay on Tristram Shandy. The degree of transgression—knowledge of the other world as opposed to physically penetrating it—is characterized as either epistemological (verbal) or ontological (modal). metalepsis abolishes the distinction between storyworld and the world(s) from which addressees relocate.” emphasizes the reversibility of metaleptic displacements between extra-.

g. Lavocat 2007 on metaleptic and intrametaleptic transfictionality). is built up around the suffix “-lepsis” in the sense of “action of taking” (Lang 2006. the scope of paradox-producing devices is not restricted to metalepsis. metalepsis combines the previous two types. Such is the case in horizontal metalepsis of enunciation. the latter equivalent to Genette’s pseudodiegesis: a metadiegetic narrative presented as though it were diegetic).4 Metalepsis and Trans-/Intermediality 167 . Sherlock Holmes appears in the fictional universe of Madame Bovary (cf. cf. say. inter alia. a phenomenon that coincides with “transfictionality” as when. can produce “variable realities” as destabilizing as those of metalepsis. infringement of boundaries can also take place across texts. also studied under the term trompe l’œil by McHale (1987: 115–19). As for mise en abyme. Thus the effects of pseudodiegesis (or hyperlepsis). but it also touches on the numerous implications of metalepsis for fictionality and metafictionality. Narration is paradoxical when. Where the above typologies can be grouped under the heading “meta-.. another typology. by Lang’s typology. the most elaborate to date. setting in motion a recurrent contamination of levels. 3. a story within a story) and reduplication and is characterized by reflexivity rather than by transgression of levels. violating that text’s system of diegetic levels. each of these devices is analyzed into vertical (bottom-up or top-down) and horizontal relations of discourse and story. hyperlepsis. Genette 1982). while metalepsis is generally found within a given text. And finally. In contrast to the other models presented.“fiction. Only in the case of “aporistic reduplication” (“fragment supposedly including the work in which it is included”. On this basis. cf. in violation of the principle “either one or the other” (cf.” situating metalepsis on the same conceptual plane as metanarrative. Lang provides a typology of paradoxical narration divided into devices that cancel out boundaries (syllepsis. respectively.” but it also occurs in horizontal metalepsis of the enunciate. metadiegesis. Meyer-Minnemann 2006). This dimension of metalepsis opens up issues of transtextual relations (cf.” are found in minimal and conspicuous forms and can take place either bottom-up or top-down. McHale 1987: 124–28). In its complex form. Dällenbach 1977: 51) does mise en abyme coincide with metalepsis (called “pure” mise en abyme by Cohn 2005: the reader has the impression of belonging to an infinite series of fictions. etc. coherence (Coherence) is undermined. the latter term designating specular devices including the mise en abyme) and those that transgress boundaries (metalepsis. 3. the liar’s paradox). this typology includes metalepsis among other forms of paradoxical narration. it shares with metalepsis the feature of embedding. and whose effects are distributed throughout a given narrative. but it additionally includes resemblance between levels (e. As in the Meyer-Minnemann/Schlickers typology. epanalepsis. studied by Rabau (2005) under the term “heterometalepsis. as in the Möbius strip.3 Related Concepts As shown.

etc. it calls for re-examination of the theoretical basis of established models and thus merits serious consideration in charting out transdisciplinary approaches to narrative theory.-M. ou que le récit de fiction est toujours métaleptique. 279–94. Schaeffer (eds). Christine (2005). “La metalepses dans les Actes des Apôtres: un signe de narration fictionnelle?” J. Métalepses. but not their dissolution. • Bessière. Paris: Éd. • Cornils.” J.” G. 1087–99. (b) metalepsis and fictionality (breaking/intensification of mimetic illusion. de l’EHESS. Arnim (2001). Historisches Wörterbuch der Rhetorik.-M. metalepsis raises the question of the porosity of levels and borders in cultural representations. de l’EHESS. 2004) and in intermediality (e. Entorses au pacte de la représentation. 168 . vol.” J. Anja (2005). Wolf 2005a). Entorses au pacte de la représentation.g. Pier & J. It would seem. (c) metalepsis and related practices in historical poetics going back to biblical narrative as well as a historical inventory of artistic movements and corpuses employing these devices. Métalepses. painting and photography (see also Genette 2009: 176–80). Pier & J. 2005) as well as by Genette (2004).-M. Pier & J. ed.g. de l’EHESS. 295–310. Schaeffer (eds). transition discursive. Paris: Éd. • Burkhardt. (d) the role of metalepsis in trans-/intramediality with regard in particular to multimedia and popular culture. présentation actuelle du récit. Among topics requiring further study are: (a) relative weight of local vs. although to date this connection remains largely unexplored. “Récit de fiction.). Originating in structuralist narratology. Métalepses. 95–107. Ryan 2006: 3–30. 5. looks at comic strips. de l’EHESS. much of which is devoted to metalepsis in theater. Ueding (ed). and while metalepsis in its narrative form was originally studied in verbal narratives. Schaeffer (eds). immersion. Entorses au pacte de la représentation. Entorses au pacte de la représentation. that metalepsis has a significant role to play in transmedial narratology (e. Métalepses. additionally. film. Schaeffer (eds).-M. Pier & J. then. “Effet métaleptique et statut des discours fictionnels. 4 Topics for Further Investigation More than a rhetorical flourish. global effects of metalepsis. Jean (2005). This is confirmed by a number of contributions in Pier & Schaeffer (eds. 121–30. “Métalepse et mise en abyme. 5 Bibliography 5. television.1 Works Cited • Baron. Dorrit (2005). Paris: Éd. Paris: Éd. it is not a media-specific phenomenon.” J. Tübingen: Niemeyer. • Cohn. “Metalepsis.The violation of levels and boundaries is not limited to narrative. and Wolf (2005b) which.

49–71. 225–46. Schaeffer (eds). • Hofstadter. Henri (1961). La fiction. Pier & J. (eds). Narrative Discourse Revisited. • McHale. “Une lecture de Métalepse. Frameworks: Narrative Levels and Embedded Narratives.-M. • Morier. “Normas narrativas” y el principio de la “transgresión. • Grabe.-M. Gérard ([1983] 1988). London: Methuen. Nina. • Malina. Gödel. Metalepsis.• Dällenbach.” J. Brian (1987). La narración paradójica. • Herman.” Dictionnaire de poétique et de rhétorique.” Frankfurt a. New York: Lang. Paris: Seuil. Breaking the Frame: Metalepsis and the Construction of the Subject. Paris: Éd.” J.-M. Entorses au pacte de la représentation. 247–61. De la figure à la fiction. Columbus: Ohio State UP. New York: Basic Books. • Genette. • Pier. “Toward a Formal Description of Narrative Metalepsis. Quebec: Nota bene. “Métalepse et hiérarchies narratives. William (1997). 673–76. • Genette. Jan Christoph (2005). Monika (2003). Le récit spéculaire. PhD Dissertation. Systematik und Funktion transgressiver Erzählweisen. de l’EHESS. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Métalepses. • Lang. Entorses au pacte de la représentation. de l’EHESS. 21–47. 382–400 (= “Changement de scène et mode métaleptique.” Conference “De la figure à la fiction – autour d’un livre. “Un procédé narratif qui ‘produit un effet de bizarrerie’: la métalepse littéraire. • Meyer-Minnemann. Grabe et al. “Narración paradójica y ficción. Gérard (2004). Ithaca: Cornell UP. Schaeffer (eds). Marielle (2007). • Genette. Métalepses. “Normas narrativas” y el principio de la “transgresión. 157–78. “Prolegómenos para una teoría de la narración paradójica.” Frankfurt a. La narración paradójica. Pier & J. 132–52.M. • Fludernik.” Frankfurt a. Essai sur la mise en abyme. and the Metaleptic Mode.” Style 37. Paris: Éd. • Genette. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Zur Genese. Postmodernist Fiction. métafiction et métalepse aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles. Schaeffer (eds). “Normas narrativas” y el principio de la “transgresión. de l’EHESS. John (2005).” Journal of Literary Semantics 26. Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid.” N. Françoise (2007). Pier & J. Literature in the Second Degree. Saint-Gelais (eds).org/atelier. Métalepses. Freie Universität Berlin. Escher. Entorses au pacte de la représentation. • Häsner. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes.php>. Pier & J. David (1997). Paris: Éd. Gérard ([1972] 1980). • Meyer-Minnemann.” N. • Nelles.: Vervuert. Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. “Le Metalepticon: une étude informatique de la métalepse. “Scene Shift.M. Bernd (2001). Gérard Genette.” J. eds. Paris: Éd. • Lavocat. et al. Schaeffer (eds). Debra (2002). Gérard (2009). Palimpsests. Entorses au pacte de la représentation. • Genette. “Transfictionalité. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Métalepses. 169 . Paris: Seuil.M.-M. Klaus (2005). (2006). Gérard ([1982] 1997). Paris: Seuil. Metalepsen. Codicille. Sabine (2006). Douglas (1979). Grabe et al. • Meister. 73–94).” <http://www. suites et variations. Lucien (1977).: Vervuert.fabula. Klaus (2006). (eds). “Métalepse. • Macé. Métalepse.: Vervuert. Audet & R.” J.” R. La narración paradójica. 133–50. de l’EHESS.

• Rabau. Meister (ed). de l’EHESS. and the Typology of Modern Literature.” J.-M. ed. • Wolf. Sophie (2005). 37–58. 148–71. David (1977). Pier & J. 201–23. • Schmid. • Ryan. Schaeffer (eds).” Poetics Today 27. Paris: Éd. Entorses au pacte de la représentation.2 Further Reading • Lodge. 239–45. Pier & J. 83–107. Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. (2005). Paris: Éd. Marie-Laure. Avatars of Story. Métalepses.” J. Schaeffer (eds). Viktor (Shklovsky. • Ryan. paradoxes et bizzareries. London: Routledge. Entorses au pacte de la représentation. “Metalepsis. Pier & J. 59–72. Theory of Prose. Metonymy. Paris: Éd. • Roussin. • Pier. Métalepses. Métalepses. “Ulysse à côté d’Homère. London: Routledge. Métalepses. Entorses au pacte de la représentation. Shlomith ([1983] 2002).-M.” J. Frank (2002). • Rimmon-Kenan. “Intermediality. (eds). Ästhetische Illusion und Illusionsdurchbrechung in der Erzählkunst: Theorie und Geschichte mit Schwerpunkt auf englischem illusionsstörenden Erzählen. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P.” J. états de cause. 625–30. • Schlickers. récit.” V. Schaeffer (eds). • Wolf. • Wagner. “Rhétorique de la métalepse. Paris: Éd. 130. 252–56.-M. Elmwood Park: Dalkey Archive P. The Modes of Modern Writing: Metaphor. de l’EHESS.” J.” D. Schaeffer (eds). Ch. “Metalepsis as a Transgeneric and Transmedial Phenomenon: A Case Study of the Possibilities of ‘Exporting’ Narratological Concepts. Paris: Éd. Pier & J. esp.” J. Gerald (2006). London: Routledge.-M. Werner (1993). Entorses au pacte de la représentation. Tübingen: Niemeyer.” Poétique 33. Entorses au pacte de la représentation. Wolf (2005). de l’EHESS.” J. John (2005). • Pier. Berlin: de Gruyter. “Logique culturelle de la métalepse. Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Herman et al. John & Jean-Marie Schaeffer (2005). Métalepses. John. Narratology beyond Literary Criticism: Mediality. Paris: Éd. aujourd’hui. 170 . La métalepse. Werner (2005a). • Prince. “La métalepse narrative dans la construction du formalisme russe. 151–66. • Wolf. Métalepses. 303–04. “The Novel as Parody: Sterne’s Tristram Shandy. 189–95. ou la métalepse dans tous ses états. de l’EHESS. (2004). Entorses au pacte de la représentation. “Inversions. Werner (2005b). Philippe (2005). • Šklovskij. & Jean-Marie Schaeffer eds. Pier & J. Marie-Laure (2005). 7–15. Disciplinarity. Interprétation et transgression des frontières énonciatives. Entorses au pacte de la représentation. Herman et al. 235–53. Victor) ([1921] 1990). de l’EHESS.” D. transgressions. 5. Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. • Ryan. Pier & J.-M Schaeffer (eds). Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. de l’EHESS. “Disturbing Frames.-M. de l’EHESS. “Glissements et déphasages: note sur la métalepse narrative. La métalepse dans les littératures espagnole et française. “Introduction. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. typologie. Š. Métalepses. (eds). Sabine (2005). Schaeffer (eds).• Pier. No. Marie-Laure (2006). Paris: Éd. London: Arnold.

esp. 9. Narratology beyond Literary Criticism: Mediality. 43–75. 1–23. Frontières de la fiction. Audet (eds).” J. • Ryan. Quebec: Nota bene. “On the Theoretical Foundations of Transmedial Narratology.• Ryan. Marie-Laure (1991). Berlin: de Gruyter. “La fiction à travers l’intertexte: pour une théorie de la transfictionnalité. chap. Gefen & R. 171 . Bloomington: Indian UP. Richard (2001). Disciplinarity. Artificial Intelligence. Ch.” A. and Narrative Theory. Possible Worlds. Marie-Laure (2005). Meister (ed). • Saint-Gelais. Bordeaux: Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux.

Although they are related and often used interchangeably. Metanarration and metafiction therefore have one point in common. Metafiction describes the capacity of fiction to reflect on its own status as fiction and thus refers to all self-reflexive utterances which thematize the fictionality (in the sense of imaginary reference and/or constructedness) of narrative. (eds. metanarration captures those forms of self-reflexive narration in which aspects of narration are addressed in the narratorial discourse. http://hup.sub. 2 Explication The terms “metanarration” and “metafiction” are both based on the model of metalanguage. i. 12 Mar 2012.e.uni-hamburg. Hühn. narrative utterances about narrative rather than fiction about fiction. which designates a (system of) language positioned on a level above the ordinary use of words for referential purpose (Fludernik 2003: 15). the terms should be distinguished: metanarration refers to the narrator’s reflections on the act or process of narration.): the living handbbook of narratology. Thus.php? title=Metanarration_and_Metafiction&oldid=1733 Metanarration and Metafiction Last modified: 28 January 2012 Birgit Neumann & Ansgar Nünning 1 Definition Metanarration and metafiction are umbrella terms designating self-reflexive utterances. these two types of narrative self-reflexivity differ greatly. Birgit & Nünning.e. Metafiction is. fiction that includes within itself reflections on its own fictional identity 172 . However. Peter et al. i. Ansgar: "Metanarration and Metafiction". Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. i.Neumann. namely their self-reflexive or self-referential character. literally. Therefore. comments referring to the discourse rather than to the whereas metafictionality designates the quality of disclosing the fictionality of a narrative. but a clear distinction also has to be made between metanarration and other forms of self-reflexive narration. metafiction concerns comments on the fictionality and/or constructedness of the narrative. the widely-used umbrella term metafiction not only needs to be elaborated. fiction about fiction.e. and this difference has tended to be ignored in most existing typologies.

they do not possess a high degree of generality because they refer to one specific object: the act of narrating. In contrast to metafiction.” Although such comments are detached from the narrated world. Šklovskij (1921). thereby emphasizing structural. and booklength studies (Hutcheon 1980. 173 .e. and not with its fictional nature. Thus. Since then.” namely as a device through which the storytelling itself is made part of the story told. The conceptualization of forms and functions of metafiction evolved from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s.” i. to references thematizing the “internal organization” of the text. metanarration displays a variety of textual functions (Prince [1987] 2003: 51). suggesting the presence of a speaker or narrator. or philosophical problems. Fludernik (1996: 278) describes the accumulation of metanarrative expressions as “a deliberate meta-narrative celebration of the act of narration. In contrast to Genette’s ([1972] 1980: 261–62) suggestion.” In fact. they make the reader (→ Reader) realize that what s/he is dealing with is a narrative. that illustrates that metanarrative expressions can serve to create a different type of illusion by accentuating the act of narration. viz. for instance. which can only appear in the context of fiction. Analyzing Laurence Sterne’s novel Tristram Shandy. Waugh 1984) have been devoted to it. what Fludernik (1996: 341) has called the “frame of storytelling. metafiction has met with considerable academic interest both as a historical element of (narrative) fiction and as a hallmark of postmodernism. metafiction has become a major topic in narratological research.(Hutcheon 1980). it becomes evident that the term cannot be equated with metanarration (Nünning 2004). it cannot be restricted to the narrator’s “directing functions.” As a distinct form of narratorial utterance. Scholes (1970) coined the term “metafiction” to designate fiction that incorporates various perspectives of criticism into the fictional process. Since such self-reflexive comments can be defined according to their reference to the act of narration. Metanarrative passages need not destroy aesthetic illusion (→ Illusion (Aesthetic)). formal. Rather. replacing the hitherto established and more narrowly defined terms “self-conscious narration” (Booth 1952) and “irony of fictionality. but may also contribute to substantiating the illusion of authenticity that a narrative seeks to create. types of metanarration can also be found in many non-fictional narrative genres and media. It is precisely the concept of narratorial illusionism. thus triggering a different strategy of naturalization. the term is a hypernym denoting all sorts of self-reflective utterances and elements of a fictional narrative that do not treat their referent as apparent reality but instead induce readers to reflect on the textuality and fictionality of narrative in terms of its artifactuality (Wolf 1993: 224). Metanarrative comments are concerned with the act and/or process of narration.” 3 History of the Concept and its Study Research in the field of metafiction has been cultivated over decades and goes back well before 1970. all comments which address aspects of narration in a self-reflexive manner as well as the narrator’s references (→ Narrator) to his or her communication with the narratee on the discourse level can be subsumed under the term “metanarration. when the term was first introduced in essays by Scholes (1970) and Gass (1970). Following Wolf’s definition of metafiction as a form of discourse which draws the recipient’s attention to the fictionality of the narrative. addresses the concept as a “device of laying bare the device.

The functions of metafiction range from undermining aesthetic illusion to poetological self-reflection. metafictional texts. By mirroring their own process of fictional construction. its frequency and function vary depending on genres and epochs. A different approach is put forward by Wolf (1993. contextual relation. through contradictory and highly implausible elements which disrupt the mimetic illusion (mode of showing). The first dimension refers to the level of narration on which the speaker engaged in metafictional reflections can be situated. on the formal variety of metafiction. one can differentiate between various forms of explicit metafiction depending on whether metafiction refers to the “fictio or the fictum status” of a passage. Hutcheon’s most crucial distinction is that between overt and covert forms of metafiction. and playful exploration of the possibilities and limits of fiction. Alternatively. Wolf (1998) stresses that (Western) narrative fiction has contained metafictional elements ever since its beginnings (cf. firstly. Metafictional strategies therefore often produce a hermeneutic paradox: readers are forced to acknowledge the fictional status of the narrative. e. Metafictional comments can be explicitly uttered by a character of the narrated world or by the narrator when reflecting on the fictional nature of the text (mode of telling). narratives have bared the conventions of storytelling and highlighted their constructed nature. According to the second criterion. She understands metafictional narratives as “narcissistic” because they are fundamentally self-referring and auto-representational (1980: x). The first attempt to propose a comprehensive theory of metafiction was made by Hutcheon (1980). However. whether it contains comments on the entire text or only on parts of it. they are problematic because they reduce its effects to anti-illusionism. to literature in general. the celebration of the act of narrating. Using Wolf’s third criterion. To capture the different forms of metafiction and their potential effects. In recent contributions. drama and music. Waugh (1984: 14) defines metafiction as fiction which “self-consciously reflects upon its own structure as language. while at the same time they become cocreators of its meanings. Wolf (1993: 220–65) develops a typology based on three dimensions: the form of mediation. Similarly. and whether the commentary refers to the text itself.” covert forms “internalize” this process: They are “self-reflective but not necessarily self-conscious” (7). commenting on aesthetic procedures. Although Hutcheon’s and Waugh’s approaches have contributed to a better understanding of metafiction. From Homer to Salman Rushdie. Wolf’s detailed typology has also provided a sound basis for the analysis of metafiction in various other genres such as poetry. Wolf (2009) 174 . While metafiction has often been perceived as a primary quality of postmodern literature. 1998) who focuses. from Don Quixote and Jacques le fataliste to The Remains of the Day. such as Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude or Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. they can be conveyed implicitly through formal means. and the contents value.” thereby ostentatiously parading the conventions and language of the realistic novel. various forms of metafiction can be distinguished depending on whether they appear in a central or marginal position and how deeply they are entangled with the narrated story.g. While overtly metafictional texts disclose their self-awareness in “explicit thematizations […] of their diegetic or linguistic identity within the texts themselves. or to another text. also Alter 1975 and Hutcheon 1980). contents value. draw the reader’s attention to the storytelling process and undermine the realism of the narrative.precisely when scholars were attempting to define postmodernism as an epoch and ethos (O’Donnell 2005). the contextual relation.

the term metafiction is so widely used in English for all sorts of anti-illusionistic techniques that forms of metanarration are generally subsumed under this umbrella. a formal distinction can be made between diegetic. Scheffel 1997. and (d) reception-oriented types of metanarrative. in the few contributions in which the term metanarrative is used at all. develops a typology that identifies the most important sub-categories of metanarration. a typological differentiation arises as to the potential effects and functions of metanarration. depending on the subject area or the selection of topic. which in turn give rise to subsidiary distinctions: (a) formal. namely as “metareference. giving little attention to such metanarrative phenomena as digressions and other self-reflexive narratorial interventions. Secondly. A number of recent articles have redressed the balance. They have provided a descriptive analysis of different types of metanarration as well as a survey of its changing functions in English novels from the 17th century to the present. drawing on Wolf’s (1993) distinction between various forms of metafiction. Thirdly. various types of metanarration can be distinguished on the basis of content. Nünning (2004). Fourthly. depending on the level of communication at which the speaker of the metanarrative comments can be situated. (c) content-related. Hutcheon [1989] 1996: 262). or they can refer to the process of narration in general. structural types of metanarration can be differentiated according to the criterion of the quantitative and qualitative relations between metanarrative expressions and other parts of a narrated text as well as the syntagmatic integration of such metanarrative passages. Prince 1982. Predicated on the assumption that metanarration is a distinct form of narratorial utterance. Secondly. In contrast to metafiction. individual media can be examined with respect to their metareferential capacities. There are at least two reasons for this. they can thematize the narrative style of other authors and texts. putting the subject of metanarrative on the map of narratological research (Nünning 2004. Fludernik (2003) has coined the terms “proprio-metanarration. (b) structural. The typology is based on four basic aspects. On this basis. Hamon 1977.seeks to increase the transmedial applicability of metafiction by reconceptualizing it in a first step as a non media-specific concept. Metanarrative reflections can be restricted to auto-referential comments on the narrator’s own act of narrating. Metanarrative comments typically occur on the discourse level. the terms “metanarration” or “metanarrative comment” have not become common categories of narratology. it is commonly perceived as an English equivalent of grand récit (in Lyotard’s sense) and thus as synonymous with “master narrative” (e. though intradiegetic character-narrators may also thematize narrative aspects. This differentiation is based on the assumption that an accumulation of metanarrative commentaries contributes to foregrounding the narrative act and to creating the 175 . narratological research has largely focused on metafictional forms of narrative self-reflexivity.” Metareference denotes a signifying practice that generates a self-referential meaning and actualizes a secondary cognitive frame in the recipient. Genette 1972. The exception to the rule is Prince (1982: 115–28). extradiegetic. Firstly. Cutter 1998).g. Firstly.g. One important content-related criterion concerns the reference point of metanarrative expressions. Due to the equation of metanarration with metafiction. although they have been used in some narratological studies (e. and paratextual types of metanarration.” “allometanarration” and “general metanarration” in order to distinguish between these different reference points. Fludernik 2003).

meta-aesthetic and metacompositional elements. By introducing the category of non-narrational self-reflexivity (i.illusion of being addressed by a personalized voice or a “teller” (Fludernik 1996: 278). metanarrative and non-narrational self-reflexivity. Moreover. Drawing on Nünning’s typology of metanarration. to Wolf’s explicit metafiction). metanarrational. Of course. in realistic 19th-century novels metanarration primarily serves to create a trust-inducing conversation between the explicit narrator and the narratee. it is also necessary to investigate the culture-specific forms and functions of metafiction and metanarration. functions. for instance. Whereas. she employs the term metanarrative exclusively with regard to self-reflexive statements referring to the discourse and its constructedness and limits the term metafiction to self-reflexive utterances about the inventedness of the story (i. As in Tristram Shandy. which are fully compatible with mimetic aesthetic illusion. The functions of metanarration differ according to a decreasing level of compatibility with diegetic illusion or to an increasing level of destruction of aesthetic illusion. not only the forms but also the functions of metanarration are subject to historical variability.e. Fludernik sets out to dissociate the mimesis of narration from a teller figure and highlights the contact zones between various self-reflexive devices across different genres and media. but also in other genres and media. 4 Topics for Further Investigation Desiderata for narratological research still include differentiated investigations of the forms. e. she proposes an alternative schema which differentiates between metafiction. it would be interesting to provide comparisons between forms of narrative self-reflexivity or self-referentiality in Western and non-Western literature. In this respect. These functions range from authenticating and empathy-inducing functions (→ Narrative Empathy). Moreover. the plethora of metanarrative often enhances the “mimesis of narrating” (Nünning 2001). miseen-abyme or metaleptic plot configurations. there are hardly any studies concerning functions that may be fulfilled by certain forms of self-reflexive narration in different historical epochs and literary genres. One relatively unexplored issue concerns the development of self-reflexive narrative forms over various periods of literary history.e. Finally. in numerous novels from the second half of the 20th century it is functionalized in a metafictional way. Fludernik (2003) suggests subdividing the category of metanarration into metadiscursive. 5 Bibliography 176 . to parodic and anti-illusionistic types of metanarrative interventions. highlighting the extensiveness and historical variability of this narrative form. which comprises. To circumvent the potential ambiguity between metanarration and metafiction. Wolf’s implicit metafiction). not only in narrative fiction.g. and diachronic development of metafiction and metanarration.

• Fludernik. Lemon & M. Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction. Erzählen und Erzähltheorie im 20. Robert (1975). Pier (ed). • O’Donnell. Werner ([1998] 2004). Werner (1993). “The Self-Conscious Narrator in Comic Fiction before Tristram Shandy. Berlin. • Hutcheon. Werner (2009). New York : Knopf. • Cutter. • Hutcheon. 41–59. “Texte littéraire et metalanguage. Formen selbstreflexiven Erzählens: Eine Typologie und sechs exemplarische Analysen. 13–47. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. (eds). Berlin: de Gruyter. Ambiguous Discourse: Feminist Narratology and British Women Writers. Viktor (Shklovsky. Monika (1996). Ansgar (2004). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narative Theory. Narcissistic Narrative: The Metafictional Paradox. “Incredulity toward Metanarrative: Negotiating Postmodernism and Feminisms.” American Literary Realism 31. • Fludernik.P. William H. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Monika (2003). Wayne C. Heidelberg: Winter. • Hamon. • Waugh. • Šklovskij. “Towards a Definition. Helbig (ed). Patrick (2005). “Metafiktion. Patricia (1984).” Poetica 35. 261–84. Nünning (ed). Partial Magic: The Novel as a Self-Conscious Genre. Berkeley: U of California P. “Metareference across Media: The Concept. 301–02. • Scheffel. 100–15. Fiction and the Figures of Life. (1970). its Transmedial 177 . Metzler Lexikon Literatur. 163–85. • Prince. Jahrhundert: Narratologische Studien aus Anlass des 65. Typologie und Funktionsgeschichte des Akts des Erzählens und der Metanarration. 447–48. (1952). Linda ([1989] 1996).” L. London: Routledge. • Wolf. Reis (eds).” Iowa Review 1. • Booth. • Nünning.” J. Gerald ([1987] 2003).und Kulturtheorie. 11–57. Gerald (1982). “Metafiction. A Dictionary of Narratology.” J. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 1–39. Gérard ([1972] 1980). Michael (1997). Metalanguages. and Possible Worlds: The Transformative Power of Metanarrative in C. London: Methuen. • Nünning. • Scholes. Martha J. “Mimesis des Erzählens: Prolegomena zu einer Wirkungsästhetik. 25–57. Robert (1970).” Poétique 31. Ansgar (2001). Mezei (ed). Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays. • Wolf. London: Routledge. “Metafiction. • Gass. Linda (1980). a Typology and an Outline of the Functions of Metanarrative Commentary. “Sterne’s Tristram Shandy: Stylistic Commentary. Aldershot: Scolar Press. New York: Methuen. • Wolf. Geburtstags von Wilhelm Füger. Herman et al. Stuttgart: Metzler.5. Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method.” D. • Prince. Narratology: The Form and Functioning of Narrative. Gilman’s Later Short Fiction. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P. Ithaca: Cornell UP. 262–67. “Of Metatexts.: Mouton de Gruyter. Ästhetische Illusion und Illusionsdurchbrechung in der Erzählkunst: Theorie und Geschichte mit Schwerpunkt auf englischem illusionsstörenden Erzählen. • Genette. “Metanarrative and Metafictional Commentary: From Metadiscursivity to Metanarration and Metafiction. Towards a ‘Natural’ Narratology.” PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 67.” K.1 Works Cited • Alter. Philippe (1977). The Dynamics of Narrative Form: Studies in Anglo-American Narratology. (1998). Victor) ([1921] 1965).” A.

“Self-reference in Literature. Frankfurt a. • Peters.: Lang. 178 . Joan D.Potentials and Problems. Gainesville: UP of Florida. (2002). Wolf (ed) in collaboration with Katharina Bantleon and Jeff Thoss.” Poetics 18. • Quendler. Amsterdam: Rodopi. Feminist Metafiction and the Evolution of the British Novel. Main Forms and Functions. From Romantic Irony to Postmodernist Metafiction: A Contribution to the History of Literary Self-Reflexivity in its Philosophical Context. 1–85.M. Theory and Case Studies. 5. Metareference across Media.” W. Christian (2001). Jean-Pierre (1989).2 Further Reading • Dupuy. 491–515.

and a distinctly filmic focalization. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. On the other hand. Schmidt 1 Definition The general proposition that there is no narrative without a narrator (→ Narrator) poses particular problems when applied to narration in feature films (as distinct from documentaries. The main features of narrative strategies in literature can also be found in film. editing). These equivalences are far more complex than is suggested by any mere “translation” or “adaptation” from one medium into another. 12 Mar 2012.unihamburg. the mise-en-scène (arranging and composing the scene in front of the camera). the most solid narrative link between verbal and visual representation is sequentiality.). Though almost all of these films. Hühn. sound. although the characteristics of these strategies differ significantly. (eds. 179 . It is this consecutiveness that “gives rise to an unfolding structure. mostly (though not always) following a successive and causal order.sub.Schmidt. abound in storytelling capacities and thus belong to a predominantly narrative medium. Johann N. etc.php?title=Narration_in_Film&oldid=1684 Narration in Film Last modified: 2 December 2011 Johann N. The absence of a narrative subject is to be compensated for by the construction of a “visual narrative instance” (Deleyto 1996: 219. In many cases. it seems to be appropriate to speak of “equivalences” between literary and filmic storytelling and to analyze the pertinent differences between the two media in narrative representation. is bound to incorporate and combine a large number of “co-creative” techniques “constructing the story world for specific effects” (Bordwell 1985: 12) and creating an overall meaning only in their totality. Peter et al.: "Narration in Film".de/lhn/index. since literary and filmic signs are apprehended consecutively through time. their specific mode of plurimedial presentation and their peculiar blending of temporal and spatial elements set them apart from forms of narrativity (→ Narrativity) that are principally language-based. Kuhn 2009) mediating the paradigms of overtly cinematographic devices (elements relating to camera. many of them adaptations from literature. The narratological inventory. the diegetic whole” (Cohen 1979: 92).): the living handbbook of narratology. http://hup. when applied to cinema.

Narratologists of a strongly persistent stance regret that connotations of visuality are dominant even in terms like point of view (→ Perspective . hybrid. not in film (Brütsch 2011). Thus Metz states that film is not a “language” but another kind of semiotic system with “articulations” of its own (Chatman 1990: 124). mediality is seen as affecting “narrative in a number of important ways.Point of View) and focalization (→ Focalization). They hold that narratological categories in film and literary studies differ much less than most scholars would suggest. The two approaches being given. transliterary concept (albeit close to novel studies).1 Development of Film Narration 180 . they themselves depend on which scholarly perspective is preferred: either how far narrative principles can be limited to questions of narrativity alone. however. Since Genette’s model presents a primarily narratological. If the medium itself and its unique laws of formal representation (→ Narration in Various Media) serve as a starting-point (as it is the case in the course of this article). but on a level of specific representations only. Though some of the equivalences between literary and filmic narrative may be quite convincing (the neutral establishing shot of a panoramic view can be easily equated with external focalization or even zero focalization). In general. and they maintain that the greatest divide between verbal and visual strategies is in literature. narratological principles sensu stricto move to the fore of analysis. there are two different outlooks on cinema that divide the main camps of narratological research. 3 Development of Film Narration and History of the Study of Film Narration Film as a largely syncretistic. narrativity can be constituted in equal measure in all textual and visual media” (Fludernik 1996: 353).2 Explication Broadly speaking. If. many other parallels must necessarily abstract from a number of diverse principles of aesthetic organization before stating similarities in the perception of literature and film. 3. the question of medial specificity seems to be less important. Despite the fact that adapting literary texts into movies has long since become a conventional practice. many of its parameters either transcend or obscure the categories that have been gained in tracking narrative strategies of literary texts. or whether the requirements of the medium are a conclusive consequence for its narrative capacities. and multimedial form of aesthetic communication bears a number of generic characteristics which are tied to the history and the various capacities of its narrative constituents. the variability of cinematographic modes of narrative expression calls for such a number of subcategories that the principle of generalization (inherent in any valid theory) becomes jeopardized.

television. accentuating details. it would be wrong to state that it is “narrated visually” and little else. it also reflects the historical standard of technology in its narrative structure. performative and aesthetic strategies that combine in a syncretizing. aside from the very few exceptions where one person is the producer. enacting changes of any given action.2 The Plurimedial Nature of Cinema The conventional separation of “showing” and “telling” and (on a different level) of “seeing” and “reading” does not do justice to the plurimedial organization of cinema. camera operator. whether 181 .1. director. but its sequences are bound together in a technically unique process (“post-production”) to conform to a very specific perceptual and cognitive comprehension of the world (Grodal 2005: 169).” (Ėjxenbaum [1927] 1990: 116). and not through novels that most stories are ‘told’ nowadays” (1996: 218).g.1. developing parallels in the fabula. Ėjzenštejn claims that Charles Dickens’s narrative art anticipated the method of his own montage of parallel scenes ([1949] 1992: 395–402). Similar to literary narration. Like drama. it can influence the viewing positions of the recipient and dispose freely of location and temporal sequences as long as it contains generic signals of shifts in time and space (→ Space). 3. establishing interlocking conventions of storytelling. Fassbinder’s In a Year of Thirteen Moons.1 Literature into Film According to Deleyto. “[it] is through cinema. Film can claim to be a legitimate successor (and competitor) of fictional literature insofar as it is capable of “employing complex sujet constructions. the dominant reliance of the early narrative cinema on existing literary models seemed to imply that the terminology borrowed from literary theory could be as easily applied to “film language. Unlike drama. However much meaning can be attributed to the visual track of the film.1. it seems to provide “direct perceptual access to space and characters” (Grodal 2005: 168). it is “performed” within a similar frame of time and experienced from a fixed position. however. etc. sound expert and actor at the same time (e. Earlier attempts at defining film exclusively along the lines of visualization were meant to legitimize it as an art form largely independent of the established arts. On the other hand.” Both approaches ignore the plurimedial nature of cinema which draws on multiple sources of temporal and spatial information and its reliance on the visual and auditive senses. It derives its impact from a number of technical.3 Technical Strategies of Storytelling Films are generally made by a large group of people. This peculiarity makes it difficult to sort out the various categories that are operative in its narration. a film is not produced in quasi-lifelike corporal subsequences.3. What Ingarden calls “the views and images [visuelle Ansichten] made concrete by actors and the scenery” ([1931] 1972: 403) corresponds to the filmic mise-en-scène. As an industrial product. 3. largely hybrid medium. 1978). and video.

interactivity. It was with the introduction of video and DVD that the viewer could control speed variations. and versatility. This multiple and fragmented reception gradually led to new perceptive appropriations of cinema.4 Narrative Modes in the History of Cinema Narration in film possesses as its two main components current aesthetic concepts and. This early “cinema of attractions” (Gunning 1986) gradually made way for “narrativization” (233) from 1907 to about 1913 through the process of structural organization of cinematic signifiers and the “creation of a self-enclosed diegetic universe” (233). Inward contemplation. play the film backwards. Silent movies from 1895 onward lacked not only verbal expression. but also narrative structures beyond the stringing together of stage effects. Not only the mode of production but also the reception of highly varied formats in film history have altered narrative paradigms that had formerly seemed unchangeable. etc. these movies were still very much indebted to the 19th-century apparatus in which the process of seeing as a perceptual and motoric element was closely connected with pre-cinematic “spatial and bodily experiences” (Elsaesser 1990: 3). But on the whole. initiated by David Wark Griffith in particular. was an “institutional mode of representation. inseparably interwoven with these concepts. an unused score. especially after 1945. and alternative endings. the technical means available at the time of production. view it frame by frame and freeze it. The result. arranged tableaux. whether a static camera is turned on the scene or a modern editing technique lends the images an overpowering kinetic energy. 3. In the auditorium-space. What was then perceived as the only striking narrative device consisted in showing these scenes within a framed space and against the common laws of temporal continuity.” Modernist cinema and non-canonical art films. The “real” of the cinema is founded at least as much in the real-image quality of its photography as it is in the system of representation that shows analogies to the viewer’s capacity to combine visual impressions with a “story. repudiate the 182 .1. which is no longer predominantly linear. select menus and “construct” a new film with deleted scenes. and sensationalist trick scenes. The basic trajectory of the classical Hollywood ideal (also taken over by UFA and other national film industries) involves establishing a cause-and-effect logic. s/he lacked any manifest control over the screen-space. Thus it has long been a rule that the speed and the sequentiality of a film’s projection is mechanically fixed so that the viewer has no possibility of interrupting the “reading” to “leaf” back and forth through the scenes or of studying the composition of a single shot for longer than the actual running time. The filmic discourse was to create a coherence of vision without any jerks in time or space or other dissonant and disruptive elements in the process of viewing. up to the “devouring” of a story. has yielded to an attitude of bricolage which is closer to putting together disjointed elements of narrative arrangements according to the outward criteria of selectivity. however different the shots that are sliced together might is a silent film with inserted reading titles or a film using high-resolution digital multi-track sound.” also known as “classical narration” (Schweinitz 1999: 74). also changing the user’s sense of narrative. A “seamless” and consecutive style serves to hide “all marks of artifice” (Chatman 1990: 154) and to give the narrative the appearance of a natural observing position. and a cohesive effect of visual and auditive perception aimed at providing the story with an “organic” meaning. and (as in DVD) use the digitalized space of navigation to interact. a clear subject-object relation.

g. there is an ever-widening gap between fabula and discourse. Kurosawa’s Rashomon. Whereas continuity editing presupposes a holistic unity in a world which is temporarily in conflict but finally homogenized (not only plot-wise. middle ground.g. Narrative devices not only obey cognitive storytelling practices. avoids visible cuts and creates deep focus (depth of field). Continuity editing (or analytic montage) aims primarily at facilitating orientation during transitions in time and space. 1959). thus respecting geometrical orientation within a given space. J. combining and reassembling of visual segments) with the mix of sound elements and the choice of strategic points in space (angle. narration in film concentrates not on events being strung together in chronological sequence. and dislocation of the traditional modes of temporal and spatial representation (e.N. Ėjzenštejn’s collision editing accentuates stark formal and perceptual contrasts to create new meanings or unusual metaphorical links (Grodal 2005: 171). Modern cinema also made possible the flash-forward as the cinematographic equivalent of the prolepsis (e. but via sensory connection with the audience’s preferred viewing). (b) cross-cutting.hegemonistic story regime of classical Hollywood cinema by laying open the conditions of mediality and artificiality or by employing literary strategies not as an empathetic but as an alienating or decidedly modern factor of storytelling. Losey’s The Go-Between. computerized cutting techniques. The most prominent examples in the early history of filmic narrativization are: (a) the simple cut from one scene to another. 183 . but also reflect a certain vision of the world. 1950. In each of these films.] and could not function without it” (Scholes 1985: 396). All of these assaults on traditional narrativity nevertheless “depend upon narrativity [or our assumptions about it. (d) the shotreverse-shot between two persons talking to each other.5 Editing as a Narrative Device Editing is one of the decisive cinematographic processes for the narrative organization of a film: it connects montage (e. One basic rule consists in never letting the camera cross the line of action (180-degree rule). 1960). as when a central protagonist disappears in the course of events (Antonioni’s L’Avventura. as in pursuit scenes.” as advocated by André Bazin. responding to growing globalization in its world-wide distribution and reception. enhances the aesthetics of visual and auditory effects by means of digitalization. but on the construction of powerful situations and significant details presented in an antithetical manner of association. (e) the “cut-in. repeating the same event from different angles as in internal multiple focalization). and a strategy of immediacy that signals a shift from linear discourse to a renewed interest in spectacular incidents. For other directors (e. (c) parallel montage to accentuate similarity and opposition. Pudovkin).” which magnifies a significant detail or grotesquely distorts certain objects of everyday life. or broke with the narrative convention of character continuity.1.S.g. Godard’s À bout de souffle. thus eliminating dead time by splitting the actual footage (ellipsis). 1959) and nonlinear collage elements.g. making foreground. They disrupt the narrative continuum and convert the principle of succession into one of simultaneity by means of iteration.g.g. used jump cuts (e. Postclassical cinema. which alternates between shots of two spaces. Resnais’ L’année dernière à Marienbad. the splitting. and background equally sharp. thus establishing continuity in the very same take. 3. 1970). frequency (e. perspective). “Internal editing.

since it contributes to field. Again. As Elsaesser & Hagener point out. although separate from the images we see (“voice-off”). what was once considered as a complete break with narrative rules has become a convention. but which also stands “in the service of narration” (2007: 172–73). Language. they serve as a “springboard” between sequences. so that when off-camera sounds are used before the scene they are related to. electronic sounds and music. thus leading to tension between the aural and the visual. This also explains the inherent dialectic of film as the medium that appears closest to our mimetic registration of the real world. Sound can range from descriptive passages to climactic underlining and counterpointing what is seen. A voice may have a specific source in the diegetic space. the sound derives its existence from the moment when it is perceived. New technologies such as multi-track sound with high digital resolution (e.3. image and sound. Whereas the image can be fixed. tempo and texture of successive situations. depending on the artistic and emotional effect that is to be achieved. and yet deviating from real-life experience by its manifold means of establishing a “second world” of fantasy. whether intradiegetic or (like most musical compositions) extradiegetic.g. Time can be either stretched out in slow motion or compressed in fast motion. there is a potential dissociation between body and voice as well as between viewing and hearing which can be used for comic purposes.1. Dolby Surround) negate the directional coherence of screen and sound source. In their “succession and mutual blending. Thus narration in cinema has to deal both with the representational realism of its images and its technical devices in order to integrate or dissociate time and space. Panofsky describes the result as “a speeding up of space” and a “spatialization of time” ([1937] 1993: 22).1. help not only to define the tonality. noises. 3. 184 . which imposes a temporal vector upon the spatial dimension (Lothe 2000: 62). volume. and mode as a powerful creator of meaning. The realization of a positioned space lies in movement. The temporally organized combination of visual and acoustic signs corresponds to the unmediated rendering of space. dream.” film creates a temporal and spatial continuum whose components can be separated only for heuristic purposes. and wish fulfillment. different spaces may be fused by double exposure or by a permanent tension between external and internal time sequences. mood and textuality” (Fulton 2005: 108).7 Narrative Functions of Sound Fulton emphasizes the role of sound in film: “[It] is one of the most versatile signifiers.” images “let chronologically extended events appear in their full concrete sequentiality” (Ingarden [1931] 1972: 344). It amplifies the diegetic space (thus Bordwell [1985: 119] speaks of “sound perspective”) and emphasizes modulation of the visual impact through creating a sonic décor or sonic space.6 Time and Space in Cinema To evoke a sense of the “real. albeit on a twodimensional screen. tenor. but also to orchestrate and manipulate emotions and heighten the suggestive expressivity of the story. or it can be heard beyond the diegetic limits (“voice-over”).

Branigan and Bordwell abandon straightaway the idea of a 185 . By excluding the subject position of the spectator. the single shot in cinema). In Metz’s phenomenology of narrative. hallucination. more than any other question. Thus the term “film language. the traces of a narrating agency are virtually invisible. In order to overcome the restriction to small semiotic units (e.2. film is “a complex system of successive. Whereas Chatman’s concept of narration is still anchored in literary theory (Booth. thus creating a conflict between voyeurism and subjugation to the power of images. 3.g. examined the functioning of cinematic discourse within a wider cultural communicative process which is conveyed by a host of visual signs. For this reason. Undecidedness in terminology became evident right from the beginnings of film theory. the concept of “code” was used to encompass more extensive syntagmata in film such as sequences and the whole of the narration. Ėjxenbaum transfers the structuring of cinematographic meaning to “new conditions of perceptions”: it is the viewer who moves “to the construction of internal speech” ([1926] 1973: 123). the more systematic narrative discourse of the Wisconsin School resorted to a cognitive and constructivist approach. Modeling cinema after literature in this way. Its main interest is in a strictly rational and logical explication of narrative and in mental processes that render perceptual data intelligible. The first systematic interest in narratology came from the semiotic turn of film theory starting in the 1960s. encoded signs” (Lothe 2000: 12).or heterodiegetic). so that the term “film narrator” is employed as hardly more than a metaphor. finally.1 Film as Sign System With the exception of the character narrator and the cinematic device of the voice-over (whether homo. 3.3. but is also cast on the film by the viewer.” if not used for a system of signs as was done by the Formalists. tends to weaken the notion of cinema as an independent art form. notably with Metz’s construct of the grande syntagmatique (1966). Todorov). For this reason. and desire as important undercurrents of the realist surface. defining the narrative scheme as an optional “redescription of data under epistemological restraint” (Branigan 1992: 112). bore the implication that there must also be a “speaker” of such a language. seeing the visual concreteness of cinema as its basic mark of distinction from literature. Feminist theories dealt with the gendered gaze that is applied not only in the film itself.2. Studies of popular culture. This reflects the difficulty of specifying the narrative process in general and. Metz’s position was criticized by Heath (1986). a predominantly formalistic approach overlooks the potentially decisive impact of affectivity and subconscious processes.2 Film Narrator―Film Narration In the 1980s. it reveals the limits of literary narrativity when applied to film studies. however. psychoanalytic theories concentrated on the similarities that exist between film and dream. who saw in it a neglect of the central role of the viewer in making meaning (Schweinitz 1999: 79).2 The Narrating Agency in Cinema One of the most controversial issues in film narratology concerns the role of the narrator as an instrument of narrative mediation.

in film several internal and external focalisers can appear simultaneously at different points inside or outside the frame. unlike Bordwell. 186 . What is common to most definitions is the existence of some overall control of visual and sonic registers where the camera functions as an intermediator of visual and acoustic information. He rather contends that “whereas in the novel the two kinds of focalization (internal/external) alternate. focalization becomes a major issue when the viewer shifts into the diegetic world of a film.” “heterodiegetic narrator” (Fulton 2005: 113).cinematic narrator or a narrative voice. They hold that the construct of the narrator is wrapped up in the “activity of narration” itself which is performed on various levels: “To give every film a narrator or implied author is to indulge in an anthropomorphic fiction” (Bordwell 1985: 62). thus creating an unmediated presence by means of internal ocularization.” “primary narrative agency” (Black 1986: 4. At this point. make the viewer painfully aware of the impersonal and subjectless apparatus of the camera which alienates them from the character rather than drawing them into his ways of seeing and feeling. The author as an “essential subject” who is in possession of psychological properties or of a human voice is replaced by the notion of narration understood as a process or an activity in comparison to narrative and which is defined as “the organization of a set of cues for the construction of a story” (62) presupposing an active perceiver of a message. drawing on the conventional distinction between narrator (“who speaks?”) and focalizer (“who sees?”) although. the figural and auditive representation of the narrator is soon forgotten in favor of the virtual position of an impersonal narrative instance.” however impersonal.” “first-degree narrator. “ultimate narratorial agency” or “supra-narrator” (Tomasulo 1986: 46). but have been conventionalized: such is the case when a character’s walk from A to B is shortened to the points of departure and arrival with a sharp cut in between. but no sender. The same holds true for the almost imperceptibly varying amount of information that is shared by characters and audience alike. “organising consciousness. Even in voice-over narration. The few experimental films that construct events “through the eyes” of the main character (e. all contributing to the development of the narrative and the creation of a permanent tension between subjectivity and objectivity” (217). Many different terms and theoretical constructs have been introduced to overcome the logical impasse of having a narration without a narrator (Völker 1999: 48): “camera eye. “heterodiegetic ‘camera’” in a metaphoric sense (Schlickers 1997: 6). or when extradiegetic music is no part of the story proper. It follows from this that certain prerequisites of filmic narration are not “natural” or taken from literary models. or when a flashback bridges vast leaps of time. The effacement of the narrator and the idea that film seems to “narrate itself” stand in contrast to the impression that all visual and auditive modes impart an authorial presence or an “enunciator. They are supported by the viewer’s hypotheses about spatial and temporal conventions as well as by stabilized patterns behind individual perception. 22). he does not grant the external focalizer the option of occupying the position of the camera. According to Bordwell and Branigan. “invisible observer” (Bordwell 1985: 9–10). but only in terms of historically variant narrative structures that are perceived in the act of viewing. The invisible observer theory even maintains that it is the camera that narrates (the French director Alexandre Astruc coined the famous phrase “caméra stylo”). even though it may reflect the inner state of a character or establish a certain mood. cinematographic narratives cannot be understood within a general semiotic system of narrative. etc. Deleyto (1996: 217) rejects this view. Montgomery’s The Lady in the Lake. A case in point is the objective presentation of external narration to make internal processes both visible and understandable. 1947).g.

there can be various types of fictional contracts with the audience that transcend the postulate of narrative verisimilitude. passim).” i. however. Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard. specific lighting. 2005. which director Alfred Hitchcock considered a serious mistake since it didn’t work). allowing even a dead person to tell his story as a “character narrator” (e. 3. As Branigan states in his landmark study on narrative comprehension in cinema.2. passim. the length and scale of a shot. is the recognition that everything in cinema consists of “looks”: the viewer looks at characters who look at each other. Helbig ed.3 Unreliability of Film Narration Though there are filmic devices to give a scene the appearance of unreliability or deception. there is a difference between “mood” and “voice. According to Genette. The prerequisite for any POV analysis.e. unlike the homodiegetic one in written narrative. or when a film is built around a puzzle. 3. unless the veracity of the photographic image is put into question (cf. Schlickers 1997: 127–32). or when the dancers in a musical step on walls and ceilings. more specifically. 2006. hence “untrue” flashback in Stage Fright.3 Point of View Even if one accepts the seemingly contradictory postulate of a narrative situation without a narrator. 1950. or s/he looks at them. 1950). cannot tell a downright lie that is visualized at the very same moment. point of view can best be understood as organizing meaning through a combination of various levels of narration which are defined by a “dialectical site of seeing and seen” or. putting into question any form of reliable narration (a summary of “unreliable situations” in cinema is given in Liptay & Wolf eds. etc. Though it has been defined as “a concrete perceptual fact linked to the camera position” (Grodal 2005: 168). the question of perspective in narrative discourse becomes an all-important issue as soon as the viewer shifts into the diegetic world. Yet there are many more focusing strategies which select and control our perception as well as our emotional involvement such as deep-focus. Fulton speaks of a “multiple focalisation” that is “realized by different camera angles. Branigan offers a model of seven “levels of narration” which is based on Genette’s study of focalization and allows for constant oscillation between these levels.3. the fabricated.3.g. adopting their perspective of the diegetic world while the camera 187 . the “mediator and the object of our gaze” (1984: 47).1 Viewpoints Point of view (POV) clearly becomes the prime starting point for narratology when applied to film. the question “who is the character whose point of view orients the narrative perspective?” and the question “who is the narrator?” (Genette [1972] 1980: 186. its actual functions in narrative can be far more flexible and multifarious than this definition suggests. However. which position us to see the action from a number of different viewpoints” (2005: 114). the “visual narrator” in film. from extra-/heterodiegetic and omniscient narration to adapting the highly subjective perception of a character.

however. as is the case in Lang’s Die Nibelungen (1924) when the Nibelung treasure appears to Siegfried on a rock. it seems almost impossible to come to a clear conclusion whether the camera imitates the eyepoint of a character (i. as visual point (or “eyepoint”): it is “ocularization” that is believed to determine both the position of the camera and the “look” of a homodiegetic/heterodiegetic character. This paves the way for two approaches which should be tried in fruitful competition. So we may see something “with the eyes” of a character whose back is visibly turned to us (“over-shoulder shot”) or of a character who tries to grasp a tangible object that dissolves in the air like a hallucination.e. many of them rooted in convention. or there must be an attempt to analyze the multiple forms of interplay that stem 188 .frames a special field of seeing. 4 Topics for Further Investigation (a) Film results in a story unfolding according to the possibilities and constraints of the medium “in order to achieve specific time-bound effects on a perceiver” (Bordwell 1985: xi). In many cases. 3. not to speak of auditory information. Either the complexity of paradigms can be reduced to a model of abstraction which makes it possible to compare narrative processes in literature and in film without paying too much heed to medial specificities. overlooks the fact that focalization can shift all around its diegetic world (Fulton 2005: 111) without any noticeable breaks in the narration or any unconventional narrative techniques. or the viewer is privileged to look at something out of the line of vision of any of the characters. the categories used for film analysis seem to be far more complicated than those employed for literary narration. the literal viewpoint as realized in “eye-line matches”) or whether it observes “from outside” in the sense of narrative mediation.3. quite literally. are related to a logic of combination which determines the basic qualities of filmic narration. neglect the possibility of the blurring of the two types of focalization. The possible mingling of “real” and mental aspects makes it difficult to differentiate between focalization and ocularization as soon as there is no marking of where a certain situation has its definite starting-point. Both alternatives. Thus the very question “Who sees?” involves a categorization of different forms of POV that organize and orient the narrative from a visual and spatial standpoint and that also include cognitive processes based on a number of presuppositions about a proper perspective. whether in an optical perspective or in a subjective perception (or both). Jost suggests distinguishing between internal focalization and zero focalization ([1987] 1989: 157). Moreover. whereas Bal differentiates between focalization on “perceptible” objects and focalization on “imperceptible” objects ([1985] 1997: 153). Though narratology possesses tools for analyzing these shifts. To understand POV in terms of the optical and auditory vantage point of a character. it makes a difference whether we are to gain an impression of what a character feels and thinks or whether the film seeks to present objective correlatives of the mental and emotional dispositions of a protagonist. Various levels of perception and cognition. Schlickers speaks in this respect of a “double perspectivation” (2009). as Bordwell does when he speaks of an “optically subjective shot” (1985: 60).2 Focalization and Ocularization POV has been understood as an optical paradigm or.

Traumbühne Kino. is that almost every analysis which is restricted to transmedial narrativity risks blotting out the historical developments of film narration. Narrative Comprehension and Film. Mieke ([1985] 1997). Narration in the Fiction Film. Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Cohen (eds). Seymour (1974). 5 Bibliography 5. 473–86. Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. David A. Marburg: Schüren. Narratology. David (1985). 3–16. The crux of the matter. (c) In sum. Edward R. The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Film. (1986). spatial and temporal elements. light and shadow.3–4. New Haven: Yale 189 . (1984). “The Cinematic Narrator: The Logic and Pragmatics of Impersonal Narration. • Chatman. Edward R. “The Cinematic Narrator.” Poetica (Tokyo) 1. spectator engagement and novel techniques of presentation combine to produce a “filmic speech” which a formal analysis of narrational strategies can grasp only up to a certain point. Coming to Terms. Seymour (1978). Der Traum als filmtheoretische Metapher und narratives Model. • Chatman. London: Routledge. The repertoire of narratology must be extended to explain the functioning of modern media. Keith (1979).” Journal of Film and Video 42. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Narrativity. (b) If narrative is a fundamental issue in filmic signification. Film and Fiction: The Dynamics of Exchange. • Chatman. 19–26.1 Works Cited • Bal.from the double vantage points of seeing and being seen. Seymour (1990). • Cohen. Madison: U of Wisconsin P. • Branigen. • Burgoyne. there is no doubt that feature films are a form of narrative that share the principal features of storytelling in literature. New York: Oxford UP.” L. (1992). Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. Robert (1990). its logic must be re-examined with new ways of storytelling in cinema that play games or lead the viewer into a maze of ontological uncertainties.” Wide Angle 8. Braudy & M. however. • Branigan. • Bordwell. sight and sound. inseparably interwoven with the achievements and capacities of the medium. Point of View in the Cinema. Ithaca: Cornell UP. 21–46. “Narration and Point of View in Fiction and the Cinema. • Black. • Brütsch. Matthias (2011). Toronto: U of Toronto P. moving images and movement within the images. Seymour (1999). “Genette and Film: Narrative Level in the Fiction Cinema. In Metz’s words: “[Film] ‘says’ things that could also be conveyed in the language of words. yet it says them differently” ([1968] 1974: 44). • Chatman. Berlin: Mouton. A Theory of Narration and Subjectivity in Classical Film.

” H. Onega & J. Apparatus. (ed). eds.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • UP. Genette. Die ideologischen Vorläufer des Rolls-Royce-Kühlers & Stil und Medium im Film. A Film Theory Reader. 217–33. Rosen (ed). “Narrative Space. Hühn et al. Elsaesser. Russian Formalism: A Collection of Articles and Texts in Translation. Bann & J. New York: Oxford UP. and the Avant–Garde. Christian ([1968] 1974). Liptay. Markus (2009). Rosen (ed). Gérard ([1972] 1980). Griffith. “Film Narratology: Who Tells? Who Shows? Who Focalizes? Narrative Mediation in Self-Reflexive Fiction Films. (2005). 122–27. Mast et al. Point of View. London: Routledge. Christian (1966). Narrative and Media. “Focalisation in Film Narrative. 108–22. Was stimmt denn jetzt? Unzuverlässiges Erzählen in Literatur und Film. Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema. Lyon: PU de Lyon. Ėjzenštejn. Narratology. 229–35. Kuhn. New York: Columbia UP. E. 120–24. “The Cinema of Attraction: Early Film. Berlin: de Gruyter. Albersmeier (ed). Herman et al. Narrative. Das literarische Kunstwerk. Metz. Deleyto. Erwin ([1937] 1993). Thomas & Malte Hagener (2007). Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Celestino (1996). Filmtheorie zur Einführung. Lothe. Thomas (1990). Jost. Torben (2005). London: Longman. Towards a ‘Natural’ Narratology.: Campus. Gunning.” D. Early Cinema: Space―Frame―Narrative. Ingarden. Apparatus. Fulton.” Ph. Ėjxenbaum. “Probleme der Filmstilistik. Narrative Discours: An Essay in Method. (eds). A Film Theory Reader. 97–137. Jakob (2000). ed. 8. Helen (2005).M.” St. Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Ėjxenbaum. Sergei) ([1949] 1992).” P. Panofsky. Mit einem Anhang ‘Von den Funktionen der Sprache im Theaterschauspiel’. “La grande syntagmatique du film narratif. Frankfurt a. 11–30. “Camera doesn’t lie”: Spielarten erzählerischer Unzuverlässigkeit im Film. München: edition text + kritik. “Literature and Cinema. Grodal. (eds). Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP. “Dickens. and Focalization: Modeling Mediacy in Narrative. Elsaesser. Á.” Communications No. Jörg. García Landa (eds). London: BFI. Texte zur Theorie des Films. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Perspective.” S. Hamburg: Junius. et al.” Ph. “Film Narrative.” F. 17–48. Stephen (1986). Verfilmtes Erzählen: Narratologisch-komparative Untersuchung zu ‘El beso de la mujer araña’ (Manuel Puig/Héctor Babenco) und ‘Crónica de una muerte anunciada’ (Gabriel Garcia Márquez/Fraqncesco Rosi). Helbig. Ideology. Ithaca: Cornell UP. (2006). Narrative in Fiction and Film. “Film Form: Introduction. Monika (1996). Oxford: Oxford UP. 395– 402. Fabienne & Yvonne Wolf. François ([1987] 1989). Sabine (1997). 168–72. (eds). Sergej (Eisenstein.” Th. Boris (Ejchenbaum) ([1927] 1995). New York: Columbia UP. and the Film Today. Film Theory and Criticism.-J. Boris (Eikhenbaum) ([1926] 1973). Bowlt (eds). Its Spectator. Entre film et roman. Schlickers. Metz. Narrative. Stuttgart: Reclam. London: Routledge. Trier: WVT. Heath. 190 . Roman ([1931] 1972). Tom (1986). 379–420. L’œil―Caméra. Ideology. F.” G. Fludernik. 259–78. Oxford: Oxford UP. “Film Narrative and Visual Cohesion. (eds).

5.: Vervuert. D. “Filmnarratologie: Grundlagen. Ch. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Perspective. Grenzüberschreitungen: Narratologie im Kontext / Transcending Boundaries: Narratology in Context. 243–58. • Kozloff. Invisible Storytellers. interdisziplinär. Voice-over Narration in American Fiction Film. Filmerzählung und Filmerlebnis: Zur rezeptionsorientierten Analyse narrativer Konstruktionsformen im Spielfilm. Katrin (1999). Hühn et al. Frank P. Studies in Cinematic Point of View. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.” J. • Wilson. “Dead Men―Dead Narrators: Überlegungen zu Erzählern und Subjektivität im Film. Mediality. Schlickers. • Fleishman.” J. Meister (ed).” P. 233–53. Ein Modell zur vergleichenden Analyse von literarischen Texten und filmischen Adaptionen. and Focalization: Modeling Medicy in Narrative. Manuela (1999). M.Hausarbeit U of Hamburg. Nünning (eds). Die erzählerische Dimension: eine Gemeinsamkeit der Künste. • Ryan. (1984). Eine vergleichende Analyse von Henry James’ ‘The Portrait of a Lady’ und Jane Campions filmischer Adaption. Stefan (1997). Robert (1985). • Hurst. Berlin: de Gruyter. “On the Theoretical Foundations of Transmedial Narratology.• • • • • Frankfurt a. Point of View. Disciplinarity. Tübingen: Gunter Narr. Der erzählte Blick. Trier: WVT. Marie Laure (2005). Mast et al. “Narrate and Describe? Point of View and Narrative Voice Citizen Kane’s Thatcher Sequence. Schweinitz. Julika & Eckhart Voigts-Virchow (2002). Berlin: de Gruyter. Avrom (1992). Sabine (2009). E. Film Theory and Criticism. 231–46. Grünzweig & A. New York: Oxford UP. Scholes. • Hurst. 264–82.3/4. Tendenzen und Beispielanalysen. Tomasulo. 155–83. Münster: Lit Verlag. 191 . Nünning & A. Erzählsituationen in Literatur und Film.” University of Toronto Quarterly 53. M. • Tolton. Trier: WVT. * Helbig (ed). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP.” E. Matthias (2001). • Griem. “Focalization.” W. Erzähltheorie transgenerisch. 390–403. Solbach (eds).A.” V. “Zur Erzählforschung in der Filmwissenschaft. 45–52. Ocularization and Auricularization in Film and Literature. intermedial. “Narration and Narrativity in Film. Lämmert (ed). Narrated Films. 1–23. Storytelling Situations in Cinema History.” Wild Angle 8. Völker. Narratology beyond Literary Criticism. Sarah (1988).” G. “Mittelbarkeit. “Narration in Film and Prose Fiction: A Mise au point. Narration in Light. (eds). • Cordes. Matthias (1996). Jörg (1999). Tübingen: Niemeyer. George M. (1986). 73–87. Subjektivität: Über das narrative Potential des Spielfilms.2 Further Reading • Bach. Perspektive. “Camera doesn’t lie”: Spielarten erzählerischer Unzuverlässigkeit im Film. ([1988] 1992). Berkeley: U of California P. C. (eds).

uni-hamburg. lyric poems as well as plays performed on the stage can be profitably analyzed with the transgeneric application of narratological categories. prose fiction.php? title=Narration_in_Poetry_and_Drama&oldid=1569 Narration in Poetry and Drama Last modified: 4 August 2011 Peter Hühn & Roy Sommer 1 Definition Narration as a communicative act in which a chain of happenings is meaningfully structured and transmitted in a particular medium and from a particular point of view underlies not only narrative fiction proper but also poems and plays in that they. too.g. Hü possibly opening the way to a more precise definition of their respective generic specificity. Peter et al. Peter & Sommer. the following argument concentrates on lyric poetry in the narrow sense: that narratological categories are generally applicable to narrative verse is obvious. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. though with poetry the applicability of the notion of story and with drama that of mediation seems to be in question.Hühn. 2 Explication Transgeneric narratology proceeds from the assumption that narratology’s highly differentiated system of categories can be applied to the analysis of both poems and plays. then the three traditional genres. Drama enacts strings of happenings with actors in live performance. segmentation and arrangement. poetry (Schönert 2004) and 192 . represent temporally organized sequences and thus relate “stories. 12 Mar 2012. Roy: "Narration in Poetry and Drama".sub. If narration is defined as the representation of chains of happenings in a medium by a mediating agent. even though (lyric) poems do not seem to tell stories and stories in dramas do not seem to be mediated (but presented directly). As far as poetry is concerned. though typically devoid of any overt presenting agency. Lyric poetry in the strict sense (and not only obviously narrative poetry like ballads or verse romances) typically features strings of primarily mental or psychological happenings perceived through the consciousness of single speakers and articulated from their position. the presentation of which. Thanks to these features characteristic of narrative.): the living handbbook of narratology. through selection. necessarily mediating them in the manner of presentation. http://hup. (eds.” albeit with certain genre-specific differences. is mediated e.

segmentation. but can also be introduced at the extradiegetic level. A transgeneric narratology is. various modes of focalization (→ Focalization)). in other terms. temporal sequentiality and mediation. etc. and the cognitive activities involved in narrative comprehension. the speaker’s voice is felt to emanate from simultaneously occurring experience and speech. subordinate character’s utterance (→ Character). not just verse narratives or ballads) are distinguished by a characteristic variability in the extent to which they use the range of levels and modes of mediation. without an overt mediator (such as a narrator (→ Narrator)) and seemingly without any mediation whatsoever. Nünning & Sommer 2008). This approach may have repercussions on classical narratology itself in that it highlights the need to reconsider current theories of narrative with their traditional focus on narrative fiction by emphasizing the performative aspects of storytelling. they can instantiate the two fundamental constituents of the narrative process. In dramatic texts in performance. such as prologues and epilogues and comments by stage managers or overt narrators.drama. however. corporeally. the sequence of happenings is presented directly. by no means restricted to applying narrative theories and terminologies to other genres for analytical purposes. A narratological approach to drama can systematically account for the use of such narrative devices and offer new perspectives on the relationship between dialogue and stage directions and the status of the secondary text (Fludernik 2008. on the other hand. While novels. selection. lyric and dramatic texts can be reconstructed as reduced forms in which the range of instances of mediation varies in each case.1 Dimensions of the Transgeneric Approach to Poetry 193 . Like prose narratives. In addition. 3 History of the Concept and its Study 3. Weidle 2009) or. narrative elements and structures do normally occur at the intradiegetic level of the characters’ utterances. in the form of live characters interacting and communicating on stage. can be differentiated semiotically by the extent to which they utilize the range of possible modes and levels of mediation (→ Mediacy and Narrative Mediation). they can also seemingly efface the narrator’s level and create the impression of performative immediacy of speaking. combination and focus of the scenes presented imply the existence of a superordinate mediating instance (Jahn 2001. Seen in this way. however. lyric texts in the narrower sense (i. of the abstract author (→ Implied Author). As a result. the realization or transmission of narrative content in different media (→ Narration in Various Media). typically make use of all available levels and modes of mediation (superordinate narrator. short stories. equally well. Nevertheless. Similarly to the enacted utterances of characters in dramatic texts. What a narratological approach to poetry is able to provide are a specific method of analyzing the sequential structure as well as a more precise instrument for differentiating the levels and modes of mediation in lyric poems (both of which in conventional manuals of poetry analysis are usually lacking).e.

as in fiction. Subsequent and more comprehensive proposals add further specifications to such approaches to modeling mediation in lyric poetry by drawing more extensively on the particularly elaborate inventory of terms offered by narrative theory. is often unrealized in poetry and that the “highest” level. unfiltered communication of experience by an author identified with a speaker as the subject of this experience. but more generally. the effect of which is either to foreground mediation or to background the mediator and produce the illusion of immediacy. not only in satiric verse and dramatic monologues. based on textual signals in the composition of the work. stressing the historical variability in the distinctness of these three mediators. According to a traditional view. derives a much more differentiated hierarchy of levels of mediation from narrative and drama theory. albeit with certain differences like the added structuring device of versification (Kinney 1992.Point of View). Müller-Zettelmann (2002: 130–31) programmatically advocates a systematic transfer of the results of narratology to raise the theoretical level both of reflection on poetry and of poetry criticism (139−48). Bernhart refers merely to the variable perceptibility of the narrator. In a similar manner. of an organizing and shaping consciousness. (c) implied author. Bernhart (1993: 366–68) draws on Stanzel’s distinction between dramatized and withdrawn narrators (i. (d) author as the creator of the work in question. neglecting other modes of mediating such as the various facets of focalization (e. Of particular interest is his distinction between speaker and implied author.g. the earliest examples dating back only to the 1980s. the utterances of characters. psychological or ideological). likewise rejecting the notion of poetic immediacy. e. as well as the act and process of articulation. Dismissing conventional views of the all-embracing emotionality and self-contained artificiality of poetry that preclude rational analysis. implied author and what he calls “lyric subject” (with a certain affinity to the German concept of lyrisches Ich / “lyrical I”). Kraan (1991) distinguishes empirical author. (e) author as a biographical person. For the following discussion. which she identifies as part of the larger phenomenon of “aesthetic illusion” (→ Illusion (Aesthetic)) and analyzes 194 . It is this traditional notion of poetic immediate subjectivity that several early narratological approaches to lyric poetry address and try to remedy. whether visible or invisible. opening the way to clearer differentiations in the analysis of perspective (→ Perspective . (b) narrator/speaker. even in cases where these levels appear to collapse into one another. she concentrates on one singular aspect of lyric poetry: its generic subjectivity (142–44). their implicit identity in Romanticism or clear differentiation in modernism (222–23). He distinguishes five “levels of communication”: (a) characters. Owing to his adoption of Stanzel’s one-dimensional modeling of mediacy.e. The merit of Bernhart’s argument is its insistence on the ineluctably mediate quality of poetry and on the existence. the generic specificity of lyric poetry as distinct from the epic and dramatic genres is grounded in its particular form of representation or mediation: its supposedly unmediated quality—direct. between overt and covert narration) to describe two degrees of the perceptibility of mediation in poetry. Seemann (1984: 535–38). As for the dimension of mediation. such approaches will be ordered according to the dimension(s) of the poem qua narrative text to which narratological categories are applied. is usually irrelevant for understanding a work.The following survey focuses specifically on lyric rather than on narrative poetry such as ballads. the real author (→ Author). The latter lend themselves readily to the concepts generally employed for prose fiction. He points out that the “lowest” level.g. McHale 2005). These basic dimensions are the levels of the happenings and of their mediation in the form of the poetic text. which remains widespread even today. perceptual. A transgeneric application of narratology to lyric poetry is of relatively recent vintage. in particular the modality of its mediation and the organization of its sequential structure. verse narratives or verse romances. however.

she argues. For the transgeneric approach to poetry. Weststeijn (1989). is outlined by Hühn & Schönert (2002: 295−98) and Hühn (2004: 147−51). From these he abstracts two general patterns: (a) progress from a state of equilibrium to disturbance to a final resolution. highlighting two features specific to poetry: the preference for mental actions 195 . For the notoriously tricky problem of distinguishing speaker and abstract author and of relating focalization to agent (e.g. historical and cultural variations than do traditional methods. singling out one special albeit significant case: generic subjectivity. abstract (or implied) author. violation and its consequences. The other dimension of the poetic text. since it forms the basis for the application of narratology in the first place. even though it constitutes a central part of a poem’s meaning. Firstly. critics are left to develop categories of their own or to draw on a variety of sources from elsewhere. These two sets of differential categories. speaker and author as well as the contrived congruence of voice and focalization. advocates application of the concept of plot to lyric poems and provides a demonstration. Secondly. Despite her initial comprehensive claim. Contrary to mediation with the highly differentiated system of relevant categories already developed by narratology. Bremond).(drawing on Wolf 1998 as the intended effect of various techniques simulating the general position-boundedness of human experience as manifest in the spatial. loosely inspired by action models applied to prose fiction (Propp. the four agents located on four hierarchical levels largely coincide with those named by Seemann and Kraan: biographical author. focalization and time of narration. This is an early and rudimentary attempt. journeys or quests. is further heightened by self-referential artificiality in poems where the speaker presents himself as a creative poet. confrontation between imagination and reality with resultant disillusionment. has hitherto been widely neglected in traditional approaches to poetry analysis. in another early proposal. A systematic all-encompassing application of narratology. Hence the seemingly unmediated self-expression of the poet in a simultaneously ongoing experience characteristic of many Romantic poems. the two types or modes of perspective are voice (a narrator’s or a character’s verbal utterance. investigation of this dimension in its temporal organization is essential. cognitive. in conjunction with the operation of attribution. speaker/narrator. for example. (b) encounter of a protagonist’s desire or goal with resistance and its resolution. emotional and ideological restriction of perception and consciousness. competition between spatial divisions. can be re-described as the manipulated collapse of the agents/instances and levels of protagonist. thus creating the effect of unmediated subjectivity. agents or instances and levels of mediation and types of perspective. allow for a more precise analysis of lyric poems in their individual. Stillinger (1985: 98–9) sketches five concrete types of plot in Romantic poetry: conflict between binary forces (mostly of a mental kind) and its resolution. protagonist or character in the happenings. Müller-Zettelmann refrains from exploring the wide range of poetic mediation with the various possible constellations of voice. This effect of aesthetic illusion. cognitive. this phenomenon could be classified as the coincidence of speaker’s voice with internal focalization and simultaneous narration. Because of this. whether to speaker or character). the dimension of sequentiality lacks a broadly accepted narratological terminology. temporal. psychological and ideological focus on the happenings). the deictic center of the perceptual. in need of further refinement and adaptation. they introduce the operation of “attribution” performed by the reader in accordance with his particular understanding of the text. In Genette’s terms. sequentiality. differentiating two basic aspects of mediation. their language) and focalization (the position that determines perception and cognition.

This same concept was earlier proposed by Semino (1995) as a practical instrument for the detailed analysis of poetry. Events are ascribed to a figure. (b) “presentation events. but without further specification. A systematic approach to modeling sequentiality combining schema theory with Lotman’s concept of sujet (in the sense of transgression of a boundary or deviation from a norm) is put forward by Hühn & Schönert (2002). a decisive or merely inferable change from one state (attitude. To name just one such tendency. Combining schema theory with Lotman’s model provides a means for identifying the turning point in a poem. there is a preference (in certain periods) for stories in which simultaneous narration aspires to merge with the presentation event: the speaker’s process of reflection and articulation is performed in the present. Hühn (2004. character and action. especially in the further distinction between frames (stereotypical knowledge about settings. as in dramatic monologues (→ Event and Eventfulness).and the omission (deliberate or not) of the social. poems are usually less circumstantial than prose fiction in presenting textual triggers for activating frames and scripts. by modification or replacement of schemata. spatial and temporal particulars of situation. 2007: 311–13) bears out a number of characteristic tendencies in which narration in lyric poems seems to differ from that in novels and stories. Hühn & Kiefer 2005: 233–35) and in German (Schönert et al. abstractness and situational and personal indeterminacy. in a programmatic plea for the general transfer of narratological categories to poetry analysis. 246–51): (a) “events in the happenings. while moving toward a decisive turn in his attitude or 196 . derived from cognitive psychology. “mediation events” can be marked off as exceptional variants of the presentation event in cases where the decisive change is brought about by a shift in the manner of mediation. (c) “reception events. The notion of cognitive schemata. social and historical context. view. merely referring to the applicability of frame (or schema) theory (149–50). its raison d’être (→ Tellability). Because of the poetic convention of brevity. According to this theory. in addition. etc. an agent who undergoes a decisive change.” ascribed to storyworld incidents with the protagonist or persona as agent. Schema theory. The concept of schema facilitates precise description of the sequential dimension of poetic texts. emotion. three basic event types or planes of eventfulness can be distinguished (Hühn & Kiefer 2005: 7. also mentions these two features. attributable not to the speaker but to the abstract author (as when the speaker’s lament about his artistic sterility is mediated in the form of a perfect poem). 2005) and Hühn & Kiefer (2005). thus requiring greater effort on the reader’s part to infer the relevant schemata. According to the level of the poetic text at which the figure is located and at which the decisive turn takes place. situations and themes) and scripts (knowledge about stereotyped series of actions and processes). since such schemata (→ Schemata) are always formed by and dependent on experience within a particular society and culture. linking it to narrative. knowledge is shown to be organized into patterns called schemata: flexible and dynamic structures which texts may confirm or modify in the course of “schema reinforcement” and “schema refreshment” respectively (85–7). however.” located at the discourse level with the speaker/narrator as agent enacting a “story of narration”. Analysis of poetry in English (Hühn 2005: 167–68. allows for differentiated analysis of the sequential structure of poems and their thematic significance with direct reference to the cultural. e.) to another signaled by deviation from the conventional and predictable pattern of one or more schemata which constitutes the “point” of the text. an event the reader is meant to perform vicariously. Müller-Zettelmann (2002: 133–35). explains the reader’s comprehension of texts as an operation of activating and applying relevant prior knowledge. without.g.” which take place during the reading process with the reader as agent in cases when neither the protagonist nor the speaker is willing or able to undergo a (necessary or desirable) change.

Hühn & Schönert 2002: 287–88) has yet to bear its full fruit. Throughout the 20th century. beginnings and endings and character also belong to the traditional categories of drama criticism. asides. This is valid for representations of character. however. there has been a tendency in drama criticism to regard epic elements and violation of the Aristotelian unities which frequently went along with them as “undramatic” and to consider them merely as a way to overcome the technical limitations of stage design (Delius 1877). Williams’s The Glass Menagerie and Shaffer’s Amadeus) routinely quoted in narratological accounts of drama. Even so. audience address. prologues and messengers. This view was challenged radically by 20th-century playwrights such as Beckett and. more characteristically. the fusion of theater with other genres. the speaker often narrates the further movement prospectively. and the emergence of a “post-dramatic” theater which abandons conventional story-based and character-oriented dramaturgy (Lehmann 1999). This presentation event is achieved at the very end of the poem or. Recent research also suggests a distinction between mimetic and diegetic narrativity (→ Narrativity) (Nünning & Sommer 2008: 337–39) and combines the analysis of narration in drama with performative approaches to the study of discourse in narrative fiction (Fludernik 2008: 367–69). Whereas plot. plot. onstage audiences and commentators.2 Dimensions of the Transgeneric Approach to Drama Most categories commonly used for the analysis of narrative fiction can equally be applied to drama. of course. monologues. In conclusion. should not be reduced to an increased awareness of its narrativity or to selfreflective games with narrative and dramatic conventions: there is a broad variety of new developments including improvised forms of performance. the change being too difficult to bring about or shied away from because of the risks involved. beginnings and endings. instances of metalepsis (→ Metalepsis) as well as on selfreferential techniques such as the play-within-the-play. narrative experiments in drama have contributed to the emergence of a canon of plays (including Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle. The development of drama and theater in the second half of the 20th century. soliloquies. narrative framing and narration. media and technologies. 3. the poem breaks off before it is achieved. the claim formulated in some programmatic statements that the transfer of narratological concepts to poetry will contribute to a differentiated theory of poetry (MüllerZettelmann 2000: 4. on frame narratives and embedded narratives. self-reflective or meta-dramatic comments. the relevance of concepts of narrative mediation and their applicability in a transgeneric context is currently under debate. To negotiate this problematic transition. Historically.insight. Narratological approaches to drama routinely focus on choric speeches. Brecht’s programmatic use of alienating techniques―frequently narrative or meta-dramatic in nature―which defined his internationally acclaimed notion of an epic theater. as Richardson (2007: 142–51) argues convincingly. instances of character narration and of epic narrators such as the stage manager in Wilder’s Our Town. 197 . this transgeneric thrust is already enriching the analysis of poetry and facilitating investigation of the specific relations between poems and their cultural and historical contexts. time and space as well as for fictional causality (defined by Richardson as the “canon of probability” [150] to which plays and novels adhere).

discourse is always produced by participants of the storyworld). This view is supported by Schenk-Haupt (2007: 30). while modernist novels preoccupied with the representation of consciousness and processes of perception may be said to have a low degree of either mimetic or diegetic narrativity). who maintains that “extradiegetic narration is impossible in dramatic writing. she argues. narratives can be said to be actualizable on the stage or in other iconic media” (114). who emphasizes the diegetic nature of stage directions and compares the multiple levels of communication within dramatic texts with narrative embedding in the novel. thus excluding the possibility of heterodiegetic narration on the stage (where. Chatman points to the fact that both modes (showing and telling) can be used to transmit a story.” 198 . the performer and audience ‘take over’ the roles of narrator and narratee. Another direction is taken by Fludernik (2008). Chatman’s main argument in favor of his approach (besides terminological clarity) is theoretical consistency: “Once we define narrative as the composite of story and discourse (on the basis of its unique double chronology). This idea is further developed by Jahn (2001). whereas in epic narrative. and “a kind of narration that is not performed by a recognizably human agency” (115). on the one hand. Thus. Instead of identifying the former with showing and preserving the latter for the verbal mediation of narrative content. Chatman suggests the new umbrella term “presenter” to designate his broader conception of narrator which subsumes both the narrator in Genette’s narrower sense of verbal narration by anthropomorphic narrating instances (a notion compatible with Stanzel’s definition of mediacy as the sine qua non of fictional narration). leading them to propose a distinction between different degrees of diegetic narrativity in narratives that extend across the traditional generic boundaries (thus a memory play may have a high degree of diegetic narrativity. then logically. Rajewsky (2007: 58) insists on the distinction between narrative communication in the novel and non-mediated communication in drama. there are also critical voices rejecting the idea of a narratology of drama (or at least parts of it). corresponding to performance or enactment in order to highlight the specific circumstances in which storytelling occurs: “In drama. in a performance of narrative. In order to avoid terminological confusion. whose notion of experientiality paves the way for a cognitive narratological approach to drama. at least.The frequent occurrence of narrative or epic elements in performed or presented narratives (theater or film) led Chatman (1990) to question the strict separation of mimesis and diegesis favored by Genette. the narratorial level is optional and the performative level is constitutive. Whereas narratologists from Chatman and Richardson to Jahn and Fludernik have repeatedly emphasized the narrativity of drama from a variety of perspectives. Nünning & Sommer (2008) have argued that plays make acts of (intradiegetic) storytelling theatrical by representing acts of character narration. More recently. What the model allows one to argue is that in drama. The latter type of narrator may be said to “tell” (or “show” or “present”) the majority of enacted stories on stage and screen. She revises the standard narratological model of communication in fictional narrative (based on the distinction between story level and discourse level) by adding a third level. there is a real performance involving actors. Referring to Stanzel’s notion of mediacy. on the other. it is the performance level that is optional” (365). a narrator might present a story “through a teller or a shower or some combination of both” (113). He also modifies Chatman’s taxonomy of text types (1990: 115) by introducing a “playscript mode” (to which he assigns all utterances belonging to the “secondary text”) and by replacing Chatman’s subdivision of “diegetic” and “mimetic” with the distinction between “written/printed” and “performed” narratives.

epic devices. visual or auditive signs. unrealizable stage directions can be regarded as evidence of a heterodiegetic narrating instance: since they cannot be performed. the existence (or absence) of a narrating instance in drama is a matter of perspective: it depends both on the critic’s chosen theoretical framework (Genette/Stanzel vs. embedded stories. genres/media). proceeding. mediating function. performance debate and/or with generic issues. Admittedly. this would eventually lead to a confusion of generic boundaries” (36). Ultimately. There are several more recent (and more convincing) alternatives to Genette’s and Stanzel’s definitions of narrative available.. Nünning & Sommer 2008: 333).. and a play’s “superordinate narrative agent” (Jahn 2001: 672) or “superordinate narrative system” (Weidle 2009) may easily fall into that category for critics more concerned with performance and performativity. or Fludernik’s “natural” narratology. however. a truly transmedial and interdisciplinary theory of storytelling and narrative comprehension might be developed which would not only help to solve some of the problems in classical genre theory. Therefore. based on her definitions of narrativity and experientiality. they highlight generic conventions and emphasize the distinctions between narrative fiction and narrative drama which transgeneric narratology seeks to overcome (61). Schenk-Haupt’s conclusion that there “is no direct extradiegetic communication in dramatic writing―authorial characters. Rajewsky (2007) further suggests that a transgeneric and transmedial narratology should not try to level the differences between the various media in which stories can be transmitted.] the secondary text took over a narrative.Proponents of a narratology of drama. she rejects Jahn’s argument that unperformable. generally agree that both Genette’s notion of diegetic narration as a verbal transmission of narrative content and Stanzel’s insistence on mediacy as a prerequisite of narrative are too restrictive. including Chatman’s revision of Genette’s concept and Jahn’s subsequent modification of Chatman. narratology sometimes tends to produce counter-intuitive concepts. and the quirky expansion of stage directions merely create the aesthetic illusion of an extradiegetic agent speaking” (2007: 37) is valid for all narratological concepts: they all refer to effects produced by verbal. Transgeneric narratology is still in its infancy. Ryan’s transgeneric and transmedial definitions of narrative as a “cognitive template” (Ryan 2005. and if the current cognitive approaches are pursued further. The disagreement seems to be partly due to the fact that the discussion of the relationship between primary and secondary text is merged with the text vs. Schenk-Haupt (2007) offers a similar argument: “If we accepted that [. from the normative assumption (based on normative genre theory) that there is no narrative discourse in drama. as they do. For this reason. but also allow for a better understanding of the anthropological function of narrative in literary and in non-literary discourses. however. 4 Topics for Further Investigation 199 . attempts to prove transgeneric narratology wrong by pointing out its incompatibility with Genette (Schenk-Haupt 2007: 31–2) or Stanzel (Rajewsky 2007: 58) can hardly be convincing. Chatman /Jahn/ Ryan/ Fludernik) and on his or her main research interests (narrative vs.

The Narratological Analysis of Lyric Poetry: Studies in English Poetry from the 16th to the 20th Century. • Hühn.” J. The Dynamics of Narrative Form. 356−58. Rubik (eds). Brian (2005).” Russian Literature 30. Berlin: de Gruyter. Lyrik und Metalyrik: Theorie einer Gattung und ihrer Selbstbespiegelung anhand von Beispielen aus der englisch. “Lyrik und Narratologie. “Narrative in Poetry. Berlin: de Gruyter. Tales and ‘their telling difference’: Festschrift für Franz K. “Towards a Model of Lyric Communication: Some Historical and Theoretical Remarks.1 Topics for Further Investigation: Poetry The relation of the various event types with different historical epochs and with different cultures and cultural traditions. 129– 53. a comparative discussion of diegetic narrativity in dramas. (eds). Nünning & V. interdisziplinär. (1992). Clare R. (eds). Spenser.” D. Heidelberg: Winter. Pier (ed).1 Works Cited: Poetry • Bernhart. Peter (2004). Strategies of Poetic Narrative: Chaucer.2 Topics for Further Investigation: Drama The compatibility or mutual dependency of transgeneric and transmedial theories of narrative. Amsterdam: Rodopi. 5 Bibliography 5. • Kinney. Theory into Poetry. Erzähltheorie transgenerisch. • Kraan. Peter & Jens Kiefer (2005). Foltinek et al. a revision of structuralist narratological approaches to drama from a cognitive and pragmatic/semantic perspective.4. • McHale. Milton. • Hühn. 139–58. • Hühn. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Herman et al. • Müller-Zettelmann. “Zur narratologischen Analyse von Lyrik. 4. 287–305. Trier: WVT. Heidelberg: Winter. 359–75. 199–230. 147–72. Eva (2000). Eva (2002). “Plotting the Lyric: Forms of Narration in Poetry. Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Nünning (eds). Peter (2005). intermedial.” A. comparison between poetry and prose fiction in their various genres with respect to the schemata used. play texts and performances.” E. “Transgeneric Narratology: Applications to Lyric Poetry. Peter & Jörg Schönert (2002). • Müller-Zettelmann. event types and the degree of realization of events. 200 . “Überlegungen zur Lyriktheorie aus erzähltheoretischer Sicht. • Hühn.” H. London: Routledge. Menno (1991). Stanzel.und deutschsprachigen Dichtkunst. MüllerZettelmann & M.” Poetica 34. Wolfgang (1993). Eliot.

659–79. “Handlungstheorie des Lyrischen: mit Analysen zu Hölderlins Heidelberg. Columbus: Ohio State UP. Á. Théorie du récit. Manfred (2001).” College Literature 12. “Narrative Voice and Agency in Drama: Aspects of a Narratology of Drama. • Jahn.” J. Elena (1997). 84–96. • Semino. Jörg. Symbol. Ralf (2004). • Delius. Coming to Terms: The Rhetoric of Narrative Fiction and Film. L’apport de la recherche allemande. Kultursemiotische Studien zu Literatur.” New Literary History 32. 5.” Language and Literature 4. “Beginning to Think about Narrative in Poetry.” Narrative 17. Berlin: de Gruyter. Narrative Causalities. 1–28. Theorizing Narrativity. “Narrative and Drama. “Auteur empirique. Lukas (eds). 303–18. Villeneuve d’Asqc: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion. 18−56.” J.3 Works Cited: Drama • Chatman. London: Longman. “Plot Structure in Lyric Poetry: An Analysis of Three Exile Poems by Aleksandr Puškin. • Schönert. • Kafalenos. • Stillinger.” Shakespeare-Jahrbuch 12. 509–22. “Schema theory and the analysis of text worlds in poetry. Elena (1995). Emma (2006). Frank & W. • Simon. 50−80. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Medien und Wirtschaft. García Landa (eds). Mörikes Die schöne Buche und Georges Wir werden heute nicht zum garten gehen. “The Plots of Romantic Poetry. • McHale. Michael Titzmann zum 60. Jörg (2004). 11–27. München: Sager. et al. Berlin: de Gruyter.” Rhetorik: Ein internationales Jahrbuch 23. Brian (2009). Jörg (2008). Werner (1998). Language and World Creation in Poems and Other Texts. 201 . Lyrik und Narratologie: Text-Analysen zu deutschsprachigen Gedichten vom 16.” W. Passau: Stutz. 79–108. Text. • Semino. Norm ―Grenze―Abweichung. Nikolaus (1877). 533–54. Monika (2008). a 1–a 26. • Wolf. Geburtstag. Pier (ed). “Die Kommunikationsstruktur im lyrischen Gedicht. Jack (1985). Jahrhundert. Geburtstag. Klaus Dieter (1984). “Die epischen Elemente in Shakespeare’s Dramen.” Degrés: Revue de Synthèse à Orientation Sémiologique 111. 157−78. bis zum 20.2 Further Reading: Poetry • Adam. Willem G. (2007). 5. Döring-Smirnov (eds).” Russian Literature 26.• Schönert. Pier & J. • Schönert. 95– 112. (1989). • Fludernik. Jean-Michel (2002). “Normative Vorgaben als ‘Theorie der Lyrik’? Vorschläge zu einer texttheoretischen Revision. 353–81. auteur implicite et moi lyrique. Seymour (1990). Schmid & R. • Weststeijn. “Conditions et degrés de narrativation du poème. Weltmodell: Johannes Holthusen zum 60. “Aesthetic Illusion in Lyric Poetry?” Poetica 30.” G. • Seemann.

Herman (ed). • Sommer.” D. Postdramatisches Theater. • Garner. Theorizing Narrativity. • Ryan. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 119–24. “Narrativity in Dramatic Writing: Towards a General Theory of Genres. London: Methuen. • Weidle. The Poetics of Plot: The Case of English Renaissance Drama. Roy (2005). “On the Theoretical Foundations of Transmedial Narratology. 25–42. The Theory and Analysis of Drama.4 Further Reading: Drama • de Jong. Disciplinarity. • Ryan. “Von Erzählern. Keir (1980). “Drama and Narrative. Narrative in Drama: The Art of the Euripidean Messenger Speech. Hans-Thies ([1999] 2001). Hühn et al.• Lehmann. Stanton B.” J. (1989). 329–52. (1985). Berlin: de Gruyter.und Postdramatik. 202 . Meister (ed). (1991). Manfred ([1977] 1988). and Focalization.2. Irene J. Holger (2003). Narratology beyond Literary Criticism: Mediality. Brian (2007). Chicago: U of Chicago P. Modeling Mediation in Narrative.” Zeitschrift für französische Sprache und Literatur 117. “Diegetic and Mimetic Narrativity: Some Further Steps towards a Narratology of Drama. Frankfurt a. Trier: WVT. • Nünning. Marie-Laure.” D. • Elam. 5. Point of View. Kristin (1983). 1–23. 25–68. Zwischen Drama und Erzählung: Ein Beitrag zur Theorie geschehensdarstellender Literatur. • Korthals. Stefan (2007). • Richardson. Marie-Laure (2005). Irina O. Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. • Rajewsky. García Landa (eds).” J. The Cambridge Companion to Narrative. The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama. • Morrison. Ansgar & Roy Sommer (2008). (2004). Pier & J. • Pavel. Ch. “Drama and Narrative. Herman et al. Perspective. “Organizing the Perspectives: Focalization and the Superordinate Narrative System in Drama. Canters and Chronicles: The Use of Narrative in the Plays of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. die (nichts) vermitteln: Überlegungen zu grundlegenden Annahmen der Dramentheorie im Kontext einer transmedialen Narratologie. F. Thomas G. Berlin: de Gruyter. Berlin: Schmidt. 221–42. ed. • Pfister. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P.: Verlag der Autoren. Urbana: U of Illinois P. • Hauthal. (eds). (2007). Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. The Absent Voice: Narrative Comprehension in the Theater. London: Routledge. Metadrama und (Text-)Theatralität: (Selbst-)Reflexionen einer intermedialen literarischen Gattung am Beispiel englischer und nordamerikanischer Meta.M. (eds). Leiden: Brill. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. • Schenk-Haupt. Á. 142–55.” Anglistik 18. Berlin: de Gruyter. Roland (2009). Janine (2008).” P. Manchester: Manchester UP.

Peter et al. theology. Here. narrative objects are fully formed from the outset (at least if one excludes interpretation and historical contextualization from the concept of the literary text). or at least an important issue among others. Even beyond these disciplines. psychoanalysis.): the living handbbook of narratology.and methodology-oriented discussions of narrative in sociology. for narratives have always formed a key subject of these disciplines. On the one hand. Norbert: "Narration in Various Disciplines". but also explicit content. (eds. we not only find narrative objects which are to a large extent unspecified.php? title=Narration_in_Various_Disciplines&oldid=1686 Narration in Various Disciplines Last modified: 2 December 2011 Norbert Meuter 1 Definition Whenever we discuss the meaning and function of narrative in the academic disciplines. it is in these two disciplines that we find the first fundamental theoretical discussions of the concept of narrativity.sub. In conjunction with this reflection.or methodology-oriented concepts of narrativity are developed within the varied frameworks of the disciplines in question. in many disciplines. 2 Explication Narrative as a phenomenon has a pivotal role in literary studies and history. and art history as well as law 203 . then at least to a large extent. whereas the historical disciplines need to construct these objects. implicit references to narratives have sparked a growing tendency towards explicit reflection upon various aspects of narration. In the field of literature. Further important impulses have come from psychology. Accordingly. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. making them the leading disciplines in the study of narrativity. 12 Mar 2012. philosophy and the philosophy of science. narratives are the subject we need to distinguish between two main aspects. http://hup. pedagogy.Meuter. Hühn. one would have to distinguish whether these disciplines find their “narrative objects” more or less ready-made. if not completely. ethics. art. On the other hand. the phenomenon of narrativity (→ Narrativity) itself is thematized. without this being explicitly thematized in every case.uni-hamburg. or whether they themselves create these totally or at least partially. and with it content.

cf. Müller-Funk 2002). The triadic structure of classical tragedy. any sequence of actions and happenings which is discernible as a unit and has a temporal organization as well as being perceived as meaningful can be called a narrative. (Regarding other traditions.g. Kindt & Müller eds. fragmented. Systems theory might prove an innovative approach in that it presupposes such a high level of abstraction as to enable a shared sphere of reflection for both the natural sciences and the humanities. it is only in medicine that rudimentary attempts have been made. however. These do not follow one upon the other in a random sequence or simply “one after the other” (meta). harking back to Aristotle.” can be applied to any kind of narratable material (Straub 1998). Nünning 2003. accidental or contingent elements (Halliwell 1987. these concern aspects of the doctor-patient relationship rather than the core problems of narrative. 2005. on the significance and function of the narrator (Narrator). there emerges a suspenseful trajectory or development from beginning to end with one or more disruptions and moderate or radical changes in direction (peripeteia). and possibly even necessary order out of dissonant. Polkinghorne 1988. 1981. 2005. the varied approaches to the theory of narrative in the humanities constitute the interdisciplinary study of narratology (Prince 1997. Significant beginning. A story only becomes meaningful through the selection and combination of happenings and actions (mythos).and end-markers make the totality (holos) of the story emerge from the sequence of experiences. eds. merely episodic. e. In the natural sciences. cohesive. a narrative is constituted by establishing a meaningful. The focus is on the relationship between narration and temporality. probable. Thus.1 Literary Studies Literary studies deserve to be called the leading discipline in the study of narrative. Herman et al. It is therefore justified to speak of a “narrative turn” (Kreiswirth 2005) with its underlying assumption that the narrative paradigm may serve to reformulate the scientific and rational nature specific to the humanities (Meuter 2004). Nash ed. Today. formalist or structuralist. For Aristotle. formulates “elements of narration” (Bauformen des Erzählens. so that an intrinsic connection is made between them. the study of narratology (→ Narratology) remains to a large extent a desideratum. but rather “one out of the other” (dia).” “middle” and “end.studies (Mitchell ed. and on inquiries into the elements and structures of the narrative (Martínez & Scheffel 1999). however. Lämmert 1955) which are then reformulated as a general “theory of narration” (Theorie des Erzählens. based on the terms “beginning. 1990. Seen as a whole. In the 20th century. 3 Concepts and their History 3. with Aristotle’s Poetics constituting a seminal source.) In the course of this development. the German hermeneutic tradition. 2003). narrative theorists in literary studies have increasingly had to grapple with the fact that the authors of Modernism and Postmodernism tend to break 204 . Herman 1999. Phelan & Rabinowitz eds. So far. Ricœur 1983). Stanzel 1979).

Currie 1998). The visual arts can mediate actions only indirectly through the depiction of bodies. As for philosophical contributions to this debate (Ricœur 1985). under the given circumstances. Veyne 1971). At the same time. intrigue) with a clear climax or anti-climax.2 The Arts In the context of the arts. the “possible” (ta dynata) of fiction. the study of narrativity can turn to Lessing’s famous Laocoön (1766). Goethe’s categories. in the destruction of a suspenseful fable (plot. while the successive arrangement of articulated sounds results in the narration of actions. painting and sculpture are marked by spatiality and synchronicity. Factual Narration).” This tendency manifests itself for example in the refusal to meet such structural requirements as including a beginning and an end except on a purely formal level and.3 The Historical Sciences Traditionally. the question remains whether it is actually possible to differentiate clearly between historical or factual and literary or fictional narratives (→ Fictional vs. Aristotle’s Poetics (Halliwell 1987) already formulates the assumption that the role of fiction―in contrast to historiography―is not to convey what really happened. could happen. The simultaneous arrangement of shapes and colors depicts objects or bodies. Any methodology of the historical sciences must therefore also examine the question of how and to what extent its object can or must be represented by narrative means. In the wake of this development. According to Lessing. even of the author (→ Author) (Foucault 1969). Moving beyond Lessing. also Danto 1965. story. poetry and truth (Dichtung und Wahrheit). but rather what. whereas in poetry a body can be portrayed only through the narration of actions. According to the definition proposed by this essay for demarcating the fine arts from the literary arts (→ Narration in Various Media). much controversy surrounds the debate as to whether the postmodern practice of narration really constitutes the demise of the Aristotelian theoretical tradition or whether it is simply an extension and reformation of this tradition (Gibson 1996. Many authors 205 . is regarded as increasingly problematic. Still. 3.down the classic Aristotelian structures in order to construct “anti-narratives. more importantly. the sovereignty of the narrator. who must integrate the “defining trait” of a body into narration of the action. Still. other narrative means that allow the visual arts to depict temporal sequences might be taken into account (Pochat 1996). the painter or sculptor must therefore find the “pregnant moment” that condenses the temporal movement in contrast to the poet. 3. the literary and historical disciplines are distinguished from each other on the basis of the different relationships of their subject area with the reality of what is represented. representative quality: the “actual” (ta genomena) of history vs. might well be more closely linked than they appear to be at first glance. fiction has a generalizable. whereas temporality and diachronicity are the features of poetry. they presuppose an ontological and epistemological cross-over relationship between history and fiction (cf.

Narrative psychology 206 . and explaining historical developments (Rüsen 1986. Ricœur 1983). On the contrary.” as argued by White and others (Mink 1978) who posit that human experience and actions do not have inherent narrative qualities but are reshaped through narrative after the event. satire). comedy. an argument supported by the positions of the Ecole des Annales (cf. A simple chronicle in which events are simply linked together by dates may be more objective. This means that the historical sciences are not merely allowed to resort to narration. It cannot be denied that grands récits (Lyotard 1979) are potential instruments of power. since such events possess no ontological or epistemological objectivity outside of a frame of reference. the concept of narrativity should be limited to explicit forms of (oral or written) narration. describing.4 Psychology The concept of narrativity is increasingly being used as a key not only in the historical and literary disciplines. According to White. suspenseful. narrativity is not primarily an aesthetic category. nor is it tragic. Carr 1986. stories are already formed in actions and life cycles: stories are lived before they are told. tragedy. but is rooted in practice. Life itself is seen as without beginning. interests. such that the existence of “untold stories” is negated: stories are never lived. Others suggest a type of “historical argumentation” that in logical terms is independent of any form of narrative (Kocka 1980). but are required to do so if they are to do their subject matter justice. narrative structures are not the product of literary writers or historians. A historical narrative and its portrayal of a sequence of events do not form a mimetic relationship but a “metaphorical relationship” (Ricœur 1985): narrative makes visible something that would otherwise remain unperceived (cf.contend that narratives are a suitable and even necessary medium for recording. White (1987) regards this molding of reality to create narrative patterns of meaning as a potentially totalitarian act. giving them a certain meaning they did not inherently possess. For them. any critique of history as narrative from the position of ideological criticism as a principle is a questionable exercise (Straub 2001). for example. However. but this cannot generate understanding because such understanding can be achieved only if a specifically narrative connection is established between the recorded dates. Therefore. amusing. etc. 3. the real events of the past are molded into an artificial narrative form. also Jaeger 2002). but told. White seems justified in his contention that narrativization of historical events comes at the expense of objectivity. 1990). but one has to take into account that historical events fundamentally differ from the natural events that occur in physics. Such is the case especially if this critique relies on a contestable dualism between “artificial forms” and “real events. etc. Other authors (MacIntyre 1981. Bruner 1990. middle and end. The configuration of this connection―and the selective process behind it―will inevitably be influenced by the “master plots” (Schwemmer 1987) of the cultural environment in which it is created as well as by the individual personality of the historian and the scope of his knowledge. White (1973) formulated the critical position that the great historians of the 19th century modeled their works on the pattern of certain narrative genres (romance. Gergen 1998) take a diametrically opposed view. Consequently. Since every narrative form inevitably transports certain normative statements and value judgments. but also in (hermeneutically-oriented) psychology.

has emerged as an independent discipline. followed by an increasing use of temporal and logical or content-based links and meaningful grouping into episodes until the stage is reached where genuine narrative plots are understood and actively mastered. A number of studies in developmental psychology on the formation of narrative competence have been published (e. Gergen 1998). we all have an innate predisposition for telling and understanding stories. Empirical studies show that children generally acquire the competence that enables mastery of this basic narrative model between the ages of seven and ten. unexpected or interesting constitutes the center around which other happenings are grouped. emotions are not regarded as isolated and disjointed phenomena but as situationally and socially contextualized. Wolf 2001). i. This is preceded by a development which begins with the ability to string together events in a merely linear fashion. In these studies. while in the narrative mode. 3.g. We are able to understand emotions only if we can relate them to our own behavior and experience and to that of the people we interact with within a narrative frame of reference (Sarbin 1989. One specific focus of psychological studies bearing on narrative is the significance of narrative forms for the understanding of emotions.e. individual events or objects are linked with conceptual categories during the thought process. Bruner also examines the question of whether this ability is genetic and universal or acquired and learnt. In the paradigmatic mode. the Aristotelian “middle” represents the turning point of the story in which something surprising. happy. In such studies. This concerns the cognitive ability to configure diverse events and actions into larger temporal and meaningful units—a capacity for narrative structuring (emplotment) which is obviously one of the fundamental capabilities of human consciousness. emphasizing―in contrast to the dominant objectivist and positivist orientation in the field―the significance of forms which are meaningful for human experience and actions (Sarbin ed. shaped in different ways by the cultural environment. This is due to the fact that stories are “presentative symbolizations” (Langer 1948). events are perceived as elements of a story which contribute to its development. stories also generate emotions. Emotions are made understandable through stories and in turn. stories speak to us on a far deeper emotional level than discursive symbolizations such as abstract argumentation or scientific theories can ever do. etc. Even though they rely on the discursive medium of language.5 Psychoanalysis 207 . a finding that appears to be a cultural universal (Hogan 2003). 1986. These studies examine the ability to perceive a range of temporally disparate events as a meaningful and progressive series and also the ability to construct such a meaningful series (→ Event and Eventfulness). sad. but simple everyday stories. Bruner (1990) has influenced the debate with his distinction between paradigmatic and narrative modes of thought. The focal point here is not well-constructed literary tales. Polkinhorne 1988). His position is one of compromise: according to him. making us feel angry. Narrative psychology regards narrative forms as a genuine focus for psychological research in so far as the cognitive and emotional processes of consciousness are generated on the basis of and through these forms. but this must be developed through cultural models and social interaction into an active competence.

Rather. is always the result of an active endeavor. it is often not clear from the beginning whether one is actually engaged in a project at all. Husserl’s disciple Schapp (1953) was the first to develop a distinctive “philosophy of stories. The analyst must thus take note not just of what is told but also how it is told. From a philosophical perspective. There appear to be increasing discussions of the active role of the analyst during this process.6 Philosophy Plato refers to stories and myths that serve as a point of departure and exemplification for his abstract teachings. 3. Hegel formulates the insight that philosophical concepts can themselves only be understood as the end result of their own story (Plotnitsky 2005a). taking into account both the content and the style of narrative self-presentation and its performative or theatrical manifestations (Lorenzer 1973. experience and behavior cannot exist without some kind of structure. as a possibly problematic result. actions and projects. one is justified―with reference to Heidegger―in speaking of a “narrative being-in-the-world. neurotic conditions are rooted in untold. concepts which interpret the therapeutic process in its entirety with the help of narrative categories (Boothe 1994). Accordingly. the analyst must record the free associations of the patient with “evenly-hovering attention” (Freud 1912). but also a presentational one. and in what way. after which this material is condensed into narratives thanks to the focus provided by the analyst. On the other hand. this already constitutes a complex achievement. If. one presupposes that to act means (at least partly) to follow a project. There is constant interference in and interruption of the project in hand by other experiences.” This philosophical point of departure raises questions concerning the constructive character of narrative. Explicitly told stories are symbolic constructions. these constructions are connected with the experience and behavior of the individuals concerned. This being the case. Since. In addition. may influence the analyst’s focusing acts (Thomä & Kächele 2006). since this is precisely the area where the patient’s unconscious identity and personality traits are articulated. and especially psychoanalytical. the identifying and shaping of a narrative structure of a certain complexity. Human experience and behavior do not show well-organized narrative patterns comparable to the careful compositions of fiction and history writing. Without 208 . according to Schapp. Initially. the human being is not the autonomous subject of his own constructions of meaning. narratives have not only an informative function. a tradition that continues in philosophy even today. Underlying this practice is the idea that the function of narrative is to provide concrete examples in support of conceptual arguments. an individual line of suspense. etc.. an assumed dualism of artificial form and real events (cf. These narratives in turn can become paradigmatic case studies and. a characteristic peripeties. repressed stories. The question is whether.The realization of the importance of narrative in the field of psychology has generated therapeutic. 1979). even on the level of action. stories are the fundamental medium without which we would not be able to perceive meaning. which in the course of analysis need to be transformed into an explicit story in order for the subject to come to terms with past events (Schafer 1992).2 above) appears equally contestable.” According to his main thesis. 2. for example. with a clear point of view. but throughout his life is inextricably “entangled in stories” which are the prerequisite for the formation of his identity and subjectivity.

Corresponding to these two forms of 209 . Reception is made possible because of the inherent openness of the explicit stories in general terms. Heidegger. An incident is defined by its complete contingency. Schapp) as well as on literary and historical theory. it is possible to argue a case for a kind of compromise. real-life actions have an inherently pre-narrative structure. and for this reason. Dilthey. In this model. meets its intended target only when it is perceived by a recipient (Mimesis III). the narrative “seeing-things-together” (prendre-ensemble) can be understood as the construction and establishment of a meaningful and more or less coherent or probable order created out of dissonant. but simply schematized conceptions that have to be concretized by the recipient. The idea of a single act seen in isolation is therefore a false abstraction. Personal identity rests upon a self-image that is physical. Its key theoretical concept is the three-part mimesis. the aspects of which are not seen in a hierarchical relationship. A story transforms a series of heterogeneous incidents into meaningful events within a diachronic structure. but in an integrative one.” which is itself already organized as narrative. as something that occurs in a certain manner but could equally occur in a different manner. Carr 1986). The composition of a story is a process that organizes various components into a whole in order to produce a single meaningful effect. Because of their symbolic and temporal aspects.” Inquiry into the personal identity of the individual is a further philosophical area of research in the field of narrativity. Meuter 1995.” The referent in this relation (Mimesis I) is the “lived world. The three types of mimesis form a temporal unit as a circular cultural process that is constantly evolving: through reception. mental as well as practical. hence a complex interplay of tradition and innovation (→ Mediacy and Narrative Mediation). the concept of story is as fundamental a philosophical term as the concept of action (MacIntyre 1981. Every explicit story. Narrative therefore involves mediation between common cultural standards and exceptional deviations from these standards. emotional. Brockmeier & Carbough eds. for further least a rudimentary narrative structure. Every story points to a “before. The identity of the individual person differs fundamentally from the numerical identity of individual objects. confirm or vary the pre-existing pre-narrative structures. Narrative approaches to this issue (Ricœur 1985. but at the same time. it would not be possible to find one’s way even on the level of action (Danto 1965. Augustine. integrating them into a comprehensive narratological hermeneutics. who has put forth what is perhaps the most comprehensive philosophical theory of narrativity (1983/85). These stories―regardless of how precisely and concretely they might be told―contain no truly individual events. see Strawson 2004) assume that personal identity is formed and stabilized only through the telling of stories (→ Identity and Narration). The important point is the ontological distinction between event and incident (Ricœur 1965). Schwemmer 1987). 2001. the explicit narrative configuration once again becomes part of the real-life experience of the experiencing and acting recipient who can expand. Kerby 1991. this always follows on from something that has gone before this process. In the tradition of Kant. 1990. With Ricœur. Husserl. this seeing-things-together can be described as a “synthesis of the heterogeneous. Accordingly. at least in part. The narrative seeing-things-together transforms the irrational contingency of non-contextualized incidents into an intelligible contingency of events. or not at all. Ricœur draws on the classic philosophers that are relevant here (Aristotle. the composition of an explicit story (Mimesis II) is always a creative act that provides a new and unique view of reality. on the other hand. scattered or random elements. and this self-image is internally reflected and externally communicated in the narrative process. Such a newly and differently (re-)configured real-life situation in turn forms the basis for the next explicit configuration.

class. on the other hand. The other individual represents the moral imperative to take responsibility for his potential suffering.usage. authors such as Taylor (1989) and MacIntyre (1981) examine narrative identities in connection with the search for the “good life.” The writings of Nussbaum (1990) highlight this aspect in that they emphasize the significance of narrative fiction in the formation of values and. 3. In the sociology of knowledge (Luhmann 1989). This is a genuinely social process in the sense of interaction with others to accomplish shared projects. 3. In relation to neo-Aristotelian concepts. no longer ascribes a fixed identity to its members on the basis of birth.e. However. Latin: ipse.7 Ethics The concept of narrative identities has a genuine moral or ethical dimension (Korthals-Altes 2005). unlike pre-modern societies. identity as “sameness” (German: Selbigkeit. French: mêmeté). the economy. 1990): on the one hand. the modern individual must have a very clear idea of which of his behavioral traits are relevant to his participation in the various sectors of society (politics. Latin: idem. the necessity of having multi-layered identities that enable participation in various social environments is a given. Consequently. it is possible to distinguish two types of identity (Ricœur 1985. Ricœur (1990) speaks of the “complementary dialectics” of identity formation and respect for others. an 210 .” i. Nowadays. This dialectic of identity formation and respect takes place in and with the stories we live through and tell each other (Meuter 2007).).8 Sociology Studies on narrative in the field of sociology (Morrison 2005) also focus on the problem of personal identity. Society no longer provides an answer to the question “who am I?”. and these constitute the reflexive moment in the orientation towards a good life. etc.” are thus essential for moral behavior with regard to the other. The formation of narrative identities is identical with the development of a set of values that are independent of any given situation and which lend a whole life―or at least certain stages of a life―moral meaning and stability. In this context. etc. identity as “selfhood” (German: Selbstheit. in order to be able to reflect critically on the relationship with the other. the arts. French: ipséité). Thus the narrative process also serves to generate forms and expressions of mutual respect.” or at least of “self esteem. this problem is regarded as a feature of the modern functionally differentiated society which. but leaves it to the individual to find his or her own answer. the self must define its own position. Identity thus becomes an accomplishment for which the individual himself is responsible.” But there is an even deeper structural interrelation between narrative identity formation and the moral dimension of human existence. The stories of the literary canon provide a rich source of alternative forms of the “good life. moral awareness. Narrative identities are invariably ipse-identities which are constantly reconfigured through the telling of stories. the modern individual can only resolve the problem of his (all-embracing) identity by adopting a self-image as an “individual individual. Forms of “self love. academia. education. generally speaking. To do so.

Salmon 2007).10 Pedagogy Narrative pedagogy implicitly criticizes the abstract structural analysis of institutions. There is no isolated plane of pure theological abstraction. develop. cannot be narrated. Gaining insight into the real-life experience of learning from stories is the point of departure for an inquiry into the narrative sources of pedagogical knowledge (Baacke & Schulze eds. and coherence.individual with a unique. 1989. school lessons and the teaching of content-oriented knowledge can be 211 . with their inherent structures of temporality and meaning.” The question is. as a fundamentally totalitarian coercion into regarding one’s own life as an integral unity which must be realized. Narrative forms. and integrate sudden changes (peripeteia) while somehow remaining “the same. by its nature. the question remains as to whether there are inherent limits to a narrative theology. Critics regard such categories as continuity. This community derives its identity from the fact that all of its members see themselves as part of a shared narrated story: the story of God’s relationship with the beings he has created (Hauerwas 1983). the modern concept of the identity of the individual is articulated mainly through narrative. whether and to what extent concepts of identity based on an idea of the narrative unity of human life can be upheld under the social conditions of late modern and postmodern times (Kraus 1996. 1979). since theological discourse has always been a part of religious practice. cf. Cornils 2005) have picked up on this connection and can be understood as reflections on the narrative practices of religion. which are inherent in narrative and biographical identity. 3. though. focusing instead on the concrete situations in which teaching and learning take place. narrative has an immense significance for theology with respect to ethics.9 Theology All religions rely on narrative myths of foundation which have subsequently acquired canonical status. Theological studies with a narratological orientation (Goldberg 1982. Hauerwas & Jones eds. Sternberg 1987.” but at best within the conceptual framework of a “patchwork-identity” (Keupp 1996). Even so. On this basis. Christian ethics in particular must be seen as rooted within a specific religious community. They claim that the way of life of the individual in postmodern societies can no longer be adequately described in the classical narrative sense as “I-identity. It must be borne in mind that theology has always been rooted in narrative practices with which it is inextricably linked (in the sense of Schapp 1953). the matter in hand is the development of a theology through narration which defines the genuinely narrative dimension of religious belief (Wenzel 1997). distinctively individual life story whose decisive meaning resides in its distinctiveness from other life stories (Meuter 2002). indeed appear to lend themselves particularly well to questions concerning one’s own (individual) identity: it is possible in a story for one to change. consistency. systemic constraints and patterns of interaction. the church. since theology centers on faith which. Where this is applied to concrete didactic problems. Accordingly. However. 3.

This results from an understanding of medicine that regards the discipline not primarily as a natural science. 2005). In this situation. Before a doctor can begin treating the patient. Narrating in this context means describing a specific phenomenon in everyday classroom communication. questions relating to narrative have been explicitly thematized for some time now (Greenhalgh & Hurwitz eds. but at the same time providing a structural basis for the next steps in the professional-medical treatment (Hydén 2005). In particular. enter the legal system by way of narrations. The doctor needs to “translate” the stories told by the patient into narratives with a medical focus without moving too far beyond the sphere of the patient’s real-life experience. In order to understand experience. The inclusion of narrative paths to the acquisition of knowledge is a prerequisite for the processes of identification that are necessary for an effective learning experience (Neubert 1998). will in no way have prepared him to meet these 212 . Here. empathetic and interpretative faculties are required. the legal sciences can resort to literary renderings of legal problems (Geary 2005. 1996). he must learn as much as possible about his supposed condition on the basis of what the patient tells him. The doctor’s medical training.11 Law Studies Law studies have a strong affinity with the concept of narrativity. 3. Narrative pedagogy is focused in particular on the argumentative content of narrative-based learning and teaching processes: a story-oriented argumentation will invariably appear more realistic and convincing than the presentation of purely theoretical knowledge. defendant. however. and particularly the experience of the self and its identity. Another characteristic central to narrative competence in legal contexts is the ability to compare and evaluate stories in view of their legal relevance. a connection that represents one aspect of the “law and literature movement. but as a behavioral science: scientific knowledge of the human being is necessary. van Roermund 1997. pedagogy requires narrative elements that supplement academic knowledge with narrative knowledge. counsel for the prosecution. All laws can be understood as abstractions of individual cases. Individual cases. linguistic. and experts tell the court their version of events relevant to the case.analyzed with regard to narrative forms (Krummheuer 1997). Bruner 2002). this involves the ability to actively employ and analyze as well as to criticize the rhetorical devices and narrative strategies resorted to by the witness in order to lend plausibility to his version of events (Brooks & Gerwitz eds. Judge and jury then select―or adequately transform―the one version that in their judgment corresponds to what really happened.12 Medicine In the field of medicine. Brooks 2005. but in the end it only serves to enable the medical practitioner to heal the patient or provide palliation for his ailment. The prosecutor.” 3. Stories are generally a central factor in the doctor-patient relationship. a procedure that presupposes a high degree of narrative competence. witnesses. Sternberg 2008). particularly where anamnesis is concerned. in turn. defense counsel. especially in the AngloSaxon tradition of “case law” based on precedent (Lüderssen 1996.

Furthermore. on the basis of the intentions of acting subjects (Schwemmer 1987. Meuter 2000). they make possible a holistic approach to diagnosis and therapy. he will have been confronted with a number of significant case studies. in other words. the three steps delineate the relevant transformation in keeping with the triadic 213 . (b) H happens in conjunction with x in t-2. Furthermore. but on motives. By evoking as many subjective aspects of the illness as possible. It is therefore clearly insufficient to explain action―and even more so. It is therefore wrong to regard the former state. the event to be explained (the explanandum) is deduced from certain a priori conditions and empirical laws which. etc. context and perspective for the specific problematics of an individual patient’s case. the concept of “narrative explanation” (Roth 1989) in the philosophy of science has emerged as a critical position that challenges the influence of positivism and logical empiricism on the philosophy of science in the humanities. there are many other factors that lead to cultural events taking place such as the behavior of other people. the question remains as to whether one is justified at all. but at present there is a lack of systematic socio-cultural training of narrative competence. it is necessary to reconstruct the individual story of which the action in question forms a part. together. it is possible to construct the basic formula for a narrative explanation (Danto 1965): a narrative explanation is arrived at by filling in the middle between the temporal starting and ending points of a transformation. are governed by a process of logical deduction whereby individual events must be explained. in speaking of intentions in relation to actions that are manifest before and independent of the process of their realization. 3. (a) and (c) form the explanandum. A critique of this model hinges mainly on the concept of “cultural laws.requirements. i. too. as part of the explanans. As a medical student. Periods of sickness are important peripeties in life and often figure prominently in life stories. Still. on the intentions of persons who take part in given scenarios. On the contrary. (c) x is G in t-3. Together. to what extent. circumstances and coincidences. In the humanities we do not expect explanations to be founded on laws. the beginning and the end of a process of transformation both form part of the explanandum. the humanities. According to the positivist-nomological position. and if so. and (b) the explanans of the narrative explanation. in the sense of initial conditions. This is relevant because such stories provide the meaning. complex cultural processes―solely.13 Philosophy of Science Starting with Danto (1965).e. constitute the explanans. the purely nomological philosophy of science ignores the fact that the explanandum does not constitute just an event. reasons and aims. but a transformation. A story is the explanation of how a transformation took place from beginning to end: (a) x is F in t-1. Stories explain how and why someone has fallen ill.” although these laws are not to be understood as analogous to the laws of nature. Instead. On this basis. or even predominantly.

4. the narrative of “Schroedinger’s cat”. In cultural studies. the world of culture and human understanding is rendered meaningful and can be understood through stories (among other means). a middle (b). and an end (c). this involves the concept of meaning and the related classic dichotomy of “explaining” and “understanding”: the world of nature is devoid of meaning and must be explained through laws and the establishment of causal connections. From this point of view. a narrative. the specific rationality and scientific nature of explanations in cultural studies are directly linked with the narrative formula. Many transformations. On the contrary.1 Natural Sciences Despite the fact that on occasion narrative elements are used in explanations in the natural sciences (e. being is conceived as a complex interplay of processes of becoming. which encompasses the difference between nature and culture. Every occurrence in nature begins with an event which becomes part of a creative process oriented towards the final outcome. might prove productive with regard to potential studies on the role of narrative in the 214 . though. each having their own structure. cf. This calls for philosophical paradigm shifts.” for example―but rather a genuine means for formulating insights and research findings. narratives are not regarded as a deficiency―something that one has to fall back on in the absence of alternatives due to a lack of insight into “cultural laws. especially those which the historical sciences seek to explain.g. that this basic schema is an oversimplification. The complexity of factual processes cannot serve as an argument against narrative explanations per se. the beginnings of which can be found in Whitehead’s (1929) cosmology. in the term “natural history” in the theory of evolution and in paleontology). In the tradition of Aristotelian physics. by definition. are far more complex and incorporate numerous factors that have to be integrated into the narrative explanation. Plotnitsky 2005b) and that certain narrative backgrounds exist (e.g. 4 Topics for Further Research 4. it seems possible to describe processes in nature with narrative categories (Lachmann & Meuter 2011). by contrast. One must bear in mind. In any case. is a symbolic form of representation that is flexible and malleable enough to make possible the integration of (relevant) complex factors into the explanation. In the philosophy of science.2 Systems Theory A systems theoretical approach. but primarily constitutes a dynamic and creative process. An application of the concepts of narrative would therefore presuppose a revision of fundamental precepts in the natural sciences: it would be necessary to understand nature as something that is not (or at least not entirely) governed by laws and causal connections.structure: the explanation has a beginning (a). a specifically narratological inquiry in the natural sciences remains a desideratum.

even if it is improbable and not created by subjects: what is. A systemic process. As a first step. systems theory has the benefit―in contrast to the classic theories of behavior. is not just a formal “row” or “chain” where identical parts are simply lined up according to a never-changing principle. however. and because of its peripeties cannot be mastered from without. Rather. any experiential meaning is based on the difference between actuality and potentiality: only one possibility can ever be realized out of an abundant potentiality. manifests itself in narrative form: whenever one is entangled in a story. but rather a dynamic series of events that follows its own logic. as an inescapable necessity for selection. narrations explain reality to us. they can help us understand why something is the way it is. but also to the selectivity of these selections. ever greater improbabilities accumulate through recursive loops. Here. and in the course of this process. one has to take into consideration that it is a specific characteristic of a system operating with meaning that it not only reacts to the selections that have de facto just taken place. equally probable one can only be explained if one regards events as elements in a meaningful systemic process. argues that the identity of subjects and actions is formed first of all through processes that produce meaning by means of selective reductions. but―similar to their actions―must be regarded as their effects. The reason why a certain event takes place instead of another. this. (Translated by Nina Stedman) 5 Bibliography 5. systems theory. Phenomenologically speaking.natural sciences. The decisive factor for a narrative-oriented systems theory is the high improbability of factual events. The systems theoretical term “self-organization” lends itself to describing precisely this situation. for example―of reaching a level of abstraction that makes possible a discussion of all areas of culture in a single unified theory. Subjects are therefore not the sovereign masters of their own stories. or at the very least. Thus. Under this condition. every part of the process “leaves its legacy” of selectivity to the one following it. meaning is by nature experienced as a reduction of complexity. a narrative can be understood as the “systemic self-organization of meaning and time” (Meuter 2004). therefore. From a phenomenological perspective. too. Independent of this. A narration is not the realization of a plan. From a systems theoretical perspective. one quickly―after only very few peripeties―finds that one has arrived at a point that initially one would never have thought possible.1 Works Cited 215 . these processes of meaning appear in the form of stories. Traditional approaches posit that meaning comes into the world through subjects who act intentionally. by contrast. Meaning is therefore inextricably linked with the experience of contingency: systems of meaning select differently due to the experience of being able to select. is the result of a self-organizing systemic process.

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alters the conditions of reception. Hühn. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. a film broadcast on TV. the theater and literature as the media of art. radio.unihamburg. a musical performance recorded and played on a phonograph). Marie-Laure: "Narration in Various Media". 12 Mar 2012.Ryan. films made for TV). or entertainment.) The relevance of the concept of medium for narratology is much more evident for type 2 than for type 1. the image and sound as the media of expression (and by implication as the media of artistic expression). printing. (c) language. (eds. and often leads to the creation of works tailor-made for the medium (cf.g. Peter et al. they would bear little narratological interest. For the narratologist. The definition provided by Webster’s dictionary puts relative order in this diversity by proposing two distinct definitions: (1) Medium as a channel or system of communication. a painting digitized on the WWW. and the computer as the media of writing. But the shape of the pipe affects the kind of information that can be transmitted. channel-type media are only interesting to the extent that they involve 221 .php?title=Narration_in_Various_Media&oldid=1706 Narration in Various Media Last modified: 13 January 2012 Marie-Laure Ryan 1 Definition The term of medium (plural: media) covers a wide variety of phenomena: (a) TV. (The use of quotation marks in this entry will distinguish “language” as a collection of expressive devices from language as the semiotic code that forms the object of linguistics. (b) music. (d) writing and orality as the media of language. information. the book. while the second describes them as “languages” that shape this information (Meyrowitz 1993).de/lhn/index. 2 Explication The first definition regards media as conduits for the transmission of information. (e) handwriting.” If indeed conduit-type media were nothing more than hollow pipes for the transmission of artifacts realized in a medium of type 2 (e. (2) Medium as a material or technical means of expression (including artistic expression) . painting.sub. http://hup. and the internet (especially the WWW) as the media of mass communication. Ong (1982) has objected to a conception of media that reduces them to “pipelines for the transfer of a material called information. film.): the living handbbook of narratology.

It was left to Aristotle to acknowledge medium as a distinctive property of art. interpreted as reporting.” Lessing insisted on the sensory and spatio-temporal dimensions of the two media: painting speaks to the sense of sight. Here Aristotle regards narration and impersonation as instances of the same medium because both are made of language. Both modes occur in epic poetry. then their difference in “mode” marks epic poetry and drama as distinct narrative media in the modern sense of the word despite their common semiotic support.“differences that make a narrative difference”—in other words. but it is recast as an opposition between narration and impersonation: “It is possible to imitate the same objects in the same medium sometimes by narrating (either using a different persona. 222 . or as the same person without variations). or else with all the imitators as agents and engaged in activity” (1996: 2. reflection on how narrative is conditioned by the medium in which it is realized—what we may call its mediality—can be traced as far back as Plato’s distinction between a diegetic and a mimetic mode of narration. such as drama. According to Plato. rhythm. as in Homer’s poetry. In these last two cases. as well as in silent film. he classifies expressive resources such as color. but it would be hard to find reasons to regard Xerox copy machines or phonographs as possessing their own narrative “language. and poetry is speaking painting. After defining poetry as imitation (in the sense of representation).” 3 History of the Concept and its Study 3. film. Reacting to the 18th-century philosophy of art. poetry to the imagination. covers Plato’s distinction between diegetic and mimetic presentation. in the voice of a narrator). interpreted as showing. but while diegetic narration. The notion of object (or content) creates a generic distinction between imitations that share the same medium: for instance. Aristotle mentions three ways of distinguishing various types of imitation: through medium. Another landmark in the study of narrative mediality is Lessing’s distinction between spatial and temporal forms of art. to the extent that they function as both conduits and “languages. melody.2). in the long run of the centuries until now mimetic narration. shape. which was captured by the saying of Simonides of Ceos. has become the dominant mode of presentation in multi-channel performing arts. in the case of fiction. but if we make a pragmatic distinction between enacting and reporting and regard this distinction as constitutive of medium. remains dependent on language. Under medium. and voice.” Among technologies. in diegetic narration the poet speaks in his own voice (or rather. he speaks through the characters. while in mimetic narration. object and mode. “painting is mute poetry. radio. and ballet. painting extends in space.1 Historical Background In Western thought. the opera. tragedy deals with people of higher standing. and the internet have clearly developed unique storytelling capabilities. TV. film. while comedy represents people of lower social stature. mimetic narration becomes emancipated from language. mime. “Mode.” finally.

” his claim that media are “forms that shape and reshape our perceptions.” and his oft-quoted but variably interpreted slogan “the medium is the message” (1996). with its tripartite division of signs into symbols. cinema for Deleuze [1983. Peircian semiotics. fable. hypertext. The founding fathers of narratology recognized from the very beginning the mediumtranscending nature of narrative: according to Bremond (1973). But it was his disciple. when technological inventions such as photography. can overcome their narrative deficiency by selecting a so-called “pregnant moment” that offers a window on the preceding and following actions. who broke the ground for the study of narrative in media other than written literature with a systematic explorations of the forms of narrative in oral and chirographic cultures (=cultures based on handwriting). which resides in a relation between the parts of an object.poetry extends in time. Were he alive today. While we can extract observations relevant to what we now call medium in earlier periods. which shows the Trojan priest and his sons in the last moments of a hopeless struggle against a sea serpent. and poetry a narrative one. 1985] and Metz [1968]. He was also instrumental in breaking down the barrier between elite and popular culture. advertisements or the composition of the newspaper front page were as worthy of attention as works of high literature. and film. stained glass window. film. ballet. which puts self-reference at the center of media studies. novella. and television expanded the repertory of channels of communication and means of representation that the concept of medium emerged as an autonomous topic of inquiry. But Lessing does not exclude the possibility of stretching each medium in the direction of the other. philosophy. conversely. tale. in particular. epic history. legend. While the strength of painting lies in the representation of beauty. and video games. and poetics. conversation. Lessing’s example is the famous Greek sculpture of Laocoön. Poetry can dramatize the evocation of static objects by transforming spatial vision into temporal action. icons and indices. etc. These differences predispose the two art forms to the representation of different subject matters: “signs existing in space can only represent objects whose wholes or parts coexist. while signs that follow one another can express only objects whose wholes or parts are consecutive” ([1766] 1984: 78). Ong (1982). In the long run. and the doctrine of the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign cannot account for the iconic signification of painting and film. Visual representations. an inspiring but somewhat mercurial thinker. narratology developed as a project 223 . comics. cannot be divided into discrete units comparable to the morphemes and phonemes of language. drama. mime. a move which lead to the emancipation of media studies from literature. However. Barthes’ and Bremond’s wish to open up narratology to media other than literature went unfulfilled for years. stories can be realized in media as diverse as literature. cinema. it wasn’t until the 20th century. radio. Barthes (1966) expands the list to include myth. In France. structuralism sometimes hampered the understanding of media due to its insistence on regarding Saussure’s linguistic theory as the model of all semiotic systems. Painting is in essence a descriptive medium. he would add blogs. Mixing genres (→ Narration in Poetry and Drama) and media. For McLuhan. McLuhan. has proved more fruitful for media studies. popularized the concept with his characterization of media as “extension of man. Under the influence of Genette. painting. the structuralist/semiotic movement gave legitimacy to the study of non-verbal forms of representation (advertisement and photography for Barthes [1980]. news items. poetry excels at the representation of action because action develops in time. as Homer does when he describes Juno’s chariot by recounting how Hebe put it together piece by piece. stage. TV and mass communication for Baudrillard [1981]). comic strips. The spatial arts. the phonograph.

film (Bordwell 1985. photography (Hirsch 1997). In a broad sense.almost exclusively devoted to literary fiction. comic strips (McCloud 1994). were largely ignored. language. and visual stage setting. the study of non-literary or nonverbal forms of narrative has extended to conversational narrative (Labov 1972). including a new term for the narrow sense. sometimes not even recognized as narratives.” Video games. “remediation” directs attention to how narrative texts may create networks of connections between different media. despite the similarity of their content with the plots of diegetic narration.. is intermedial through its use of gestures. Media representing the mimetic mode. In the U. such as drama and film. digital photography remediates analogue photography by making images easier to manipulate. describe them (representation of a painting through ekphrasis in a novel). But this situation changed dramatically in the late 20th century with the so-called “narrative turn” in the humanities. such as narrative itself. If intermediality is interpreted in a wide sense. Thompson 2003). opera (Hutcheon & Hutcheon 1999). whose manifestation is not bound to a particular medium. it refers to the participation of more than one medium—or sensory channel—in a given work. it is the medial equivalent of intertextuality and covers any transgression of boundaries between different media. “intermedial transposition” for adaptations from one medium to another.2 The Nature of Media The variety of the phenomena subsumed under the concept of medium stems not only from the two distinct functions mentioned by Webster’s definition—transmitting information or forming the support of information—but also from the nature of the criteria that differentiate 224 . in the context of other media. for instance. “transmediality” for phenomena. and because of their absence of narrator. analogue photography remediates painting by being more faithful to its object. Bolter & Grusin (1999) proposed the concept of “remediation” to explain the relations between different media. painting (Bal 1991. Tarasti 2004. as an attempt to “remediate” their limitations and get closer to the elusive goal of “achieving the real. But the claim that every new medium constitutes an improvement over an old one cannot be sustained from a narratological and aesthetic point of view. In a narrow sense. and it avoids the meliorism inherent in this term. for instance. In the past twenty years. In their view. music. or formally imitate them (a novel structured as a fugue). In its narratological applications. dance (Foster 1996). is more narrowly focused on art forms than remediation. Grabósz 1999. 3. and new media do not necessarily produce better narratives than old ones.” now widely adopted in Europe. Wolf (2005) suggests “plurimediality” for artistic objects that include many semiotic systems. Media studies took a theoretical turn in the 1990s. 2007: 231–98. The opera. Steiner 1988). quote them (insertion of text in a painting). for every gain in expresseness comes at a cost. Chatman 1978). and music (Abbate 1989. every new technology-based medium must be understood. As Wolf (2008) observes. other terms must be forged to differentiate its diverse forms. remediate film by incorporating narrative techniques commonly used in cinema within an interactive environment. The concept of “intermediality.S. television (Kozloff 1992. Seaton 2005). intermediality can be conceived in a narrow and in a broad sense. and the Internet remediates all other media by encoding them digitally in order to facilitate their transmission. and “intermedial reference” for texts that thematize other media (e. a novel devoted to the career of a painter or composer).g.

” It is also to cultural practice that we can attribute the grouping of semiotic dimensions into multichannel media such as drama. relying on sequentially ordered signs but freezing them through inscription. and cultural. Newspapers. technological. According to Ong (1982). visual. (As a meta-medium that encodes all other media. Insofar as signs extend in time or space. and the human vocal apparatus for singing and oral storytelling. the importance of technology lies in its ability to improve or modify the expressive power of purely semiotic media. and aural. For instance: How can images suggest time? How can gestures express causality? What is the meaning of the graphic layout? How do the various types of signs contribute to narrative meaning in plurimedial art forms? To bring further refinement to semiotic media families.e. but “the press” is widely regarded by sociologists as a medium in its own right because it fulfills a unique cultural role in the “media ecology. the semiotic analysis of media should also take into consideration their spatio-temporal dimensions. television. The semiotic approach tends to distinguish three broad media families: verbal. or for an activity like video games. such as clay for pottery. and computer games. and semiotic factors. A case in point is the well-documented and deep-reaching impact of the invention of writing. This rudimentary typology must be expanded in order to account for an art like dance. in the development of psychologically complex characters. they can be purely spatial (painting. oral language transmitted through radio or telephone). namely literature. A semiotic approach to media focused on narrative will ask about the storytelling abilities and limitations of the signs of the medium under consideration. or. it reaches the status of “language. but by adding interactivity to these media. The properties of narratives produced in a certain medium are often due to a combination of cultural. the human body for dance. drama. As a semiotic category. which is based on the movements of the body. and electronic form). Media can be temporal and dynamic (music. and later of print technology. dance. written literature that exploits the twodimensionality of the page). temporal and static (i. use and content of narrative. materialtechnological. painting. or include a kinetic dimension that controls the duration of the receptive act (film. and comic books. sculpture. Material support can be either a raw substance. digital technology would be a pure conduit. and music. even though performed orally. rely on the same semiotic dimensions and printing technology as books. The groupings yielded by this taxonomy broadly correspond to art types. with the help of a technological support. The prevalence of shooting in American computer games could for instance 225 . whose distinctive feature is the pragmatic notion of active user participation. relies on a written text). photography. Not all phenomena regarded as media can be distinguished on the basis of technological and semiotic properties alone.”) For the narratologist. photography. the telephone. These criteria belong to three conceptual domains: semiotic. we must ask about the material support of their individual members. and oral narrative accompanied by gestures). each of which can be linked to different approaches to narrative. print. stone for sculpture. and in the self-referentiality of the postmodern novel. individual musical instruments. and digital technology. television. in the epistemological focus of the detective story. into film. the influence of writing is felt in the rising and falling contour of the dramatic plot (for Western drama. for instance. mime. the opera. film. the spatio-temporal in turn can be a static combination of temporal language and spatial image or inscription (comics.individual media. on the form. architecture) or spatio-temporal. as in written literature). or a technological invention such as writing (subdivided into manuscript. a medium is characterized by the codes and sensory channels upon which it relies.

but rather that language was developed in response to the need to tell explained culturally by the importance of guns in American society (Japanese games are much less violent). advocating closure and a meaningful message. we see other reasons why natural language is its medium of choice. Neither images nor pure sound possesses this intrinsic ability: sound has no meaning. in turn. 3. by which this world undergoes significant changes caused by non-habitual events (→ Event and Eventfulness). as a mode of representation. Closure and meaningfulness can be achieved in any semiotic system. while Turner (1996) argues that humans did not start telling stories as the result of developing language. and images are more efficient than words at representing a world populated by existents because of the spatial extension and visual appearance of concrete objects. as well as by the fact that the computer-game industry targets an audience of young males. it is reasonable to assume that language capacities. The first and fourth of these conditions are not particularly dependent on language. storytelling abilities. though it is of course through the senses that its signs are perceived. language is the only semiotic system (besides formal notation systems) in which it is possible to formulate propositions. either out of data provided by life or out of invented materials. (2) a temporal constituent. (3) a mental constituent. specifying that the events must involve intelligent agents who have a mental life and react emotionally to the states of the world (or to the mental states of other agents). Similarly. natural language is presented as the original narrative medium. language speaks to the mind rather than to the senses. Possible topics for this approach include the rhetoric of TV news or the social impact of such phenomena as computer games. but they cannot refer (Worth 1981).3 The Primacy of Language as Narrative Medium Though we lack documents about the earliest manifestations of narrative among higher primates. In these accounts of the social and cognitive foundations of storytelling. compared to that of apes. But the second and third features of narrative are 226 . But it is also motivated semiotically by the presence of a sound track (shooting is primarily manifested through noise) as well as technologically facilitated by the fact that the action of shooting is easily simulated by the manipulation of controls (hitting a key is reasonably similar to releasing a trigger). (4) a formal and pragmatic constituent. This makes it difficult for them to foreground specific properties of objects out of the background of their global visual appearance. The innate affinity of narrative and language can be explained by the fact that narrative is not something that is perceived by the senses: it is constructed by the mind. Internet pornography. If we look at the constitutive features of narrative. Narrative is widely regarded by scholars as a discourse that conveys a story. story. Thanks to its semantic nature and its power of articulation. Stories are about characters placed in a changing world. Dautenhahn (2003) attributes the need to tell stories to the complex social organizations of humans. and narration is crucially dependent on the ability of a medium to single out existents and attribute properties to them. and film violence. By far the majority of media studies have been devoted to the cultural use of medium-specific narratives. has been defined as a mental image formed by four types of constituents (Ryan 2007): (1) a spatial constituent consisting of a world (the setting) populated by individuated existents (characters and objects). and pictures can show. and human cultures co-evolved in symbiotic relation with each other.

on their hopes and fears. and its narrativity is parasitic on the narrativity of the original text. and the voice-over narration of film represent an attempt to use language not only to imitate the speech of characters. has been limited by the conventions of realism to what an observer looking through an imaginary fourth wall can hear. causal relations between events must be left to the spectator’s interpretation. non-semantic resources of image or sound. the asides to the audience of modern drama. 3. drama and the opera is mainly due to the presence of a language track. traditionally. namely verbal exchanges. namely dialogue. However. In the loosest interpretation. “narrating without language” means that a story unknown to the appreciator is evoked by the purely sensory. it is with condition 3 that language displays its true narrative superiority over other semiotic media. and smell are far less developed senses. the work tells a story new to the user.) In a slightly weaker form of non-verbal narrativity (→ Narrativity). film may be as efficient as words at representing a succession of events such as “the king died and then the queen died. structured in the same way as language. This track. the temporality of language is naturally suited to represent events that succeed each other in time. will be known through language.4 Narrating without Language The independence of narrative from language is a matter of degree. Cognitive science may tell us that not all thinking is verbal. But phenomena such as the chorus of Greek tragedy. 227 . this would place serious limitations on the repertory of stories that can be told by a medium. and without a voice-over narration (→ Narration in Film). but if all causal relations had to be guessed. (Taste. the written signs of epic theater.” or “x decided to take revenge.highly language-dependent. With its combination of dynamic unfolding and visuality. but it uses a language-based title to suggest a narrative interpretation. on their daydreams and fantasies. most likely. In a film (and even more so in a static image). we can never be completely sure that it was grief and not illness that killed the queen.” “x was upset. only language can represent the most common type of social interaction between intelligent agents. but also to comment on the action. on their philosophy of life.” but only words can say “the king died and then the queen died of grief” because only language is able to make relations of causality explicit. The narrative power and diversity of film. Language-based narratives may admittedly choose to be highly elliptic in their presentation of causal relations: nothing would be more tedious than a story that left nothing to infer. In language. because mental life can be represented as a kind of inner discourse. Most importantly. as it does so often in diegetic narrative.” Language can dwell at length on the mental life of characters. In its strictest interpretation.” “x was in love. we can express emotions and intents unambiguously by saying “x was scared. As Lessing observed. but the translation of private thought into language is one of the most powerful and widespread narrative devices. touch. a narrative without language is a work that illustrates a story already known to the user (Varga 1988). This illustrative function is by far the most common occurrence in non-verbal narration. which. on their considerations of multiple possible courses of actions. and they do not seem to have any narrative potential. for the very simple reason that only language can represent language. The storytelling potential of a medium is directly proportional to the importance and versatility of its language component.

corresponding to the multiple ways of imagining the long-term past and future that expand the content of the window into a complete story. counterfactuality. they can suggest emotions through facial expressions and body language. reading a picture narratively necessitates a far more elaborate gap-filling activity than reading a language-based story. As Wolf (2005) has shown. and series of pictures that capture a sequence of events. From very early on. To read a picture narratively is to ask: Who are the characters shown in the picture? What are their interpersonal relations? What have they done before? What are they doing? What are their reasons for acting? What change of state will the action bring? How will the characters react to the event? Pictures cannot answer these questions directly because they are limited to the representation of visual properties. it must not only represent a frozen moment in a dynamic action. and they can suggest abstract ideas 228 . They often make up for their inability to name characters by using traditional attributes (keys for Saint Peter. rather than naming the property and leaving its specific representation to the reader’s imagination. Yet still pictures also have their narrative strengths. for humor lies in a narrowly defined feature that people either get or miss. but must also arouse curiosity about the motivation of the agent. Monophase pictorial narratives are either illustrative or indeterminate in their content. the scenes of 17th-century Dutch genre painting are low in narrativity. Other limitations include the inability to make comments. Hühn’s distinction between event I and event II in the present encyclopedia (→ Event and Eventfulness)). causal relations.4. and multiple possibilities. they are also unable to represent language and thought. such as the thought balloon. and create suspense and surprise. Wolf (2005) distinguishes three kinds of pictorial narratives: monophase works that evoke one moment in a story through a single image. Even so. Similarly. For an image to suggest a narrative interpretation. Not only do images lack a temporal dimension. provide explanations. not making music as a group. not hunting animals for food. but killing a dragon to save a princess. because they rely almost entirely on familiar scripts and schemata for their interpretation. Though they lack operators of mental activity. and they can show beauty directly. they can develop visual conventions.3.1 Pictorial Narrative To achieve narrativity. when compared to language: they can give a far better idea of the spatial configuration of the storyworld. horns for the devil). but many different narrative arcs can pass through this window. pictures must capture the temporal unfolding of a story through a static frame. An indeterminate picture opens a small window on time through the technique of the pregnant moment. Perhaps the only type of monophase pictures that tells a determinate story is the humorous single-frame. the visual arts have shown man in action. caption-less cartoon. A truly narrative image must depict one-of-a-kind events that cause a significant change of state for the participants: not baking bread but stealing a loaf. to “derealize” events and represent objects as mental images formed by characters. two effects which depend on a time-bound disclosure of information. polyphase works that capture several distinct moments within the same image. but secretly fondling a fellow musician (cf. but the hunting scenes or everyday activities depicted in cave paintings or on Egyptian scrolls do not fully qualify as narratives because they represent repetitive events with an unproblematic life-maintenance function. The monophase work presents the greatest narrative challenge because it must compress the entire narrative arc into a single scene. the narrative incompleteness of images is a powerful generator of curiosity. or more specifically in eventfulness.

common in wordless comic strips. gambles his fortune away. such as signs or letters (cf. suggesting that it is being told to the psychiatrist. and on the global level by the recurrence of the same character (identified by constant visual features). The individual paintings depict self-contained mini-narratives separated from each other by significant time gaps. the narrative is able to perform a rare feat in wordless storytelling: a disruption of the chronological order. engages in a life of debauch and dishonesty. is imprisoned and ends up in a mental asylum. When purely visual means fail. a skull for death.e. After an opening frame that shows the lion dreaming of a unicorn. This path must be discovered by detecting relations of causality which parallel the direction of time. But since unicorns do not exist. In polyphase pictures. the spectator has ample time to inspect them for narratively significant details. an arched wall separates the beheading scene from the dancing scene. crucial to the Salome story. and Salome presents the head of the saint to her mother Herodiad in an alcove of the room were the dancing scene takes place. left to right or right to left).through conventional visual symbols: lilies for purity. and he ends up on a psychiatrist’s couch. 2000. in Benozzo Gozzoli’s “The Dance of Salome and the Beheading of St John the Baptist” (cf. but the various scenes are connected by weak causal relations: each painting represents a step in the downfall of the hero. Serial pictures can narrate in two ways. pomegranates for lust. But the narrative gaps between the individual scenes are so great in this particular painting that a spectator unfamiliar with the biblical story would be unable to decode its narrative logic. Steiner 1988).” the eye does not read the story told by the painting linearly (i. a young man who rises from poverty through inheritance. but follows a circular path. from the right to the left to the center. An example of this technique is a sketchbook titled “Pipe Dreams” by the French artist Jean-Jacques Sempé. here it is limited to the macro-level. involve mental constructs far too complex for visual representation. illustrated by William Hogarth’s painting series A Rake’s Progress and Marriage à la Mode (Wolf 2005). and his personal experience is shown as images within a speech balloon. The individual images are separated by smaller time spans than in the first type. as well as by the chronological sequence indicated by the spatial arrangement of the pictures. The other technique. such as the gambling-house or the prison script. These scenes are often separated by architectural features: for instance. the very readable letter from Charlotte Corday held by the dead Marat in Jacques-Louis David’s “Marat Assassinated”). they can internalize language by showing intra-diegetic objects bearing inscriptions. the storytelling act disappears from 229 . but they are linked together by stronger causal relations. The space of the pictures may or may not be used as an indicator of temporal sequence: in “The Dance of Salome. Themes such as reward and revenge. The upset bride runs away from him. Because pictures stand still. associates every image with one moment in a continuous action as if it were a frozen frame in a silent film. Narrative content is suggested on the level of the individual images by their reliance on familiar scripts.and the micro-level. consists of devoting each picture to one episode in the life of a character by resorting to the techniques of the monophase pictures. Through the use of speech and thought balloons. When the lion’s story escapes from the balloon and fills the entire frame. While in the first technique narrativity exists on both the macro. he marries a mare and tries unsuccessfully to turn her into a unicorn by putting an ice cream cone on her forehead. The first. the narrative arc is much more determinate because it is plotted through several distinct scenes within the same global frame. “Pipe Dreams” tells the story of a lion who fantasizes loving a unicorn. the next five frames (out of fourteen) represent the lion on the couch. published in The New Yorker on November 20. It takes a series of pictures to tell a story that is both reasonably determinate and new to the reader.

while silent movies use music and subtitles to suggest a narrative interpretation. but suddenly regains his lust for life when an attractive woman walks by. narrate actions. sound track of film and computer games). the live performance of gestural narration is incapable of skipping a moderate period of time. The chronological rearrangements of the Sempé cartoon would be impossible in a pantomime because gestural narration unfolds entirely in the present. 230 . But even though gestures add a kinetic element to serial still pictures. It also operates in a simulacrum of real time that largely limits the narrated time to the time of narration. This real time dimension predisposes gestural narration to the representation of short sketches. “Pipe Dreams” remediates many of the limitations of the purely mimetic image without using a single word: even the title is not indicative of narrative content. “texted” music. and gestures and movement. On the contrary: it is much more difficult to narrate through continuous gestures than it is through discrete pictures frames. Narrative is about evolving networks of human relations. As a semiotic substance. opera.3 Musical Narratives Music has a long history of being paired with language for narrative effects (sung poetry.” “The Nutcracker”) or relies on a summary in the program. 3. The embedded sequence of the past catches up in the last frame with the embedding sequence of the present when the lion is shown knocking on the psychiatrist’s door. this does not result in a significant increase in narrative power. are reasonably good at representing the evolution of interpersonal relations. sound possesses neither the conventional meaning nor the iconic value that allow words and images to create a concrete world and bring to mind individuated characters.sight.3 on music) with respect to the story referred to by its title (“Cinderella. and the reader is transported back to the time of the narrated events.g. Bordwell & Thompson 2008: 229–31). as long as mental life can be translated into visible body language. and film. it is possible to tell a story through the kinetic means of gestures and facial expression.4. but it may seem paradoxical to even mention the possibility of telling stories through pure sounds. Its mimetic abilities are limited to the imitation of aural phenomena: the gurgling of a brook.4. Can body movement tell a story that is new to the spectator without external help? The answer is yes. and the frames are separated by variable time spans: from a fraction of a second when cartoons reproduce continuous action to a lengthy period of time when frames introduce new episodes. But ballet either fulfills an illustrative function (cf. break the continuity of action into distinct frames.2 Narrating through Gestures As ballet.4. Music cannot imitate speech. Thanks to the visual conventions of the modern comic strip. by contrast. But in contrast to still pictures. represent thought. for this aspect also 3. language. by varying the distance between bodies. It is only when gestures are recorded through film and the footage put together through montage that it becomes possible to create ellipses of any length in the development of a narrative action (e. A pantomime could for instance tell the story of a scorned lover who becomes depressed and attempts suicide. Serial pictures. 3. and the movies of the silent area demonstrate. pantomime. but the repertory is very limited. Gestural narration could admittedly signal breaks between episodes by making the actors disappear from the stage and reappear. or express causal relations.

In mimetic modes. Meanwhile. this line controls attention. “Awakening of joyful sensations on arrival in the country” and “Scenes at a brook” as the titles of movements in Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony. while in diegetic modes. or even pictures because it can exercise its power without being consciously recognized.” These programs. as a forward movement. music itself counts as narrative action. Comparisons have also been made with diegetic and mimetic modes of storytelling (Abbate 1989). it comments upon the enacted events. leading to the conclusion that music is a mimetic mode when it stands by itself. Yet in the 19th century.” it can individuate characters by linking them to a specific instrument or to a leitmotiv. builds expectations. to all music of the classical Western tradition). a desire-for-something-to-come. It also possesses an ability unequalled among semiotic media to represent and induce emotions. or the classical plot schema of equilibrium. a tension calling for a resolution. To tease out this deep narrativity. and creates effects of suspense. cognitively. while music lives from a succession of sounds that creates melody and harmony through transformations in pitch. But unlike verbal narrative. but by the number of pages left to be read). music does not suggest the passing of time by showing its effects on concrete existents: it captures time in its pure form. This would be unthinkable with a language-based story. for in literature the coming end is often signaled not by narrative devices. But these features are not sufficient to tell specific stories. music can sometimes sketch a setting (cf. expressed in words. composers frequently attempted to tell stories through music by patterning their works according to what musicologists call a “narrative program. In contrast to the narrativity of language-based texts. The appeal of the concept of narrative to both composers and musicologists can be explained by the temporal dimension of music. and surprise (Sternberg 1992). but these patterns are filled with vastly different substance: intrinsically meaningless sound in the case of music (though of course musical arrangement creates its own type of meaning). on a very different level than the narrativity of language. from the point of view of the musicologist who uses narratological models to analyze particular compositions. the narrativity of music is a purely analytical construct situated. It is indeterminate because narrative content is something that is read into a composition rather than read from it (Wolf 2005). As the focus of interest of a scholarly approach. every listener fills in the general pattern in a highly personal way (Nattiez 1990). rhythm. concrete semantic content in the case of language-based stories. Narrative lives from a succession of events that brings transformations to the state of the storyworld. film. 231 . and in what amounts to creating its own conventional “language.the song of birds. scholars resort to well-known narratological models such as Greimas’ semiotic square and Propp’s functions (Tarasti 2004). instruct the listener’s imagination to look for a precise theme in each part of the composition: for instance. Ricœur’s theory of narrative temporality (Grabócz 1999). according to the narrative school. and many listeners will appreciate the composition without giving any thought to a narrative interpretation. the appreciator may have a powerful sense that a dénouement is imminent (perhaps more so in music. Even when music instructs the listener to associate the composition with a certain story. the narrativity of music is neither determinate nor literal. conflict and resolution (Seaton 2005). or the rumbling of thunder. More recently. and in each case. and loudness. Music and language-based stories present similar formal patterns. Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony). curiosity. The term “line” is used to describe the development of both plot and melody. but fulfills a diegetic function when it is used in plurimedial works such as film and musicals (Rabinowitz 2004). a school of musicology has postulated the existence of a “deep narrativity” inherent to all music (or at least. In music as in narrative. the alleged narrativity of music is the product of a metaphor based on a structural analogy. Through its modest descriptive abilities.

To achieve this wholeness. unreliability)? (c) How do media compensate for their narrative deficiencies? (d) How do newly developed media progressively free themselves from the influence of older media and discover their own narrative “language”? (e) What social practices are generated by the “cult narratives” of mass media (e. and music through its atmospherecreating. hear. that they cannot make original contributions to the formation of narrative meaning. does fictionality exist? (g) What forms does (or will) narrative take in interactive environments? 5 Bibliography 232 . and music complement each other. sensorial art forms must be coaxed into conveying messages. which media allow discourse features such as temporal reordering. irony. 4 Topics for Further Investigation (a) What structural types of plot are particularly well suited to individual media? (b) How does medium affect narrative techniques (e. and through collaboration with sensorial signs.g. sensorial arts acquire a sharper mental dimension.g. In multi-channel media. spoiling. can more easily immerse itself in the story.3. practices such as the creation of fan communities on the Internet. however. and when they are used together in multi-channel media. while language-based art forms must be taught to appeal to the senses. the appreciator can directly see. movement.g. pictures. and maybe even interact with objects. pictures through their immersive spatiality and visuality.5 Combining Sensory and Semantic Dimensions into Plurimedial Texts Given the overwhelming storytelling superiority of language. tension building and emotional power. movement through its dynamic temporality. for the relation between audiovisual and voice-over narration in film Kozloff 1988: 8–22). Through narrativization. each of them builds a different facet of the total imaginative experience: language narrates through its logic and its ability to model the human mind. language-based narrative allows a fuller experience of the storyworld. The affordances of language. digressions. one may wonder why mankind ever bothered to develop other narrative media. besides language. effects of suspense and surprise. and the imagination. But this does not mean that multi-channel media are automatically superior to literature in narrative power because every gain in the visual. The limited narrative power of non-verbal media does not mean. online discussions of plots)? (f) In which media. aural or even interactive domain may bring a loss of attention to the language channel (e. The ultimate goal of art is to involve the whole of the embodied mind. relieved from the cognitive burden of simulating sensory data. fan fiction. evaluation. the intellect as well as the senses.

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“On the Theoretical Foundation of Transmedial Narratology. Wolf. Ryan. “Music and Narrative”. “Music.” M. 55–66. • Nünning. Orality and Literacy.” M.” S. Herman (ed).” M.” D. Wendy ([1988] 2004). 22–35. Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Emma (2004). The Literary Mind. • Ryan. Göttingen: Narr.” Journal of Communications 43. Emma (2001). 162–84. eds. 1–23. 65–82. Disciplinarity. Wolf. “The Relevance of ‘Mediality’ and ‘Intermediality’ to Academic Studies of English Literature.” J. Narratology beyond Literary Criticism.2 Further Reading • Kafalenos. and 431–35. Mediality. Ch. Jean-Jacques (1990). London: Methuen. (eds). (1982). Kibédi (1988). Berlin: de Gruyter. Teleology. The Cambridge Companion to Narrative. Studying Visual Communication. Disciplinarity. 15–43. Heusser et al. “Telling in Time (II): Chronology.-L. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Worth.2. Ryan (ed). and “Pictorial Narrativity.” M. “Intermediality”. Werner (2005). “Images of Media: Hidden Ferment—and Harmony—in the Field. Nattiez. Douglas (2005). “Pictures Can’t Say Ain’t. interdisziplinär. Ryan (ed). New York: Oxford UP. and Narrative Theory. Sternberg. Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Peter (2004). Sol (1981). Erzähltheorie transgenerisch. “Stories Told by Pictures. Meister (ed). (2002). Werner (2008). Ryan (ed). Genre. Meir (1992). “Narrative in Music: The Case of Beethoven’s ‘Tempest’ Sonata. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Ryan (ed). Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling.” Narrative 9. Storytelling in Film and Television. “Toward a Definition of Narrative. Varga.” Style 22. “Overview of the Music and Narrative Field. 5. The Technologizing of the Word. Marie-Laure (2007). W. 252–56. Walter J. Ong. Turner. 463–541. Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Rabinowitz. Vera & Ansgar Nünning. London: Routledge.-L. Narrativity.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Oxford UP. 240–57. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. “Reading Visual Art. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Meister (ed). Trier: WVT. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 138–45. 324–29.” Poetics Today 13. Kristin (2003). A. intermedial.” D. • Kafalenos. “Can one Speak of Narrativity in Music?” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 115. 283–304. Making—and Forgetting—Fabulas. 234 . 275–82. Narratology Beyond Literary Criticism. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Eero (2004). “Music as Narrative Art. Berlin: de Gruyter. Herman et al. 305–28.” J. Mediality / Intermediality. Ch. 145–77. Seaton. Steiner. Mediality. Thompson. (eds). Mark (1996).-L. “Pictorial Narrativity. Tarasti. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. 194–208. Marie-Laure (2005).” M. Meyrowitz. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Joshua (1993).-L.

Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Nünning & A. Werner (2002).• Ryan. • Wolf. Trier: WVT. Nünning (eds). Erzähltheorie transgenerisch. interdisziplinär. 23– 104.” V. Marie-Laure (2006). “Das Problem der Narrativität in Literatur. intermedial. Bildender Kunst und Musik: Ein Beitrag zu einer Intermedialen Erzähltheorie. 235 . Avatars of Story.

236 .

237 .

g. the term “narrative constitution” refers to the composition of narratives.): the living handbbook of narratology. Schmid uses narrative constitution to refer to the structural models of narrative that have emerged in the tradition of formalism and structuralism and been developed with reference to works of literary. (eds. It concerns. In a narrower sense. 2005: 223–72).php?title=Narrative_Constitution&oldid=827 Narrative Constitution Last modified: 16 May 2010 Michael Scheffel 1 Definition In general terms. certain narrative operations are paired with the transformations that lead from the natural order of the narrated happenings (the ordo naturalis of rhetoric) to the artificial arrangement of the narrative (the ordo artificialis). Various binary oppositions have been put forward. Schmid introduced the expression “narrative constitution” into narratological discussion and has retained the term in a prominent piece of recent work (1982. divide the narrative work into various levels and treat it as the product of a series of transformations (understood in a more or less formal sense) of a set of happenings. Michael: "Narrative Constitution". happenings /story /text of the 238 . Peter et al. as have multileveled models such as Geschehen/Geschichte/Text der Geschichte (Stierle 1971. Hühn. though. 2 Explication Building on corresponding formulations associated with Russian formalism. Forster 1927). and story/plot (e. http://hup. in fact. 1984.g. it involves structural models with two or more tiers that. In a wider sense. Todorov 1966. the concept touches on the basic questions attached to the construction of narratological models in any form. such as fabula/sujet (e. the theoretical modeling—which can differ widely depending on the methodological approach taken—of both the relationship between happenings and narrative and the relationship between literary and non-literary narration. histoire/discours (e.sub. fictional narrative. following the tradition of formalism and structuralism. Tomaševskij 1925). 12 Mar 2012. in the process.e. story/discourse). i. The work is understood here as an object sui generis and divided into individual levels (understood as tiers of its constitution) Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

the set of happenings presents itself as a product of the narrative. story/narrative/narrating). he developed several theses regarding the fiction of the factual. In actual fact. in other words. Ricœur takes an analogous approach when he writes about how a reality that is in and of itself contingent is subjected to a fundamental reshaping by a process of mise en intrigue (rendered as “emplotment” by his translators) that is bound up with narrative. The historiographical theorist White took a crucial step in this direction when. 179. the practicality of such models is affected not least by the fact that their authors. These theses have been taken up repeatedly in the context of post-structuralism. in the 1970s. creating an unbridgeable gap between historical reality and all narratives of any kind). however. Where the modeling of the relationship between happenings and narrative is concerned. for a comparative table of the basic terms used by nineteen theorists from Propp to Schmid). Even if we subscribe to the theoretical premises of approaches with a textinternal or formalist orientation. more recent narratological approaches have adopted a broader understanding of the concept of narrative constitution. White’s concept of emplotment has been cited many times in the context of the narrative turn in cultural studies. a process that gives rise to literature (in this case. Thus. 1983. In the sense of the distinction between the “two principles of narrative” elucidated by Culler. and transfer this model of the narrative constitution of fictional narratives to the at first sight nonfictional narratives of historiography and their relationship to historical reality (→ Narration in Various Disciplines). 3 History of the Concept and its Study 239 . at base. originally abstract model of production in the tradition of formalism and structuralism. These distinctions provide a framework in which the approaches involved attempt to grasp the construction of narrative works in a theoretical manner and represent it as the transformation of a set of happenings in a generative manner in the sense of an abstract model of production. they assume a theoretical “priority of events” posited in the case of fictional narrative (1981: esp. Ricœur—unlike White—takes as his starting point the idea that there is a mutual relationship between narrative and human activity. in the context of which they take into consideration the problem of the relationship between narrative and reality in general (→ Fictional vs. these approaches can be said to make the happenings logically antecedent to the narrative itself. histoire /récit /narration (Genette 1972. Factual Narration).story). 186–87). the study of narrative composition should be confined neither to a text-internal perspective nor to works of literary narrative. They are based on a multileveled. happenings/story/narration/presentation of the narration). White set out a theory of “emplotment”: this theory takes the form of a typology of how meaning is generated through narrative and treats the transformation of happenings into stories as. often have very different starting points and sometimes even associate significantly different meanings and concepts with a particular term (Martínez & Scheffel 1999: 26. against the background of a newly developed interest in narration as one of the fundamental forms of human cultural activity. and that the concept of narrative constitution applies to essential parts of the reality of human life in general. though sharing the idea that narrative works can be decomposed into levels or components. and Geschehen/Geschichte/Erzählung/ Präsentation der Erzählung (Schmid 1982. On this basis. In his far more complex concept of a narrative hermeneutics.

1 Russian Formalism and the Opposition between Fabula and Sujet The beginning of systematic interest in the composition of narrative works belongs to a time when the attention of literary scholars came to be directed toward the question of literariness and with it the problem of the characteristic form of literature. which found a relatively wide readership in Western European literary studies.g. Šklovskij. much-quoted formulation that “in short. one model emerged that was to have a greater influence than any other on subsequent literary research. 240 . at the end of a detailed consideration of the idiosyncratic narrative form of Sterne’s Tristram Shandy. he stresses that the “aesthetic laws” of artistic narrative can be grasped only if we distinguish between sujet and fabula. Tomaševskij—in contrast to Šklovskij—associates the fabula with the property of causally connected motifs (in the sense of events). Thus. in the work of art (in the same historical context. It is clear here and in other contexts that Šklovskij. already part of the artistic fashioning of the work. here and in other passages of his Teorija literatury. given phenomenon. so to speak. This model was developed in the context of Russian formalism. is based on the opposition generally described using the terms fabula and sujet. In this context. was concerned solely with the plot structure of narrative works. Volek 1977. revised 1928). does not associate the fabula with a neutral. in contrast to the sujet. Vygotskij. and other theorists proceed from markedly different starting points. though. even if Tomaševskij himself does not say so directly. a footnote deleted from later editions contains the concise. which has two tiers. and more precisely with the rules governing constitution of the fabula). which is understood as bearing the literariness of the narrative work. the fabula is that ‘which really was. sometimes even opposing meanings in each case (for detailed reconstructions. In the process. Schmid 2009). Tynjanov. Ėjxenbaum. García Landa 1998: 32–48. and is. preliterary happenings. with its model of actants and functions. the use of the terms fabula and sujet in the manner of a binary opposition can be seen to begin with Šklovskij. Šklovskij explains that the fabula should be understood as the “material for sujet formation” and the sujet as the material of the fabula in artistic form ([1925] 1991: 170.’ the sujet that ‘how the reader has learnt about it’” ([1925] 1991: 137). Against this historical background in the first quarter of the 20th century. it contains more than the aesthetically indifferent. The model. Šklovskij points out the chronological differences between chains of events in “actual life” and in art. In the main text of the work. Numerous Russian formalists took up the pair of terms during the 1920s and put what were at times very different slants on it. Schmid 2005: 224–36). see e. Tomaševskij. Where details are concerned. Tomaševskij used and popularized the fabula/sujet distinction in a way that retained at least something of Šklovskij’s understanding of it. In the first edition of his textbook-like Teorija literatury (1925. Instead. the opposite is the case in the work of Propp [1928] which.3. using the corresponding terms with different. The locus classicus for their definition is to be found in an essay in which. like most other Russian formalists after him. From a historical perspective. Tomaševskij provides a more nuanced definition of the fabula as “the totality of motifs in their logical causal-temporal chain” and the sujet as “the totality of the same motifs in that sequence and connectivity in which they are presented in the work” (Černov 1977: 40). he sees the fabula as something subordinate that is overcome. To this extent. on the other hand.

the emphasis falling on causality. what Forster refers to with “plot” would seem to correspond to the meaning fabula has for Tomaševskij. The concept of sujet has no direct equivalent in Forster’s work. It is. we shall note. the following comment in the book was soon to become famous: “We have defined a story as a narrative of events arranged in their timesequence. The two-layered model of histoire and discours has spread far beyond the boundaries of French structuralism and stands out as highly successful from a present-day point of view. Tuesday after Monday. As for plot. If we exclude the case of Muir. From the 1930s onward. and Pier 2003: 77–78. in other words. A plot is also a narrative of events. they used it as a central category in work on the composition of narrative works (reconstructions of this process can be found in e. then.3 Histoire and Discours in French Structuralism and Classical Narratology The reception of the texts of Russian formalism in Western Europe began around the middle of the 20th century. building on Tomaševskij (1925). García Landa 1998: 48–60).g. 3. Tomaševskij [1925] 1965: 215). it becomes clear that Forster’s model should not be understood as straightforwardly analogous to the two terms of Russian origin (Volek 1977: 147–48. and then the queen died of grief. we may say. for a detailed description of the terms and concepts involved. it was above all the term “plot.” frequently associated with the Aristotelian concept of muthos. that was soon taken up by other scholars in the English-speaking countries. French structuralism picked up the terms fabula and sujet and replaced them in the 1960s with the binary oppositions of récit/narration (Barthes 1966) and histoire/discours (Todorov 1966). M. but the structure within a story. If we consider the fabula/sujet opposition of the formalists with this in mind. As part of this process. [1928] 1979: 16–17).” explaining that “it is a narrative of events arranged in their time sequence—dinner coming after breakfast. say.3. It is not. ‘The king died and then the queen died. for a discussion of the issue of translating Russian fabula and sujet into English). is the structure of an action as it is presented in a piece of fiction. the structure of an action as we happen to find it out in the world.2 Story and Plot in the Work of E. what the teller of the story has done to the action in order to present it to us” ([1943] 1959: 77).” Forster sees the story as “the lowest and simplest of literary organisms. and so on” ([1927] 1972: 35). who refers to plot and story but uses the terms imprecisely and at times synonymously (e. Sternberg 1978: 8–14. a Bulgarian whose academic background lay in Slavonic 241 . For Forster. Forster (1927) outlined a two-tiered model based on the terms “story” and “plot.’ is a story. It was developed. Brooks & Warren provided a widely known definition: “Plot.’ is a plot” (93). ‘The king died. distinguish from the fabula and call xronika (“chronicle”. and Forster’s concept of story corresponds to what the formalists either consider part of the fabula but do not name or. like Tomaševskij. Forster and other English-speaking Scholars of the 1920s to the 1940s Roughly contemporaneously with the Russian formalists.g. by Todorov. decay after death. the crucial difference between story and plot lies in the move from simple chronology to causality—in the establishment of a causal relationship between individual events.

Indeed. discours and histoire respectively.” and a level of was. In simple terms. for example. who actually uses them to mean something different. also suggest that the terms histoire and discours are not simply translations of fabula and sujet. the French structuralists take discours to mean primarily the result. but also the overarching continuum of the narrated world. known as the Darstellung (representation). mode. as it presents itself in the individual narrative work. yet as early as Todorov. This form of the two-tiered model. who associates the sujet with the dynamic nature and special quality of a principle of literary composition. Tomaševskij’s sujet. has two aspects: Erzählung (narrative) and Erzählen (narration). that is to say. italics in original). items of setting). that is.studies in Sofia (in fact. or “how. Todorov 1969). discourse the how” (1978: 19. the subsequent use of the terms histoire and discours in French structuralism and its successors confirms that both the extension of the two terms and the theoretical framework involved have been altered in certain ways. and so on). It is story. which accords well with the fact that writers such as Barthes and Genette drew up their narratological models against the background of the theory of the linguistic sign developed by Saussure. Greimas 1967. But the work is at the same time discourse […]. style. in contrast to the Russian formalists. plus what may be called the existents (characters. or “what. These same words. Martínez & Scheffel distinguish between a level of wie. in the sense that it evokes a certain reality […]. say. Building on the development from Russian formalism to French structuralism just described. happenings). The two terms are openly understood as having a greater extension. which consists only of those parts of the narrated world of relevance to the plot.” The wie. which stand in the tradition of Propp and concentrate entirely on the constitution of the histoire. he has concisely described the canonical view of the twotier model of histoire and discours in classical narratology as follows: “each narrative has two parts: a story (histoire). it is not the events reported which count but the manner in which the narrator makes them known to us” ([1966] 1980: 5). Todorov drew the terms histoire and discours from a model developed by the linguist Benveniste. and a discourse (discours). though. Todorov’s formulation is still potentially compatible with Tomaševskij when he writes: “At the most general level. the means by which the content is communicated. And unlike Tomaševskij’s fabula. relates primarily to the order of events in their literary representation. 242 . The was is made up of the Handlung (plot) and erzählte Welt (narrated world). the story is the what in a narrative that is depicted. In the field of Handlung. the expression. upheld in similar fashion by Prince (1982). namely the contrast to be found in the tense system of French between forms of narration with and without a clearly apparent speaking entity. Neither of the two components has priority over the other. of a certain way of mediating the set of happenings. the literary work has two aspects: it is at the same time a story [histoire] and a discourse [discours]. though. was adopted most recently by Martínez & Scheffel (1999). we may mention Chatman. the content or chain of events (actions. Benveniste 1959). At this level. Finally. They treat the relationship between histoire and discours as analogous to the dichotomy between signifier and signified. discours subsumes the literary mediation of a set of happenings in its entirety (not just the sequence of events. Todorov’s histoire explicitly contains not just the set of happenings itself. the continuum within which the set of happenings unfolds. Apart from various studies of narrative grammar by Bremond and others (see for example Bremond 1964. histoire and discours are explicitly treated as having equal status: “the two aspects. Unlike Šklovskij. the story [histoire] and the discourse [discours]. but also such features as perspective. are both equally literary” (Todorov [1966] 1980: 5).

though. On the one hand. and he himself treats it as a kind of intersection (a “terreno commún”) between acción and discurso. and by discurso the presentation of the relato. discourse or narrative text itself”. Genette (1972) outlined a three-part framework to which he returned in (1983). Geschehen (happenings). These levels. meanwhile. as story/text/narration in Rimmon-Kenan (1983. García Landa distinguishes between three levels of the narrative work in a monograph that has been influential in the Spanish-speaking countries. tense and mood in Genette’s sense. and Handlungsschema (plot schema). essentially of equal importance. By récit. → Perspective/Point of View). he retains the term histoire. Genette replaces discours. → Mediacy and Narrative Mediation). but essentially unchanged with respect to content. 20–1. García Landa means the sequence of narrated events.Martínez & Scheffel distinguish further between Ereignis (event).e. by narration. which is understood as the result of artistic operations that generate meaning. that is to say. who take distinctions in the field of the discours as the basis for their tripartite models. which he defines as “the signified or narrative content. with the terms récit and narration. Unlike Genette and Rimmon-Kenan.4 Three. resembles the 243 . the transformation of the relato. statement. into a sign system in conjunction with the act of utterance that is the narración (‘narration’). in contrast. though. García Landa’s relato is situated in a borderline region between discours and histoire. Geschehen is the aesthetically neutral narrative material implied by the Geschichte. extensions of or refinements to the binary opposition between fabula/histoire on the one hand and sujet/discours on the other were already being put forward. for an alternative model that takes account of the special features of fictional narration.” On the other side of the dichotomy. Geschichte (story).and Four-Tier Models Even in the context of French structuralism itself. by relato the presentation (representación) of the narrated events (i. Genette’s triad of histoire/récit/narration reappears in the guise of different terms. By acción. are arranged above one another in tiers or nested within one another. Bal (1977: 6). Here. by extension. similar also is story/plot/narration in Abbott 2002). and discurso narrativo (narrative discourse). In this latter level García Landa includes what Genette covers under voice as well as pragmatic aspects such as the communication between author and reader (García Landa 1998: esp. For example. Genette did not apply his triadic system consistently: he treats the narration under the heading of voice as part of the discours. the whole of the real or fictional situation in which that action takes place” ([1972] 1980: 27). who refers in German to the triad Fabula/Sujet/Text (Volek 1977: 165). They are acción (plot). which itself refers to the signifiers or surface structure of the fabula. on the other hand. whereas récit and histoire refer to the result of this activity (from a theoretical point of view. points out correctly that Genette’s concept of narration operates on a different logical level from that of the two other concepts: it refers to the activity of utterance. Bal (1985) seeks to resolve this problem by means of a tripartite division fabula/story/text in which text refers to the signifiers or surface structure of the story. he means “the producing narrative action and. indeed. Genette means “the signifier. relato (narrative). which he criticizes for being heterogeneous. Stierle. Text der Geschichte. makes clear that his proposed triad of Geschehen/Geschichte/Text der Geschichte is grounded in the field of the fabula. Adopting a similar approach to Bal and Volek. 3. see Scheffel 1997: 49–54).

a concept much quoted in the context of the narrative turn in cultural studies but used somewhat vaguely by White himself.” “chronicle. their actual genesis. for example. According to White. Historians are presented with their material. and end. then. So. Seen from this latter perspective. italics in original). on the other hand. this question involves the problem of explaining the set of happenings in the sense of grasping “the structure of the entire set of events considered as a completed story” (1973: 7. White uses the terms “historical field. There is a famous passage in which White defines it thus: “Providing the ‘meaning’ of a story by identifying the kind of story that has been told is called explanation by emplotment” (1973: 7. respectively. 2005: 241–72). They are developed further. who does not make a precise theoretical distinction between the acts of production and 244 . For White. extending from the Geschehen to the Präsentation der Erzählung. is “the result of the ‘composition’ that arranges the happenings in an ordo artificialis.” and “emplotment” to describe the genesis of a historiographical work as follows. of the elocutio. 3. the Präsentation der Erzählung is a signifier denoting the signified Erzählung. the only level accessible to empirical observation. in Schmid’s four-tiered model of Geschehen/Geschichte/Erzählung/Präsentation der Erzählung.discours of. Geschehen is the “implied raw material” for selections whose output constitutes the Geschichte. transitional motifs.” “story. if we move in the opposite direction. The concepts of Genette and others on the one hand and those of Stierle on the other are based on distinctions in the field of the discours and the fabula. or indeed in a sense synthesized. and the like. This is where emplotment comes in. something originally concerned with literary texts and meant as an abstract model of production—one abstracting away from the actual process by which narratives are made—is openly applied to non-fictional narratives. There then remains the question of the story’s meaning. 2005. Todorov in that it includes both the arrangement of the events as well as the Geschichte as manifested in a medium (Stierle 1971). individual events acquire the function of initial motifs. Schmid’s model assumes that the four levels can be identified from changing angles. a semiotic perspective.5 Narrative Constitution in Historiographical and Philosophical Theory In the 1970s. which itself is a signifier pointing to the Geschichte as a third level. In addition. The second step involves transforming this chronological sequence of events into a structured unity in the guise of a story with beginning. takes shape. in the form of events. 2007). whereas the three other levels are geno-levels that can be arrived at only by means of abstraction. the beginnings of which can also be found in Bal and others. namely downward. and their relationship to historical reality. specifically from the producer’s or recipient’s side of the narrative work. Schmid developed his model at the beginning of the 1980s and has defended it again in the recent past (1982. According to this framework. If we move in an upward direction. understood in the sense of Tomaševskij’s fabula and Todorov’s histoire (selected happenings in ordo naturalis). 1984. The first step involves arranging these events into a chronologically ordered chronicle. in the process. italics in original).” and Präsentation der Erzählung means the representation of the Geschichte in a particular medium (the result. Schmid treats the Präsentation der Erzählung as a pheno-level. that is. Erzählung. middle. and so on. the elements of the historical field. cf. an abstract perspective on production takes shape. White (1973) adopted the model of narrative constitution in the formalist and structuralist tradition and applied it to the description of historiographical texts.

comedy. in other words.reception. in contrast to the structural models of narrative constitution belonging to the formalist and structuralist tradition. in the sense of a whole with beginning. White describes historiographical narration as “essentially a literary. Mimesis II refers to the structure and medium of the narrative. vol. are subsumed into a particular plot schema (→ Schemata) (“Thus. which he identifies as mimesis I. White assumes further that there is a limited number of archetypal “modes of emplotment” (mythoi in the sense of Frye’s Poetics-based terminology) that can provide a story with meaning. to Todorov’s discours or Schmid’s Erzählung and Präsentation der Erzählung. configuration here.” 1978: 85). it becomes clear that White in his Metahistory employs an essentially comparable model of narrative constitution with precisely the opposite objective. mimesis II. Thus. uses the idea of emplotment. that is to say. 1: 5). it is a fundamental fact that narratives of every kind have the nature of creative constructions. and mimesis III. Ricœur takes an analogous approach to White when. Šklovskij develops the concept of a sujet that should be distinguished from the fabula. in telling a story. too. that is. in discussing narratives. the relationship between happenings and narrative should be conceived of not simply in the sense of an unbridgeable gap but. involve that on which the narrative depends and that to which it gives rise. on the other hand. Specifically. and mimesis III (refiguration) concerns the recipient’s realization of the mise en intrigue manifested in mimesis II. the historian necessarily reveals a plot. If we recall now the origins of the two-tiered model for works of literary narrative in Russian formalism. Ricœur means “the operation that draws a configuration out of a simple succession” ([1983/85] 1984/88. and end. The recipient here is himself influenced more or less directly in his activity (including the models that determine his image of himself and of the world in which people act) by the reception of mimesis II. By this. similarly to White’s emplotment. a story. in so far as the happenings are concerned with human action. on the other hand. irrespective of whether it is a case of literary or non-literary narration. middle.” 1978: 52). Furthermore. mimesis I (prefiguration) concerns the world in which people act and the models for their actions. Drawing on Frye (1957). In the context of the “narrative hermeneutics” (Meuter 1994) outlined by Ricœur. and does so in order to set a certain emphasis by treating the fact of being artificial as an essential quality of a particular form of narration. ultimately. tragedy. to show that the transformation of happenings into stories necessarily involves a process of making literature. The following ideas from Ricœur’s complex theoretical approach are significant where the issue of narrative constitution is concerned. mimesis II (configuration) relates more or less directly to that world. and satire. is linked to the Aristotelian concept of muthos. in the sense of a special kind of mutual relationship. Thus. he writes about how a reality that is in and of itself contingent is subjected to a fundamental reshaping by a “synthesis of the heterogeneous” in the form of a process of mise en intrigue (rendered as “emplotment” by his translators). the signs are that this process is understood as one of fictionalization (accordingly in this respect. his perspective on the question of 245 . situated on a level between fabula and sujet. that is to say fiction-making operation. White believes there are four such modes of emplotment: romance. that is to say. though. the meaning of a story takes shape as the historian shapes or discerns a plot in the story formed on the basis of the chronicle: the events arranged into a story. Mimesis I and mimesis III. White. Ricœur links the principle of configuration to the Aristotelian concept of mimesis and distinguishes between three levels. Roughly speaking. Ricœur’s idea of a narrative hermeneutics does far more than identify the formal construction of narratives. for Ricœur. specifically literary narration (with Šklovskij seeing the function of this form of narration as being “to return sensation to our limbs” [(1925) 1991: 6]).

the only operative concept is that of the literary text. O’Toole (eds).and fiction-internal pragmatic dimension of the narrative in models of narrative constitution has not to date been properly described where fictional narration is concerned. 246 . widened as it is by the idea of interplay between experience and narrative. Coral Gables: U of Miami P.narrative constitution. M.” É. therefore. • Bal. Roland ([1966] 1977). 79–124. Essais sur la signification narrative dans quatre romans modernes. reveals new angles of research for a context-based narratology with an interest in the pragmatics of narrative: “For a semiotic theory. Porter ([2002] 2008). Understanding Fiction. 4. “A Contextual Glossary of Formalist Terminology. Narratology. • Benveniste. • Bremond. The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. Shukman & L.” Communications No. and readers. Narratologie. 13–48.1 Works Cited • Abbott. • Brooks. Paris: Klincksieck. Toronto: U of Toronto P. Mieke (1977). vol. is the process by which the textual configuration mediates between the prefiguration of the practical field and its refiguration through the reception of the work” ([1983/85] 1984/88. • Bal. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. “Le message narrative. Cleanth & Robert Penn Warren ([1943] 1959). “The Correlations of Tense in the French Verb. B. Introduction to the Theory of Narrative.(b) If we follow Ricœur in considering the problem of narrative constitution in the broader sense of a narrative hermeneutics. • Barthes. Problems in General Linguistics. • Černov. Les instances du récit. […] What is at stake. Claude (1964). 4–32.” A. London: Fontana. authors. we are presented with a wide range of questions to be tackled both by empirical studies of the interplay between human experience and narrative and by work on its theoretical foundations. is concerned with reconstructing the entire arc of operations by which practical experience provides itself with works. Formalist Theory (Russian Poetics in Translation 4). Émile ([1959] 1971). Oxford: Holdan. H. however. Igor) (1977). Mieke ([1985] 1997). “Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives.” R. Image Music Text. 4 Topics for Further Investigation (a)The place of voice as a text. 205–15. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Hermeneutics. (Translated by Alastair Matthews) 5 Bibliography 5. B. Igor’ (Chernov. 1: 53).

What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. The Form and Functioning of Narrative. 523–52. Expositional Modes and Temporal Ordering in Fiction. • Schmid. Algirdas Julien ([1967] 1970). Geschichte―Ereignis und Erzählung. • Forster. • Schmid. • Prince. Signs of Friendship. 73–97. D. Pier (ed. Aspects of the Novel. “Geschehen. Norbert (1994). München: Beck. ([1927] 1972). Viktor (Shklovsky. C. F. Kindt & H. The Structure of the Novel. Austin: U of Texas P.’ ‘Geschichte. Seymour (1978).• Chatman. Morphology of the Folktale. Wolf (1982). • Schmid. Ithaca: Cornell UP.” R. • Muir. 169−87. Text der Geschichte. 119–40.” Studia Culturologica 3. Matías & Michael Scheffel ([1999] 2007). Gerald (1982). Time and Narrative.” T. Gérard ([1983] 1988).“ J. 3 vols. • Propp. Elemente der Narratologie. “On the Semiotic Parameters of Narrative: A Critique of Story and Discourse. Narrative Fiction. Edwin ([1928] 1979). Linguist. Acción. Narrative Discourse Revisited. Wolf (2007). Berlin: Mouton. • Ricœur. 153– 88. Paris: Seuil. • Pier. Ithaca: Cornell UP. G.).” Wiener Slawistischer Almanach 9. “‘Fabel’ und ‘Sujet’. Estructura de la ficción narrativa. Meir (1978). Russische und tschechische Ansätze. Vladimir ([1928] 1968). “Story and Discourse in the Analysis of Narrative. 83–110. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Koselleck & W. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Eine Typologie und sechs exemplarische Analysen. van Baak (ed).” W. Story and Discourse. • Greimas. “Der Ort der Erzählperspektive in der narrativen Konstitution. John (2003). • Genette. Berlin: de Gruyter. Princeton: Princeton UP. Ein Organisationsprinzip unseres Handelns. “Die narrativen Ebenen ‘Geschehen. 249–70. The Pursuit of Signs. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Essai d’approche génerative. Berlin: de Gruyter. Du sens. Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Formen selbstreflexiven Erzählens.-H. Narratology. Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Elmwood Park: Dalkey Archive P. Müller (eds). • Frye. • Rimmon-Kenan. • Culler. Northrop (1957). • García Landa. L’apport de la recherche allemande. • Stierle. José Ángel (1998). J. Anatomy of Criticism. Theory of Prose. Paul ([1983/1985] 1984/1988). Salamanca: Universidad de Salamanca.” A. discurso. Amsterdam: Rodopi. Essais sémiotiques. • Meuter. Stempel (eds). München: 247 . Shlomith ([1983] 2002). London: Chatto & Windus. G. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. • Sternberg. Slavist. Ithaca: Cornell UP.’ ‘Erzählung’ und ‘Präsentation der Erzählung’. To Honour A. Semiotician. Wolf (2005). Geschichte. J. 1–45. Wolf (2009). London: Methuen. • Schmid. Karlheinz ([1971] 1973). Wolf (1984). Einführung in die Erzähltheorie. Berlin: de Gruyter. • Schmid. “La structure des actants du récit. Slavische Erzähltheorie. Harmondsworth: Penguin. • Genette. • Martínez. Contemporary Poetics. “La constitution narrative: les événéments―l’histoire―le récit―la présentation du récit. Michael (1997). van Holk.” J. Victor) ([1925] 1991). relato. • Scheffel. Schmid (ed). Théorie du récit. Edward M. • Šklovskij. Jonathan (1981). Villeneuve d’Ascq: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion. “Prä-Narrativität.” J. Gérard ([1972] 1980).

White. 248 . Lemon & M. 530–34. Poėtika. Tomaševskij.” Papers on Language and Literature 16. Todorov. Tzvetan ([1966] 1980). Teorija literatury. Hayden (1978). “The Categories of Literary Narrative. English trans. Volek. White. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Moskva: Gos. Grammaire du Décaméron. of the chapter “Thematics” from the 1928 ed. Boris ([1925] 1965). J. The Historical Imagination in the Nineteenth Century. Russian Formalist Criticism.: L.” Poetica 9. 3–36. “Die Begriffe ‘Fabel’ und ‘Sujet’ in der modernen Literaturwissenschaft. Reis (eds). The Hague: Mouton. Metahistory. Tropics of Discourse. Hayden (1973). 141–66. Emil (1977). 61–95. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Izd. T.• • • • • • Fink. Todorov. Tzvetan (1969). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP.

(Character identification may invite narrative empathy. Narrative empathy plays a role in the aesthetics of production when authors experience it (Taylor et al. Keen 2007: 169. and through introspection.php?title=Narrative_Empathy&oldid=1726 Narrative Empathy Last modified: 14 January 2012 Suzanne Keen 1 Definition Narrative empathy is the sharing of feeling and perspective-taking induced by reading. matters of pace and duration. some spectators experience the transactions of feeling 249 . and storyworld features such as settings. Narrative empathy overarches narratological categories. Individual dramatists. and to a lesser degree. and psychologists. but most of the published commentary and theorizing on narrative empathy centers on fictional narratives (→ Fictional vs. especially novels and film fiction (→ Narration in Film). directors.Keen. in the aesthetics of reception when readers experience it. and in the narrative poetics of texts when formal strategies invite it. philosophers. alternatively. 376–77). or imagining narratives of another’s situation and condition. 2002–2003: 361. hearing.) Empathetic effects of narrative have been theorized by literary critics. in mental simulation during reading. depressing the theorizing of reception in performance studies. (eds. Hühn.sub. drama.unihamburg. Factual Narration).de/lhn/index. 12 Mar 2012. Suzanne: "Narrative Empathy". Brecht’s disdain for the evocation of audience empathy in favor of estrangement effects has had a lasting legacy. The diversity of the narratological concepts involved (addressed in more detail below) suggests that narrative empathy should not simply be equated with character identification nor exclusively verified by readers’ reports of identification. and they have been evaluated by means of experiments in discourse processing. http://hup. empirical approaches to narrative impact. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. spontaneous empathy with a fictional character may precede identification. viewing.): the living handbbook of narratology. involving actants. Peter et al. 2 Explication Nonfictional narrative genres may involve narrative empathy. and actors may nonetheless draw on empathy in the form of motor mimicry. narrative situation.

The psychologists who study narrative empathy in laboratory settings have identified key features of narrative fictional texts. The remainder of this entry focuses on narrative fiction. Since narrative empathy involves sharing feelings as well as sensations of immersion. “Whether we are purged. pleasured. others at pleasurable stimulation. sympathy may or may not follow on an experience of narrative empathy. As Yanal later writes. (“I feel for you” rather than “I feel with you. The “paradox of fiction” questions whether genuine emotion can be felt in response to a fictitious character or event (Dadlez 1997. While in readers’ narrative empathy shared feeling enables a living reader to catch the emotions and sensations of a representation (in other-directed attention). Whether non-fiction arouses greater or lesser empathy in individuals and in larger populations of readers and viewers is a question for future empirical work. but belief in an aesthetic illusion. and history. Sympathy refers to an emotion felt for a target that relates to but does not match the target’s feeling. even when they are aware of the illusion of fictionality (Yanal 1999: 11) (→ Illusion (Aesthetic)). an argument that has received experimental support from research in cognitive neuroscience on mirror neurons. […] Some emoters may aim at catharsis in seeking out fiction. it is reasonable to inquire into the status of emotions involved in fiction. that dispose readers to making subjective reports of being transported or of “having left the real world behind while visiting narrative worlds” (Gerrig 1993: 157). Narrative empathy differs from two related but distinct phenomena: sympathy and the empathetic aversion that psychologists label personal distress. Readers do often become emotionally involved or immersed in fictional worlds. The evocation of real emotions by fictional narratives. and surprise (Sternberg 1992: 529).”) Sometimes called empathetic concern.states involved in empathy. This definition of esthetic emotion allows for a range of feelings. memoir. 250 . Miall explicitly links empathy with immersion (Miall 2009: 240–44). Hjort & Laver 1997). Some modes of fiction. suspense. some at affective flexibility. Mar & Oatley argue that “imagined settings and characters evoked by fiction literature likely engage the same areas of the brain as those used during the performance of parallel actions and perceptions” (Mar & Oatley 2008: 180). or made flexible from emotions matters little. including real-world motor mimicry and emotional contagion (Zillman 1995). contrasted with fictional characters. is not required for empathy to occur. including high levels of imagery inviting mental simulation and immersion. since empathy is most often discussed in relation to the impact of fictional worlds on readers. raises the question of the status of “fictional emotions” as opposed to the drivers of narrativity (→ Narrativity): curiosity. employ devices such as metalepsis (→ Metalepsis) deliberately to disrupt readers’ immersion. Individual readers testify to greater or lesser intensities of emotional fusion with nonfictional subjects of autobiography. Dewey lays the groundwork for discussion of fictional emotions in his broader statement (about all the arts) that “esthetic emotion is native emotion transformed through the objective material to which is has committed its development and consummation” (Dewey 1985: 85). or turns off the transmission. leaves the theater. a topic of controversy in philosophy (Yanal 1999). The phenomenology of transportation is taken to be a fact of readers’ immersion. personal distress caused by unpleasant discordant empathetic sharing results in an aversive reaction (self-directed focus) (Eisenberg 2005). such as postmodern novels. not limited to aesthetic pleasure in form and catharsis. or realistic representation. Any of these counts as an end that renders emotion coherent” (1999: 30). Extreme personal distress in response to narrative usually interrupts and sometimes terminates the narrative transaction: the distressed responder puts the book down.

within and across boundaries of group identification. though much remains to be discovered about narrative artists’ personalities and practices.. Some of the techniques thought to evoke empathetic responses have been described in narratological terms (e.. point of view (Andringa et al. Because empathy is a feeling experienced by real people.Gerrig (1993) argues that readers naturally experience narrative information as continuous with information gleaned from real experience and thus must exert themselves consciously to regard fictive narratives as fictional. narrative empathy arises in the process of narrative dynamics. Character identification of readers with fictional characters. in contradistinction from Coleridge’s willing suspension of disbelief. etc. experiences. which are protean (cf. and temperaments (Keen 2011c). for narrative empathy transacts feelings through narrative representations. situations. and paratexts of fictionality (Keen 2007: 88–9). depending on their identities. metalepsis. even though exercise of these choices does not necessarily imply didactic intentions or a bid for an altruistic response in the real world. 85) when in the process of creating fictional worlds. It may influence writers’ choices about narrative techniques. may influence their experiences of narrative empathy. In a follow-up study. not necessarily matching authors’ strategic narrative empathizing (Keen 2008: 478–79). Authors’ empathy does not directly correspond to readers’ empathy (→ Reader). Other elements thought to be involved in readers’ empathy include vivid use of settings and traversing of boundaries (Friedman 1998). empathetic individuals tend to better grasp the causal relations between narrated events in fiction (Bourg 1996) than those testing low in empathy. according to Gerrig & Rapp. → Focalization). As empirical research in discourse processing reveals. Sternberg 1982). serial repetition of narratives set in a stable storyworld (Warhol 2003). 2001) (→ Perspective . Specific narrative techniques of fiction and film narrative have been associated with empathetic effects (Keen 2006: 216). For instance. Narrative empathy evidences Gerrig’s contention despite the paradox of fictional emotions. narrative situations.g. That is. encouraging immersion or 251 . Authors’ empathy (→ Author) bears on fictional worldmaking and character creation. though caution should be taken not to oversimplify predictions about the effects of particular narrative techniques. evincing a desire to evoke an empathetic response in the narrative audience. receiving. readers of the resultant narrative may respond with fantasy empathy for their own reasons. authors’ empathy is likely a core element of the narrative imagination. individual readers respond variously to narrative texts. or the movement from beginning to end of the discourse (Richardson 2002: 1). These techniques include manipulations of narrative situation to channel perspective or person of the narration and representation of fictional characters’ consciousness (Schneider 2001). Readers and viewers can block feeling responses to fiction by reminding themselves of its unreality. or co-creating narratives. free indirect speech. Gerrig & Rapp (2004) suggest that real readers must make an active effort to disbelieve the reality of fictive narratives. but it takes an effort. while authors show signs of engaging in fantasy empathy (Davis 1980: 10. The empathetic dispositions that readers bring to the text have an impact on the efficacy of particular techniques. At the creative end of the narrative transaction. That fiction-writers as a group exhibit fantasy empathy (as measured by Davis’s Interpersonal Reactivity Index [Davis 1980]) and test higher for empathy than the general population has been demonstrated by Taylor (Taylor et al. 2002–2003). Keen 2007: 92–9). Narrative empathy can be situated in both authors and readers. though it may also precede subsequent character identification (Keen 2007: 169). lengthiness (Nussbaum 1990).Point of View. arising from.

Octavia Butler’s Lauren Olamina [1993]) or discussion of successes or failures of empathy on the part of fictional characters (e. or defamiliarization that slow reading pace (Zillman 1991). and devices such as foregrounding (Miall 1989). ethnic. 2009) applies to narrative empathy. their length and performance conditions being. 2011). postcolonial. Narrative empathy is often thematized in texts through direct representation of mind-reading “empaths” (Star Trek’s Deanna Troi [Roddenberry 1987-1994]. Patrick Colm Hogan argues that empathy for characters is inseparable from literary reading experiences and suggests that Keen holds narrative empathy to an unreasonably high standard 252 . or “feeling into”). 2004) (→ Metanarration and Metafiction). the impact can be considered an aspect of ethics in narrative discourse. disorder.g. “feeling for” or compassion. Hogan 2001). Nünning 2001. The situation of an individual reader with respect to authors’ strategic empathizing depends in part on aspects of identity and narration (→ Identity and Narration). as well as in popular usage. For a history of the idea under the term empathy (the English translation of Einfühlung. especially as it helps readers overcome bias (Harrison 2008. arguing that narrative empathy does not often lead to documented altruistic action (Keen 2007: 145). this account focuses on narrative empathy.. it has been suggested by philosophers and developmental psychologists that experiences of narrative empathy contribute to readers’ moral development (Hoffman 2000). 3 History of the Concept and its Study “Empathy” has often been conflated with its subset. Further. The literary implications of sympathy have been contested throughout the centuries (Keen 2007: 37–64). or when they receive tacit or explicit encouragement to undertake altruistic action on behalf of represented others for whom they feel narrative empathy. Commentators on narrative ethics have often linked fictional representation of empathy (or failures of empathy) with empathy experienced by real readers.transportation of readers (Nell 1988). the definitions of empathy and sympathy remain entangled.. Keen criticizes accounts of narrative empathy that insist on moral efficacy as an outcome of reading. respectively. When readers’ attitudes alter.” After a brief discussion on empathy. especially in reference to Victorian. generic conventions (Jameson 1981). and fusion of feelings from the older term sympathy. Most of the existing empirical research on empathetic effects in narration concerns film (Tan 1996. In contemporary philosophy and psychology (Batson 2011).The projected feeling of empathy involves responses not only to sentient beings. at odds with the current modes of empirical verification. “narrative empathy. see Wispé (1987). It separates aspects of motor mimicry. Zillman 1991) although a number of researchers are investigating potentially empathy-inducing techniques using short fiction. Some commentators assume that the empathy-altruism hypothesis regarding real-life human empathy and pro-social behavior (Batson et al. but also to inanimate objects and landscape features. Nussbaum (1990) argues that narrative empathy resulting from novel reading forms good world citizens. metanarrative interjections (Fludernik 2003. Most usage of the term “empathy” in relation to narrative occurs in 20thcentury works of literary criticism (e. and woman-authored fiction. Novels and stage drama are least studied empirically (though often theorized about).g. the contrast between Ender and Valentine in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game [1985]). emotional contagion. emerging out of late 19th-century German psychological aesthetics.

and non-fiction could supplement existing research on narrative empathy and prose fiction. Ambassadorial strategic empathy addresses members of more temporally.of “moral heroism” (Hogan 2010: 267). readers’ empathy leads to differentiation in terms of belonging (Keen 2011a). in narrative processing (Mar & Oatley et al. or culturally remote audiences. 4 Topics for Further Investigation Keen (2007: 169–71) lists twenty-seven hypotheses about narrative empathy that could be further theorized and. who vary in dispositional empathy (Keen 2007: 89) and in their official and unofficial positions with respect to the text (Goffman 1956). Keen does not introduce the standard. deriving it rather from the discussions of Nussbaum. In any case. Hoffman. Research into narrative empathy in cognitive science has investigated the role of emotions. as well as theorizing readers’ responses (Keen 2006). especially with regards to persuasion. Even so. and altruism (Johnson 2011). 253 . immersion (Ryan 2001). Narrative empathy designates an affective element of the operations investigated by cognitive narratology (→ Cognitive Narratology). Rhetorical narratology takes an interest in effects on readers. in some cases. A subset of narrative empathy. However. While no narrative text consistently inspires empathy in all its readers. Narrative empathy has also been studied in relation to experientiality (Fludernik 1996). Keen’s theory of narrative empathy elaborates the uses to which real authors/narrative artists put their human empathy to work in imaginative character-creation and in other aspects of worldmaking. empathy may be strategically employed in narrative for purposes of ideological manipulation. film. including empathy. social neuroscientists. Empirical verification of claims made by narratologists about narrative empathy have been investigated in collaboration with specialists in discourse processing (Miall 2006) and psychologists who study persuasion and impact (Mazzocco & Green et al. further research into narrative empathy will be best served by cross-disciplinary conversation and interdisciplinary collaboration. The Machiavellian use of empathy is well documented in real life as well as in fictions such as Ender’s Game. study of the responses of readers belonging to different audiences reveals narrative empathy in action. 2011). mental imaging. A subset of narrative empathy. 2010). and others. longitudinal and comparative studies of groups of real readers would supplement the existing research on the impact of narrative empathy on beliefs and prosocial behavior. Comparison of narrative empathy elicited by drama. A contribution to rhetorical narratology. If a long-term study could be undertaken. spatially. Broadcast strategic empathy calls upon all readers to experience emotional fusion through empathetic representations of universal human experiences and generalizable responses to particular situations (Keen 2008). tested empirically in collaboration with psychologists. and experts in discourse processing. Bounded strategic empathy addresses members of in-groups. readers’ empathy leads to differentiation of readers in terms of their belonging to in-groups addressed directly by authors hoping to evoke empathy.

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startrek. Teleology. • Breithaupt. “Toward a Cognitive Theory of Literary Character: The Dynamics of Mental-Model Construction. 361–80. Warhol. Taylor. “The illusion of independent agency: Do adult fiction writers experience their characters as having minds of their own?” Imagination. • Decety. Richardson. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Keith (1994).” Poetics Today 13. 1– 7. Emotion and the Structure of Narrative Film: Film as an Emotion Machine. Cambridge. • Coplan. Lauren (1987). Oxford: Oxford UP. 5. Bryant (eds). Schneider. 256 . 9–11. Ralf (2001). Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives. MA: Cambridge UP. Amy & Peter Goldie (eds) (2011). University Park: Pennsylvania State UP. Tan.” Poetics 23. 53–74. Columbus: Ohio State UP. http://www. Columbus: Ohio State UP.” N. NJ: Erlbaum. NJ: Erlbaum. Meir (1982). Marjorie et al. Empathy and its Development. 607–42. Deanna. (1999). Mahwah. Gene (1987–1994). Richardson (ed).2 Further Reading • Breger. The Paradoxes of Emotion and Fiction. Strayer (eds). Jean & William Ickes (eds) (2011). Narrative Dynamics: Essays on Time. (1996).” B. Plot. Brian (2002). Hilldale. “Telling in Time (II): Chronology. Ed S. Sternberg. Sternberg. Dolf (1995). 135–67. Having a Good Cry: Effeminate Feelings and Pop-Culture Forms. “History of the Concept of Empathy. Wispé. 107–56.” D. “Empathy: Affect from Bearing Witness to the Emotions of Others. Responding to the Screen: Reception and Reaction Processes. and Frames. • Oatley. Cambridge.• • • • • • • • • • • • • Literature. Closure.” Poetics 23. Empathie und Erzählung. Accessed 20 December 2011. Zillman. Robyn (2003). (2002–2003). Roddenberry. Ryan. “General Introduction. “A Taxonomy of the Emotions of Literary Response and a Theory of Identification in Fictional Narrative. “Proteus in Quotation-Land: Mimesis and the Forms of Reported Discourse. Robert J. Dolf (1991). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. B. Yanal. 33–51. Fritz (2009). Eisenberg & J. Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Zillman. “Mechanisms of Emotional Involvement with Drama. Marie-Laure (2001). MA: MIT P. 463–541.” Style 35. Zillman & J. Narrativity. Claudia & Fritz Breithaupt (eds) (2010). Kulturen der Empathie. The Social Neuroscience of Empathy.” Poetics Today 3. Oxford: Oxford UP. “Troi. 17–37. Meir (1992). Cognition & Personality 22.” Star Trek: The Next Generation. Freiburg: Rombach.

As every narrative is taken charge of by a narrative act.Coste. Peter et al. 12 Mar 2012. and can thus be thought of more accurately as “narration levels” or “narrating levels. difference of level can be described “by saying that any event a narrative recounts is at a diegetic level immediately higher than the level at which the narrating act 257 . intradiegetic or diegetic (events presented in the primary narrative). the level of the narrative act situated outside the spatiotemporal coordinates of the primary narrator’s are extradiegetic (narrative act external to any diegesis). 5).sub. three narrative levels can be identified in a story where a narrator reports the telling of a story by a narrator-character within his own story: the level within the global text at which the telling of the narratorcharacter’s story occurs. The notion of narrative levels serves to describe the spatiotemporal relations between the various narrating acts occurring in a narrative. narrative levels also include horizontal relations between narrating instances situated at the same diegetic level.php?title=Narrative_Levels&oldid=1571 Narrative Levels Last modified: 4 August 2011 Didier Coste & John Pier 1 Definition Narrative levels (also referred to as diegetic levels) is an analytic notion whose purpose is to describe the relations among the plurality of narrating instances within a narrative. who first proposed the term. http://hup. John: "Narrative Levels". (eds. and more specifically the vertical relations between narrating instances.): the living handbbook of narratology. Narrative levels. as when a story is told by several narrators. Thus. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. and metadiegetic (narrative embedded within the intradiegetic level). the other two being time of the narrating and person (1972: chap. narrative level is one of the three categories forming the narrating situation. In a broader sense. arranged bottom upwards.” 2 Explication According to Genette.unihamburg. What distinguishes narrative level from the traditional notion of embedding is that it marks a “threshold” in the transition from one diegesis (spatiotemporal universe within which the action takes place) to another (Genette [1983] 1988: 84). however. Hühn. Didier & Pier. the level at which the primary narrator’s discourse occurs.

the expository pages to Marlow’s narrative in Heart of Darkness). Bal (1977: 35) and Rimmon-Kenan ([1983] 2002: 92–3) invert this order. etc. serve to bracket the main story (e. the dream sequences introduced into Nerval’s “Aurélie” do not represent changes of level since there is no change of narrator).producing this narrative is placed […]. remain 258 . which is not always taken into account by the traditional notions (e. embedded or not. (c) narrational. see 3. (b) predictive. thus situating it in a web of narrating instances. diminishing the prominence of the metadiegetic content (Rimmon-Kenan [1983] 2002: 93. level and person form the narrator’s status. On the other hand. (f) obstructive (Genette [1983] 1988: 92–4). Genette ([1972] 1980: 232–34) distinguishes three types of relations binding metadiegetic narrative to primary narrative: (a) explanatory.1 below. And finally.g. On the one hand. embedded stories. it correlates with a second type of diegetic relation. a systematization of theories of perspective and point of view (→ Perspective/Point of View). narrative levels represent a narratological response to the traditional notions of frame stories and embedded stories. when the act of (secondary) narrating merges with the present situation. Pier 1986). exists by virtue of a narrative act which is necessarily external to the spatiotemporal universe within which the events of that narrative take place.” thus opening the way to a more precise description and analysis of change of level through the identification of textual markers. but whereas frame stories. At the same time. usually short. every narrative. (c) purely thematic.” (Genette ([1972] 1980: 228–29). these types were later refined into six “functions” ordered by decreasing thematic relation between primary and second-level narrative with increasing emphasis on the narrative act itself: (a) explicative. The narrating instance of a first narrative [récit premier] is therefore extradiegetic by definition. On the notion of diegesis. when there is a link of direct causality between the events of the diegesis and those of the metadiegesis. (e) distractive. With reference to Barth (1981). Discussions of narrative level frequently overlook the fact that it is not an isolated category but that. by pushing the narrative act as a means of transition between levels yet further. as in an exemplum or in mise en abyme. or vice versa. placing the diegetic level in a “subordinate” position in relation to the extradiegetic level. a process of embedding occurs in both types. (b) thematic. Narrative level. homodiegetic (present in the narrated world) or autodiegetic (identical with the protagonist). Technically. (d) persuasive. Together. Formulated in terms of enunciation. as the narrating instance of a second (metadiegetic) narrative [récit second] is diegetic by definition.1. broken down into a four-part typology of the narrator (Genette [1972] 1980: 248. the boundaries between levels are violated. 3 History of the Concept and its Study Analogously to focalization (→ Focalization). names the latter relation “actional”). resulting in metalepsis (→ Metalepsis). however. a relation of person: hence a narrator (→ Narrator) is either heterodiegetic (absent from the narrated world). narrative levels provide a set of principles that makes it possible to describe both frame stories and embedded stories. of limited duration. as when the author or the reader enters the domain of the characters. narrative levels come into play only with a shift of voice. by way of contrast or analogy between levels. forming part of the narrating situation. cf. is both conceptually more global than either of these practices and more restricted. with a possible effect of the metadiegesis on the diegetic situation. narrative level in effect opposes “who speaks?” and “who acts?.g.

subordination (which excludes juxtaposition). one sequence inserted into another)—a set of relations that comes under the prefix hypo-. since it prefigures a hierarchical top-down ordering of narrating instances that may not pertain to all narratives. Todorov cover commentary of any kind (Bal 1981: 53–6. 3. Formally. and that it does so at the expense of the intended relation of inclusion between primary and embedded narrative. embedding designates one of the three ways in which sequences can be combined syntactically into more complex forms: linking. if the primary story level serves as a mere introduction to the narrative proper. so that of a metadiegetic (second-level) narrative is diegetic ([1972] 1980: 229). Bal points to three usages of meta-: (a) a quoted discourse is metalinguistic in the sense of being fictional in relation to the quoting discourse (a sense close to Genette’s). The terminological refinement thus comes at a price. metanarrative (métarécit or récit métadiégétique) would correspond to the embedding narrative—a primary narrative on or about the secondlevel narrative. on the prefix meta-. the novella “The Curious Impertinent” in Don Quixote). a debate centered. by “hyponarrative” and “hypodiegetic”—a level below rather than in the diegetic level (Bal 1977: 35. Fludernik 1996: 342. (c) an abusive extension of meta. at least initially. Her 259 . even though it does not necessarily involve a change of narrating instance (a digression can be related by the primary narrator). and also because it severs the significant link between metanarrative and metalepsis (Genette [1983] 1988: 91–2). But in fact metanarrative (or better: metadiegetic narrative) corresponds to the events related within diegetic narrative. 3. it will be perceived as a framing device” (Fludernik 1996: 343. alternation (Bremond 1973. a relationship of embedding obtains.g.1 Level and Enunciation By reformulating narrative embedding in terms of the enunciative threshold in the transitions between levels. it further conflicts with the specific use of hypo. The Odyssey) is prior to a hypertext (e. In order to resolve the potential terminological ambiguity. on metanarrative commentary. Rimmon-Kenan [1983] 2002: 92–6). Ulysses) (Genette 1982). see 3. the quoted discourse is a metanarrative commentary on the quoting discourse (metalinguistic textual devices. Interestingly. embedding is defined by syntactic the study of hypertextual relations where a hypotext (e. and homogeneity (e. It must be noted.1. As for embedding proper. that this revision inverts the order of narrative levels in Genette’s presentation. Genette opened up a debate with far-reaching implications as to the nature of the relations between levels. If understood analogously to metalanguage.g. 1971). however. see Nünning 2004).1 Embedding In a sense that bears on narrative levels only in part. creating a relation of hierarchical subordination with the extradiegetic level situated at the top.2 below). Bal later abandoned her neologisms and radically altered the notion of narrative level itself. etc. (b) from a functionalist perspective. On this basis. respectively. it is proposed that “metanarrative” and “metadiegetic” be replaced. cf. this occurs when there is insertion (attributive discourse provides a link between two discourses). 1981: 43–53. embedding.g.g. “If the tale is conceptualized as subsidiary to the primary story frame.).subordinate to the primary narrative (e. Genette insisted that just as the narrating instance of the primary narrative is extradiegetic.

9) adopts a cross-classification of three dichotomies: +/. though he is not referred to) is that it provides a solution to the difficulty for traditional accounts of embedding and frame tale in marking off discourse boundaries from the boundaries separating different narrative contents. Narrative levels. prayer. +/. The system of narrative boundaries or frames. then. as a given speaker describes a same level of reality. On this basis. which is more closely bound up with context. (3a) actually crossed ontological boundary with no change of speaker (change in levels of reality in Alice in Wonderland reported by the primary narrator). are devoted to various forms of speech representation (→ Speech Representation).) and social activity (frequency and length of turn-taking. (2a) actually crossed illocutionary boundary. Distinguishing between discourse as an illocutionary category and story as an ontological category. (c) transgressed boundary (metalepsis). which 260 . As a result.Oral Narration).g.” is then elaborated: (1) no boundary. (3b) virtually crossed ontological boundary by the same speaker (dream anchored in reality but described from the outside). by contrast. computer science. the threshold marking the transition between diegeses disappears. in the form of retrospective interpretations of the past or projections about the future in relation to the actual world. embedding can be found in various disciplines including linguistics. etc. Füredy (1989) identified the more extreme forms of embedding found in artistic representation: (a) intact and multiplying boundary (e. Genette’s. (b) intact but reified boundary (escape from the undecidable and oscillating boundary built into Escher’s Drawing Hands is possible only through access to an otherwise inviolate metalevel). etc. communication. One advantage of this model of narrative levels (and by implication. organized into a “concentric structure. and thus contribute to the intelligibility of the fabula (Ryan 1986). In the field of conversation analysis (→ Conversational Narration .ontological. mise en abyme. logic. and logical levels that characterize the concept in these fields. cover the enunciative situation of narrative in general as well as various forms of embedded narrative. (4b) virtually crossed ontological boundary with change of speaker (primary narrator projects an imaginary story by a second-level narrator). degree of thematic and rhetorical integration into the general conversation) (Ochs & Capps 2001: 36–40. intents.actual crossing.g. 4). on the other hand. etc. dialogue quoted in direct speech).g. as in the Arabian Nights). character’s narrative presented by the narrator’s discourse in indirect speech). The possible worlds approach does in fact open the way to a logically consistent model of narrative embedding. on the performativity (→ Performativity) of oral narration as “situated communication. embedded narratives are a variety of alternate possible worlds that exist as beliefs. a system of four types of narrative boundaries.illocutionary. With reference to the criteria of punctuation and continuum. is referred to as “embeddedness. psychology. A multifaceted concept. (2b) virtually crossed illocutionary boundary (e. In possible worlds narrative theory.” Thus a narrative of personal experience will be embedded in accordance not with syntactic subordination or logical level so much as it is with surrounding discourse (explanation. which she explains as text interference between actor’s text and narrator’s text. (4a) actually crossed ontological boundary with change of speaker (a story within a story.comments on “levels of narrative.” see Young 1987: chap. embedding.” based on grammatical subordination of the actor’s text by the narrator’s text. while embedding. boundary. and with it the vectors of embedding/embedded and narrating instance constitutive of narrative level. Ryan (1991: chap. reverts to the traditional concept in which an embedded fabula serves to explain or to explain and determine the primary fabula or in which there is a relation of resemblance between the two (Bal [1985] 1997: 43–60). which in principle is open to infinite recursion). +/. as when the first and second speakers are different but refer to the same reality (e.

contamination of levels.heterodiegetic). tertiary non-diegetic (=meta.e. Rejecting traditional typologies. and that non-canonical narratives are deviant in relation to “standard” narratives. and that every boundary be crossed twice. is completed with the notion of “stacks. namely erzählendes Ich/erzähltes Ich. Equally. the difference of level resulting from the fact that the narrative act necessarily takes place in a spatiotemporal universe which is external to that of the events related. Far from being constrained by the conditions of narrativity. The elimination of personal pronouns and the disappearance of the prefixes homo-/auto. strange loops. the only level left on the stack should be the ground level.” a metaphor borrowed from computer science (cf.and third-person narration with internal vs. Hofstadter 1980: 127–31) in order to account for the dynamic and sequential ordering of levels in texts. that pushing and popping be properly signaled. “In a canonical narrative. that Genette’s terminology is additionally intended to account for the narrating instance. the logical consistency of Ryan’s model notwithstanding.” However. the diegetic narrator belongs to both levels. but not by all texts of literary fiction. however. the building and unbuilding of the stack follows a rigid protocol which restricts the range of legal operations. and the non-diegetic narrator only to the exegesis. once during the building and once during the unbuilding. that contribute to a text’s narrativity (→ Narrativity). secondary non-diegetic (=intra. It must be remembered. From a poststructuralist perspective. although with a revision of his terminology. Schmid (2005: 72–99) considers narrative levels. etc. Genette [1972] 1980: 248). tertiary diegetic (=meta. suggesting in effect that the stack metaphor operates through execution of a code rather than in accordance with the enunciative principle according to which the narrative act occurs in a spatiotemporal universe external to that of the narrative events. or “narrating I”/“narrated I” (cf. the fictional text may subvert the mechanisms of the stack. 8).is classificatory and static. that they be pushed or popped on the top of the stack exclusively. First.and hetero.serve to underscore a differentiation which is current in German narrative theory and implicit in Genette’s system. together with presence/nonpresence of the narrator in the diegesis. These emendations make possible a terminologically and conceptually clarified typology of narrators: primary non-diegetic (=extra. sujet de l’énonciation/de l’énoncé. and exegesis the level of the narrating.” “a structure of supervision. a basic element in the elaboration of a typology of narrators. diegesis designates the level of the narrated world. The author goes on to discuss various “subversions” of the canonical narrative (the endlessly expanding stack. nothing mixed or hybrid. secondary diegetic (=intra. thus openly taking an antinarrative stance” (Ryan 1991: 187). external perspective.homodiegetic) (Schmid 2005: 87.homodiegetic). “subject of the enunciation”/“the enunciated” in French linguistics). irregular as well as “legal” (→ Event and Eventfulness).. Schmid adopts Genette’s criteria. However. There must be no hint of ambivalence or paradox in the definition of a given stratum.heterodiegetic). there must be no anomalies in any of the strata. This protocol requires that levels be kept distinct. i. derived from the story/discourse dichotomy. primary diegetic (=extra. which generally combine first. no irrational features that might trouble its terms.” According to Gibson (1996: 215): “It is crucial to the Genettian concept of levels that there be no seepage or osmosis across the threshold. This protocol is respected by all standard narrative texts.heterodiegetic).homodiegetic). At the end of the text. Second. cf. In contrast to Ryan’s modeling of boundary crossings. Gibson’s critique of 261 . see also McHale 1987: chap. the notion of narrative levels is symptomatic of a “boxing of narrative. it might be wondered if is not precisely boundary crossings.” and “purity of composition. The substance composing each stratum must be unadulterated.

ontological fictions. 1987). but without putting it in those terms: as shown by Shryock (1993: 6–8). 2b and 4a. distractive. 2 above). Nelles contends that the function of embedded narrative is thematic (by contract or analogy) and that the interpretive strategies implemented by embedding can be analyzed on the basis of the 262 .1. and “vertical” embedding when there is a change of level and of speaker and/or of narratee. may not be so rigid and constraining as supposed. Derrida). or what Young (1987: 24) calls “Taleworld” (“the realm of the events the story is about”) as opposed to the “Storyrealm” (the “region of narrative discourse within the realm of conversation”). he renames horizontal and vertical embedding “verbal” and “modal. Genette suggests as much when.” as concluded by Genette ([1983] 1988: 95): the way is opened toward a functional approach to narrative levels in place of the more monological information-based model of narrative communication generally adhered to by classical narratology (cf. stating however that the province of narratology is not that of “interpretation” (87) and thus stopping short of taking full stock of this position. cf. As the transgressive and subversive passages between levels noted above make clear. while the persuasive. and obstructive functions can be qualified as such only by their perlocutionary effects. embedding. 4b boundary crossings. narrative levels are so many ways of appealing to active participation by the addressee. Nor does the critique take into account the potential descriptive utility. etc. → Mediacy and Narrative Mediation). despite the inevitably metaphorical nature of whatever terminology is employed. metalepsis. as in a dream (cf. and pseudo-diegetic narrative. he implicitly shifts to a speech act approach to narrative levels.2 Embedding as a Communicational Function To be sure. widely acknowledged by theoreticians of differing orientations. overlooking the fact that levels exist by virtue of their thresholds and are perpetually exposed to transgressive crossings.” respectively. Nelles (1997: 127– 43) introduces two distinctive types of embedding: “horizontal” embedding occurs when a story is told by two or more narrators without a change of diegetic level. In this light. Deleuze. In presenting his notion of “narrative laterality” (inspired from Serres. Gibson himself makes ample use of the very terminology and concepts he denounces in order to describe the “collapse of hierarchies” (cf. Ryan’s type 3b). With reference to McHale’s (1987) epistemological vs.. García Landa 1998: 304). Following a critique of Bal’s revisions of Genette. These forms can be likened. An additional case is the alternate universes created in a character’s mind. of narrative levels. formalist/structuralist models of narrative levels. respectively. just as it fails to mention Genette’s study of “transtextual” relations (1982. to Ryan’s type 2a. frames. One consequence of formulating narrative levels in functional terms is the reordering of the notion of levels itself. in redefining these relations. the explanatory function (by metadiegetic analepsis) and the predictive function (by metadiegetic prolepsis) of the second-level narrative operate by virtue of their illocutionary force. which set out to reformulate the traditional notions of embedding and framing in terms of a general theory of narrative. Chatman 1978: 151. the obstructive function in particular binding the two levels together solely by an act of narration (a point disregarded by Rimmon-Kenan when she renames the narrational relation between levels “actional”). stacks. the relations between levels surpass those of subordination and hierarchy. In fact.“narratological geometrics” (which can also be leveled against Ryan and Schmid) remains silent on such limit cases as mise en abyme. he adopts a functional perspective ([1983] 1988: 92–4. 3. and not a mere “stratagem of presentation” or “conventionality. which Nelles explains not as a change of level but of the spatiotemporal coordinates of the story.

splitting the subject as narrating instance between present storyteller and past (or future) character (cf. the picaresque novel. addressee roles are more varied than those typically found in written texts: as in conversational narratives. including narratologists (García Landa 2004. forming a system of “parallel” narrators at the same level and related to dialogism (→ Dialogism) in which narratives are combined either by sequential relay. postmodern fiction. but as the enunciator: “A narrator is the subject of enunciation of one or more utterances that either contain a narrateme or are involved in the production of a narrateme by the reader” (Coste 1989: 166. resulting from grammatical subordination and materialized in the form of delegated narration. to her types 2b and 2a. quantitative or otherwise. this approach emphasizes the role of the narrator not as homo. see 263 . but also fall on the ears of mere auditors or even those of overhearers or eavesdroppers. To the extent that both types are enunciative.vs.” Another functional approach to narrative levels has been elaborated by Coste. see Kanzog 1966.2 Frame Tale and mise en abyme A significant and oft overlooked fact of the principle of narrative levels is that it focuses on formal features of embedding and as such does not—nor is it intended to—distinguish between the relative importance. Rooted in a communicative theory of narrative. In this type of narration. and (c) addressees. they can be likened to Nelles’s horizontal or verbal embedding and to Ryan’s illocutionary boundary crossings and. (b) other subjects of enunciation. cf. coordination). The deployment of narrative levels and the modalities of transitions between them are extremely variable. Where Coste’s system differs from these models is in the notion of “overall narrator. adapted from Barthes’ analysis of “Sarrasine. etc. Essential here is the functional separation between subjects of enunciation and subjects of the enunciated. organic relations between the two types of embedding. always exterior to the enunciated. has argued in favor of breaking the narrator down into the creative (self-expressive). 3. concurrent/conflictive versions. On these premises. 2). paratactically organized stories and novels may not be restricted to intended addressees (narratee. captured by the image of the “narrational tree”: while the roots grow deeper and the trunk higher (hypotactic or vertical embedding). The same distinction is made by García Landa (1998: 302). Subjects of enunciation. intentional or not (167). transmissive (performative).hermeneutic. for a brief historical survey of frame tales. and testimonial (assertive) narratorial functions constitutive of “narratorhood. or narrational crossfire (167–73). paratactic (juxtaposition. the branches spread out laterally (paratactic or lateral embedding). on the notion of narrateme and the structure of narrative meaning. heterodiegetic. the epistolary novel. Goffman 1981). implied reader). and formal codes.. are thus determined according to their relations with: (a) enunciated utterances. both historically and generically (the Decameron. of primary and second-level narrative: the process of embedding employed in the Arabian Nights is identical to that of the interpolated narratives in Don Quixote. although it must be mentioned that Ryan (2001). proairetic. Coste sets forth two types of narrative embedding: hypotactic. see chap. who has also drawn attention to the link between paratactically embedded literary narratives and face-to-face communication.” Of central interest in Coste’s model are the interdependent. Schmid above). respectively. in a different spirit and independently of her work on narrative boundaries. for embedding in various genres.” a cooperative construct that acts as an organizer or control function which may be textualized (editor in the 18th-century novel) or not (→ Implied Author).

narratives that employ the framing technique—and this accessorily to the principle of narrative embedding properly speaking— can incorporate a single second-level narrative (Heart of Darkness) or multiple second-level narratives (the Arabian Nights) as well as. however. The communicative specificities of the framing technique thus come within the scope of pragmatics. additional embedded narratives (as in “The Three Ladies of Baghdad”). inter alia. and it thus contributes to textual coherence (→ Coherence). that the primary narrator vouches for the veracity of the related facts: a potentially rhetorical move (as in the case of an unreliable narrator). this corresponds to the syntactic dimension of semiosis. This aspect of the framing technique can be assimilated to the semantic dimension of semiosis. together with its second-level narrative. Semiotically. it offers the possibility of linking together an otherwise disparate group of stories and of establishing thematic relations among them. relies heavily on compositional means. The defining characteristic of mise en abyme is the relation of repetition and reflection the second-level narrative entertains with the quantitatively greater narrative within which it is 264 . The simplest definition of the frame tale—“one story encloses another like a frame” (Kanzog [1966] 1977: 321)—is ambiguous because it fails to distinguish between the framing and the framed. 110. Williams 1998: 114. Nünning 2004: 17. authentification by the primary narrator consists in principle in affirming that the second-level narrator related such-and-such. the traditional function of the frame tale (carried over. the combination of narrating I / narrated I with level in a typology of the narrator (Schmid). As already discussed. however brief they might be. Duyfhuizen 1992: 134. the two poles of which are the frame tale and mise en abyme. And finally. It is also possible to examine the textual integration of narrative levels according to the length of primary and second-level narratives relative to one another. Williams 1998. the frame tale. particularly in its written form. When examined from the perspective of narrative levels. Wolf 2006: 181). subject to the criteria of narrativity in their own right (cf. and it is also misleading in that (a) picture frames (to which the metaphor alludes) rarely form a part of the framed pictorial representation and (b) “framed” narratives do not come forth unmediated but necessarily interact with surrounding discourse. incomplete (introductory only or terminal only. frame tales must be qualified as a particular type of intradiegetic narrative with regard to the narrative in which they are contained (cf. and the separation of levels into horizontal and vertical embedding (Nelles. Coste). there exist several ways of organizing narrative levels including the weight of thematic criteria relative to the degree of prominence of the narrative act (Genette). indicating a time and place of the narrative act and the audience and buttressing the “narratorial illusionism” of the framed tale (Kanzog [1966] 1977: 322. is that it replicates the communicative situation of oral storytelling. This does not necessarily mean. Another feature of the frame tale. to the elaborate prefatory material of the 18th-century novel) is to validate the framed story (which itself may be improbable) with an air of authenticity. In addition to change of voice and level and to the potential for multiple levels of embedding. thanks to the impartial report by the primary narrator. Most notably. Wolf 2006: 192). possibly producing metaleptic effects). 113. Wolf 2006: 188–89). not in asserting what s/he related (cf. the vectorization of illocutionary and ontological boundaries (Ryan). although it also merges with pragmatic considerations.Duyfhuizen 1992). or interpolated (appearing intermittently) (adapted from Wolf 2006: 185–88). within a given second-level narrative. A fourth feature of frame stories is their compositional distribution: a framing can be complete (appearing at the beginning and end of the embedded story). Overall. Ryan’s type 4a border crossing) and are thus.

beginning with “frame analysis” (Goffman 1974. Claude (1973). • Bal. Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and 265 . Bal 1978) and producing disruptive but potentially significant effects on the progression of the primary narrative. the very term employed to describe the transitions between narrative levels.g.2. Abish’s Alphabetical Africa. where chapter 1 employs only words beginning with letter “a. Young 1987). 1995). interviews. Mieke (1978). the second half of the novel reversing this order). within the scope of cognitive narratology (→ Cognitive Narratology). • Bremond. • Bal. the exemplum. eds. Mieke (1977). • Barth. Mieke ([1985] 1997).g. up to chapter 26. 4 Topics for Further Investigation It is not by coincidence that Genette’s study of paratext—the “undecided zone” between the interior and the exterior of the text occupied by prefaces. Another need. Narratologie (Essais sur la signification narrative dans quatre romans modernes). portions of the romance The Mad Trist that parallel certain incidents in Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”). Seymour (1978). John (1981). Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. pragmatics. etc. “Notes on Narrative Embedding. 45–63. or highlighting of the process of narrative communication (e. Logique du récit. and WHEN that can be provided by narrative levels in the construction of storyworlds as focused on by research in text worlds (Werth 1999). (c) mise en abyme of the code or text (e. whose aim is to instill in the reader a moral awareness). 5 Bibliography 5. Toronto: U of Toronto P. “Mise en abyme et iconicité. although in the case of mise en abyme. These varieties of the device also come respectively within the scope of semantics. and contextual frames (Emmott 1997).” Littérature 29. • Bal. is to gain further insight into the WHAT. and syntactics. these dimensions are modeled iconically into the primary narrative. 1981. Mieke (1981). Paris: Seuil. epigraphs. Iconic in the semiotic sense (cf.1 Works Cited • Bal.” Poetics Today 2. unlike in the framing technique. WHERE. which constitutes a space of transaction between author and reader—is titled Seuils (thresholds). “Tales within Tales within Tales. • Chatman.” etc. Paris: Klincksieck.” chapter 2 only words beginning with the letters “a” and “b.g. deictic shifts (Duchan et al. One broad area of inquiry for additional study is the interaction of narrative levels with speakerhearer relations from a sociolinguistic perspective. 41–59. the device exists in three basic forms (Dällenbach 1977): (a) mise en abyme of the utterance (e. 116–28. notes. Ochs & Capps 2001.contained.” Antaeus 43. (b) mise en abyme of the enunciation.

Ansgar (2004). Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. et al. Gérard ([1982] 1997). Narrative as Communication. Genette. Frame Analysis: An Essay in the Organization of Experience. Bernard (1992).” Style 20. 319–40. Postmodernist Fiction. Erving (1974).” Poetics Today 10. Coste. Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid. Viveca (1989). a Typology and an Outline of the Functions of Metanarrative Commentary. Genette.” J. 266 .” Th. García Landa. The Dynamics of Narrative Form: Studies in Anglo-American Narratology. Literature in the Second Degree. “Embedded Narratives and Tellability. Sebeok & M. Genette. A.. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. Gödel. Acción. “A Structural Model of Phenomena with Embedding in Literature and Other Arts. Forms of Talk. vol. Gérard ([1972] 1980). Pier (ed). Rimmon-Kenan. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP. 217–19. 11– 57. New York: Vintage. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Elinor & Lisa Capps (2001). Erving (1981). “Rahmenerzählung. Lucien ([1977] 1989). Goffman. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Hillsdale: Erlbaum. Fludernik. John ([1986] 2010). “Diegesis. Emmott. “On Metanarrative: Towards a Definition. Judith F. Hofstadter. London: Routledge. Füredy. relato. Didier (1989). Duyfhuizen. eds. The Dynamics of Narrative Form: Studies in Anglo-American Narratology.” W. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Kohlschmidt & W. Genette. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Danesi (eds). 191– 214. 3. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton. José Ángel (1998). McHale. Palimpsests.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Film. García Landa. Moln (eds). Narrative Comprehension: A Discourse Perspective. Monika (1996). Deixis in Narrative: A Cognitive Science Perspective. Berlin: de Gruyter. Living Narrative: Creating Lives in Everyday Stories. Catherine ([1997] 1999). Berlin: de Gruyter. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson UP. Brian (1987). Estructura de la ficción narrativa. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Narrative Discourse Revisited. Salamanca: Ediciones Universidad Salamanca.” J. Shlomith ([1983] 2002). Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Gérard ([1987] 1997). 321– 43. Marie-Laure (1986). Douglas (1980). Duchan. Towards a ‘Natural’ Narratology. Ithaca: Cornell UP. (1995). Nünning. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Semiotics. New York: Lang. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Pier. Goffman. Narratives of Transmission. José Àngel (2004) “Overhearing Narrative. Gibson. Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Pier (ed). The Mirror in the Text. 745–69. New York: Harper & Row. Ochs. Ryan. Oxford: Oxford UP. Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturgeschichte. Frameworks: Narrative Levels and Embedded Narrative. London: Routledge. Dällenbach. Klaus ([1966] 1977). William (1997). Gérard ([1983] 1988). discorso. Nelles. Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. Berlin: de Gruyter. Towards a Postmodern Theory of Narrative. Andrew (1996). Escher. Kanzog. London: Routledge.

Amsterdam: Rodopi. Paul (1999).” Narrative 9. (1991). The Poetics of Prose. and Narrative Theory. • Shryock.” J. Bernhart (eds). Jeffrey (1998). 8. Klaus & Sabine Schlickers (2010). Possible Worlds. Wolf (2005). Marie-Laure (1991). Artificial Intelligence. Katharine Galloway (1987). • Williams. 267 . Neil (2000). Text Worlds: Representing Conceptual Space in Discourse. Dennis L.” Communications No. Tzvetan ([1971] 1977). Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff.” W. Tzvetan (1966). “Les catégories du récit littéraire.2 Further Reading • Meyer-Minnemann. Berlin: de Gruyter. • Todorov. Stories within Stories: An Ecosystemic Theory of Metadiegetic Narration. Werner (2006). “La mise en abyme en narratologie. Elemente der Narratologie. “Framing Borders in Frame Stories. Tales of Storytelling: Embedded Narration in Modern French Fiction. • Norrick. 146–52. W. London: Longman. Bloomington: Indiana UP.• Ryan. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Oxford: Blackwell. 5. • Werth. Theory and the Novel: Narrative Reflexivity in the British Tradition. Conversational Narrative. 125–51. Marie-Laure (2001). 91–108. 179–206. Pier & F. & W. “The Narratorial Functions: Breaking Down a Theoretical Primitive. New York: Lang. Narratologies contemporaines. Paris: Editions des Archives Contemporaines. • Wolf. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. • Ryan. • Young. Berthelot (eds). Richard (1993). Framing Borders in Literature and Media. • Schmid. • Seager. • Todorov. Taleworlds and Storyrealms: The Phenomenology of Narrative. New York: Lang.

Audet). the descriptiveness of description/a description. In the process. This is in large part because of the way the term has leant itself to a general shift away from the formalist constraints of structuralist narratology (where the term is rarely found) as attention has turned increasingly to the transaction between narratives and the audiences that bring them to life. (eds. 2 Explication This lively contestation has accompanied narrativity’s rise as a central term. Sturgess.” and “narrative” itself.unihamburg. but also of the supporting roles these other terms have been sometimes called on to play. Porter Abbott 1 Definition Though it has become a contested term. then. Fludernik. including “narrativeness” (used colloquially above).): the living handbbook of narratology. the one applied generally to the concept of narrative. been drawn into the task of understanding narrativity. evolutionary—that have transformed the field. As such.” “tellability. and in some cases the central term (Sternberg.” “emplotment. cognitive. Depending on the context. it has helped open up the study of narrative to an array of approaches—phenomenological. Hühn. 268 . “narrativity” is still commonly used in two senses: in a fixed sense as the “narrativeness” of narrative and in a scalar sense as the “narrativeness” of a narrative. As such.sub. discursive. 12 Mar 2012. in postclassical narratology. the lyricism of the lyric/a lyric.Abbott. it can be aligned with any number of modal pairings: e. other terms have.” “eventfulness. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. H. requires a survey not only of its different conceptual uses. To define narrativity fully. cultural. in varying Porter: "Narrativity". these two uses of the term “narrativity” can serve their purposes effectively.g. But increasingly over the last three decades. Peter et al.php?title=Narrativity&oldid=1580 Narrativity Last modified: 13 August 2011 H. the term has filled a growing and sometimes conflicting diversity of conceptual roles. the other applied comparatively to particular narratives. historical. “narrativehood. http://hup.” “narratibility.

In Prince’s view. Nevertheless. In both. McClary 1997. Prince (2008) has sought to expand the concept of narrativity to include both extensional and intensional aspects. it has been Wolf who has explicitly capitalized on the finer calipers of the term “narrativity” to capture narrative effects achievable in a medium that cannot tell a story. Wolf 2002. 2007. → Narration in Poetry and Drama. for the second—the qualities or traits of narrative—he has applied the term narrativeness. Ryan’s distinction between “being a narrative” and “possessing narrativity” (2005c: 347. 2004. In his most recent reconsideration of this knotty terminological problem. this distinction correlates with the distinction between “extensional” and “intensional” aspects of narrative which were introduced to narratology through the application of “possible worlds” theory by Doležel (1979. then. This flexibility and comparative freedom from restrictive categorizing (must a narrative have more than one event? [(→ Event and Eventfulness)] must narrative events be causally connected? [(→ Coherence)] must they involve human or humanlike entities? [(→ Character)]) also gives the term a certain user-friendliness. Jannidis 2003). 2006a. if we ask: “Does Finnegans Wake have more or less narrativity than Little Red Riding Hood?” we will get much broader agreement than if we ask “Is Finnegans Wake a narrative?” (Ryan 2007: 30). both are scalar concepts in that they are subject to degrees. the discussion of narrativity can be organized under four headings: (a) as inherent or extensional. Pavel (1986). For the first—the entities that constitute narrative—he has retained the term narrativehood. To adapt Ryan’s language. or even hetero-referentiality (referring to events outside the medial domain) that are the staple of narrative. In short. This practical advantage of the term has also abetted the development of a transgeneric and transmedial narratology (Wolf 2002. 1998). As what one might call an “adjectival” noun. Ryan 2005c. Not surprisingly. Among those sketching a possible “narratology of music” (Kramer 1991. Further complicating any effort to organize the range of discourse on narrativity are the ways in which the term has been deployed in modal or generic distinctions to delineate both a field of specifically narrative modes and a broader field in which narrative is one of a number of communicative and artistic modes. narrativity suggests connotatively a felt quality. and in this way reserves “narrativity” as a “scalar predicate” by which something is deemed “more or less prototypically storylike” (Herman 2002: 90–1). sequentiality (painting). 1983. → Narration in Various Media) that includes narrative in genres and media where words are no longer central to narration and where readers become viewers and even active participants. its flexibility as a scalar phenomenon plays a role. Grabócz 2009). Thus Herman adopts the term “narrativehood” in the sense given it by Prince (1999) as a “binary predicate” by which “something either is or is not” deemed a story. if narrative itself is a “fuzzy concept” (Ryan 2006b. the second qualitative (see also Hühn 2008: 143). (c) as variable 269 . considered by many a purely self-referential artistic medium. the first quantitative. As Herman suggests. and others. narrativity has not been used exclusively in an intensional sense. something that may not be entirely definable or may be subject to gradations.The term’s advantage in this postclassical renaissance is built into its grammatical status as a reference to a property or properties rather than to a thing or class. 2006a: 10–1) brings out the difference: where a narrative is a “semiotic object.” narrativity consists in “being able to inspire a narrative response” (2005c: 347). Most controversial among the latter has been instrumental music. At the broadest level of abstraction. (b) as scalar or intensional. narrativity is a term more closely attuned to its fuzziness (Herman 2002). then. narrativity has been more often used as a variable quality than as a necessary component or set of components by which narrative can be defined. Ryan (1991). It has even facilitated consideration of narrativity in media that lack expectations of eventfulness (lyric poetry). Newcomb 1987.

Usually attributed to Tynjanov (1927) and influentially developed by Jakobson. which Plato identified when distinguishing between the indirect representational character of diegesis and the direct presentational character of mimesis: the one narrated by the poet. “the configuration of incidence in the story” (Greimas & Ricœur 1989: 551).1 Immanence Greimas is the major exception to the general structuralist neglect of narrativity. and co-extensive with any particular narrative. As Schmid (2003: 17–8) notes. 3. determinative. distinguishing any particular narrative from other modal kinds (see 3.2.” a central term for Ricœur and others in the discourse on narrativity.” Another classical precursor concept is Aristotle’s idea of muthos. but lacking the word “narrativity. The most influential precursor concept is the property of mediation. a perceived modal predominance. the dominant is the “focusing component of a work of art: it rules. and variable according to context. notably in Stanzel’s major work of the 1950s and 1960s. mediation was a central focus of classical narratology well before narratology got its name.2 Narrativity as Inherent or Extensional Though narrativity has leant itself predominantly to usage that is intensional. 3. audience. 3 History of the Concept and its Study 3. Bk 3). referring to a structuring force that generates not simply all narratives but all discourse: “le principe organisateur de tout discours” (Greimas & Courtés 1979: 249).according to narrative type. subjective.5 below). In the development of classical narratology. later reinvigorated in A Theory of Narrative ([1979] 1984). His conception of the term is also notable for its breadth of application. With regard to narrative in particular. (d) as a mode among modes.1 Prehistory of Narrativity As noted above. there have been several powerful conceptions of the term as inherent. the other performed (The Republic. the term “narrativity” did not develop its lively range of conceptual roles until the emergence of a postclassical narratology in the last decades of the 20th century. which anticipates the concept of “emplotment. Greimas 270 . The dominant has been taken up by Sternberg and others as a categorical determinant. and transforms the remaining components” and as such guarantees “the integrity of the structure” (Jakobson [1935] 1971: 105). determines. and other factors. the Russian formalist idea of “the dominant” has also been critical.

1978. Like Ricœur.” without which there is no conveying knowledge as meaning. 3.distinguishes between an apparent and an immanent level of narration. narrativity is a disorganizing as well as an organizing force in that it disrupts old orders even as it generates new ones. “narrativity is situated and organized prior to its manifestation. For this reason. for Greimas. [and] enriching” the Aristotelean idea of plot with the Augustinian understanding of time ([1985] 1988: 4). In its absence. history. It is also important to note that. The final irony. White has tended over the course of his writings to stress the commonality of their narrativity. posits a deep level of narrativity. A common semiotic level is thus distinct from the linguistic level and is logically prior to it. an individual. at best. In an analysis of Maupassant’s “A Piece of String. processual feed-back loop between the informing level of narrativity and the particularity of its manifestation. White (1973. radicalizing. whatever the language chosen for the manifestation” (Greimas [1969] 1977: 23). while on the other to bring out their deep commonality. by definition. but unlike Greimas. 1981) does not limit narrativity to the designated modes of fiction. a key manifestation of narrativity is “emplotment. is that narrativity is the unacknowledged necessity of what we take for 271 . endowing them with cultural meaning. like Greimas. he sees it as a “preunderstanding” of our historical mindedness—“an intelligibility of the historicality that characterizes us” (Greimas & Ricœur 1989: 552)—and it lies at the heart of his critique of Greimas’s a-temporal model of fictional narrative (Ricœur 1980). However static they may appear to be. More than this. This allows him on the one hand to develop a complex reassessment of the temporal difference between fictional and historical narrative. Factual Narration). since “[t]he significance of narrative is not latent in the data of experience. Ricœur saw the operation of emplotment as a dialectical process. It is emplotment that brings events to life. narrativity is for White a “panglobal fact of culture. Ricœur.” Greimas carefully demonstrates how customary distinctions such as that between descriptive and narrative segments give way at a deeper level that organizes “according to canonical rules of narrativity” ([1973] 1989: 625). events organized by some other means than plot (chronicles).2 Emplotment For Ricœur. To bear this in mind is to see the deep commonality of modes (descriptive. but fabricated in the process of subjecting that data to the elemental rhetoric of the narrative form itself” (Walsh 2003: 111).” disarticulating the existing discourse “into discrete states between which it sets transformations” ([1983] 1987: 104). or of imagination. a culture. descriptive segments are imbued with the same undergirding narrativity that organizes the segments of action.” the articulation of which involves “broadening. argumentative. with narrativity located in the latter. then. Narrativity is at one with the perception of meaning because meaning only emerges when events have been “emplotted” with “the formal coherency that only stories can possess” (White 1981: 19). As such. cannot exist without narrativity. there is a mere succession of events (annals) or. and further differentiating his usage from that of Greimas.2. a dynamic interaction between this “first-order intelligence” and the surface level where narrative is structurally manifest in the text (Greimas & Ricœur 1989: 551–52). But where Ricœur’s theory of emplotment not only bonds but distinguishes fictional and nonfictional narrativity (→ Fictional vs. It is “the irruption of the discontinuous” into the settled discourse “of a life. a story. is an evolving. Emplotment. In addition. narrative) often left segmented in analytical terminology. then. To accomplish this.

as in “the set of qualities marking narrative and helping a reader or viewer perceive the difference between narrative and non-narrative texts” (Keen 2003: 121) or “the set of properties characterizing narrative and distinguishing it from nonnarrative” (Prince [1987] 2003: 65). at a minimum. 3. But these same scholars will often go on to treat the concept of narrativity as an intensional quality by which a text is felt to be “more or less narrative” (ibid. narrativity is inherent in narrative.). it is hard to remain objective or to do away with 272 .). But Sturgess’s concept differs from all three in two fundamental ways. It is in this sense a reflexive concept. and every variation in the mode of representation of that story” (22).3 As Scalar or Intensional Some scholars start out with an extensional definition of narrativity. An advantage of both Sturgess’s and Cohen’s logics is the way they can accommodate postmodern and other extreme forms of weakened or obscured storyline that are often considered “anti-narrative. He also echoes Greimas when he writes of narrativity’s power over “nonnarrative” segments like descriptive passages. It governs “not only the chronology of a novel’s story. and unlike Ricœur and White. but equally every interruption of that chronology. that is never fully present in any one group yet always implied in each group” (1979: 92).3 A Logic of Narrativity For Sturgess. Cohen restricts narrativity to works of conscious art. The result. a representation of “the real” requires. is also a coextensively inherent narrativity that the reader or viewer is led to apprehend: “an unfolding structure. “the character of narrativity” (White 1981: 6). which weakens both its analytical leverage and its ability to distinguish narrative competence from narrative incompetence. as Schmid (2003: 30) notes.2. Cohen also proposes a logic of narrativity.” since “every narrative will possess its own form of narrativity” (Sturgess: ibid. A disadvantage of this approach to narrativity is the threat of circularity. but one that simply requires that the languages of literary and filmic fiction render their signs consecutively. even “the randomness common to […] surrealist experiments points to the fundamental and seemingly inevitable narrativity of cinematic and literary language” (1979: 92). equating it with a “set” of defining conditions. It is an “enabling force” that “is present at every point in the narrative” (Sturgess 1992: 28). Like Sturgess.truth. the “logic of narrativity” requires no sequential structuring principle. narrativity only crystallizes when the reader is persuaded that what is being read is a narrative. too. but simply the ability to arouse “a sense of its own wholeness” as narrative (1992: 28). for Sturgess. Sturgess sees narrativity instead as an alldetermining “logic” or “power of narrativity which decides” how elements are deployed at any moment in a narrative (Sturgess 1992: 140–41). At the same time. Indeed. for to attain the status of truth. First. Second. however. In Cohen’s words. Drawing on Bremond’s (1973) critique of Greimas. he situates himself in opposition to Greimas’s idea of “a deep structural level of narrative which is presumed in some way to account for the existence of the narrative in question” (14). 3. the diegetic whole.

the theory transits to a concept of inherency. → Schemata). With similar ambition. and impinge on everything else in the reading. Rabinowitz 1987. and surprise (1978)—he did not use the word “narrativity. Many scholars have. Pier (2008) more rigorously distinguishes between treatments of causality suitable in defining narrative and “narrative worlds” and a more adequate understanding of narrativity in relation to the complex. much theorizing about narrative has featured a sense of causal agency as “a necessary condition of narrativity” (Richardson 1997: 106. understanding of sequentiality has been enlarged by the importation of schema theory from cognitive psychology (Bordwell 1985. Bal 1985. Hühn 2008.1 Sequentiality In the 1970s. 3. while explicitly or implicitly acknowledging the complexity of narrative response that makes narrativity both a scalar and a fuzzy concept. process of causal inference “set in motion by heuristic reading and semiotic reading” (134).). Especially important has been the concept of cognitive scripts in analyzing what happens at the script/story interface (Herman 2002). As he demonstrates.3. evolving. they “must arise from the generic trio. Herman 2002. all of which stress the importance of causal connection. centered their theorizing on a single manifestation of narrativity. They participate in varying degrees of narrativity.” recognizable in any particular work according to the number and importance of the conditions present (Ryan 2006b: 194). is a scalar property which can be “stronger” or “ interpretive stance when discussing the scalar narrativity of texts. White 1981. At this point. its “functional” character is to act as a “regulating principle” (1992: 529). for example.” while a narrative is a text in which “such play dominates. All the elements are orchestrated according to “the unbreakable lawlikeness of the narrative process itself” (2003: 328). given the exigencies of intersequence” (ibid. when Sternberg developed his theory of three overarching “master forces” of narrative—curiosity. so that. Kafalenos 2006). Thus “strong narrativity […] not merely represents an action but interanimates the three generic forces that play between narrated and narrational time” (2001: 119). nonetheless. however. the term “narrativity” has become increasingly important for him as “the play of suspense/curiosity/surprise between represented and communicative time. whatever your sympathies regarding the characters in a story. depending on the extent to which they are breached with the unexpected. the scalar nature of narrativity is not only complicated by the variable combinability of these two subcategories but by other factors as well. Scripts are stereotypical sequences warehoused in the brain that together contribute to Bruner’s (1991) “canonicity” or the expectations on which Sternberg’s sequence of curiosity/suspense/surprise depends. Almost all arguments identifying narrativity with sequentiality start from the idea that there is more to it than simply one thing after the other. (For further commentary on narrativity and schema theory.” Narrativity. Fludernik 1996. This in turn means that there can be no pure segregation of their work under one caption or another. suspense. see 273 . More recently. In this they follow antecedent theorizing ranging from Aristotle’s view of the well-made tragedy to Tomaševskij’s (1925) definition of fabula and Forster’s (1927) definition of plot. Bordwell 1985. then. This double usage of narrativity is the problem Prince (2008) set out to resolve when he divided narrativity into narrativehood and narrativeness.” But when it is dominant in any text. Since then. Ryan has spelled out a “tentative formulation of [nine] nested conditions” that might be used in describing narrative as a “fuzzy set.” In more recent years.

Sturgess. However far one wishes to go down this road with Audet. irreversibility. It is the sujet that prevents us. persistence. what disturbs the orthodoxy freighted in the narrativity of the fabula is the sujet or the rendering of the story. Hühn (2008) supplements Schmid’s concept by drawing on schema theory and Lotman’s concept of the “semantic field. Schmid (2003) develops his theory of eventfulness within a definition of the narrative event as a non-trivial change of state that takes place and reaches completion (is “resultative”) in the actual (“real”) world of any particular fictional narrative.” Combining these two areas of research gives Hühn’s version of eventfulness an analytical scope that includes both the cognitive drama of schematic disruption and an awareness of historical and cultural contexts afforded by the recognition of differing semantic socio-cultural fields. if we are intent on not “underreading.” from resting in the story’s reassuring sequential narrativity.2. each of which in its emergence raises narrativity through its aura of events to come. 274 . “[t]he same text can present full narrativity in sense 1. In narratives of any complexity. Kermode’s account of the reassurance of story chimes with White’s idea of narrativity as a conduit of ideological doxa. Its narrativity. 3. he. and as we will see Fludernik. accepted simply as such. the “discursive event.25). he argues.4 below.) Ryan complicated the sequential unfolding of scalar narrativity when she located it in the varying ratio of two levels: “one pertaining to story (or the ‘what’ of a narrative) and the other to the discourse (or the ‘way’ such narrative content is presented). that of a story to come” ([2006] 2007: 34). which in turn is a factor of its eventfulness. crying out to be accommodated by interpretation even as they frustrate it (137). proposing three levels or types of event: the “inworld event” (concrete action).3. like Cohen. then. unpredictability. Narrativity on this view is a kind of psycho-cultural “propriety” that lies in the comforting “connexity” of the fabula. the sequentiality of the story’s narrativity is always at war with the nonnarrativity of the discourse. […] where the tension between a before and an after seems to generate a virtuality. Audet builds on Lotman’s idea of a hierarchy of events. but low narrativity in sense 2. and non-iterativity. For Schmid this depends on five key variable features: relevance. for it abounds in “mutinous” nonnarrative elements that contend with the text’s narrativity.” For example. and digressions” (2007: 34 n.” and the “operal event” (“connected to the performing of the work itself”) (33). depends on its non-triviality. Kermode (1983) takes this bi-level approach a step further. general comments. In this way.3. when it tells a wellformed story but the progress of the action is slowed down by descriptions. Audet has sought to disconnect the concept of narrativity from any dependent connection with crafted narrative. identifying it instead with the more widely occurring sense of what he calls “eventness [événementialité]. But for Kermode. has found a way to accommodate those postmodern experimental texts that often frustrate narratologists wedded to a narrativecentered theory.2 Eventfulness Recent attention to eventfulness by the Hamburg Narratology Research Group responds to the need for a clearer understanding of what constitutes a narrative event than is found in most sequentiality-based theories (Hühn 2008: 146).

tellability often ranks high on the list of qualities that participate in a text’s narrativity.3 Tellability Originally introduced by Labov (1972). Scholes argued that this 275 . reproducing them. Tellability is also essential to Fludernik’s experience-based concept of narrativity. Echoing Iser (1972) and Sternberg (1978). when conjoined. Thus. In Herman’s precise wording: “Situations and events can be more or less tellable. Elaborating further. which are “a more descriptive and neutrally informative way of tracing and communicating developments. A fiction is presented to us in the form of a narration (a narrative text) that guides us as our own narrativity seeks to complete the process that will achieve a story” (60). whereas both predicates are scalar. For this reason and some others. tellability is the variable potential of a story as yet unnarrativized.3. In scalar conceptions of narrativity. is the third of three narrational operations— reviewing past events. the ways in which they are told can […] display different degrees of narrativity. “constitute narrativity” (2003: 245). For Hühn (2008). emplotted narration of type II events (see → Event and Eventfulness). Anticipating McHale’s (2001) view of weak narrativity. but is the key distinction of the eventful.” This it does by exercising the power of our narrativity in concert with the “narrational blueprints” (69) of the art to construct “two features: temporality and causality” (ibid. Specifically. Bruner (1991) asserts that without tellability there can be no narrativity. tellability.” Scholes employs the word “to refer to the process by which a perceiver actively constructs a story from the fictional data provided by any narrative medium. and changes” (145 n. the border between the two concepts has often been blurred.” In English. historiography. which has involved varying degrees of a “constructivist” orientation to narrativity like the one Scholes (1982) developed in reaction to the widespread use of the term in film theory as “a property of films themselves. Scholes’s concept of narrativity engages in fictional world-making by filling in gaps. tellability attaches to configurations of facts and narrativity to sequences representing those configurations of facts” (2002: 100).). lawsuits. Once aroused. cf. Conceived as the narrator’s emerging sense of the importance (“point”) of the events narrated. tellability (→ Tellability) (or narratibility. It allows a positive answer to the question “What’s the point?” and has often been “hard to disentangle” from narrativity (Ryan 2005b: 589). eventfulness is the prior concept on which tellability depends.30). processes.3. 3.” found in the sciences. Scholes argued. plotless narration of type I events. he makes the useful distinction between narratives with sufficient eventfulness to be tellable and what he terms “process narratives. the word narrativity “implies a more sentient character than we generally allow an artifact. Nonetheless.4 Narrative Competence and Experientiality The increasing concern for reader/audience response in postclassical narratology has led to a focus on narrative competence. and evaluating them—that. the “primary effort” of our narrativity is “to construct a satisfying order of events. both “passive or automatic” and “active or interpretive. Prince 2008) is what makes a story worth telling.” guided always by the semiotics of fictional and filmic language (Scholes 1982: 61). In passing. while narrativity is the variable success of its narrativizing. and even in recipes and instruction manuals. for Fludernik. Hühn argues that tellability is absent from the narrativity of the uneventful.3.

expanding it to encompass a great range of expressive acts. The infusion of cognitive research has invigorated research on narrative competence. starting with the conversation of everyday life (→ Conversational Narration/Oral Narration). from natural events the signs of a maker intent on communicating a prophetic story. Fludernik broadens what Culler (1975: 134–60) called “naturalization”—the process by which a reader gains or seeks to gain cognitive control over texts. but rather an attribute imposed on the text by the reader who interprets the text as narrative. Nelles goes further in the direction of readerly control when he defines narrativity as “the product of a tropological operation by which the metaphor of narration is applied to a series of words on a page. thus narrativizing the text” (2003: 244). that power that White theorizes as at once seeing and making history where there is none—the power to narrativize the real. in other words. “when narrativity ceases” (ibid. From here it is a short step to narrativity as a universal feature of creative perception. Notable in this regard is the work of Fludernik. For Leitch (similarly to Scholes). which may vary widely from one story to the next” (35). At the same time. To read a text by means of the trope of narration is to read out of it a narrator and its voice. Narrativity is at work. since without this cognitive and semiotic equipment the effects of their disruption would go unexperienced (64). Fludernik displaces the centrality traditionally conferred on the formal properties of “story. a text as narrative.). This would leave out of account the power of narrativity to read a narrative where none is intended—to project. and a narratee and its ear” (Nelles 1997: 116). but with an account of the capabilities required that is interestingly different from Scholes’s: “At its simplest level. they draw on an immense accumulation of frames and scripts that arise from the experience of life itself. […] the ability to supply connections among the material a story presents.” Scholes writes. replacing Culler’s term “naturalization” with “narrativization. Sturgess. Fludernik enlarges this focus with insight gained from Labovian discourse analysis and schema theory. for whom narrativity is quite explicitly “not a quality inhering in a text. “the tools of narrative analysis can be applied” (120). both stop short of a more extreme constructivism by contending that narrativity leaves off when we are no longer “under the illusionary guidance of a maker of narratives” (Scholes 1982: 64). In this way. However. while (like Cohen. Fludernik derives the essential quality of narrativity from what she calls “human experientiality. Leitch also adopted a constructivist narrativity. She also narrows this process to a specifically narrative operation.” by which the reader draws on a compendium of experiential. for example. it is up to any particular narrative “to cultivate an appropriate degree of narrativity. narrativity entails three skills: the ability to defer one’s desire for gratification. an operation that can be applied even to texts commonly designated as something else (a lyric poem. by locating narrativity as a “natural” process not dependent on the experience of literature. or reframes. and Audet in their different ways) expanding the range of full narrative legitimacy to experimental fiction in which these properties are barely perceptible. when a reader frames.” “plot.” building on pre-cognitive work by Hamburger (1957) and Cohn (1978) that had keyed narrative to its unique capability of portraying consciousness. an argument. Once such a text is imbued with narrativity. not strictly 276 . “Life resumes.” and “narrator” in definitions of narrative. and the ability to perceive discursive events as significantly related to the point of a given story or sequence” (Leitch 1986: 34).exercise of our gift of narrativity is essential even in those postmodern and experimental novels and films that seek to disrupt it. a piece of music). Thus when readers encounter texts formally described as narratives.

and audiences. This controversial association of narrativity and fictionality can be traced back to Hamburger (1957). narrators. one feels. builds on the “natural narratology” of Fludernik. Yet even such “unnatural” cases. as noted above. However. “[v]ery strong narrativity depends on the work’s commitment to both sets of variables (textual and readerly). drawing. narrativity can be found in the larger terrain of human experience. narrativity is a complex. if repeated often enough. The tension of characters acting and reacting in an unstable situation is accompanied by a “tension in the telling—unstable relations among authors. “Let it be fact. 1981). Both too many and too few script-activating cues diminish narrativity” (Herman 2002: 91). But Herman also critiques Fludernik’s reliance on “experientiality” as the determinate factor in gauging a text’s degree of narrativity. Consciously or not. he argues. and indeed much of his work intermixes a focus on narrativity as it occurs in conversation.” also advocates maintaining a focus on both sides of the reader/text transaction. For him. places “too much weight on a participant role whose degree of salience derives from a larger. and history. It is this that allows a “re-cognization of a text as narrative” (Fludernik 1996: 313). Seeking to moderate both White’s extreme view that “[a]ll narrativity […] shares in the properties of fictionality” and the counter-argument for an absolute categorical distinction between fiction and nonfiction. The imagination will not serve under two masters simultaneously” (Woolf [1927] 1994: 473. Labov. or let it be fiction. see also Ryan 1991. For Herman. 277 .3. 1978. see also Ryan 2007. schemata marshaled under the “macro-frame” of narrativity. 3. White (1973.” and it is the complex interaction of the two kinds of instability that constitutes narrativity and that “encourages two main activities: observing and judging” (ibid. Cohn 1999: chap. has encouraged not just a slippage but a conflation of narrativity. ranging across a spectrum from the banal to the unfathomable. Each is characterized by a “dynamics of instability. fictionality. too. Prince 2008). White ironizes a distinction that Woolf expressed when she wrote. To do so. Herman.). 2007). Weak narrativity arises from the work’s lack of interest in one or both sets of variables” (Phelan 2007: 215. from his quite differently oriented “rhetorical understanding of narrativity. “double-layered phenomenon” involving both a progression of events and a progression of reader response. on cognitive theory and discourse analysis.literary. the other driving the response to it (Phelan 2007: 7). Phelan (2005. 2009: passim). and others. Historical narratives are “verbal fictions the contents of which are as much invented as found and the forms of which have more in common with their counterparts in literature than they have with those in science” (1978: 82). preference-based system of roles” (2002: 169. can become part of a reader’s natural experience and thus susceptible to narrativization. as they did. 7). Only to the degree that a text resists narrativization does it discourage perceptions of narrativity. To put this in his words: “Narrativity is a function of the more or less richly patterned distribution of script-activating cues in a sequence. in his turn. Doležel 1998: 1–28. narrativity involves “the interaction of two kinds of change: that experienced by the characters and that experienced by the audience in its developing responses to the characters’ changes” (Phelan 2005: 323). Put differently.” the one driving the tale. As a scalar concept.5 Fictionality Keen draws attention to a “slippage” whereby fictionality has been included as an index of narrativity (2003: 121).

retelling. “instrumental narrativity” (illustrative support in sermons and treatises).Walsh points out that “[r]eference actually occurs” in fiction. Ashbery.” Ryan (1992) developed a narrativity-based taxonomy of narrative text types that included “simple narrativity” (dealing with a single conflict as in fairy tales and anecdotes). 3. “complex narrativity” (having interconnected narrative threads as in the triple-decker 19th-century novel). “and the use of language in fiction is shown to be continuous with its use elsewhere” (2003: 111). resisting the efforts of some to extend full narrativity to historical writing. narrativity is not abolished. In such works. But at the same time that our sense of narrative is being solicited. where Ryan (1992) uses the term “anti-narrativity. but yields a scalar concept of narrativity for “plotted” narration in which type II events play an integral role. “figural narrativity” (abstract universals. Genre. Finally. or suspend narrative lines in their work. 3. Hühn’s distinction yields a fixed concept of narrativity for “plotless” or “process” narration built from type I events. he contends. “The Modes of Narrativity. break up. Variant narrativities. concepts. 2005c) also invokes the necessity of a modal view of narrativity if we are fully to grasp the narrative potential of non-verbal media: “It is only by recognizing other modes of narrativity […]—modes such as illustrating. categorizes it instead as “restricted narrativity.” McHale settles on the term “weak narrativity” to describe the way in which Hejinian. or collectivities freighted on characters and events as in certain lyrical and philosophical works). and other avantgarde narrative poets interpolate.4 As Variable according to Narrative Type. “we intuit that we are in the presence of narrativity. description) draws on the idea of a type-determinative 278 . In her influential essay. rather. Readers. and interpreting—that we can acknowledge the narrative power of media without a language track” (2005a: 292). narrative that has not quite come into its own” (1996: 26). evoking. it is also being frustrated” (McHale 2001: 164). Fludernik. are always concerned to bring fictional worlds “into relation with the larger context of their own experience and understanding” (114). Ryan (1992. 2004. exposition. or Mode Herman writes that “narrative genres are distinguished by different preference-rule systems prescribing different ratios of stereotypic to nonstereotypic actions and events” (2002: 91). and “proliferating narrativity” (having no overarching narrative but a series of little narratives involving the same cast of characters as in picaresque and magical realist novels). accompany generic variations among the totality of narrative genres. in other words. Hühn (→ Event and Eventfulness) distinguishes between “broad” and “narrow” definitions of narrativity according to whether one is operating with a minimal definition of narrative with its minimal concept of event (type I) or a more restricted definition of narrative. requiring an event or events that fulfill certain conditions (type II).5 As a Mode among Modes Chatman’s widely referenced distinction between narrative “text-types” and “non-narrative text-types” (argument.

such that there are hybrid texts in which the functionality of descriptive and narrative elements can vie for dominance. “dominate” and “dominant” is itself a question on which there is room for debate. an attitude. there is flat rejection (Prince 2000: 16). argues for the importance of “properly [naming] the text after its dominant” since. 2009). but a text is hybridized when two or more are present in strength.” as well as descriptive phrases and “equivalence patterns.” in essence he is echoing the Russian formalist concept of the “dominant” that Sternberg deploys when he writes of the way a predominating narrativity draws technically non-narrative elements into a narrative whole. But the issue is more complex than either position (Battersby 2006). This includes “language. This would appear. For Schmid (2003: 21–2).” 279 .” Under sufficient narrative pressure. Sternberg 2008). “everything assimilates and conduces to its narrativity. (c) The narrativity of dreams is a limit case on which much depends in the definition of narrativity. and narrativity may play a key role in resolving it. In sum. the situation can be more fluid. existents. Sacks. then. Walsh 2010). to exclude the possibility of hybrids for. for example. (f) Narrativity may well turn out to be a key concept in building a critical and theoretical understanding of “narrative-impaired” art that has recently been gathered under the heading of “unnatural narratology. Abbott [2002] 2008: 175–92. support (Metz 1974. once narrativity dominates. given the dominant. 4 Topics for Further Investigation (a) The widely endorsed idea promoted by Bruner. Whether or not this term will eventually displace the centrality of the term “narrative. a perception. thematics. All three can to some extent be present in a text of any length. etc. in which the dominant is “an emotion. point of view. Phelan sets narrativity in contrast to two other modes: lyricality. (e) A highly consequential and disputed area for research is the role narrativity plays in law. “the descriptive turns kinetic” (Sternberg 2001: 119–20). Herman 2002. Brooks 2005. on the other.“overriding” presence of one property or another (1990: 21). with one or the other dominating (Phelan 2007: 22–4). in which the dominant is the revelation of character. especially in narrativized games (Ryan 2006a) and what Aarseth (1997) calls ergodic literature in which the “story” is created in real time insofar as the events are determined by “non-trivial” actions of the players. it draws the nonnarrative elements under its control in a way that is absolute. however. a belief” or some form of meditation. the growing attention to the term “narrativity” has kept pace with the increasing range and richness of narratological debate. Though he does not use the term “narrativity. (b) Related to this is the need for more work on narrativity as a part of what Brooks calls “our cognitive toolkit” (2005: 415. is how the reader chooses to interpret them. A key element in reading such texts. and others that “each of us constructs and lives a narrative” (Sacks 1985: 105) has been attacked by Strawson (2004) as a fallacy that does not match the “gappy” discontinuity of consciousness and selfhood. its ethics and its practice (Brooks & Gewirtz 1996.” what Prince wrote a decade ago still holds true: “further study of narrativity constitutes perhaps the most significant task of narratology today” (1999: 43). What is meant by “hybrid” and by the terms. and portraiture. as inversely with narrative elements in descriptive writing” (121). Sternberg. On the one hand. (d) Work is needed on narrativity in digital media.

“The Narrative Construction of ‘Reality’. • Brooks. et al. “Extensional and Intensional Narrative Worlds. and the Study of Literature. Claude (1973). ([1927] 1962). Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction. Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism. Towards a ‘Natural’ Narratology. René ([2006] 2007). Film and Fiction. Paris: Seuil. Monika (1996). • Cohen. 193–211. Keith (1979).” D. Phelan & P. The Distinction of Fiction. James I. 27–44.” Narrative 14. • Brooks. 415–26.” J. 511–26.” Poetics 8. “Narrativity: Away from Story. H. Toronto: U of Toronto P.” Poetics 12. Narration in the Fiction Film. New Haven: Yale UP. Law’s Stories: Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law. Stanford: CSLI Publications. 7–35. Márta (2009). Mieke ([1985] 1997). Jonathan (1975). Jerome (1991). “Narrative in and of the Law. Peter (2005). Musique. Close to Eventness. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Malden: Blackwell. • Cohn. and Self Representation. Heterocosmica: Fiction and Possible Worlds. Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. Harmondsworth: Penguin.A. • Doležel. Lubomír (1983). • Bremond. Dorrit (1999). Lubomír (1979).” R. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. (eds). • Abbott. Edward M. Peter & Paul Gewirtz (1996). Herman (ed). Monika (2003).1 Works Cited • Aarseth. 1–21. “Narrativity. New Haven: Yale UP. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. “Natural Narratology and Cognitive Parameters. Lubomír (1998).” Critical Inquiry 18. Cinema and Literature are Telling the World Today. Cybertext: Perspectives of Ergodic Literature. • Bordwell. Porter ([2002] 2008). Coming to Terms: The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Film.5 Bibliography 5. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Madison: U of Wisconsin P. • Bruner. Dorrit (1978). • Battersby. Paris: Dis Voir. • Doležel. Princeton: Princeton UP. Paris: L'Harmattan. • Grabócz. Aspects of the Novel. Narrativité. Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. • Chatman. Self. • Cohn. Seymour (1990). • Fludernik. Signification. Espen (1997). Rabinowitz (eds). • Bal. Narrativity: How Visual Arts. (2006). 280 . London: Routledge. The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. • Culler. Logique du récit. David (1985). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. “Proper Names. • Doležel. • Audet. and the Intensional Structure of Kafka’s ‘The Trial’. A Companion to Narrative Theory. • Forster. Definite Descriptions. • Fludernik. Narrative Theory and the Cognitive Sciences. 243–67.

20–35. “On Narrativity. • McHale. • Jakobson. Berlin: de Gruyter. A Companion to 281 . Fictional Worlds.” New Literary History 20. Paris: Hachette. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. The Imaginary Signifier: Psychoanalysis and the Cinema. “The Impromptu that Trod on a Loaf: or How Music Tells Stories. Pomorska (eds). Thomas G. Roman ([1935] 1971). Bloomington: Indiana UP. Thomas M. “Description and Narrativity: ‘The Piece of String’. “The Dominant. 551–62. • Greimas. Basic Elements of Narrative. William (1972). Käte ([1957] 1993). • McClary. 141–63. Narrative Form. Story Logic: Problems and Possibilities of Narrative. “Narrative Judgements and the Rhetorical Theory of Narrative: Ian McEwan’s Atonement.” Narrative 5. David (2002). Suzanne (2003).• Greimas.” Diacritics 7. • Keen.” L. • Greimas. Theorizing Narrativity. • Metz. 164–75. • Kafalenos. G. Algirdas Julien ([1969] 1977). • Labov. “Weak Narrativity: The Case of Avant-Garde Narrative Poetry. García Landa (eds). 105–110. • Pavel. “A Problem of Narrative Semiotics: Objects of Value.” Narrative 9. • Newcomb. Sémiotique: dictionnaire raisonné de la théorie du langage. • Iser. Language in the Inner City. • Greimas. (1986). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. • Leitch. Matejka & K. Á. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Anthony (1987). On Meaning: Selected Writings in Semiotic Theory. The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. Readings in Russian Poetics: Formalist and Structuralist Views. Phelan & P. “Musical Narratology: A Theoretical Outline. William (1997). 141–62. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Rabinowitz (eds). Frank (1983).” A. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Algirdas Julien ([1983] 1987). What Stories Are: Narrative Theory and Interpretation. Frameworks: Narrative Levels and Embedded Narrative. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. “Schuman and Late-Eighteenth-Century Narrative Strategies. Columbus: Ohio State UP. • Kermode.” J. Brian (2001). • Kramer. Narrative Causalities.” New Literary History 20. David (2009). 161–67.” Indiana Theory Review 12. Kindt & H.” T. Lawrence (1991). Cambridge: MIT P. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Pier & J. J. • Herman. The Art of Telling: Essays on Fiction. Algirdas Julien ([1973] 1989).” J. (1986). • Hühn. 615–26. Emma (2006). James (2005). • Jannidis. • Herman. • Hamburger. • Nelles. Susan (1997). Algirdas Julien & Paul Ricœur (1989). Berlin: de Gruyter. New York: Peter Lang. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.-H. Fotis (2003). University Park: Pennsylvania State UP. • Phelan. Wolfgang ([1972] 1974). Cambridge: Harvard UP. 35–54. • Greimas. Müller (eds). “Narratology and Narrative. Christian ([1974] 1982). “Elements of a Narrative Grammar. 23–40. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.” Nineteenth-Century Music 11. “Functions and Forms of Eventfulness in Narrative Fiction. The Logic of Literature. Peter (2008). Algirdas Julien & Joseph Courtés (1979).

“Introduction. Ryan.” D.-H. Prince. Berlin: de Gruyter. Artificial Intelligence. Pier. Ricœur. T. Ryan. and the Rhetorical Theory of Narrative. Berlin: de Gruyter. Phelan. García Landa (eds).” J. and Narrative Theory. Solbach (eds). Prince. Ryan. and Narrativity: A Response to David Rudrum. Ryan. ([1979] 1984). “Forty-One Questions on the Nature of Narrative. Müller (eds). Paul ([1980] 1981). Brian (1997). A Theory of Narrative. Ryan. Before Reading: Narrative Conventions and the Politics of Interpretation. Gerald (2000). Columbus: Ohio State UP. Schmid. Ithaca: U of Cornell P. Progressions. Pier & J. (1987). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Narratability. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Á. García Landa (eds). Franz K. “On the Theoretical Foundations of Transmedial Narratology. Chicago: U of Chicago P. “Media and Narrative. Richardson. Paul ([1985] 1988). 317–17. Avatars of Story: Narrative Modes in Old and New Media. Pier & J. Possible Worlds.” J. 288–92. Ricœur. Chicago: U of Chicago P. 282 . “Revisiting Narrativity. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Bloomington: Indiana UP.-L.” J. Prince. Marie-Laure (2006a). Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. “Narrativity and Eventfulness.” Style 26. 22–35.” M. J. R. Tübingen: Gunter Narr. 17–34. Gerald (1999). Expositional Modes and Temporal Ordering in Fiction. Meir (1978).” D. Marie-Laure (2005b). Wolf (2003).” W. Herman (ed). Marie-Laure (1991). John (2008). (eds). Ch. 188–96. 43–51. London: Routledge. Experiencing Fiction: Judgments. 109–40. Narratology beyond Literary Criticism: Mediality. Semiotics and Interpretation. 1–23. New York: Summit Books. New Haven: Yale UP. “Tellability. Theorizing Narrativity. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Herman et al.” W. “Narrativehood. 368–87. Unlikely Stories: Causality and the Nature of Modern Narrative. Kindt & H. Marie-Laure (2006b). Oliver (1985). Gerlad (2008). “Narrative Time. (eds). Narrativity. Marie-Laure 2007). Theorizing Narrativity. Stanzel. Pragmatics. On Narrative. 19–27. 322–36. Ryan.” Style 34. Scholes. Herman et al. 1–40. Ryan. “Semantics. Marie-Laure (1992). 589–91. 3.” D. Rabinowitz. Sternberg. Berlin: de Gruyter. Vol.” T. Marie-Laure (2005a). “Toward a Definition of Narrative.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Narrative Theory. Grenzüberschreitungen: Narratologie im Kontext / Transcending Boundaries: Narratology in Context. Ryan. London: Routledge. Meister (ed). (ed). “The Modes of Narrativity and Their Visual Metaphors. Marie-Laure (2005c). Gerald ([1987] 2003). Prince. Ryan. therefore because of this. Grünzweig & A. Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling.” Narrative 14. A Dictionary of Narratology. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Newark: U of Delaware P. “After this. The Cambridge Companion to Narrative. James (2007). Malden: Blackwell. Marie-Laure (2004). The Man Who Mistook His Hat for a Wife and Other Clinical Tales. Peter J. What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Á. Berlin: de Gruyter. Sacks. Robert (1982). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Time and Narration. Disciplinarity. Mitchell (ed).

“Narrativity in History: Poststructuralism and Since. Meir (2008). • White. La narrativité. Werner (2004). 297–395. J. “Thematics. “Das Problem der Narrativität in Literatur.” Poetics Today 13. Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays. Reis (eds). “Dreaming and Narrative Theory. Oxford UP. Erzähltheorie transgenerisch. • White. • Sternberg. Philip J. • Wolf. Hayden (1981). Pier & J. “Fictionality and Mimesis: Between Narrativity and Fictional Worlds. (1992). “On Literary Evolution. • Tomaševskij. • Sternberg.s 17. Raphaël (2007). U of Chicago P. 4. “Universals of Narrative and their Cognitivist Fortunes (I). • Sturgess. • White. 81–103. M.” V. • Walsh. Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in NineteenthCentury Europe. Pomorska (eds). • Tynjanov.” L. Hayden (1973). Austin: U of Texas P.• Sternberg. Richard (2010). Hans (1987). La Tension narrative. Theorizing Narrativity. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. • Brés. • Strawson. Berlin: de Gruyter. “How Narrativity Makes a Difference.” Ratio n. Richard (2003). Jurij ([1927] 1971). London: Hogarth. Narrativity: Theory and Practice. McNeillie (ed). Boris (Tomashevsky) ([1925] 1965). • Wolf. • Kearns. Toward a Cognitive Theory of Narrative Acts.” J. Meir (2001). Paris: Méridien Klincksieck. Austin: U of Texas P.” History 283 . • Fleischman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. J. Du littéraire au filmique: système du récit. Suzanne (1990). Jacques (1994). André (1988).” W. 5. Nünning & A. Virginia ([1927] 1994). Hayden (1978). Teleology. Werner (2002). T. L. 473–80. • Woolf. “If-Plots: Narrativity and the Law-Code. 23– 104. García Landa (eds). Louvain: Suculot. 29–107. 115–22. Rhetorical Narratology.” Narrative 11. Meir (2003). Paris: Seuil. 61– 95. • Sternberg. “The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. bildender Kunst und Musik: Ein Beitrag zu einer intermedialen Erzähltheorie.” F. Aldama (ed). Michael (1999). “Against Narrativity. 141–157. 110–21. Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism. The Essays of Virginia Woolf. Readings in Russian Poetics: Formalist and Structuralist Views. “Telling in Time (II): Chronology. Matejka & K. On Narrative.” EJES: European Journal for English Studies 8. vol. 463–541. curiosité et surprise.” L.” Poetics Today 24. interdisziplinär. T.” Narrative 9. • Walsh. Trier: WVT. Lemon & M. Meir (1992). Cambridge: MIT P. “The new Biography. intermedial. Nünning (eds). Galen (2004). Tense and Narrativity: From Medieval Performance to Modern Fiction.” A. Á. Suspense.2 Further Reading • Baroni. • Gaudreault. 1–24. 66–78. Narrativity. “‘Cross that Border—Close that Gap’: Towards an Intermedial Narratology. 428–52. Mitchell (ed). • Kellner. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P.

Singer. Kellner. Frankfurt a. 95–106.” Word and Image 19. Odin. Roger (2000). “‘Narrativité’. Werner (2003). Théorie du récit: l’apport de la recherche allemande. Prince. “Remarks on Narrativity.” J. 229–42. Tiffeneau. Alan (1983). Dorian. “‘As Real as It Gets…’ Ricœur and Narrativity. Gerald (1996). 284 . Paris: CNRS.” Philosophy Today 34.M.• • • • • • • and Theory 26. 1–29. Meister. De la fiction. “The Methods of Form: Narrativity and Social Consciousness.” C. ‘événement’ et objectivation de la temporalité. Jan Christoph (2007). Bruxelles: De Boeck. Pier (ed). ed. Hans (1990). Villeneuve d’Asq: Septentrion.: Lang. “Narrative and Narrativity: A Narratological Reconceptualization and its Applicability to the Visual Arts.” SubStance 41. (1980). La narrativité. Perspectives on Narratology: Papers from the Stockholm Symposium on Narratology. 180–97. Wahlin (ed). Wolf. 64–77. 189–207.

Dominated by structuralist approaches at its beginning. a decade later. Peter et al. contexts.sub.unihamburg.php?title=Narratology&oldid=1584 Narratology Last modified: 26 August 2011 Jan Christoph Meister 1 Definition Narratology is a humanities discipline dedicated to the study of the logic. The third option seems most adequate: the concept of discipline subsumes theory and 285 . (eds. or (c) a discipline (Fludernik & Margolin 2004: 149).Meister. During its initial or “classical” phase. narratology has developed into a variety of theories. Jan Christoph: "Narratology". principles. Hühn. Its concepts and models are widely used as heuristic tools. the persistence of narratological inquiry for more than four decades. and analytic procedures. and communicative practices 2 Explication As a human science. narratology was alternatively described as (a) a theory (Prince 2003: 1). narratology is historically defined and reflects ongoing changes in research agendas and methodologies in the humanities. http://hup. from the mid-1960s to the early At the same time. narratologists were particularly interested in identifying and defining narrative universals. and practices of narrative representation. media. testifies to its cohesion as a system of scientific practices. despite its increasing “centrifugal tendencies” (Barry 1990).): the living handbbook of narratology. However. on the systematics of narrating (telling a story) and on the structure of plot” (Ryan & von Alphen 1993: 110). Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. This tendency is still echoed in a concise 1993 definition of narratology as “the set of general statements on narrative genres. and narratological theorems play a central role in the exploration and modeling of our ability to produce and process narratives in a multitude of forms. 12 Mar 2012. (b) a method (Kindt & Müller 2003: 211). concepts.

narratology is more than a theory. others focus on thematic and ideology-critical concerns (postcolonial narratology. specialized knowledge resources (journals. feminist narratology. but hierarchical and inclusive (Nünning & Nünning 2002: 19). Nünning 2003. narratologists have paid increasing attention to the historicity and contextuality of modes of narrative representation as well as to its pragmatic function across various media.” the application of narratological tools to extranarratological research problems has become more and more widespread. Fehn et al. 1992. Against this background. Other theories of narrative coexist with narratological ones. contemporary “postclassical” narratology cannot be reduced to a text theory. handbooks. dictionaries. series. However. The relation between narrative theory and narratology is thus not symmetrical. It has a defined object domain. (iv) In the wake of the “narrative turn. Fludernik 1996). And last but not least. an argument. cf.). Herman ed. critical narratology. etc. a distinct descriptive terminology. (iii) Narratology’s overriding concern remains with narrative representation as type. Nünning 2003: 227–28). While one subset of the new approaches comprises methodological variants (natural narratology. a diverse scientific community engaging in national. but defining it ex negativo is not: a statement on narrative representation―a theory. but rather comprises a group of related theories (cf. 286 . Nünning & Nünning 2002). Herman 2002. while research into narrative universals has been extended to cover narrative’s cognitive and epistemological functions. web portals. etc. acknowledging narratology’s dual nature as both a theoretical and an applicationoriented academic approach to narrative. Over the past twenty years. Narratology is no longer a single theory. etc. international. However. bibliographies. This has motivated some to conclude that narratology is in fact a textual theory whose scope extends beyond narratives and to claim that “none of the distinctions introduced by narratology to text theory is specific to any genre” (Titzmann 2003: 201). and interdisciplinary research projects. narratology is taught in undergraduate and graduate courses. eds. 1999). While it may not have lived up to the scientistic pretension expressed in its invocation as a new “science of narrative” (Todorov 1969: 10). two questions deserve particular attention: (a) How does narratology relate to other disciplines that include the study of narrative? (b) How can its status as a methodology be characterized? Five observations can be made in response to these questions which at the same time substantiate the above definition of narratology: (i) Narratology is not the theory of narrative (Bal 1985). cognitive narratology. Defining narratology in positive terms may prove difficult.. in a theoretical perspective not every approach labeled “narratological” automatically constitutes a new narratology sensu strictu. but rather a theory of narrative (Prince 1995: 110. transparent analytical procedures and the institutional infrastructure typical of disciplines: official organizations.. it does qualify as a discipline. (ii) At the same time. either. but also a concrete empirical finding―is not narratological if it does not ultimately concern “narrative qua narrative” (Prince 1990: 10). resulting in a multitude of compound or “hyphenated” narratologies. although it does not preclude the study of narrative tokens.method. explicit models and theories.

Todorov thus called for a new type of generalizing theory that could be applied to all domains of narrative. concrete discourse as realized in the form of letters. Finally. 1990a) evolved from the tradition of New Criticism and rhetoric.g. The first use of the term in an English title is found in Ryan (1979) and in a German title in Schmidt (1989). In Germany. Communications 8.(v) Despite the high level of academic attention enjoyed by the practices and products of human narrative competence. Dutch. “Narrative representation” is therefore a preferable definition of narratology’s object of study in that it counteracts this reductionism in two ways: (a) narrative representation is not media specific. 3 History of the Concept and its Study 3. German. which might also explain why Ihwe’s 1972 attempt to introduce the term “narrativics” (Narrativik) met with limited success. (b) “representation” denotes the product as well as the process of representing or.” The neologism alluded to social and natural sciences such as sociology and biology (Herman 2005: 19). who argued for a shift in focus from the surface level of text-based narrative (i. Prince 1973. Culler 1975. or in rhetorical and traditional grammatical categories 287 . the commonsense notion of narrative is still predominantly associated with text-based narratives. and in fact for a hypothetical “science that does not exist yet. for whom poetry dominated literature. as Prince stated: “Narrative is an act and it is an object” (1990: 4). Chatman 1978). Bremond 1973. or science of narrative. while important American contributions such as Booth (1961) or Chatman (1978.500 entries listed in the online bibliography of the “Interdisciplinary Center for Narratology” (ICN) shows that usage of the concept as a methodological and disciplinary identifier in French. in logic (Bremond 1973). Among the Russian avant-garde. words and sentences) to the general logical and structural properties of narrative as a univers de représentations (9). However. the assumption of a direct link between the history of the concept and the history of the discipline is misleading: hardly any of the important contributions to early narratology explicitly associated itself with “narratology” by title (e. Genette 1972. and its invention by Todorov is sometimes interpreted as a foundational act. French narratologists were rooted in structural linguistics and semiology (Greimas 1966). Bibliometrical analysis of some 4. let’s call it NARRATOLOGY. the call for a “theory of prose” amounted to a plea for a revaluation of the other hemisphere. and English monographs and journal articles only became popular after the publication of Bal’s Narratologie in 1977. 1966. the terms Erzähltheorie and Erzählforschung were already well established and had been in use since the mid-1950s (Lämmert 1955).e.1 Coining of the Term “Narratology” The French term narratologie was coined by Todorov (1969: 10). One of the reasons for the scientific community’s hesitant acceptance of the name “narratology” was the proliferation of related and more general concepts as well as of alternative research agendas concerned with narrative. since its specificity is of a functional order and lies in narrativity.

3. namely voice.1 Plato and Aristotle: Representational Modes and the Functional Relation between Character and Action In The Republic. with only the epic genre combining both. He pointed out that the latter is always a construct presenting a subset of events. the lyric genre is restricted to the use of diegesis and the dramatic genre to the use of mimesis.2. This resulted in the Poetics’ functional approach to fictional protagonists and their actions. Huet 1670. Focusing on aspects of thematics and didactics. Blanckenburg 1774) was therefore normative: would the new literary form stand up to the qualitative standards of the ancient epos? This concern continued to dominate many theories of the paradigmatic narrative genre right into the early 20th century. According to Plato. the direct imitation of speech in the form of the characters’ verbatim dialogues and monologues.g. 3. This fundamental distinction of the two principal modes of narrating not only anticipated the 20th-century opposition showing vs.2 Precursors Core elements and ideas at play in the narratological modeling of narrative were introduced as early as Greek antiquity. which comprises all utterances attributable to the author. while others originated from the late 19th century onward. the latter explained as governed by the aesthetic and logical requirements of the overall muthos. morphological and hermeneutic taxonomies and theories of literary and folk narratives. 3.Genette (1972).2.2 The Normative Paradigm: 17th to early 20th-century Theories of the Novel Prose narrative as we know it today became an accepted part of the literary canon only from the 18th century onward. the main question motivating its early theorists (e. and diegesis.2. particularly in the context of phenomenological. 3. Plato differentiated literary genres on the basis of the genre-specific constellation of two fundamental modes of speech termed mimesis. Aristotle’s Poetics presented a second criterion that has remained fundamental for the understanding of narrative: the distinction between the totality of events taking place in a depicted world and the de facto narrated plot or muthos. but it also prefigured one of the three analytical dimensions adopted by Genette (1972). telling. most prominently in Lukács (1916).3 Re-introducing the Formal Paradigm: Spielhagen and Friedemann 288 . chosen and arranged according to aesthetic considerations.

Bringsjord & Ferrucci 1999). the pioneers of a new empirical approach in folklore studies formed the “Finnish School. 3. taking the principle of Plato’s phenomenological definition of the epos one step further. in contrast to his predecessors. while acknowledging the model’s originality.” Propp’s approach was to receive considerable attention among the French structuralists who. Spielhagen declared that the ideal narrative never alerts the reader to the ongoing process of narration. Pavel 1985). In the 1880s. multilinear models (Lévi-Strauss 1976).and third-person narration and also reflected on the author-narrator relation.4 From Catalogue to Formula: Aarne-Thompson vs. 1980. and the narrating instance an inherent feature of any narrative. Propp (1928) presented a model of the elementary components of narratives and the way they are combined. but also by Artificial Intelligence (AI) researchers who tried to design artificial story telling systems (Rumelhart 1980.500 summarized variants of folk tales across eight categories. Propp’s functional model served as a fundamental point of reference for the elaboration of “story grammars. Partly on the basis of such revisions. He argued that the hypothetical minimal story “The king died. The idea of a generative grammar of narrative was to be taken up not only by narratologists (Prince 1973. published the first version of a catalogue known as the Aarne-Thompson-Index (Aarne & Thompson 1928). Propp abstracted from the content plane altogether in order to describe a particular type of Russian fairy tales in terms of a sequence of thirty-one abstract “functions. mono-linear logic of action and suggested replacing it with combinatory. thus leaving research on the folktale to specialists. which flourished from about 1916 until suppressed by the Stalinists in the late 1920s. Motivated by a dislike for anti-illusionary narrative devices. and he did so by distinguishing novel and novella in terms of the complexity and functionality of characters and the different economies of action and plot design.2. The methodological significance of this insight can hardly be overestimated: Friedemann had effectively defined the essence of narrative in structural terms.” Focusing on empirical folk tales. at the same time criticized it for its purely sequential. However. For her.” and in 1910 Aarne. Friedemann (1910) took exception to this normative postulate. had a more radical cultural-ideological agenda: its aim was to prove the autonomy 289 . Propp Late 19th-century literary history and theory equated narrative with literary narrative. The expanded catalogue now lists 2. and then the queen died” could be transformed into a valid narrative plot by the addition of an explanatory clause such as “of grief. 3.2.Spielhagen (1876) was one of the first to address formal features of narrative again. mediality was a constitutive element of narration rather than a defect. van Dijk 1975. used internationally to the present day (Uther 2004).” Chomskian generative grammar being the other. whether (fictionally) present or logically implied. His study (1883) introduced a fundamental taxonomic distinction between first.5 Russian Formalism Russian formalism. A theoretical attempt to reduce literary narratives to basic principles was presented in Forster (1927). one of its members.

” According to Lubbock. namely that of “showing” vs. in the “authorial narrative situation.e. Logic and Rhetoric 3. Šklovskij (1917) postulated the need to study literature in terms of purely formal features such as the principle of defamiliarization. Time. A phenomenological contribution to the theory of perspective was that of the Austrian Anglicist Stanzel. which governs the literary use of language and accentuates the textual artifact as an autonomous signifying structure. The most influential contribution from a narratological perspective was the formalist differentiation of fabula and sujet (Tomaševskij 1925). the question of narrative perspective (→ Perspective/Point of View) became the subject of a poetological controversy initiated by the novelist and theorist Henry James.” the third-person narrator remains unobtrusive while the narrative information is filtered through the internal perspective of the reflector character. He advocated the scenic method of narration in which narrative perspective is strictly tied to the epistemological constraints of a particular character. phraseology. Stanzel understood these three narrative situations to be ideal types and thus modeled them on a synthetic typological circle. 290 . proposing a graded spectrum of eight modes of perspective in which each type is determined by its ratio of character to narrator-bound sequences. In the “I narrative situation. from pure “showing”). in the “figural narrative situation. which represents the most comprehensive model of perspective to date. a member of the Moscow-Tartu school of semiotics. Friedman (1955) extended the scope further.2. a technique demonstrated particularly in The Ambassadors (1903).2. often occupy an intermediate position between these situations and are thus best modeled in terms of a synthetic typological circle. “telling. a coherent mimetic representation can only originate from the epistemological point of view of a character (i. spatio-temporal constraints. who identified three proto-typical “narrative situations” (1955). James’s admirer Lubbock (1921) postulated that such character-bound “point of view” should in fact be considered the qualitative standard for narrative prose. Literature in particular was considered a phenomenon sui generis that cannot be explained adequately in terms of content or of biographical or historical context. and psychology of perspective was developed by Uspenskij (1970).” the narrator exists and acts within the narrated world.of art as form. The idea has been taken further in Schmid (2005). thus elevating James’s technical distinction into one of principle. Descriptive rather than prescriptive by design. Actual narratives.” he is positioned outside the narrated world but dominates the process of mediation by commenting on events.6 Pre-structuralist Theories of Narrative: Perspective. Pouillon (1946) broadened the scope and distinguished three principal forms defined in terms of the narrator’s temporal and cognitive stance vis-à-vis the characters.1 Perspective Early in the last century.6. 3. in which the latter is defined as a defamiliarisation of the former. An even more complex stratified model in which the positions of character and narrator are correlated in the four dimensions of ideology. he observed.

The controversy over the pragmatic merits of Stanzel’s approach versus its methodological constraints and inconsistencies continues to the present day (cf.) Drawing on Lubbock’s (1921) work as well as on Petsch (1934). He introduced the concept of “unreliable narrator. a book which explored the semantics and pragmatics of literary communication.2. 3. He distinguished various types of narration which stretched. skipped and eliminated sub-sequences.” interpreting cases of conflicting and self-contradicting narration as an aesthetic device aimed at signaling the author’s moral and normative distance from his narrator. 3. characterizes the pace of a narrative. and description. eds. repeated. report. Cornils 2007. paused and interrupted. as he showed. while other types perfectly imitated the flow of narrated time. Cohn 1981. namely that of the implied author (→ Implied Author). more speculative concept. The question of the validity and reliability of narrative utterances was again raised by Booth (1961). one of the first large-scale taxonomies of narrative. For Lämmert. the way in which Booth constructed his argument made it necessary to introduce a second. “time of narration” (Erzählzeit). the controversy over the implied author’s plausibility is ongoing (Booth 2005.2 Time With respect to the category of time. Hamburger pointed out that neither the subject of an utterance nor the utterance’s temporal location and reference can be adequately inferred from the words and sentences of a literary narrative: literature overwrites the rules and conventions of everyday language use with its own logic. Lämmert related these elementary forms of narrative temporality to the principal modes of narration such as scenic presentation. This approach was further explored by Lämmert (1955). However. 2009). this time from a rhetorical and ethical perspective.6. the phenomenology of individual narratives can be traced back to a stable. Hühn et al. Schernus 2007). Unfortunately. 291 .6.2. abbreviated. the systematic gain of his contribution was hampered by an overly complex and at times “fuzzy” taxonomy which tries to account for all forms of narrative flashbacks and flash forwards. universal repertoire of elementary modes of narrating.3 Logic and Rhetoric A philosophically more concise contribution to narrative theory was Hamburger (1957). Kindt & Müller 2006).” rejected by structuralists such as Genette (1983). van Peer & Chatman eds. While the concept of “unreliable narrator. (The category of time in Genette 1972 is examined in similar terms. has become more accepted in post-classical narratology. Kindt & Müller 2006. as does the more general narratological general debate on the concept of narrative perspective (cf. and in particular the specific logic of the use of temporal and personal deixis under the conditions of fictional reference. 2001. Müller (1948) introduced an equally fundamental distinction between “narrated time” (erzählte Zeit) vs. The correlation between the two dimensions. reflection.

cf.” which represents the semiotic infrastructure of all signifying systems.3. Broadly 292 . Genette. in the former case. its categories were defined with a degree of generality too broad to be faulted.g. a typology of six functional roles attributable to characters (main vs. Eco. At the most abstract level. sender vs. fabula and sujet. obligatory events that guarantee the story’s coherence. This new paradigm was proclaimed in a 1966 special issue of the journal Communications. Herman 2002). Greimas.” i. their practical relevance was hard to prove to philologists. structural linguistics in the Saussurean tradition as well as the structural anthropology of Lévi-Strauss. While the theoretical ambition and level of abstraction of early structuralist models of narrative were impressive. and the film theorist Metz. re-labeled by Todorov in French as histoire and discours and by Genette as histoire and récit. receiver. structure-oriented variant of narrative theory.” The interest in questions of action logic and narrative grammar was taken up in Prince (1973) which synthesized and systematized the earlier approaches. e. 1958) structural analysis of myths. This systematic and methodological gap was addressed by Genette (1972). Greimas 1973) complements the approach. Greimas (1966) proposed a deeplevel model of signification termed the “semiotic square.” It contained articles by leading structuralists Barthes. modeling it as a series of binary choices in which an “eventuality” results in “action” or in “non-action” and.e. its yield was too abstract to demonstrate the necessity or the explanatory power of the transformational process from semiotic deep structure to the surface structure of narrated events and characters. From 1966 to 1972.3 French Structuralism: 1966–1980 French structuralism eventually gave the decisive impulse for the formation of narratology as a methodologically coherent. opponent vs. put to the test as a generative grammar. Barthes (1966) proposed a functional systematics of narrated events which distinguishes “kernels. who presented a comprehensive taxonomy of discourse phenomena developed alongside a detailed analysis of narrative composition and technique in Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. in “completion” or in “non-completion. Three traditions informed the new structuralist approach toward narrative: Russian Formalism and Proppian morphology. Todorov (1969) furthered the linguistic analogy by equating actions to verbs. Against this background. characters to nouns and their attributes to adjectives. secondary character. the transformational generative grammar of Chomsky. Greimassian semantics is a case in point: used as a descriptive grammar. narratology focused mainly on the former. The mapping of this universal deep structure onto a given narrative’s surface structure can then be explained in terms of transformational rules. the semiotician Greimas concentrated on the elementary structure of signification. Finally. which combined Bremond’s abstract binary logic with game theory (cf. Bremond (1973) explored the logic of represented action from yet another angle. this “grammar” also included the logic of virtual action sequences. programmatically titled “L’analyse structurale du récit. helper. the structuralists engaged in a systematic reexamination of the two dimensions of narrative already identified by Šklovskij. Todorov. Building on Lévi-Strauss’s (1955. and then by then linking these elements through modal operators. and yet again in Pavel (1985). and optional “satellites” that serve to embellish the basic plot. This narrative syntax operates on the abstract level of a narrative langue: instead of accounting only for the manifest sequence of events represented in a given fictional world. those imagined in a narrated character’s mind.

3. and the epistemological and normative constraints of the gathering and communication of information during the narrative process. Genette had no intention of designing a fully coherent and self-contained theory of narrative. linking it to the simulation paradigm of AI. the mode of narration and its underlying logic of narrative communication. 1999b) and set the stage for numerous debates that were to result in postclassical narratology.5 Post-classical Narratology and “New” Narratologies: 1990 to Present 293 . etc. In contrast to his formalist predecessors and structuralist colleagues. White 1980. Some of this criticism was addressed in Genette (1983). non-realized virtual narratives indicated by fictional characters’ hopes. fabula) to discourse and argued that the relation of dependency between the two is the exact opposite: discourse generates story. which may not materialize but nevertheless serve to point to the theoretical possibility of an alternative course of events. Kreiswirth 1995). This sparked fundamental narratological controversies over Genettian concepts such as “focalization” (Bal 1977. Derridaen deconstruction was introduced by Culler (1981).speaking.4 Poststructuralist Narratology: 1980–1990 The following decade was dominated by two major trends: a widening of narratology’s scope beyond literary narrative and the importing of concepts and theories from other disciplines (Ryan & van Alphen 1993: 112). Pavel (1986) and Doležel (1988) extended the narratological model by introducing modal logic and the theory of possible worlds. Genette’s narratological taxonomy covered three functional domains of literary narrative: the temporal structure and dynamics of representation (in the dual sense of product and process of representational activity). The process thus mirrored the general shift from structuralist to poststructuralist methodologies that was taking place in the humanities at that time. The terminology and neologisms introduced by Genette in together with his taxonomy soon became the narratological lingua franca. 3. The psychological motivation at play in this process of retrospective emplotting was explored in Brooks (1984). On a more abstract level. the postclassical phase of narratology saw an increase in the exporting of narratological concepts and theorems to other disciplines (→ Narration in Various Disciplines). wishes. Ryan (1991) explored this line of reasoning even further. as well as in that of intra-textual phenomena of polyvocality (Lanser 1981). Chatman (1978) demonstrated the applicability of narratology to visual narratives. These models accounted for the implicit. Bal (1985) and others proved narratology’s relevance in the analysis of cross-textual phenomena such as intertextuality and intermediality. thus contributing to the “narrative turn” (cf. Another influence came from feminist studies: Lanser (1986) proposed to include gender as a systematic category for the narratological analysis of the narratorial profile as well as of point of view and mode of presentation. who questioned the implicit genealogy from story (histoire. Jahn 1996. Finally.

(b) Cognitive narratology (Herman 2000. Gibson (1996) argued for a radical deconstruction of the entire conceptual apparatus developed by the structuralists. 2008) as well as other domains. 1999) to introduce the plural concept of “narratologies. Ryan 2005. Even so. ed. thematic. Meister 2003. three of which have turned out to be the dominant methodological paradigms of contemporary narratology: (a) Contextualist narratology (Chatman 1990b) relates the phenomena encountered in narrative to specific cultural. Whether such philosophical criticism in the Derridaen vein deserves to be classified “narratological” has however been met with skepticism (e. → Performativity). music (Kramer 1991. 2007). Branigan 1992. 2003) focuses on the human intellectual and emotional processing of narratives. Wolf 2002. 2004. Schlickers 1997.” A comprehensive survey by Nünning & Nünning (2002) and by Nünning (2003) grouped the proliferation of “new narratologies” that got underway during the 1990s into eight categories. Cognitivist approaches also play a crucial role in AI research. 294 . adaptation and reformulation of narratological concepts go hand in hand with the narratological analysis of drama (Fludernik 2000. the deconstructionist and postmodernist onslaught stimulated a multitude of new approaches aimed at combining the structuralists’ concern for systematicity with a renewal of interest in the cultural and philosophical issues of history and ideology. Fludernik 2008. Richardson 2007. the tension between structuralist narratology’s original concern for systematicity and logical coherence and the need for a response to calls for a more pragmatically oriented theory of narrative could no longer be ignored. prompting Herman (ed. Fludernik (1996) signaled a shift in focus from text-based phenomena to the cognitive functions of oral and non-literary narrative. the aim of which is to model or simulate human narrative intelligence (Jahn 1999a. The resulting wave of critically oriented narratological models and theories proved to be methodologically heterogeneous. This extends the focus from purely structural aspects to issues of narrated content. Seaton 2005. ed. Mittell 2007. and ideological contexts. Grabócz 2009). Application. Nünning & Sommer 2008). computer games (Ryan 2001. 2005).g. cf. In contrast. historical. Hühn & Kiefer 2005. (c) Transgeneric approaches (→ Narration in Poetry and Drama) and intermedial approaches (→ Narration in Various Media. ed. Wolf 2004) explore the relevance of narratological concepts for the study of genres and media outside the traditional object domain of text-based literary narrative. Lönneker et al. film (Bordwell 1985. This approach is not restricted to literary narratives: “natural” everyday and oral narratives are considered to represent an underlying anthropological competence in its original form (Fludernik 1996). This broadening of the narratological palette beyond specific media highlights the necessity for further research on narrativity (→ Narrativity). Mateas & Sengers eds. as observed by Prince (2003). Ryan 2003. Nünning & Nünning 2002: 15). Schönert et al. eds. poetry (Hühn 2004. 2004. thus opening a new chapter in the narratological project. 2006. the visual and performing arts (Bal 1991. Eder 2008).With time. 2003. Jahn 2001.

sometimes suggesting that narratology’s scope ought to be restricted to the latter and sometimes arguing that it ought to be defined in even more general terms. 4 Topics for Further Investigation The diversification of narratology since the 1990s has not only borne witness to its continued relevance. the “Zentrum für Erzählforschung” at Wuppertal University as well as the “Center for Narratological Studies” at the University of Southern Denmark and the “Project Narrative” at Ohio State University in the US.” and the “European Narratology Network. the third focuses on the methodological distinction between hermeneutic and heuristic functions. such as the “Forschergruppe Narratologie” and the “Interdisciplinary Center for Narratology” at Hamburg University. Phase 2: The advent of officially funded narratological institutions for academic research and teaching since the late 1990s. narratology’s potential for further development is perhaps better described in terms of an interaction of three concurrent processes: expansion of the body of domain-specific theories on which narratology is based. Marin. Even during the heyday of poststructuralism. While the merit of these theoretical definitions is obvious. Kindt & Müller 2003)? How can it be defined in theoretical and methodological terms? The need for critical self-reflection by practicing narratologists can be argued from two angles. but has also emerged with the gradual consolidation of organizational and institutional structures. three phases can be identified: Phase 1: The formation of cross-disciplinary narratological interest groups. continuous broadening of its epistemic reach. the theoretical definition of narratology has generally followed one of three lines of reasoning: the first upholds or questions narratology’s original formalist-structuralist credo. Phase 3: The founding of national and international narratological umbrella organizations. which has helped to transform a methodology into a discipline. In this respect. consolidation of an institutional infrastructure. What exactly is narratology (cf. Todorov.” the Scandinavian “Nordic Network. but it has also underscored the need to address the problem of methodological identity. it was observed that “visits to the tool shed of 295 . These include the North American “International Society for the Study of Narrative. Beginning with the contributors to the programmatic 1966 special issue of the journal Communications and the creation during the 1970s by Bremond. and Metz of the Centre de recherches sur les arts et le langage (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique).6 Outlook The development of narratology has been dependent not only on its theoretical or metatheoretical advances. informal organizational models (also represented by the Tel Aviv group with its influential journal Poetics Today. the second explores family resemblances among the old and the “new narratologies” and their various research paradigms.” To date.3. Genette. or in the Amsterdam School initiated by Bal) have played a decisive role in shaping narratology as a paradigmatic inter-discipline.

After a promising start in the 1970s (van Dijk 1975) this work has been taken up only occasionally (e.narratology may be of advantage even to those making critical theory their main residence” (Hoesterey 1991: 214). a method. action (Meister 2003). calling for: (a) more studies in the history of narratology. as film or computer game studies (e. In the intervening years. a narratologically based approach in literary history― called for repeatedly (Bal 1986. Audet et al. Lehmann (2008) or Janik (2008) demonstrate the synergy of this approach. Pavel 1990. → Narrativity). Others have investigated historical links between narratology and German Erzähltheorie (Cornils & Schernus 2003. Toolan 1988). or is it indeed a discipline (Schönert 2004)? Nünning & Nünning’s comprehensive 2003 survey (cf. Fludernik & Margolin 2004). Eder 2008. (c) detailed theoretical explication of narratological conceptual fundamentals. research on procedural aspects of narrative that long remained unnoticed has emanated from digital media studies (Ryan 2002.)―is still outstanding. (b) concrete examples of narratological analyses of texts. Narratological analyses of texts. For example. Neitzel 2005) have come to realize. Sternberg 2001. (f) research on intermedial aspects of narrative. Fludernik 2003. the potential for interdisciplinary cooperation between narratology and text linguistics has also not been fully exploited yet. or are they not rather destined to degenerate into mere metaphoric labels? Descriptive concepts such as mise en abyme or metalepsis (→ Metalepsis) seem to be less at risk (cf. etc. films. 296 . most of these desiderata have been addressed at least in part. Schmid 2005a). Nünning 2000. etc. Yet examples like these also point to a more fundamental issue that extends beyond the scope of individual concepts. → Perspective . Contemporary narratology has clearly responded to the call to broaden the scope of methodology and object domain.g. character (Jannidis 2004. a program. narrativity (Sturgess 1992. 2006). (d) narratological reconstructions of phenomena relevant to literary history. which includes seminal original texts in (German) translation. Wolf 2005. the last two desiderata underscore literary narrative’s paradigmatic status for the narratological study of narrative representation. Pier & García Landa eds. Similarly. 2009. 2008. → Character) and perspective (Hühn et al. Recent contributions such as Adam (2005). 2009). the Russian formalists’ constitutive role has been reconstructed in Schmid (ed. → Focalization).g. What is the principal methodological status of the undertaking now that it has transformed into a “Narratology beyond Literary Studies” (Meister et al. visual artifacts. By contrast. (e) narratological work in the field of cultural history. However. 2006. while others―notably the core narratological concept of narrator―resist straightforward appropriation. a theory. Adam 1985. were undertaken starting in the 1970s and continue to nourish narratological reflection today.Point of View. Nünning 2003) of the multitude of “new narratologies” concluded with a list of six desiderata. eds. Karlgren & Cutting 1994. can conceptual imports taken from structuralist narratology retain their theoretical precision and integrity in a foreign methodological context. At the same time. 2005): is narratology a tool. Numerous studies―some of them book-length―have been devoted to fundamental concepts such as event and eventfulness (Schmid 2003).

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2 Explication A narrator is a linguistically indicated. In Benveniste’s (1966) and Jakobson’s (1971) text linguistics. producer of current discourse. be it a human being or a computer program. the individual agent who serves as the answer to Genette’s question qui parle? The narrator. reporter.6).de/lhn/index.sub. stemming from text linguistics. Through a dual process of metonymic transfer and anthropomorphization. Uri: "Narrator". The linguistically prance. http://hup. The position occupiedojected narrator and the actual world producer will be confronted at a later stage (3. narrating agent or inst by this presumed inner-textual originator of the discourse functions as a logicolinguistic center for all spatio-temporal and personal references occurring in the discourse. textually projected and readerly constructed function. slot or category whose occupant need not be thought of in any terms but those of a communicative role. the hypothesized producer of the current discourse. which is a strictly textual category. both informal and professional. actions and events that this discourse is about are being made. the term narrator is then employed to designate a presumed textually projected occupant of this position. Terms designating this role include discursive function or role. Good reasons. 12 Mar 2012. Peter et al. any utterance is described as consisting of two indissoluble components: the 304 . not just a fictional one. can be adduced for the necessity or at least advisability of granting the narrator category as defined above a central place in the description and interpretation.Margolin.php?title=Narrator&oldid=1554 Narrator Last modified: 25 July 2011 Uri Margolin 1 Definition In the literal sense. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. the term “narrator” designates the inner-textual (textually encoded) speech position from which the current narrative discourse originates and from which references to the entities. and such ascription does not require any knowledge about the actual world producer of the words of the text. voice. Hühn.unihamburg. source of narrative transmission. narratology and common sense. philosophy. of literary narratives.e. as highest-level center of the discourse. (eds. teller.): the living handbbook of narratology. i. should be clearly distinguished from the author who is of course an actual person (→ Author). An inner-textual narrator can in principle be assigned to any narrative text.

The whole essence of narrative would be missed if one were to deny the textual existence of a narrator as a stylistic and ideological position. A narrator can thus be defined as the sujet de l’énonciation of one or more utterances that represents an event (Coste 1989: 166). Works which destroy the illusion of an independently 305 . → Cognitive Narratology). we need a reporter behind it. narrated event. psychonarratology (e. there needs to be an agent who makes this claim. and what is seen is then reported. 3 History of the Concept and its Study Plato was the first to claim that the underlying difference between narrative and drama as basic types of discourse consists in the difference between directly showing and indirectly telling or reporting. And the narrator is precisely this mediating instance. In terms of communication theory. rooted in the absence or presence respectively of a mediating instance between the characters’ speech and the audience. regards the novel as the site of interplay between two kinds of utterances: those stemming from the characters and those stemming from an inner textual narrator. respectively. is a macro speech act of the constative type. focalizer (which has been a subject of scholarly controversy) and narrator. Identifying and characterizing such a narrator is an optional naturalization or meaning creation strategy open to the reader and building upon two kinds of input: textual signals and storytelling scenarios (frames. the sayer (sujet de l’énonciation) and the one spoken of (sujet de l’énoncé). This mimetic-illusionist assumption has recently come under scrutiny by cognitively-oriented narratologists (Nünning 2001. the author represents the act(ivity) of narrative communication between textual narrator and narratee. we need a teller. one can say that in writing down his text and communicating it to real readers. For a claim to be made. Since narrative utterances are a subset of the universe of utterances. claiming that such and such happened. A narrative consists of someone telling someone else that something happened. respectively. For narrative. and no such act can be imagined without a sender-narrator position. Fludernik 2003. Finally. narrator and narrated agent(s). which can be generalized to all narrative. saying) and that which is said (énoncé) to which correspond. any act of communication consists of a sender sending a message to a receiver. Even a failed. characters do certain things which are viewed from a certain perspective. hence the narrator. confused or contradictory act of reporting presupposes a narrator no less than a successful one. If narrative is a report of acts and events. Following Schmid (2005: 45–6). Thus. regardless of its length. In terms of linguistic pragmatics or speech act theory.g. any narrative. and if it is a tale. On this view. Modern arguments for mediacy as the generic hallmark of narrative can be found in Friedemann (1910) and Stanzel (1955). In contemporary narratology it is customary to distinguish between three functions which are essential to give rise to any narrative: doing. seeing and saying (Bal 1981: 45). To these three functions there correspond three roles: narrative agent. they too must therefore contain a sayer.speech event (énonciation. schemes) the reader already possesses from his real-life experience and which are activated once a certain number of narrator indicators have been identified in the text (→ Schemata). Baxtin’s (1934/35) influential theory of the novel. a literary narrative is a text capable of creating in the reader’s mind the representational illusion of observing an ongoing process of narrative communication in which a more or less personalized narrator plays a key role. Bortolussi & Dixon 2003) has shown that readers process literary narratives in the same way as they do ordinary communication insofar as they assume a textually encoded conversational partner responsible for the contents of the narrative. the terms thus translate into narration.

distinct human-like voice who produces the whole narrative discourse we are reading. There is no algorithm for deciding whether any or all of the above conditions are satisfied by a given text even though readers make such decisions semi-intuitively all the time. although not universally.existing narrated domain may still produce a powerful representational illusion of narrative activity with a narrator figure behind it. classified as narratives in our culture. 3. and (b) all textually occurring utterances originating with other speakers are embedded within this macro speech act. this discourse assumes the shape of an account of independently existing and known facts. as defined by such questions as who can quote whom. Going one step further. none of whom occupy a position higher than the others. do not satisfy this requirement and consequently cannot be considered as possessing any inscribed originators. the narrator can be envisioned as a fictional agent who is part of the story world and whose task it is to report from within it on events in this world which are real or actual for him (Thomson-Jones 2007: 78). interplay of utterances).) The third condition is that one should be able to determine the hierarchical relations between the different utterances and their originators. narratology (mediation. such as unframed interior monologues (Schnitzler’s Fräulein Else) or textes-limites of modernism or postmodernism. communication). Finally. stable. (It is only in rare cases that all utterances recorded in a text were originally made by one speaker at one time. one should be able to identify a single. Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red) in which different textual segments consist of reports stemming from different speakers. But what are the minimal textual conditions under which one could identify a distinct narrating position or voice? Such conditions could be represented as a hierarchical series. that is. and cognitive science (reader psychology and models of text comprehension). When it is not possible to identify a single highest-level narrator. Some texts. “Narrator” in the prototypical sense. such that (a) the text as a whole can be seen as a macro speech act or utterance emanating from that voice. and most crucially. are merely quoted or mentioned in it. 3. The muse who provides the answer to the epic question at the beginning of the Iliad is the earliest Western example of such a global narrator.1 Identifying the Narrator: Constitutive Conditions Some narrators are more marked and individuated than others. The text must be capable of being naturalized as representing one or more reporting utterances or speech acts stemming from one or more agents. primary or global textual narrating voice.1 “Unnatural Voices” in Postmodern Narratives 306 . unified. however.1. who can refer to whom and who can report about whom (Margolin 1991). highest-level originator of all originators. designates the single. we are dealing with multi-narrator narratives (Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying or The Sound and the Fury. In general. One can say in conclusion that the notion of narrator has been approached and defined in terms of three distinct theoretical frameworks (Grall 2007): rhetoric (speech act. The second condition is that it should be possible to demarcate the utterances of which the text consists and assign each of them to a distinct voice or originator. so to speak: one general. but this occurs also with the anonymous voices relating the whole of War and Peace or Père Goriot. but also to determine the total number of such originators and levels of speech in the text.

of which Beckett’s Trilogy is the showcase.Richardson (2006) described the difficulty in defining a single or unified or stable highestlevel narrator position in many postmodern texts. it is not I. I still remember with great affection what X did 30 years ago. which seeks to infer from a behavior. or an open-ended regression of levels where whenever we think we have finally reached the primary textual speaker. advertising and the like (Petersen 1993: 138). imperceptible) narrator coming from nowhere and announcing categorically that “once upon a time there was. as it is merely a “ghost writer” for another or the mere conduit for another’s discourse or an impersonator speaking as another (Margolin 1986/87). and even if one is locatable. it is sometimes impossible to locate a constant highest-level narrator. In the mimetically impossible case (Richardson 2006: 103–05). the primary speaker turns out to be a number of distinct voices which merge without any explanation. place. the two extremes would be a mere voice with no psychological person behind it and a concrete figure with both an inner life and a body. a specific highestlevel individual voice cannot be identified in a discourse consisting of a verbal collage of recycled clichés from media reports. the highest-level speaker is a mere conduit or “mouth” (Beckett) voicing a discourse whose inscribed originator is someone else.” At the other end stands the perceptible. At degree zero we have the impersonal or transparent mode of narration associated with an anonymous voice or covert (effaced. so that all tokens of “I” in this discourse designate not the utterer. the greater the number and diversity of the textual elements available for speaker indication. but that “cantankerous other” (Beckett). including verbal. The supposedly highest-level voice ends up lacking all identity. the richer the resultant speaker image. as when such a narrator claims to have invented figures in other texts by the same author (e. In such texts.2 Individuating the Narrator When a primary global narrator can be defined for a given narrative. Finally. beliefs and communicative intentions.g. 3. and context of utterance and the utterer’s capabilities. the dispositions and attitudes of the agent (Margolin 1986). too. narrator and persona of the biographical author. is in fact being quoted by a still higher-level voice. The first case involves either a constant reversal of levels between quoter and quoted where “the one you invented has invented you” (Beckett). Now literary texts vary enormously as regards the kinds and the amount of clues they provide for this purpose and the resultant textual markedness of the narrator or “degree of narratorhood” (Chatman’s term). In the second case. about me—but it is not about me” (Beckett). This task needs to be guided by two theoretical frameworks: linguistic pragmatics.” Obviously. Once again. this utterer has no voice of his own or is mimetically impossible. the discourse as a whole can be viewed as its macro speech act. which contain so much incommensurable information that they cannot be unified into one speech position or whose level is indeterminate and floating between the character. which seeks to define the time. Beckett’s Trilogy). Individuating the narrator in a literary fictional context means constructing or inferring an image of the utterer with the sole means for so doing being the verbal record of his speech act. 307 . the unquoted quoter. The net result is that “I seem to speak. and the cognitive psychological theory of attribution. dramatized or personal mode of narration associated with an overt narrator who could say things like “Living now in my old age in the city of NN. it turns out that this discourse.

two extremes being Hemingway and Henry James. especially of the present tense.g. again in hierarchical order. say or think. maxims and norms of action which go well beyond the reported events. interpretations and judgments of reported actions or characters.” consisting of questions and admonitions and providing the speaking voice with immediacy.1 Types of Utterances One major source of data for building the image of the narrator is claims occurring in his/her discourse that go beyond the strict reporting of individual facts. expressing the narrating instance’s attitudes and reactions to the narrated events. Otto Ludwig [1977].2 Situational Indicators The types of utterances just mentioned help us individuate the narrator as a mind.” “yesterday. These include summaries. But what about him/her as a person in a communicative situation? Here linguistic features play the major role. shifters) of time and place such as “now. indicative of a particular mind style. Conversely. then to explanations. relating the narrated events to a present speaker and his embodied space-time position. First is the use of first. Such address is part of the rhetorical strategy employed by the narrator. and embodies his/her communicative intentions. analyses. Friedrich Spielhagen [1883].” “lately.2. Doležel (1967) has outlined several such features. Next is the use of all three major tenses. merely indicative of the narrated events already having taken place. The aesthetic desirability of such narratorial “intrusions” or “telling” beyond mere “showing” has been the object of heated critical debate since the 19th century (e. but is more aspectual. which both adds a strong personal element and functions as part of the teller’s rhetorical strategy vis-àvis the addressee. such as the famous “Dear reader. Critics for whom narratorial mediation is a mere handmaiden for showing camera-like what happened would advocate the avoidance of all such material and consider it a mere deviation detracting from the effectiveness of the narration. on the other hand.” “here. Equally important is the use of subjective semantics. In pure third-person past-tense narration. Chatman (1978) has proposed a useful typology of such claims in ascending order from set descriptions and temporal summaries to reports of what characters did not do. Käte Friedemann [1910]. comments. The extent of such claims varies enormously from one author to the other. the past tense is not related to any particular speech situation.and second-person pronouns to indicate the presence of the originator and the inscribed addressee of the current speech event. to indicate the current communicative transaction relative to which all narrated events are temporally ordered. all concerning the narrated domain. so to speak.2. projecting an ongoing communicative exchange (telling) in addition to what is being narrated (told). and generalizations of various kinds.” 3. indexicals. Third is the use of deictics (demonstratives. both of whom are absent in third-person discourse. those for whom mediation is the very essence of narrative as distinguished from drama would consider such material as radical enrichment of “mere reporting. A final individuating feature is a personal style of narration.” etc. Another major element is address to the inscribed narratee. Booth [1961]). including purported general truths.3. and ending with generalizations of any kind. Percy Lubbock [1921] and Wayne C. 308 .

3. Finally. five of whose six functions are concerned with enunciation. one could attempt to draw an image of this narrator as a human or human-like figure. including characters’ direct discourse. the more marked the narrator and his activity become. while the linguistic features listed above may be indicative of the narrated or the narration. it is possible to draw conclusions not only with respect to some of the narrator’s mental and physical traits. sympathetic.1 Knowledge Once a global narrator has been identified in a discourse. confession.3 Major Aspects of a Narrator’s Image Once a certain amount of individuating information about the narrator has been garnered from the textual data listed above.). but also regarding the narrator and his current activity. diary. sympathize. Now in principle any physical. projected teller role. As Prince (1982) and Nünning (1989) have noted. An extreme example is provided by postmodern narratives where hardly any story gets told. but also as regards possible changes to these features in the course of the narration.3. Metalinguistic references to the medium employed (oral or written) and its limitations again highlight the narrator’s present act of telling. when the telling process is foregrounded and presented as durative (taking days. attitude towards the narrated (straightforward. the following have been suggested by various narratologists: degree and kind(s) of knowledge possessed. there are of course references to the current narrating activity and its linguistic embodiment as it is being produced. the greater the number of signs of the narration compared to those of the narrated. but as regards those aspects most closely tied to the defining teller role. relation to various components of the speech act performed. since most of the text is concerned with the process of telling and its difficulties and with the figure of the teller and his struggle to tell (→ Metanarration and Metafiction). report). The expressive function is concerned with the speaker’s self-reference. 3.. ironic. etc. all information about the narrated domain.3. reliability. mental or behavioral aspect of the narrator could enter such a picture. Now the 309 . and so do discussions of the appropriateness and potentialities of the type of discourse selected (letter. and expression of emotions and attitudes. self-characterization. articulateness.3 Narration-oriented Utterances Narratorial comments are focused on the narrated. The conative or appellative functions may create the illusion of face-to-face communication where the addressee is urged to listen. The fullest systematic picture of elements in the communicative situation (narration) which help characterize the narrator can be provided by using Jakobson’s model of verbal communication (1960). months or years). etc. understand. not only with respect to the narrated.2. And finally. originates with that narrator.

This is the maximal degree and kind of knowledge any narrator can possess. reader-formulated ones regarding the given topic. As soon as the narrator becomes personalized. one can distinguish three axes of unreliability: facts and events of the narrated domain. since it may prevent us from figuring out what the narrative world was “really” like. in principle. not open to any challenge or enquiry. Moreover. D’hoker & Martens eds. replaced by more valid. and he may also withhold information from his addressee. knowledge claims begin to be restricted in scope and kind to the humanly possible (unless the speaker is a supernatural entity) and are open to modalization (“it seems. In multiple narrator texts (3. explanations or motivations). knowledge of past. invalid or non-sequitur inferences as well as explanations and generalizations lacking any evidence are grounds for deeming narratorial interpretations of fact unreliable. moral. There are numerous indicators of narratorial factual unreliability (cf. unreliability is inapplicable [Walton 1990: 374–75]. and the possibility of any narrating instance possessing such knowledge is the most basic constitutive convention of all fiction writing. meaning that the validity of some or even all claims made by them is low or non-existent. Even if restricted to external data. (Notice.4). 310 . the same as or less than one or more of his characters. judgments and evaluations of these facts.e.” “as far as can be known”) and thus the challenge of limited epistemic authority. One egregious example is Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. though. The highly personalized narrator of Proust’s first-person novel À la Recherche du temps perdu can thus on occasion report with certainty about what another person thought or what happened when someone was all by himself. and the knowledge of what happened in several places at the same time” (Rimmon-Kenan [1983] 2003: 96). a narrator may know more. While the first two kinds of reliability are epistemic. the interpretation of such facts (i. and only personalized ones. supplied inferences. anonymous narrating voices telling their story in the third-person past tense are endowed with omniscience: “Familiarity. unreliability of factual claims is the most radical. aesthetic. where the narrator withholds the crucial information that he himself is the murderer. presence in locations where characters are supposed to be unaccompanied […]. a major clash between our world knowledge (extra-textual information) and claims made by the narrator may also serve as such an indicator (Hansen 2007). 3. practical. with the characters’ innermost thought and feelings. conflicts between the reports on the same events by different narrators indicate that at least one of them is unreliable. present and future. while illogicality.knowledge a narrator may have about any of the characters may be restricted to what can be garnered from sense impressions. Inner-textual indicators of factual unreliability are inconsistency and incongruity between claims made by the narrator regarding the same events. may on occasion be deemed by the reader as unreliable. the third is clearly axiological and normative.2 Reliability Personalized narrators. Because of their rhetorical needs. scoundrel).” “probably. if possible. In realistic literature.) Following Phelan & Martin (1999). or it may include direct access to their minds. that these claims need consequently to be rejected and. And such panoramic or Olympian knowledge can be fully authoritative. etc. 2008) including paratextual and intertextual elements such as title (Diary of a Madman) or a narrator figure falling clearly under a codified unreliable literary type (picaro. but by no means all. something not possible outside fiction (→ Focalization). that if the narrator is cast in the role not of a reporter of facts but of an inventor of tales. Some. authors sometimes endow personalized narrators with intermittent omniscience. A narrator may himself alter the reliability of any of his claims by citing lack of information or inability on his part to fathom things.3.

seeks to mold in particular ways the attitudes. social identity. selfreference and direct address or the absence of both.3. the speaker’s mind as 311 . involving the speaker-audience relation. involving the relation between the speaker and the topic of his discourse. In the factual and interpretative cases. Status covers. and a deliberate deceptive strategy. and competence or skill at telling. emotions and judgments of his addressees (Grall 2007: 253–54).Strong conflict with the moral or aesthetic norms held by the reader are grounds for rejecting narratorial judgments. 3. we could seek for mental explanations for the unreliability of some or all of his claims. Creating a narrator figure whom readers will deem unreliable redirects attention from the told to the telling and the teller. deference to contempt. among other things. one also assumes that the events of the narrated domain are in and by themselves amenable to a consistent description and that valid generalizations and explanations of this domain are possible. Contact includes the teller’s attitude towards his inscribed addressee: formality to intimacy. a crucial point first made by Yacobi (1981).3 Relation to the Narrative Act From the speech act of narration one can construct an image of its performer along three major axes: status. involving the speaker’s relation to his speaking activity. Stance is a more heterogeneous category. through the organization and manner of delivery of his discourse. consciousness of this activity of telling and reference to it or lack of both. Depending on the particular text. Narratorial unreliability is ultimately a readerly computational hypothesis adopted in order to explain the origin of inconsistencies and incongruities in the narrated world. presentation of the told as report or invention. the teller’s attitude towards his activity including self-confidence or hesitancy. mental deficiencies ranging from limited intelligence to insanity or drug-induced hallucinations. self-deception (in cases of autobiographical narration). extent of knowledge. but most important probably is the narrator’s relation to his characters: adopting or not adopting their language and/or spatiotemporal perspective and/or values (Lanser 1981: 224). To claim that the narration of a given story is unreliable is to assume the existence of a personalized mediator with human-like cognitive and sensory capabilities whose erroneous or aberrant mind can serve as the source of all textual incongruities with respect to the narrated domain (Marcus 2007). a particular mental disposition (the chronic liar). trustworthiness (both intellectual and moral). values (ethos) and intentions and who. especially those stylistic choices that help characterize the speaker’s discourse and. and “mimetic authority” encompassing sincerity and honesty or their absence.4 Articulateness Under this heading is understood the manner of telling. Once we are ready to psychologize the narrator. 3. such grounds could be the narrator’s lack of knowledge or experience. and stance. and to the person failing to perform them properly. Such is the key thesis of Lanser (1981). by metonymic transfer. the most comprehensive account to date of the narrator in terms of speech act theory. contact. from what is known and evaluated to the circumstances and activities of informing and judging. Lanser’s pragmatics of narration follows in the footsteps of classical rhetoric where a speaker is regarded as a human subject with various emotions (pathos).3.

5 Attitude to the Narrated Equally incapable of formal definition and failsafe determination. amused. cynical. curious. eye witness) who vouches for the truth of his assertions regarding the narrated? Or as an editor or publisher transmitting and vouching for the prior existence and/or authenticity of the documents (letters. emotionally charged. sentimental. as manifested in the way characters and events are represented. even so. Our corresponding judgment of him as intelligent and perceptive or not will have a decisive influence on our assessment of his credibility and ultimately on how much of what he claims about the narrated domain we are ready to accept. Now these partial narrators need not be participants in the narrated events. complex and rational or their opposite. as in the skaz tradition. judgmental. biographer.3.4 Plurivocal and Multi-level Narration Some narratives do not have a general or global narrator. on oral address and unmediated audience response? (For the underlying functions. a storyteller engaged in the invention of stories. Furthermore. they form an important part of our personality sketch of the narrator as perceiver.) 3. as when three contemporary historians tell the story of Napoleon’s defeat in Russia. abstract. distanced manner about an atrocity may lead us to characterize the speaker as heartless or as doing his best to hide his emotions. involved vs. detached. such inferencing plays an important role in any portrait of the narrator drawn by the reader. While such qualifications cannot be strictly defined in any systematic and exhaustive manner. yet every bit as important. emotional and immediate or rational and distanced. see Ryan 2001. for the key properties of the narrator in his teller role. Is the narrator presented as a reporter (chronicler. for it depends on the specific inner-textual contexts as well as on the reader’s cultural context. and so on. An open-ended list of qualifiers would include neutral vs. finely nuanced or simplistic. bewildered.3. diaries) he is presenting (though not necessarily for the veracity of the claims made in them)? Or as an author-fabricator. sympathetic vs. thus creating “narrative parataxis” (Coste 1989: 173). is the narrator’s attitude towards the told.sophisticated. Speaking in a cold. distanced. and so on. each of them may 312 . perhaps with a playful attitude? Or maybe as an oral teller. chronicler and analyst of the narrated world. presenting a story to a live audience with a focus on the performative or transmissive aspect.6 Projected Teller Role The last key aspect of the narrator’s image is his/her textually projected role. see Booth 1961 and Petersen 1993. 3. The drawing of such inferences is not an exact science. historian. depending on the context (Margolin 1986). neither of whom refers to the discourse of the others. The relation between the tone or manner of telling and its subject matter can itself serve as the basis for second-order characterization of the speaker. so that the events on the narrated level are related by numerous independent partial narrators. 3.

But these tokens may also refer to speaker and addressee as entities existing beyond the sphere of narration as objects of telling (=characters. and so on. the primary narrator is the one who introduces or quotes all the others. a second-person narrative is being produced. these tokens automatically refer to him in his current speaker role and to his inscribed addressee as participants in the ongoing communicative transaction.5 Narrators and Characters When a narrator employs tokens of “I” and “you” in his discourse.” i. each from his own standpoint (Nünning 2001: 18). 3. since all the embedded letters are basically quoted by him. one encounters both patterns. In such cases. where their skill at story telling and its impact on their destiny are key (Walton 1990: 369–72).and third-person narratives). the text as a whole constituting a two-level narrative. This story-within-a-story phenomenon has been described by Nelles (2005: 134) as a “structure by which a character in a narrative text becomes the narrator of a second narrative text framed by the first one. Insofar as narrators have themselves as narrative agents. An epistolary novel consisting entirely of correspondence between two or more persons is a plurivocal narration in which each letter writer reports on and discusses events concerning himself. An epistolary novel with a framing editor’s discourse turns this editor into the global narrator. narrative agents) in the narrated sphere. can function either as reporters.and secondperson narratives participate in both story and discourse systems and those of third-person narratives in the story system only. then a third-person narrative is produced. Embedded narrators (→ Narrative Levels). a narrative can comprise several hierarchically ordered levels of narration. Using the narrated system as our point of departure. the main distinction is between narratives in which the narrator also participates in the narrated events (first-person narrative) and those in which he does not (second. behavioral and physical features. but with the difference that the narrators are normally also participants in the events they narrate. the secondary narrator is introduced or quoted by the first and introduces in his turn all lower-level narrators. his addressee or some third party. If the entities referred to in the narrator’s discourse are not part of the current communicative situation. mental. 313 . In general. all lowerlevel narrators are characters with respect to the primary one and must therefore be individuated to some degree with respect to verbal. they are engaged in producing a first-person narrative. too. (Note that it is quite possible to have a third-person narrative in which the speaker and the addressee in their communicative roles are quite prominent. or the same events may be covered by all of them in converging or diverging ways. a pattern labeled “narrative relay” (Coste 1989: 173). In fictional narratives.narrate a different phase of the total action sequence. whereas if it is their addressees who act as narrative agents. each with its own narrator. And as characters. the net result is multi-perspectival narration where there exist two or more narrating instances who portray the same events in different ways. they may be located at points in space and time beyond the narration’s here and now (→ Character). While the primary narrator may remain a disembodied voice. where one narrator’s discourse embeds that of another at a subordinate level. the referents of first.e. Since each character-narrator possesses his own perspective or “take” on the events. or as storytellers. in which case issues of reliability are paramount. without himself being introduced by any of them.) Put differently.

the narrator normally adopts his own current epistemic and evaluative perspective. that is. as in: “Is it ever boring. but the transfer can never encompass the whole text. is he an authorized spokesperson for the group? “We”-narratives may serve as tools for constructing a group’s sense of cohesion and identity. one of the hallmarks of fiction writing. reporting what he takes this character to know” (Walton 1990: 379). Both textual features and the cultural codes of reading play a role here. In his study of Dostoevskij’s poetics. is a linguistic form combining the narrator’s deictic position and the character’s idiom and semantics. But what if the narrator’s claims are about a “you” in a separate narrated sphere. Such narratives are thus simultaneously first.and third-person discourses.g. but mental access by the wenarrator is necessarily curtailed. In the case of the autodiegetic (=autobiographical) narrator. location) which are markedly different from the author’s. 3. Free indirect discourse. transcending this basic narratological divide (Richardson 2006: 60). but rather the speaker and other(s) in a distinct narrated sphere. impersonal intelligence. that is. otherwise. only a series of local context-dependent ones (Fludernik ed. So is it the whole group speaking in unison. in the second or third person (e. is especially tricky. it necessarily straddles the line between first. the narrator can engage his own perspective. “We”-narrative concerning not speaker and addressee. listening to you. “We” is always I+other(s). Since we=I+other(s). speaking “[a]s though he himself were […] in the epistemological position he attributes to a character.6 Narrator and Author The issue in the context of fiction writing is the relation between the textually inscribed originator of the narrative discourse and the actual person(s) who has (have) composed or written the text. it will not be identifiable. whenever a text using a first-person plural pronoun seeks to depict the thoughts of other(s) beyond the speaker. The “you” form automatically picks out the inscribed addressee and can pick out any reader who is ready to put himself imaginatively in this addressee’s situation. 1994). But this particular pronoun endows narration with a depersonalized aura. we tend to say that the 314 . Baxtin (1929) showed the myriad ways in which a character’s perspective can be incorporated into the narrator’s discourse. like the chorus in Greek tragedy. an omniscient narrative voice. although he can adopt the presumed perspective of his inscribed addressee.and third-person narration: a character discloses that which can only be known by an external. When the textually inscribed narrator is individuated in terms of proper name and key attributes (age. Finally. a narrator can speak of himself qua narrative agent as of another. Caesar in De bello gallico). the character whose epistemological position he adopts may be himself at a different time. When speaking about his own discourse.Several unusual forms of narration merit special attention with regard to the narratorcharacter relation. but possibly also a projected future version of himself. possibly also distinct in space and time from the narrational sphere? Why tell the addressee his own life story? And how possible is it for a personalized narrator to have access to this “you’s” interiority? No one motivation is possible. sex. or one speaker only? And if this speaker is one. One is the impersonal “one” form where the pronoun can designate anyone and everybody who is or would be in the situation portrayed. but alternatively he may take on the perspective of a character. u