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The Living Handbook of Narratology

Hhn, 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

Schnert, Jrg: "Author". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Last modified: 6 September 2011 Jrg Schnert

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 (uvre); 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 authors 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 authors 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 Okopie-Sawiska 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 authors work (cf. uvre author or career authorBooth 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 Benedettis sense (1999: 812) 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 (748). 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 authors 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 authors 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: 224), 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 workas is maintained by Foucault, for exampleso 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 authors 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. Jger 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: 258309; 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 Aristotles Poetics: poetic works are created out of techne, i.e. craftsmanship and technical skill (Lat. ars) (cf. Kleinschmidt 1998: 1434). 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 textin the imitatio veterum (supported by the canon that provided a model) orwhen mediacy-orientedin 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: 34750). 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--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, crivain, 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: 30210) 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: 31013). 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. Bnichou 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: 911). 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 authors 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 authors 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 authors 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 & Mller 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 authors 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 criture 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

author being understood merely as the executing instance (cf. Barthes 1968) of the autonomously productive literary language. In a further step, the boundaries of the authororiented work were cancelled out in intertextual constellations (cf. Kristeva 1969) and in discourse (cf. Foucault 1969), and the author function superseded the person of the author (author as intertextual construction, as discourse function): with a Nietzschean gesture, Barthes and Foucault announced the death of the author (cf. Burke ed. 1995). The debate on the curtailed potency of authorship was carried on through the concepts of poststructuralism and the New Philology. The broader the medial spectrum for communication with text and with representations analogous to text grew during the second half of the 20th century, 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, montage, bricolage and remix (Wetzel 2000: 486, 491 92). Complex constructions of authorship are assigned to cinematic works (cf. Chatman 1990), while specific author concepts for the theory and reception of the products of the socalled new media, such as in hypertexts and cybertexts, are still being disputed (cf. Winko 1999). In contrast to these positions, a multi-faceted debate, extending beyond the methodological problems of textual interpretation, got underway in around 1990 in which restitution of various aspects of the author was advocated (e.g. Biriotti & Miller eds. 1993; Jaszi & Woodmansee eds. 1994; Couturier 1995; Ingold & Wunderlich eds. 1992; Jannidis et al. eds. 1999; Detering ed. 2002). The debate took place with reference to the problematic relevance of origin, biography and types of experience to the processes of writing and forms of expression in concepts of gender studies (e.g. Walker 1990; Hahn 1991; Lanser 1992; Haynes 2005: 299302) and those of postcolonial studies. Interest in the circumstances of authorial creativity and its scholarly investigation has intensified (cf. Ingold 1992); and still unabated is the commitment, developed since the 1920s by the sociology of literature and, since the 1970s, by the social history of literature as well as by cultural materialism, to investigation of the social role of the author and of the social institutions and processes that affect his work (cf. Wolf 2002: 39599; Haynes 2005: 291).

4 Topics for Further Investigation Questions to be pursued from a narratological perspective concern primarily the interpretation of literary texts (cf. 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, and to what extent can they be hierarchically ordered? At the same time, are references to the real author conceivable other than in the orientation of ascribed meanings toward the authors intention, such as the author-oriented selection of relevant contexts for textual interpretation? Must reference to the authors intention represent an alternative to the implied author, or can authors intention and implied author complement one another in the ascription of meaning (cf. Kindt & Mller 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, which characteristic relations can be identified for the readers construction of the real author, the implied author and the narrative instance (cf. narrator)? Is the implied author a meaningful analytical 9

category only for literary texts, or also for journalistic and historiographical texts? (Translated by Alexander Starritt)

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Bacharach, Sondra & Tollefsen, Deborah (2010). We Did it: From Mere Contributors to Coauthors. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68, 2332. Barthes, Roland ([1968] 1977). The Death of the Author. R. B. Image Music Text. London: Fontana, 14248. Benedetti, Carla ([1999] 2005). The Empty Cage: Inquiry into the Mysterious Disappearance of the Author. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Bnichou, Paul ([1973] 1999). The Consecration of the Writer, 17501830. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Biriotti, Maurice & Nicola Miller, eds. (1993). What is an Author? Manchester: Manchester UP. Bohnenkamp, Anne (2002). Autorschaft und Textgenese. H. Detering (ed). Autorschaft. Positionen und Revisionen. Stuttgart: Metzler, 6279. Booth, Wayne C. ([1961] 1983). The Rhetoric of Fiction. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Booth, Wayne C. (1977). For the Authors. Novel 10, 519 (In Defense of Authors and Readers, ed. by E. Bloom, 524). Bosse, Heinrich (1981). Autorschaft ist Werkherrschaft. ber die Entstehung des Urheberrechts aus dem Geist der Goethezeit. Paderborn: Schningh. Burke, Sen, ed. (1995). Authorship. From Plato to the Postmodern. Criticism and Subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault and Derrida. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP. Chatman, Seymour (1990). Coming to Terms. The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Couturier, Maurice (1995). La figure de lauteur. Paris: Seuil. Detering, Heinrich, ed. (2002). Autorschaft. Positionen und Revisionen. Stuttgart: Metzler. Eco, Umberto (1990). The Limits of Interpretation. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Fieguth, Rolf (1975). Einleitung. R. F. (ed). Literarische Kommunikation. Kronberg/Ts.: Scriptor, 922. Foucault, Michel ([1969] 1979). What Is an Author? J. V. Harari (ed). Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 14160. Friedemann, Kte ([1910] 1965). Die Rolle des Erzhlers in der Epik. Darmstadt: WBG. Hahn, Barbara (1991). Unter falschem Namen. Von der schwierigen Autorschaft der Frauen. Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp. Haynes, Christine (2005). Reassessing Genius in Studies of Authorship. Book History 8, 287320. 10

Hesse, Carla (1991). Publishing and Cultural Politics in Revolutionary Paris, 1789 1810. Berkeley: U of California P. Heinze, Richard (1925). Auctoritas. Hermes 60, 34866. Hirsch, Eric D. (1967). Validity in Interpretation. New Haven: Yale UP. Ingold, Felix Philipp (1992). Der Autor am Werk. Versuche ber literarische Kreativitt. Mnchen: Hanser. Ingold, Felix Philipp & Werner Wunderlich, eds. (1992). Fragen nach dem Autor. Positionen und Perspektiven. Konstanz: Universitts-Verlag. Jger, Georg (1992). Autor. V. Meid (ed). Literaturlexikon. Begriffe, Realien, Methoden. Gtersloh: Bertelsmann, 6672. Jannidis, Fotis (2000). Autor und Interpretation. Einleitung. F. J. et al. (eds). Texte zur Theorie der Autorschaft. Stuttgart: Reclam, 729. Jannidis, Fotis, et al. eds. (1999). Rckkehr des Autors. Zur Erneuerung eines umstrittenen Begriffs. Tbingen: Niemeyer. Jaszi, Peter & Martha Woodmansee, eds. (1994). The Construction of Authorship. Textual Appropriation in Law and Literature. Durham: Duke UP. Kamp, Werner (1996). Autorenkonzepte und Filminterpretation. Frankfurt/M.: Lang. Kindt, Tom & Hans-Harald Mller (2006). The Implied Author. Concept and Controversy. Berlin: de Gruyter. Kleinschmidt, Erich (1998). Autorschaft. Konzepte einer Theorie. Tbingen: Francke. Kristeva, Julia ([1969] 1980). Word, Dialogue, and Novel. J. K. Desire in Language. A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. New York: Columbia UP, 64 91. Landow, George P., ed. (1994). Hyper/Text/Theory. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Lanser, Susan (1992). Fictions of Authority. Women Writers and Narrative Voice. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Minnis, Alastair J. (1984). Medieval Theory of Authorship. Scholastic Attitudes in the Later Middle Ages. London: Scholar Press. Okopie-Sawiska, Alexandra ([1971] 1975). Die personalen Relationen in der literarischen Kommunikation. R. Fieguth (ed). Literarische Kommunikation. Kronberg/Ts.: Scriptor, 127147. Parr, Rolf (2008). Autorschaft. Eine kurze Sozialgeschichte der literarischen Intelligenz in Deutschland zwischen 1860 und 1930. Heidelberg: Synchron Publ. Plachta, Bodo, ed. (2001). Literarische Zusammenarbeit. Tbingen: Niemeyer. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2006). Avatars of Story. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Schaff, Barbara (2002). Der Autor als Simulant authentischer Erfahrung. Vier Fallbeispiele fingierter Autorschaft. H. Detering (ed). Autorschaft. Positionen und Revisionen. Stuttgart: Metzler, 42643. Schmidt, Siegfried J. (1982). Foundations for the Empirical Study of Literature. The Components of a Basic Theory. Hamburg: Buske. Scholz, Bernhard F. (1999). Alciato als emblematum pater et princeps. Zur Rekonstruktion des frhmodernen Autorbegriffs. F. Jannidis et al. (eds). Rckkehr des Autors. Zur Erneuerung eines umstrittenen Begriffs. Tbingen: Niemeyer, 321 51. Selbmann, Rolf (1994). Dichterberuf. Zum Selbstverstndnis des Schriftstellers von der Aufklrung bis zur Gegenwart. Darmstadt: WBG. Simanowski, Roberto (2001). Autorschaften in digitalen Medien. Eine Einfhrung. Text & Kritik, No. 152, 321. 11

Spoerhase, Carlos (2007). Autorschaft und Interpretation. Methodische Grundlegungen einer philologischern Hermeneutik. Berlin: de Gruyter. Strube, Werner (1999). ber verschiedene Arten, den Autor besser zu verstehen, als er sich selbst verstanden hat. F. Jannidis et al. (eds). Rckkehr des Autors. Zur Erneuerung eines umstrittenen Begriffs. Tbingen: Niemeyer, 13655. Susman, Margarete (1910). Das Wesen der modernen deutschen Lyrik. Stuttgart: Strecker & Schrder. Walker, Cheryl (1990). Feminist Literary Criticism and the Author. Critical Inquiry 16, 55171. Wetzel, Michael (2000). Autor/Knstler. K. Barck et al. (eds). sthetische Grundbegriffe. Stuttgart: Metzler, vol. 1, 480544. Wimsatt, William K. & Monroe C. Beardsley ([1946] 1954). The Intentional Fallacy. W.K.B. & M.C.B. (eds.). The Verbal Icon: Studies in the Meaning of Poetry. Louisville: U of Kentucky P, 318. Winko, Simone (1999). Lost in hypertext? Autorkonzepte und neue Medien. F. Jannidis et al. (eds). Rckkehr des Autors. Zur Erneuerung eines umstrittenen Begriffs. Tbingen: Niemeyer, 51133. Winko, Simone (2002). Autor-Funktionen. Zur argumentativen Verwendung von Autorkonzepten in der gegenwrtigen literaturwissenschaftlichen Interpretationspraxis. H. Detering (ed). Autorschaft. Positionen und Revisionen. Stuttgart: Metzler, 33454. Wolf, Norbert Christian (2002). Wieviele Leben hat der Autor? Zur Wiederkehr des empirischen Autor- und des Werkbegriffs in der neueren Literaturtheorie. H. Detering (ed). Autorschaft. Positionen und Revisionen. Stuttgart: Metzler, 390405.

5.2 Further Reading Der Autor (1981). Special Issue of LiLi: Zeitschrift fr Linguistik und Literaturwissenschaft 11, No. 42. Andersen, Elizabeth et al. eds. (1998). Autor und Autorschaft im Mittelalter. Tbingen: Niemeyer. Bennet, Andrew (2005). The Author. London: Routledge. Burke, Sen (1992). The Death and Return of the Author. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP. Chartier, Roger ([1992] 1994). Figures of the Author. R. Ch. The Order of Books. Readers, Authors, and Libraries in Europe between the Fourteenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2560. Cramer, Thomas (1986). Solus creator est deus. Der Autor auf dem Weg zum Schpfertum. Daphnis 15, 26176. Frank, Susi, et al. eds. (2001). MystifikationAutorschaftOriginal. Tbingen: Narr. Genette, Grard ([1987] 1997). Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Glz, Christine (2009). Autortheorien des slavischen Funktionalismus. W. Schmid (ed). Slavische Erzhltheorie. Russische und tschechische Anstze. Berlin: de Gruyter, 187237. Haug, Walter & Burghart Wachinger, eds. (1991). Autorentypen. Tbingen: Niemeyer. Hoffmann, Torsten & Daniela Langer (2007). Autor. Th. Anz (ed). Handbuch 12

Literaturwissenschaft. Stuttgart: Metzler, vol. 1, 13170. Holmes, David I. (1994). Authorship Attribution. Computer and the Humanities 28, 87106. Howard, Rebecca Moore (1999). Standing in the Shadows of Giants. Plagiarists, Authors, Collaborators. Stanford: Ablex Publ. Ingold, Felix Philipp & Werner Wunderlich, eds. (1995). Der Autor im Dialog. Beitrge zu Autoritt und Autorschaft. St. Gallen: UVK. Irwin, William, ed. (2002). The Death and Resurrection of the Author. Westport: Greenwood P. Kamouf, Peggy (1988). Signature Pieces. On the Institution of Authorship. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Lamarque, Peter (1990). The Death of the Author: An Analytical Autopsy. The British Journal of Aesthetics 30, 31931. Moers, Ellen (1985). Literary Women. New York: Oxford UP. Nelles, William (1993). Historical and Implied Authors and Readers. Comparative Literature 45, 2246. Nesbit, Molly (1987). What Was An Author? Yale French Studies No. 73, 22957. Peschel-Rentsch, Dietmar (1991). Gott, Autor, ich. Skizzen zur Genese von Autorbewutsein und Erzhlerfigur im Mittelalter. Erlangen: Palm & Enke. Rose, Mark (1993). Authors and Owners. The Invention of Copyright. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Sherman, Brad & Alain Strowel, eds. (1994). Of Authors and Origins. Essays on Copyright Law. Oxford: Clarendon P. Simion, Eugen (1996). The Return of the Author. Evanston: Northwestern UP. Stecker, Robert (1987). Apparent, Implied and Postulated Authors. Philosophy and Literature 11, 25871. Sussloff, Catherine (1997). The Absolute Artist: The Historiography of a Concept. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Viala, Alain (1985). Naissance de lcrivain. Sociologie de la littrature lge classique. Paris: Minuit. Vogel, Martin (1978). Deutsche Urheber- und Verlagsrechtsgeschichte zwischen 1450 und 1850. Archiv fr Geschichte des Buchwesens 19, Sp. 1190. Woodmansee, Martha (1994). The Author, Art, and the Market: Rereading the History of Aesthetics. New York: Columbia UP.


Jannidis, Fotis: "Character". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Last modified: 28 January 2012 Fotis Jannidis

1 Definition Character is a text- or media-based figure in a storyworld, usually human or human-like.

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. 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), or are they to be seen as entities created by words but distinguishable from them and calling for knowledge about human beings (3.1)? Answering the latter question involves determining what kinds of knowledge are required, but also to what extent such knowledge is employed in understanding characters. Three forms of knowledge in particular are relevant for the narratological analysis of character: (a) the basic type, which provides a very fundamental structure for those entities which are seen as sentient beings; (b) character models or types such as the femme fatale or the hard-boiled detective; (c) encyclopedic knowledge of human beings underlying inferences which contribute to the process of characterization, i.e. a store of information ranging from everyday knowledge to genre-specific competence. 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 (3.2). One important line of thought in the anti-realistic treatment of character is the functional view. In this perspective, first established by Aristotle, characters are subordinate to or determined by the narrative action; in the 20th century, there have been attempts to describe characters in terms of a deep structure based on their roles in the plot common to all narratives (3.3). At the discourse level, the presentation of characters shares many features with the 14

presentation of other kinds of fictional entities. However, because of the importance of character in telling stories, these features have been discussed mainly in terms of character presentation. Among these features are the naming of characters, studied from the perspective of the function and meaning of names, and other ways of referring to characters, which contribute to the overall structural coherence of the text (3.4). Equally if not more important, however, is the process of ascribing properties to names which results in agents having these properties in the storyworld, a process known as characterization. Characterization may be direct, as when a trait is ascribed explicitly to a character, or indirect, 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. The term characterization can be used to refer to the ascription of a property to a character, but also for the overall process and result of attributing traits to a given character. The process of characterization can have different forms: e.g. a character is attributed specific traits at the beginning of a narrative, but other traits are subsequently added that may not conform to the original characterization, such subverting the first conception of this character (3.5). Viewing characters as entities of a storyworld does not imply that they are self-contained. On the contrary, the storyworld is constructed during the process of narrative communication, and characters thus form a part of the signifying structures which motivate and determine the narrative communication. Characters also play a role in thematic, symbolic or other constellations of the text and of the storyworld (3.6). For most readers, characters are one of the most important aspects of a narrative. How readers relate to a character is a matter of empirical analysis, 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. Three factors in particular are relevant in this regard: (a) the transfer of perspective; (b) the readers affective predisposition toward the characteritself influenced by: (i) the characters emotions, whether explicitly described or implicitly conveyed; (ii) the readers reaction to her mental simulation of the characters position; (iii) the expression of emotions in the presentationand (c) evaluation of characters in the text (3.7). There has always been a need to categorize characters in order to facilitate description and analysis. However, most proposals seem to be either too complex or theoretically unsatisfying, so that Forsters classification into flat vs. round characters continues to be widely used (3.8).

3 History of the Concept and its Study Until recently, there was nothing like a coherent field of research for the concept of character, but only a loose set of notions related to it touching on such issues as the ontological status of characters, the kind of knowledge necessary to understand characters, the relation between character and action, the naming of characters, characterization as process and result, the relation of the reader to a character centering around the notions of identification and empathy, etc. ( Narrative Empathy). The situation has changed over the past ten or fifteen years thanks to a series of monographs on character by Culpeper (2001), Eder (2008), Jannidis (2004), Koch (1992), Palmer (2004), and Schneider (2001), all of which are indebted to the ground-breaking work done by Margolin in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of these studies 15

draw on the cognitive sciences and their models of text processing and perception of persons ( Cognitive Narratology). However, even though there is now a consensus on some aspects of character in narrative, many other aspects continue to be treated disparately.

3.1 People or Words Characters have long been regarded as fictive people. To understand characters, readers tend to resort to their knowledge about real people. In this framework, an anthropological, biological or psychological theory of persons can also be used in character analysis, as in Freuds 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). Another school of thought pictured character as mere words or a paradigm of traits described by words. A well-known example of this approach is Barthess S/Z (1970) in which one of the codes, voices, substitutes for person, understood as the web of semes attached to a proper name. In this view, a character is not to be taken for anything like a person, yet on closer examination these semes correspond to traditional character traits. Although he differs from Barthes in many regards, Lotman (1970), in a similar vein, describes character as a sum of all binary oppositions to the other characters in a text which, together, constitute a paradigm. A character thus forms part of a constellation of characters who either share a set of common traits (parallels) or represent opposing traits (contrasts). This was not the first attack against a mimetic understanding of character during the last century, a comparable approach to character having already been advocated by the New Criticism. 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. 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, the reduction of characters to words was not convincing, for it posed many practical problems in literary criticism and also seemed to some critics unsatisfactory for theoretical reasons. Hochman (1985), for example, defended the idea of character as human-like against structuralist and post-structuralist conceptions with moral and aesthetic arguments. Given this situation, the series of essays by Margolin, by combining elements of structuralism, reception theory and the theory of fictional worlds, proved to be a breakthrough. For Margolin (1983), characters are first and foremost elements of the constructed narrative world: character, he claims, is a general semiotic element, independent of any particular verbal expression and ontologically different from it (7). He further points out that characters can have various modes of existence in storyworlds: they can be factual, counterfactual, hypothetical, conditional, or purely subjective (1995: 375). Also taken up are questions such as how characters come into existence and what constitutes their identity ( Identity and Narration), especially in storyworlds as a transtextual concept. Philosophers, especially those with roots in analytical philosophy, have discussed the special ontological status of character under the label of incompleteness of characters. Unlike persons who exist in the real world and are complete, we can speak meaningfully only about 16

those aspects of characters which have been described in the text or which are implied by it. Consequently, descriptions of characters have gaps, and often the missing information cannot be inferred from the given information. In contrast to the description of real persons in which a gap may appear even though it is assumed that the person is complete, characters have gaps if the description does not supply the necessary information (Eaton 1976; Crittenden 1982; Lamarque 2003). Even though there is currently a broad consensus that character can best be described as an entity forming part of the storyworld, the ontological status of this world and its entities remains unclear. Narratological theory presently offers three approaches to addressing this problem: (a) drawing on the theory of possible worlds, the storyworld is seen as an independent realm created by the text (Margolin 1990); (b) from the perspective of cognitive theories of the reading process, character is seen as a mental model created by an empirical reader (Schneider 2001); (c) from the perspective of the neo-hermeneutical theory of literary communication, the text is an intentional object and character is a mental model created by an hypothetical historical model reader. This approach incorporates a number of insights into text processing, but focuses on the text (Jannidis 2004). 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.

3.2 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), or Gestalt. 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, but also because the way characters are presented in narratives can may change the way people are perceived. At the same time, this cultural code contains information that is not applied to people but only to characters, especially stock characters and genre-based character types. Even so, the notion of a cultural code is probably too vague, since it encompasses different aspects or levels which should be distinguished: the basis type; character models; character schemas. The concept of basis type adopts recent insights from developmental psychology. From early on, humans distinguish between objects and sentient beings. They apply to the perception of the latter a theory of mind which ascribes to them mental states such as intentions, wishes, and beliefs. Once an entity in the storyworld is identified as a character, this framework is applied to that entity, the basis type thus providing the basic outline of a character: there is an invisible inside which is the source of all intentions, wishes, etc., and a visible outside which can be perceived. All aspects of a basis type can be negated for a specific character, but either this is done explicitly or it results from genre conventions (Jannidis 2004: 18595; Zunshine 2006: 227). On another, more concrete level, knowledge about time- and culturespecific types contributes to the perception of characters. Some are stock characters such as the rich miser, the femme fatale, or the mad scientist, while others draw upon general habitus knowledge in a society like the formal and laborious accountant, the old-maid teacher or the 19th-century laborer (Frevert & Haupt ed. 2004). Such figures serve as character models. 17

Character models are often associated with standardized character constellations such as cuckold, wife, and lover. In popular culture, characterization frequently depends on character models, and the creative variation of these models is highly appreciated, while in high culture there is a strong tendency to avoid character models (3.8; Lotman [1970] 1977: 23960). It is important to note that basis type and character models do not exhaust the relevant knowledge forms for characters. In many instances of character description, encyclopedic knowledgefrom both the real world and fictional worldscomes into play, combining two or more items of character- (or person-)related information (e.g. too much alcohol makes people drunk or vampires can be killed by a wooden stake driven into their heart). In many cases, texts offer the reader only a fragment of information, prompting the reader to fill in the missing parts based on the appropriate knowledge. In text analysis, this kind of character encyclopedia is relevant more often than the other two, and differences in the interpretation of characters are frequently based on the fact that different entries from the character encyclopedia are resorted to.

3.3 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 []. Moreover, you could not have a tragedy without action, but you can have one without character-study (Aristotle [1927] 1932: 1450a). 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, one need only to analyze its role in the action. 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, he constructed a sequence of 31 functions which he attributed to seven areas of action or types of character: opponent; donor; helper; princess and her father; dispatcher; hero; false hero. 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; the sender and the receiver; the heros helper and the opponent. Each actant is not necessarily realized in one single character, since one character may perform more than one role, and one role may be distributed among several characters. Schanks concept of story skeletons also starts from the idea that stories have an underlying structure, but in his model there are many such structures and therefore many different roles for actors, e.g. the story of a divorce using the story skeleton betrayal with the two actors: the betrayer and the betrayed (Schank 1995: chap. 6). Campbell (1949) described in an influential work what he called, using a term coined by James Joyce, the monomyth, which is an abstraction of numerous mythological and religious stories marking the stages of the heros way: separation/departure; the trials and victories of initiation; return and reintegration into society (Campbell [1949] 1990: 36). According to Campbell, who bases his argument on Freuds and especially on Jungs form of psychoanalysis, the monomyth is universal and can be found in stories, myths, and legends all over the world. In contrast to these generalized model-oriented approaches, traditional approaches tend to employ a genre- and period-specific vocabulary for action roles such as confidant and intriguer in traditional drama, or villain, sidekick, and henchman in the popular 18

media of the 20th century. Most of the common labels for character in use refer to the role a character has in action. Protagonist, in use since Greek antiquity, refers to the main character of a narrative or a play, and antagonist to its main opponent. In contrast to these neutral labels, the term hero refers to a positive figure, usually in some kind of representative story. In modern high-culture narratives, there is more often an anti-hero or no single protagonist at all, but a constellation of characters (Trhler 2007).

3.4 Referring to Characters Referring to characters in texts occurs with the use of proper names, definite descriptions and personal pronouns (Margolin 1995: 374). In addition to these direct references, indirect evocations can be found: the untagged rendering of direct speech, the description of actions (e.g. a hand grabbed) or use of the passive voice (the window was opened). The role of names in interpreting characters has been treated repeatedly, resulting in different ways of classifying name usage (e.g. Lamping 1983; Birus 1987). Narratives can be viewed as a succession of scenes or situative frames, only one of which is active at any given moment. An active situative frame may contain numerous characters, but only some of them will be focused on by being explicitly referred to in the corresponding stretch of text. The first active frame in which a character occurs and is explicitly referred to constitutes its introduction. After being introduced, a character may drop out of sight, not be referred to for several succeeding active frames, and then reappear. In general, whenever a character is encountered in an active frame, 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. Determining that a character in the current active scene has already appeared in an earlier one is termed identification. A distinction is to be made between normal, false, impeded, and deferred identifications. 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. An impeded identification does not refer unequivocally to any specific character, and a clear reference to the character or characters is never given in the text, while in the case of deferred identification the reader is ultimately able to establish the identity of an equivocally presented character. 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. 4 & 6, based on Emmott 1997).

3.5 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, a process often referred to as ascribing a property to a character. In the 19th century, critics spoke of the difference between direct and indirect characterization and of the preference of contemporary 19

writers and readers for the latter (Scherer [1888] 1977: 15657). Until recently, characterization was understood as the text ascribing psychological or social traits to a character (e.g. Chatman 1978), but in fact texts ascribe all manner of properties to characters, including physiological and locative (space-time location) properties. Yet some textually explicit ascriptions of properties to a character may turn out to be invalid, as when this information is attributable to an unreliable narrator or to a fellow-character ( Narrator). Moreover, a textual ascription may turn out to be hypothetical or purely subjective. There are also texts and styles of writing (e.g. the psychological novel) which tend to avoid any explicit statements of characterization. The crucial issue in the process of characterization is thus what information, especially of a psychological nature, a reader is able to associate with any character as a member of the storyworld and where this information comes from. There are at least three sources of such information: (a) textually explicit ascription of properties to a character; (b) inferences that can be drawn from textual cues (e.g. she smiled nervously); (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. the appearance of a room reveals something about the person living there or the weather expresses the feelings of the protagonist). A systematic description of such inferences employed in characterization is given by Margolin (1983). Inferences can be understood in terms of abductions (Keller 1998: chap. 9, based on Peirce), 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, but is presupposed to a greater or lesser degree by it. Another key problem concerns the limits and underlying rules of such inferences when they are applied to fictional beings. Ryan (1980), noting that readers tend to assume that a storyworld resembles the real world unless explicitly stated otherwise, adopts the philosopher David Lewiss principle of minimal departure. In a thorough criticism of this and similar hypotheses, Walton points out that this would make an infinite number of inferences possible, and he comes to the conclusion: There is no particular reason why anyones beliefs about the real world should come into play. As far as implications are concerned, simple conventions to the effect that whenever such and such is fictional, so and so is as well, serve nicely [] (Walton 1990: 166). This approach, in turn, increases the number of conventions without necessity and without providing any convincing argument as to how readers go about accessing these conventions, aside from drawing on their real-world knowledge, despite the fact that many conventions apply only to fictional worlds. Even so, this does not invalidate Waltons criticism, which can probably be refuted only by including another element: the fact that characters are part of storyworlds which are not self-contained, but communicated. Readers assumptions about what is relevant in the process of communication determine the scope and validity of inferences (Sperber & Wilson 1986). The presentation of characters is a dynamic process, just as is the construction of characters in the readers mind. A powerful model for describing the psychological or cognitive dynamics coming into play here, based on the top-down and bottom-up processes observed during empirical studies on reading comprehension, has been proposed by Schneider (2001) building on concepts developed by Gerrig & Allbritton (1990). A top-down process occurs in the application of a category to a character, integrating the information given by the text into this category, while a bottom-up process results from the text information integrating a character into a type or building up an individualized representation. At the beginning of a character presentation, textual cues may trigger various types of categorization: social types (the teacher, the widow); literary types (the hero in a 20

Bildungsroman); text-specific types (characters that do not change throughout the story). In contrast to the top-down processing that takes place in these forms of categorization is bottom-up processing. This occurs when the reader is unable to integrate the given information into an existing category, resulting in personalization of the character ( Reader). Personalized characters can also be members of a category, but this is not the focus of their description. Reading a text involves building up either categorized or personalized characters, but information subsequently encountered in the text may change their status and possibly decategorize or depersonalize those characters.

3.6 Character and Meaning Characters can be seen as entities in a storyworld. However, this should not be understood to mean that characters are self-contained. 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. This matter was discussed above in the relation between character and action. In many forms of narrative, however, action is not the organizing principle, but a theme or an idea, and the characters in these texts are determined by that theme or idea. An extreme example is personification, i.e. the representation of an abstract principle such as freedom or justice as a character, as found in allegorical literature. Another example is certain dialogue novels, where the characters role is to propound philosophical ideas. On the other hand, even the most life-like characters in a realistic novel can often also be described in light of their place in a thematic progression. Thus, Phelan (1987) has proposed to describe character as participation in a mimetic sphere (due to the characters traits), a thematic sphere (as a representative of an idea or of a class of people), and a synthetic sphere (the material out of which the character is made). In his heuristic of film characters, Eder (2007, 2008) adopts a similar breakdown, but adds a fourth dimension relating to communication between the film and the audience: (a) the character as an artifact (how is it made?); (b) the character as a fictional being (what features describe the character?); (c) the character as a symbol (what meaning is communicated through the character?); and (d) the character as a symptom (why is the character as it is and what is the effect?). 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, symbolic, aesthetic and other networks.

3.7 Relation of the Reader to the Character Characters may induce strong feelings in readers, a fact often discussed under the label identification. Identification is a psychological process and as such lies outside of the scope of narrative analysis. On the other hand, it is widely recognized that to some extent identification results from and is controlled by various textual cues and devices. A first problem is the concept of identification itself, since it involves a variety of aspects: sympathy with a character who is similar to the reader; empathy for a character who is in a particular 21

situation; attraction to a character who is a role model for the reader. To date, there is no means of integrating all of these factors into a satisfactory theory of identification. There are older, mostly outdated models of identification, based on Freud or Lacan, and newer models, some of which are based on empirical studies (e.g. Oatley & Gholamain 1997), while others seek to integrate empirical findings and media analysis (e.g. Eder 2008, part VII). 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; Schn 1999). Provisionally, 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); intention (the reader is made aware of a characters goals); beliefs (the reader is introduced into the characters worldview). In narrative texts, such transfer occurs in part through the devices of focalization ( Focalization) and speech representation ( Speech Representation); (b) the affective relation to the character is a complex phenomenon resulting from various factors. First is the information gleaned from the text bearing on the characters emotions projected against the backdrop of general, historical, and cultural schemas applicable to particular situations and the emotions appropriate for these situations. Second is mental simulation of the depicted events, which creates an empathetic reaction involving the readers disposition to respond to the emotion experienced by the character (a display of sadness creates pity), but may also activate similar emotions (a display of sadness generates a similar feeling in the reader). 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), while opponents point out that this aspect plays a limited role if any at all (e.g. Mellmann [2006], who models the readers response on the basis of evolutionary psychology). Such responsive dispositions may be socially induced, but they may also exist in other forms, such as sadistic or voyeuristic arousal. In any case, reaction to simulated events is not constrained to characters, but includes events of all types. These reactions to events not directly related to characters can be used to externalize the characters affects (e.g. a description of a storm which reflects the agitated state of mind of the protagonist watching the storm). The third factor in the affective relation is the expressive use of language or the presentation of emotions in texts using phonetic, rhythmic, metrical, syntactical, lexical, figurative, rhetorical, and narrative devices including free indirect discourse and similar strategies (Winko 2003); (c) evaluation of characters is based on historically and culturally variable measures of value. Evaluation can be explicit thanks to the use of evaluative vocabulary, or implicit due to behavior that implies evaluation according common social standards. This includes implicit comparison between the reader or spectator and the protagonist, already described by Aristotle. An evaluative stance toward a character creates such emotional responses as admiration, sympathy or repulsion, at the same time coloring the readers affective relation to the character.

3.8 Categories of Character The most widely known proposal on how to categorize character is still Forsters opposition between flat and round characters: Flat characters [...] are constructed round a single idea or quality ([1927] 1985: 67) while round characters are more highly organized (75) and are 22

capable of surprising in a convincing way (78). Critics have long accepted this categorization as plausible, relating it to the way real people are perceived. However, the criteria Forster based it on are vague, especially the notion of development to explain the impression of a round character (e.g. Scholes et al. [1966] 2006: chap. 5). 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. Therefore, it is often not easy to distinguish between the character and the way it is presented, as can be seen, for example, with Rimmon-Kenan, who proposes three dimensions to categorize characters: complexity, development, penetration into the inner life ([1983] 2002: 41), thus mixing aspects of the character as an entity of the storyworld with those of its presentation. Similarly, Hochman (1985) proposes eight dimensions as a basis of categorization without distinguishing between these two aspects. To name but three of them: stylizationnaturalism; complexity simplicity; dynamismstaticism. One of the earliest attempts to distinguish clearly between these aspects in categorizing characters comes from Fishelov (1990), who combines the opposition between presentation and storyworld with the distinction between flat and round characters. 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), or deprecating those genres. Stereotypes are often regarded as the prototypical flat character. With Dyer (1993), however, a distinction can be drawn between the social type and the stereotype. Social types are known because they belong to a society with which the reader is familiar, while stereotypes are ready-made images of the unknown. In fiction they differ, according to Dyer, to the extent that social types can appear in almost any kind of plot, while stereotypes carry with them an implicit narrative.

4 Topics for Further Investigation All of the aspects outlined above deserve further investigation, but three problems are of particular interest in the current state of research. (a) Recent decades have seen a growing interest in the social construction of identitiesnational identities, gender identities, etc. Analysis of character presentation and formation plays an important part in any interpretation interested in identity construction in literature, but up to now those engaged in identity analysis have neglected narratological research on character; at the same time, narrative analysis has mostly ignored the historical case studies carried out on identity construction by specialists of cultural studies. (b) Evaluation in literary texts has been and is still a neglected field of research. There are many ways a text can influence or predetermine the evaluative stance of the reader, and much systematic and historical work in this area remains to be done. (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.

5 Bibliography 23

5.1 Works Cited Aristotle ([1927] 1932). Aristotle in 23 Volumes. Vol. 23: The Poetics. Tr. W. H. Fyfe. London: Heinemann. Barthes, Roland ([1970] 1974). S/Z. New York: Hill & Wang. Birus, Hendrik (1987). Vorschlag zu einer Typologie literarischer Namen. LiLi: Zeitschrift fr Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik 17, No. 67, 3851. Campbell, Joseph ([1949] 1990). The Hero with a Thousand Faces. New York: Harper & Row. Chatman, Seymour (1978). Existents. S. Ch. Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 96145. Crittenden, Charles (1982). Fictional Characters and Logical Completeness. Poetics 11, 33144. Culpeper, Jonathan (2001). Language and Characterisation. People in Plays and other Texts. Harlow: Longman. Dyer, Richard (1993). The Role of Stereotypes. R. D. The Matter of Images: Essays on Representations. New York: Routledge, 118. Eaton, Marcia M. (1976). On Being a Character. The British Journal of Aesthetics 16, 2431. Eder, Jens (2007). Filmfiguren: Rezeption und Analyse. T. Schick & T. Ebbrecht (eds). EmotionEmpathieFigur: Spiel-Formen der Filmwahrnehmung. Berlin: Vistas, 13150. Eder, Jens (2008). Die Figur im Film. Grundlage der Figurenanalyse. Marburg: Schren. Emmott, Catherine (1997). Narrative Comprehension: A Discourse Perspective. Oxford: Clarendon P. Fishelov, David (1990). Types of Character, Characteristics of Types. Style 24, 422 39. Forster, Edward M. ([1927] 1985). Aspects of the Novel. San Diego: Harcourt. Freud, Sigmund ([1900] 1950). The Interpretation of Dreams. New York: The Modern Library. Frevert, Ute & Heinz-Gerhard Haupt, ed. (2004). Der Mensch des 19. Jahrhunderts. Essen: Magnus. Gerrig, Richard J. & David W. Allbritton (1990). The Construction of Literary Character: A View from Cognitive Psychology. Style 24, 38091. Greimas, Algirdas Julien ([1966] 1983). Structural Semantics: An Attempt at a Method. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Hochman, Baruch (1985). Character in Literature. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Jannidis, Fotis (2004). Figur und Person. Beitrag zu einer historischen Narratologie. Berlin: de Gruyter. Jauss, Hans Robert (1974). Levels of Identification of Hero and Audience. New Literary History 5, 283317. Keller, Rudi (1998). A Theory of Linguistic Signs. Oxford: Oxford UP. Knights, Lionel C. ([1933] 1973). How many Children had Lady Macbeth? An Essay in the Theory and Practice of Shakespeare Criticism. New York: Haskell House. Koch, Thomas (1992). Literarische Menschendarstellung: Studien zu ihrer Theorie 24

und Praxis. Tbingen: Stauffenberg. Lamarque, Peter (2003). How to Create a Fictional Character. B. Gaut & P. Linvingston (eds). The Creation of Art. New Essays in Philosophical Aesthetics. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 3351. Lamping, Dieter (1983). Der Name in der Erzhlung. Zur Poetik des Personennamens. Bonn: Bouvier. Lauer, Gerhard (2007). Spiegelneuronen: ber den Grund des Wohlgefallens an der Nachahmung. K. Eibl et al. (eds). Im Rcken der Kulturen. Paderborn: Mentis, 137 63. Lotman, Jurij M. ([1970] 1977). The Composition of the Verbal Work of Art. Ju. L. The Structure of the Artistic Text. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 23950. Margolin, Uri (1983). Characterisation in Narrative: Some Theoretical Prolegomena. Neophilologus 67, 114. Margolin, Uri (1990). Individuals in Narrative Worlds: An Ontological Perspective. Poetics Today 11, 84371. Margolin, Uri (1992). Fictional Individuals and their Counterparts. J. Andrew (ed). Poetics of the Text: Essays to celebrate 20 Years of the Neo-Formalist Circle. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 4356. Margolin, Uri (1995). Characters in Literary Narrative: Representation and Signification. Semiotica 106, 37392. Mellmann, Katja (2006). Emotionalisierung. Von der Nebenstundenpoesie zum Buch als Freund: Eine emotionspsychologische Analyse der Literatur der Aufklrungsepoche. Paderborn: Mentis. Oatley, Keith & Mitra Gholamain (1997). Emotions and Identification: Connections between Readers and Fiction. M. Hjort & S. Laver (eds). Emotion and the Arts. New York: Oxford UP, 26381. Palmer, Alan (2004). Fictional Minds. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Phelan, James (1987). Character, Progression, and the Mimetic-Didactic Distinction. Modern Philology 84, 28299. Propp, Vladimir ([1928] 1984). Theory and History of Folklore. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith ([1983] 2002). Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. London: Routledge. Ryan, Marie-Laure (1980). Fiction, Non-Factuals, and Minimal Departure. Poetics 8, 40322. Schank, Roger C. (1995). Tell me a Story. Narrative and Intelligence. Evanston: Northwestern UP. Scherer, Wilhelm ([1888] 1977). Poetik. Tbingen: Niemeyer, dtv. Schneider, Ralf (2001). Toward a Cognitive Theory of Literary Character: The Dynamics of Mental-Model Construction. Style 35, 60739. Schn, Erich (1999). Geschichte des Lesens. B. Franzmann et al. (eds). Handbuch Lesen. Mnchen: Saur, 185. Scholes, Robert, et al. ([1966] 2006). The Nature of Narrative. Revised and Expanded Edition. New York: Oxford UP. Sperber, Dan & Deirdre Wilson ([1986] 1995). Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell. Trhler, Margrit (2007). Offene Welten ohne Helden. Plurale Figurenkonstellationen im Film. Marburg: Schren. 25

Walton, Kendall (1990). Mimesis as Make-Believe: On the Foundations of Representational Arts. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Weinsheimer, Joel (1979). Theory of Character: Emma. Poetics Today 1, 185211. Wellek, Ren & Austin Warren (1949). Theory of Literature. London: J. Cape. Winko, Simone (2003). Kodierte Gefhle: Zu einer Poetik der Emotionen in lyrischen und poetologischen Texten um 1900. Berlin: Schmidt. Zunshine, Lisa (2006). Why We Read Fiction. Theory of Mind and the Novel. Columbus: Ohio State UP.

5.2 Further Reading Jouve, Vincent (1992). Leffet-personnage dans le roman. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Knapp, John V., ed. (1990). Interdisciplinary Approaches to Literary Character. Special Issue of Style 24.3. Margolin, Uri (2007). Character. D. Hermann (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 6679.


Herman, David: "Cognitive Narratology". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

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, whereverand by whatever meansthose practices occur. As this definition suggests, cognitive narratology is transmedial in scope; it encompasses the nexus of narrative and mind not just in print texts but also in face-to-face interaction, cinema, radio news broadcasts, computer-mediated virtual environments, and other storytelling media. In turn, mind-relevance can be studied vis--vis the multiple factors associated with the design and interpretation of narratives, 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, and the cognitive states and dispositions of characters in those storyworlds. In addition, the mind-narrative nexus can be studied along two other dimensions, insofar as stories function as both (a) a target of interpretation and (b) a means for making sense of experiencea resource for structuring and comprehending the worldin their own right.

2 Explication Cognitive narratology can be characterized as a subdomain within postclassical narratology (Herman 1999). At issue are frameworks for narrative research that build on the work of classical, structuralist narratologists but supplement that work with concepts and methods that were unavailable to story analysts such as Barthes, Genette, Greimas, and Todorov during the heyday of the structuralist revolution. In the case of developments bearing on cognitive narratology, 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, thereby building new foundations for the study of cognitive processes vis--vis various dimensions of narrative structure. 27

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


3 History of the Concept and its Study

3.1 A Partial Genealogy of the Term Cognitive Narratology At the time of writing, the term cognitive narratology itself has been in use for only about a decade. As Eder (2003: 283 n.10) notes, the term appears to have been first used by Jahn (1997). (In a personal communication, Jahn confirmed that when he published this article he was not aware of any prior use of the term, but also that Ansgar Nnning must be credited with suggesting the second part of the articles title.) However, the issues and concerns encompassed by the term have been live ones for a considerably longer period. Beginning in the 1970s, studies in a number of fields provided, avant la lettre, important foundations for cognitive-narratological research. In the domain of literary studies, and in parallel with a broader turn toward issues of reception or reader response (Iser 1972; Jauss 1977; Tompkins 1980), research by Sternberg (1978) and Perry (1979) highlighted processing strategies (e.g. the primacy and recency effects) that arise from the situation of a given event vis--vis the two temporal continua of story and discourse, or fabula and sujet. Events that happen early in story-time can be encountered late in discourse-time, or vice versa, 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. (A still earlier precedent in this connection is Ingardens [1931] account of literary texts as heteronomous vs. autonomous objects, i.e. as schematic structures the concretization of whose meaning potential requires the cognitive activity of readers.) Likewise, in the fields of cognitive psychology and Artificial Intelligence research, analysts began developing their own hypotheses about cognitive structures underlying the production and understanding of narrative. Psychologists such as Mandler (1984), for example, postulated the existence of cognitively based story grammars or narrative rule systems. Such grammars were cast as formal representations of the cognitive mechanisms used to parse stories into sets of units (e.g. settings and episodes) and principles for sequencing and embedding those units (for a fuller discussion, cf. Herman 2002: 1013). Roughly contemporaneously with the advent of story grammars, research in Artificial Intelligence also began to focus attention on the cognitive basis for creating and understanding stories. Schank & Abelsons (1977) foundational work explored how stereotypical knowledge reduces the complexity and duration of many processing tasks, including the interpretation of narrative. Indeed, the concept of script, i.e. a type of knowledge representation that allows an expected sequence of events to be stored in the memory, 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). 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, frames referred to expectations about how domains of experience are likely to be structured at a given moment in time (Goffman 1974). 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; 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. 29

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), this early work has shaped cognitive narratology from its inception, informing the study of how particular features of narrative discourse cue particular kinds of processing strategies. Indeed, Jahns (1997) foundational essay in the field, mentioned above, draws on Minskys (1975) account of frames (among other relevant research) to redescribe from a cognitive perspective key aspects of Stanzels (1979) theory of narrative. In Jahns proposal, higher-order knowledge representations or frames enable interpreters of stories to disambiguate pronominal references, decide whether a given sentence serves a descriptive or a thought-reporting function (e.g. depending on context the train was late might either be a thought mulled over by a character or part of the narrators own account of the narrated world), and, more generally, adopt a top-down as well as a bottom-up approach to narrative processing. A frame guides interpretation until such time as textual cues prompt the modification or substitution of that frame. In a similar vein, other theorists have explored how experiential repertoires, stored in the form of scripts, 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, then that character has in all likelihood robbed the bank in question. Analysts have also discussed how literary narratives in particular involve processes of script recruitment, disruption, and refreshment (Cook 1994; Herman 2002: 85113; Stockwell 2002: 7589), depending on how critically and reflexively the narratives relate to prevailing scripts. For her part, Emmott (1997) focuses on how what she calls contexts, or spatiotemporal nodes inhabited by configurations of individuals and entities, constrain pronoun interpretation. Information about contexts attaches itself to mental representations that Emmott terms contextual frames. 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, even if the context is never fully reactivated (after its initial mention) linguistically. For example, if a character in a short story orders a beer in a bar, 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 baruntil such time as linguistic signals cue a frame-switch (e.g. Several days later, he saw his friend [], or Later that night, when he had reached his apartment []). Finally, Palmer (2004) also draws on elements of the early work on knowledge representations, studying how readers world-knowledge allows them to make sense of a variety of techniques for representing fictional characters minds. Palmer explores how readers construct inferences about fictional minds by using various textual indicators, including thought reports, speech representations, and descriptions of behaviors that span the continuum linking mental with physical actions. More generally, a cluster of publications appeared in the second half of the 1990s, 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). 1996 saw the appearance of Fluderniks richly synthetic account of natural narratology (1996), which integrates ideas from literary narratology, the history of English language and literature, research on natural-language narratives told in face-to-face communication, and cognitive linguistics to isolate experientiality, or the felt, subjective awareness of an experiencing mind, as a core property of narrativity (Narrativity). Turners (1996) own extrapolation from cognitive-linguistic models of metaphor to account for human intelligence in terms of parabolic projections, or the mapping of source stories onto target 30

stories to make sense of the world, was also published in 1996. The year before, the influential volume Deixis in Narrative had appeared (Duchan et al. eds. 1995); contributions to this volume characterize narrative comprehension in terms of deictic shifts, 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; Werth 1999). 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. It also helps account for the organization, just after the turn of the century, of a number of edited volumes, special journal issues, and conferences exploring intersections among cognition, literature, and culture as well as cognitive approaches to narrative in particular (e.g. Abbott ed. 2001; Richardson & Steen eds. 2002; Herman ed. 2003; Richardson & Spolsky eds. 2004). During the same period, 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; Sternberg 2003). In particular, as noted in 4 below, scholars who remain skeptical about cognitive approaches to literature and culture in general, and about cognitive narratology in particular, question the degree to which work of this kind represents true interdisciplinary convergenceas opposed to the selective (and sometimes ill-informed) borrowing of ideas and methods tailored to problem domains in other fields.

3.2 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. Nonetheless, the present subsection provides a partial catalogue of pertinent studies, with the following subsections focusing on several areas in which research activity has already been especially productive. Relevant research includes: (a) cognitively inflected accounts of narrative perspective ( Perspective/Point of View) in fictional and nonfictional texts (van Peer & Chatman eds. 2001; Jahn 1996, 1999; Herman 2009b); (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; Cohn 1978; Herman 2007a; Palmer 2004; Zunshine 2006); (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; Hogan 2003a); (d) research on the range of cognitive processes that support inferences about the spatiotemporal profile of a given storyworld, and about the degree to which a given text or representation can be assimilated to the category narrativethat is, assigned at least some degree of narrativityin the first place (Fludernik 1996; Gerrig 1993; Herman 2002, 2009a; Hogan 2003b: 11539; Jahn 1997; Ryan 1991, 2003); 31

(e) research on the textual as well as cognitive factors underlying the key effects of narrative suspense, curiosity, and surprise, 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; Perry 1979; Sternberg 1978, 1990, 1992); (f) research more generally on phenomena pertaining to the interface between narratives and the mind-brain of the interpreter, such as the activation of identity themes (Holland 1975) or the (potential) stimulation of empathetic responses (Keen 2007)in other words, attempts to formulate what Eder (2003) terms cognitive reception theories; (g) studies of narrative as a resource for navigating and making sense of computer-mediated environments (Ryan 2001, 2006); (h) empirical studies that, relying on techniques ranging from the measuring of reading times to methods of corpus analysis to the elicitation of diagrams of storyworlds, seek to establish demonstrable correlations between what Bortolussi & Dixon (2003) term text features and text effectsi.e. between textual structures and the processing strategies that they set into play (Gerrig 1993; Ryan 2003; Herman 2005); 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, pictorial, musical, etc. (Wolf 2003; Ryan ed. 2004; Herman 2009a). Several of these initiatives can be singled out as especially generative for cognitivenarratological research: namely, study of the cognitive processes underlying interpreters ability to construct (and immerse themselves more or less fully within) storyworlds; research on issues pertaining to consciousness representation; and, relatedly, analyses of emotion and emotion discourse vis--vis stories and storytelling.

3.2.1 Narrative Ways of Worldmaking: Cognitive Dimensions Mapping words onto worlds is a fundamentalperhaps the fundamentalrequirement for narrative sense making. Approaches such as deictic shift theory (Duchan et al. eds. 1995) and contextual frame theory help reveal the complex cognitive processes underlying narrative ways of worldmaking; they also suggest how configuring narrative worlds entails mapping discourse cues onto the WHAT, WHERE, and WHEN factors whose interplay accounts for the ontological make-up and spatiotemporal profile of a given storyworld. 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. Likewise, 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, Emmotts (1997) contextual frame theory points to the nexus of the WHAT, WHERE, and WHEN factors in narrative worldmaking. Furthermore, reconsidered from a cognitive-narratological perspective, earlier narratological 32

scholarship can be read anew, providing further insight into the cognitive processes underlying the (re)construction of narrative worlds. Genettes (1972) influential account of time in narrative, for example, can be motivated as a heuristic framework for studying the WHEN component of world creation. When Genette distinguishes between simultaneous, retrospective, prospective, and intercalated modes of narration (as in the epistolary novel, where the act of narration postdates some events but precedes others), these narrative modes can now be interpreted in light of the different kinds of structure that they afford for worldmaking. Retrospective narration accommodates the full scope of a storyworlds history, allowing a narrator to signal connections between earlier and later events through proleptic foreshadowings of the eventual impact of a characters actions on his or her cohorts. Simultaneous narration, in which events are presented in tandem with the interpreters effort to comprehend the contours and boundaries of the narrated domain, does not allow for such anticipations-in-hindsight; rather, inferences about the impact of events on the storyworld remain tentative, probabilistic, open-ended (Margolin 1999). In short, classical, structuralist accounts like Genettes 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, 1990, 1992).

3.2.2 Issues of Consciousness Representation In her foundational study of strategies for representing consciousness in narrative fiction, 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. Just as narratives can use direct discourse, indirect discourse, and free indirect discourse to present the utterances of characters, fictional texts can use what Cohn calls quoted monologue, psychonarration, and narrated monologue to represent the thought processes of fictional minds. Subsequent theorists, seeking to underscore even more clearly the assumed analogy between modes of speech and thought representation, have renamed Cohns three modes as direct thought, indirect thought, and free indirect thought, respectively (Leech & Short 1981). As Palmer (2004) notes, however, this classical or speech category approach captures only some of the phenomena relevant for research on narrative representations of consciousness. For Palmer, the speech-category approach has induced analysts to focus solely on inner speech, with the result that theories of consciousness representation in narrative have been distorted by the grip of the verbal norm (53). Yet narrative understanding in fact hinges on a wide variety of inferences about the states, dispositions, and processes of fictional minds including inferences about the felt, subjective nature of their experience (i.e. the qualia specific to their particularized vantage-point on the storyworld [Nagel 1974]) as well as their folk psychology, or method for framing inferences about what is going on in their own and others minds. When characters use folk-psychological models to explain their own and others motivations and intentions, they are drawing on fundamental, generic processes by which humans attribute mental states, properties, and dispositions both to themselves and to their social cohorts. These processes have been described as the native Theory of Mind in terms of which people make sense of their cohorts behavior (Zunshine 2006). At issue is peoples everyday understanding of how thinking works, the rough-and-ready heuristics to which they resort in thinking about thinking itselfa heuristics used to impute motives or goals to self and other and to make predictions about future reactions to events. Such thinking about 33

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: 13069).

3.2.3 Emotion, Emotion Discourse, and Emotionology As Stearns (1995) points out, there is a basic tension between naturalist and constructionist approaches to emotion. Naturalists argue for the existence of innate, biologically grounded emotions that are more or less uniform across cultures and subcultures (Hogan 2003a). By contrast, constructionists argue that emotions are culturally specific (Stearns 1995). As Adolphs (2005) suggests, however, the naturalist and constructionist positions can be reconciled if emotions are viewed as (a) shaped by evolutionary processes and implemented in the brain, but also (b) situated in a complex network of stimuli, behavior, and other cognitive states. Because of (b), the shared stock of emotional responses is mediated by culturally specific learning processes. Further, to study the cultural and rhetorical grounding of emotion discourse, theorists working at the intersection of psychology, history, and ethnography have developed the concept of emotionology, which concerns the collective emotional standards of a culture as opposed to the experience of emotion itself. The term functions in parallel with recent usages of ontology to designate a model of the entities, together with their properties and relations, that exist within a particular domain. Every culture and subculture has an emotionology, which is a framework for conceptualizing emotions, their causes, and how participants in discourse are likely to display them. Narratives, which at once ground themselves in and help build frameworks of this sort, provide insight into a cultures or subcultures emotionologyand also into how members of the (sub)culture use these systems to make sense of minds. Everyday storytelling as well as literary narratives deploy and in some cases thematize emotion terms and concepts; for example, spy thrillers, and romance novels are recognizable as such because of the way they link particular kinds of emotions to recurrent narrative scenarios. What is more, stories also have the power to (re)shape emotionology itself. Narrative therapy, for instance, 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).

4 Topics for Further Investigation (a) Eder (2003: 284 n. 14) sets up a scale of seven possible relationships between cognitive reception theories and narratology. These possibilities run the gamut from impossibility to unrelated coexistence to the outright assimilation of narratology to cognitive theory. A more general question can be extrapolated from Eders 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, Sternberg (2003) has raised questions about the degree to which cognitive narratology enables true methodological convergence among the domains of inquiry that it encompasses. Part of the problem lies in the attempt to translate foundational concepts such as frames and scripts, emotion, and even narrative across what remains for Sternberg a disciplinary divide between humanistic and 34

social-scientific research. As this critique suggests, if cognitive narratology is to become a bonafide inter-discipline, it must work toward combining its source concepts and methods into a whole which is greatermore capable of description and explanationthan the sum of its parts.

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Abbott, H. Porter, ed. (2001). On the Origins of Fiction: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Special Issue of SubStance 30.1. Adolphs, Ralph (2005). Could a Robot Have Emotions? Theoretical Perspective from Social Cognitive Neuroscience. M. Arbib & J.-M. Fellous (eds). Who Needs Emotions: The Brain Meets the Robot. Oxford: Oxford UP, 928. Barthes, Roland ([1966] 1977). Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives. Image Music Text. New York: Hill & Wang, 79124. Bortolussi, Marisa & Peter Dixon (2003). Psychonarratology: Foundations for the Empirical Study of Literary Response. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Butte, George (2004). I know That You Know That I Know: Narrating Subjects from Moll Flanders to Marnie. Columbus: Ohio State UP. Cohn, Dorrit (1978). Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction. Princeton: Princeton UP. Cook, Guy (1994). Discourse and Literature. Oxford: Oxford UP. Culler, Jonathan (1975). Literary Competence & Convention and Naturalization. J. C. Structuralist Poetics. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 11330 & 13160. Duchan, Judith F., et al. eds. (1995). Deixis in Narrative: A Cognitive Science Perspective. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum. Eder, Jens (2003). Narratology and Cognitive Reception Theories. T. Kindt & H.-H. Mller (eds). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Berlin: de Gruyer, 277301. Emmott, Catherine (1997). Narrative Comprehension: A Discourse Perspective. Oxford: Oxford UP. Fludernik, Monika (1996). Towards a Natural Narratology. London: Routledge. Genette, Grard ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Gerrig, Richard J. (1993). Experiencing Narrative Worlds: On the Psychological Activities of Reading. New Haven: Yale UP. Goffman, Erving (1974). Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. New York: Harper & Row. Herman, David (1999). Introduction. D. H. (ed). Narratologies: New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 130. Herman, David (2002). Story Logic: Problems and Possibilities of Narrative. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. 35

Herman, David (2003). Stories as a Tool for Thinking. D. H. (ed). Narrative Theory and the Cognitive Sciences. Stanford: CSLI, 16392. Herman, David (2005). Quantitative Methods in Narratology: A Corpus-based Study of Motion Events in Stories. J. Ch. Meister (ed). Narratology Beyond Literary Criticism. Mediality, Disciplinarity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 12549. Herman, David (2007a). Cognition, Emotion, and Consciousness. D. H. (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 24559. Herman, David (2007b). Storytelling and the Sciences of Mind: Cognitive Narratology, Discursive Psychology, and Narratives in Face-to-Face Interaction. Narrative 15, 30634. Herman, David (2009a). Basic Elements of Narrative. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Herman, David (2009b). Beyond Voice and Vision: Cognitive Grammar and Focalization Theory. P. Hhn et al. (eds). Point of View, Perspective, and Focalization: Modeling Mediacy in Narrative. Berlin: de Gruyter, 11942. Herman, David ed. (2003). Narrative Theory and the Cognitive Sciences. Stanford: CSLI. Hogan, Patrick Colm (2003a). The Mind and Its Stories: Narrative Universals and Human Emotion. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Hogan, Patrick Colm (2003b). Cognitive Science, Literature, and the Arts: A Guide for Humanists. London: Routledge. Holland, Norman (1975). 5 Readers Reading. New Haven: Yale UP. Ingarden, Roman ([1931] 1973). The Literary Work of Art. Evanston: Northwestern UP. Iser, Wolfgang ([1972] 1974). The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Jackson, Tony E. (2005). Explanation, Interpretation, and Close Reading: The Progress of Cognitive Poetics. Poetics Today 26, 51933. Jahn, Manfred (1996). Windows of Focalization: Deconstructing and Reconstructing a Narratological Concept. Style 30, 24167. Jahn, Manfred (1997). Frames, Preferences, and the Reading of Third-Person Narratives: Toward a Cognitive Narratology. Poetics Today 18, 44168. Jahn, Manfred (1999). More Aspects of Focalization: Refinements and Applications. J. Pier (ed). Recent Trends in Narratological Research. Tours: GRAAT, 85110. Jauss, Hans Robert ([1977] 1982). Toward an Aesthetic of Reception. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Keen, Suzanne (2007). Empathy and the Novel. Oxford: Oxford UP. Leech, Geoffrey & Michael Short (1981). Style in Fiction. London: Longman. Mandler, Jean Matter (1984). Stories, Scripts, and Scenes: Aspects of Schema Theory. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum. Margolin, Uri (1999). Of What Is Past, Is Passing, or to Come: Temporality, Aspectuality, Modality, and the Nature of Narrative. D. Herman (ed). Narratologies: New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 14266. Mills, Linda (2005). Narrative Therapy. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 37576. Minsky, Marvin (1975). A Framework for Representing Knowledge. P. Winston (ed). The Psychology of Computer Vision. New York: McGraw-Hill, 21177. Nagel, Thomas (1974). What Is It Like to Be a Bat? Philosophical Review 83, 435 36

50. Palmer, Alan (2004). Fictional Minds. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Perry, Menakhem (1979). Literary Dynamics: How the Order of a Text Creates Its Meanings. Poetics Today 1.1/2, 3564, 31161. Richardson, Alan & Ellen Spolsky, ed. (2004). The Work of Fiction: Cognition, Culture, and Complexity. Aldershot: Ashgate. Richardson, Alan & Francis F. Steen, ed. (2002). Literature and the Cognitive Revolution. Special Issue of Poetics Today 23. Ryan, Marie-Laure (1991). Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2001). Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2003). Cognitive Maps and the Construction of Narrative Space. D. Herman (ed). Narrative Theory and the Cognitive Sciences. Stanford: CSLI, 21442. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2006). Avatars of Story. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Ryan, Marie-Laure ed. (2004). Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Schank, Roger C. & Robert P. Abelson (1977). Scripts, Plans, Goals and Understanding: An Inquiry into Human Knowledge Structures. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum. Stanzel, Franz K. ([1979] 1984). A Theory of Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Stearns, Peter (1995). Emotion. R. Harr & P. Stearns (eds). Discursive Psychology in Practice. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 3754. Sternberg, Meir (1978). Expositional Modes and Temporal Ordering in Fiction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Sternberg, Meir (1990). Telling in Time (I): Chronology and Narrative Theory. Poetics Today 11, 90148. Sternberg, Meir (1992). Telling in Time (II): Chronology, Teleology, Narrativity. Poetics Today 13, 463541. Sternberg, Meir (2003). Universals of Narrative and Their Cognitivist Fortunes (I). Poetics Today 24, 297395. Stockwell, Peter (2002). Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction. London: Routledge. Tompkins, Jane, ed. (1980). Reader-Response Criticism: From Formalism to PostStructuralism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Turner, Mark (1991). Reading Minds: The Study of English in the Age of Cognitive Science. Princeton: Princeton UP. Turner, Mark (1996). The Literary Mind. Oxford: Oxford UP. van Peer, Willie & Seymour Chatman, eds. (2001). New Perspectives on Narrative Perspective. Albany: State U of New York P. Werth, Paul (1999). Text Worlds: Representing Conceptual Space in Discourse. London: Longman. Wolf, Werner (2003). Narrative and Narrativity: A Narratological Reconceptualization and Its Applicability to the Visual Arts. Word & Image 19, 180 97. Zunshine, Lisa (2006). Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel. Columbus: Ohio State UP.


5.2 Further Reading Brockmeier, Jens & Donal Carbaugh, eds. (2001). Narrative and Identity: Studies in Autobiography, Self and Culture. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Bruner, Jerome (1990). Acts of Meaning. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Herman, David (2009). Cognitive Approaches to Narrative Analysis. G. Brne & J. Vandaele (eds). Cognitive Poetics: Goals, Gains, and Gaps. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 79118. Jahn, Manfred (2005). Cognitive Narratology. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 6771. Vygotsky, Lev S. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge: Harvard UP.


Toolan, Michael: "Coherence". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Last modified: 29 September 2011 Michael Toolan

1 Definition As a technical term, as distinct from its use in cultural activities to denote a range of qualities deemed desirable (e.g. clarity, orderliness, reasonableness, logicality, making sense, and even persuasiveness), coherence has tended to be regarded as a textlinguistic (TL) notion. From its everyday senses, textlinguistic coherence has inherited some defining criteria, 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, that the identified textual parts all contribute to a whole, which is communicationally effective. But there has always been a tension in the linguistic analysis of coherence, rooted in the recognition that TL rules for textual coherence (e.g. rules of anaphora, norms of paragraphing and paragraph structure) are inevitably general and therefore insensitive to the unique contextual pressures of the particular text, on the one hand, while on the other, judgments of coherence are very much based on what addressees assess as relevant and informative in the unique discoursal circumstances of the individual text. 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, even if it is normally a main contributory feature (de Beaugrande & Dressler 1981; Giora 1985). In broad terms, it is now widely recognized that coherence is ultimately a pragmatically-determined quality, requiring close attention to the specific sense made of the text in the cultural context. This might suggest that determining coherence is a simple matter of applying common sense in context; but narratives often go beyond common sense, that transcending being crucial to their importance and tellability, so that narratological studies of coherence suggest common sense is not a sufficient guide.

2 Explication Although it is not usually foremost among the interests of narratologists, coherence is 39

implicitly regarded as an important feature of narrative. All formalist, structuralist, or psycholingistic modelings of story and discourse that propose any kind of morphology or grammar (those of Propp, Barthes, Genette, Greimas, Mandler & Johnson 1977, Thorndyke 1977, Stein & Glenn 1979, to name only a selection) can be viewed as including elements regarded as essential to narrative coherence. For TL, it is often convenient to identify particular main subtypes of coherence, such as temporal, causal, and thematic coherence as well as topic-maintenance and -furtherance. Because of general expectations of unity, continuity and perseveration in story topic, coherent narrative seems to involve a healthy amount of repetition and near repetition (repetition with alteration), including forms of lexical repetition and semantic recurrence. Thus Chatman (1978: 301) 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, later dying, later being buried, it is assumed these refer to one and the same Peter. Some sense of the continuity of existentshence of assumed co-reference where there are multiple mentions of a single nameis the norm. On the other hand, abundance of quasirepetitive language seems to be the cohesive corollaryin extended texts such as literary narrativesof the coherence requirement of unified connectedness. However, no simple standard of topic or thematic unity and continuity will apply generally. In actuality, in narratives as in other forms of discourse, the norm is for there to be multiple topics, complexly related to each other, so that the local absence of maintenance of topic A by no means creates incoherence (where topic B or C is being developed). Perhaps more than anything else, narratological studies of coherence highlight the insufficiency of a common sense approach to the issue. It is perfectly true that stories that defy normal expectations about time, intention, goal, causality, or closure may fail to elicit interest and be judged incoherent or incomplete by some readers; but these departures from the norm, singly or jointly, do not invariably lead to incoherence. Similarly, narratologists recognize that a story that begins at the chronological end, then jumps to the chronological beginning, moves forward two years from that point, and then moves backward one month, and so on may be difficult to follow. Difficulties of reader-processing caused by achronological narration, or under-explained shifts in setting or character, even when extreme, do not invariably amount to incoherence, either. And, as McAdams (2006: 113) reminds us, norms concerning narrative coherence can vary considerably from one society or culture to the next; these expectations are also dependent on period and genre (cf. Jauss 1977 on horizons of expectation and Culler 1975 on naturalization).

3 History of the Concept and its Study A history of the concept of narrative coherence must begin with mention of Aristotles Poetics, which insists on completeness of plot with a beginning, a middle, and an end, unity of incident, the episode as central to tragedy, and structure by means of complication followed by unraveling or denouement: the muthos must imitate a single, unified and complete sequence of action. Its incidents must be organised in such a way that if any is removed or has its position changed, the whole is dislocated and disjointed. If something can be added or taken away without any obvious effect, it is not intrinsic to the whole (1416a 314). 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

in the plays of Corneille and Racine); Aristotle was invoked, but prescriptively, demanding unity of time, place, and action. In other dramatic traditions, however, such restrictive requirements were freely ignored (e.g. Shakespeare). In the modern period, Poes (1846) poetics of composition, with its advocacy of brevity, hidden craft, and unity of effect, can be mentioned with reference to narrative coherence, as can Propps (1928) morphological modeling of the folktale, Lmmerts (1955) forms of narrative construction, Stanzels (1955, 1979) narrative situations, several of the articles in the landmark volume 8 (1966) of the review Communications, Princes (1973) narrative grammar, van Dijks treatment of text grammars (1972), and some work by Todorov (1971, 1978) as well as his foundational narrative grammar of the Decameron (1969).

3.1 Coherence in Textlinguistic Studies Halliday & Hasans (1976) study of cohesion in English is often cited as a pioneering enquiry into the key resources in a language for underpinning textual coherence, indeed for the creation of genuine text. They look chiefly at inter-sentential grammatical mechanisms (e.g. means of co-reference via personal and indefinite pronouns, projecting of relatedness via retrievable ellipsis, use of sense-conveying sentential conjunctions), and they also comment, less systematically, on how texts display coherence by elaborate means of lexical collocation and association. Despite a generally enthusiastic welcome for their work, linguists were quick to emphasize that cohesion seemed neither necessary nor sufficient for textual coherence (particularly in the case of short, deeply situationally-embedded texts). More importantly, Halliday & Hasan, like other grammarians, do not fully address the specific demands of cohesion and coherence of narrative. 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); (b) coherence (the configuration of concepts and relations which underlie the surface text); (c) intentionality (instrumentalizing of cohesion and coherence according to the producers intention); (d) acceptability (use or relevance of the cohesive and coherent text to the receiver); (e) informativity (degree to which the occurrences of the text are (un)expected or (un)known); (f) situationality (relevance of a text to a situation); (g) intertextuality (presupposed knowledge of one or more previous texts). There are many exemplifications, in the linguistic and discourse analytic literature, of discourse deemed to have cohesion without coherence, or the reverse. One of the better known comes in Brown & Yule (1983), where the doorbell rings at the apartment of a couple, A and B. A says to B: Theres the doorbell. B replies: Im in the bath. Here, the total absence of textual cohesive links between the two utterances does not prevent Bs response being entirely coherent. Brown & Yule ascribe the coherence of the AB exchange above to assumed semantic relations between the utterances, which relations must lean heavily on familiar schemata or cultural scripts. Such mental challenges seem quite slight, however, by comparison with the challenges to sense-making posed by contemporary fictional narration and dialogue by writers like DeLillo (e.g. in Underworld) and Mamet (e.g. the opening of his play Oleanna, in which just one half, highly elliptical, of a lengthy telephone conversation is accessible to the playgoer or reader). And these texts in turn are considerably more accessible, coherence-minded, than many narrative poems published during the last hundred years. 41

Innumerable linguists have grappled over the years with the topic of discourse coherence and its bases. One of the richer overviews remains that of Brown & Yule (1983), which contains many observations oriented to helping clarify what makes for discourse coherence (a more recent introductory text, also containing valuable discussion of coherence, is Georgakopoulou & Goutsos 1997). Brown & Yule emphasize the inherent contextualization that accompanies any verbal text and the role of normal expectations, shaping memories of past verbal material and the initial efforts at interpreting newly-encountered language. The sections of Halliday & Hasan (1976) devoted to lexis can be seen as an early attempt to systematize Firths collocational textlinguistic thesis; also relevant is the work of Sinclair & Coulthard (1975). Firthian collocational ideas have recently been elaborated in a different direction in Hoeys theory of lexical priming (2005), which argues that for a large number of texts conforming to one genre or another, language users are primed to expect certain patterns of word-choice, appearing at certain points (and not others) in the sentence, in the paragraph, and in the discourse structure. But as already indicated, 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). Citing the doting parents of babbling infants as simply an extreme example of interpretive charity, Brown & Yule (1983) emphasise the human bias in favor of assuming a coherent message amenable to coherent interpretation. Addressees naturally attribute relevance and coherence to any text or discourse until evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. Echoing Grice (1975), they argue that a rational assumption of relevance has shaped any speakers (or writers) contribution. Where an utterances relevance, orderliness, informativeness and truthfulness is not obvious, 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, unless a change is explicitly signaled. Most fundamentally, humans naturally assume coherence, and interpret the text in the light of that assumption. They assume, that is, that the principles of analogy [things will tend to be as they were before: MT] and local interpretation [if there is a change, assume it is minimal: MT] constrain the experience (Brown & Yule 1983: 667). For such reasons, Yaron has argued that analysts should calibrate texts in terms of their displaying high or low degrees of explicit coherence. Differentiating thus would make it possible to include among coherent texts those that the reader has imbued with implicit connections (Yaron 2008: 139). As Bublitz (1999: 2) recognizes in his somewhat negatively-phrased definition, coherence is a cognitive category that depends on the language users interpretation and is not an invariant property of discourse. 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 addressees attributing of coherence to a text, guided by cultural norms, cognitive scripts and schemata. There is often no fundamental opposition between the two approaches, but rather a division of labor and of disciplinary interest; some contributions attempt to combine TL and cognitive or receptionist concerns (e.g. certain approaches to narrativity ( Narrativity), Emmott 1997 on comprehension, Toolan 2009 on narrative progression). Ultimately, 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). In the latter, the point is made that many accounts are vulnerable to the criticism that they appeal largely 42

to textual structure, whereas ultimately cultural norms and expectations cannot be excluded from the calculation of eventfulness (see Hhn 2008). Similarly, an entirely text-immanent treatment (or grammar) of narrative coherence seems only locally possible, relative to particular genres or culture-specific types of narrative, rather than universally valid. And even here, like any grammar, the norms are susceptible to variation and change. Thus anything approximating a grammar of narrative coherence will sooner or later fail, by virtue of its insensitivity to context. Lesser & Milroy (1993) make this point concerning discourse coherence generally: notwithstanding certain kinds of familiar scripts and stereotyped situations, top-down models which attempt to extend syntactic analytic methods, by postulating a set of rules by reference to which discourses can be judged ill-formed or coherent, have tended to fail. Discourse and discourse coherence is so often a joint production, influenced by context and assumed background knowledge, that decontextualized standards for the specifying of coherence are unsatisfactory. For all the above reasons, we must conclude that coherence and full interpretation of a text often requires that we have access to more than the text alone. As Georgakopoulou & Goutsos ([1997] 2004: 16) note, we often need to know who the text-producer is, what the intended audience is, 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. One of the challenges and interests of much literary narration, however, lies in the radical under-specification or unreliability of answers to many of these questions. Literary narratives give rise to much-debated uncertainty concerning who speaks? in particular stories or passages, where and when events are reported to have taken place (in which storyworld?), and for what purpose; much of this is dependent on genre and text-type conventions and their cultural and historical variation.

3.2 Degrees of Coherence There are degrees of TL cohesion, and more importantly, according to addressee judgments, degrees of coherence, ranging from the minimal to the maximal. Additionally, broad user assumptions about the sub-type of text involved help to guide or constrain coherence norms and expectations. In the case of narratives, such generic norms include the presence of story or plot, of an inter-related event sequence, of focus on one or a few characters undergoing change, and of a situation of stability developing a disequilibrium following which a renewed but altered equilibrium emerges (closure). As implied above, there are arguably minimal and maximal notions of coherence, as this concept has been developed and applied in linguistics generally and narrative studies in particular. Minimal or basic coherence is that property attributed to sequences of utterances or sentences, in a particular context of speaking or writing, which prompts participants or observers to judge that the full sequence makes sense, fits together, and forms a (spoken or written) text. The implied contrast is with randomly assembled phrases or sentences or utterances having no discernible sense of connection between them, being merely the parts from which various (different) texts might be assembled. Any text is coherent or projects coherence if it is interpretable as parts comprising an effective or useable whole. The more particular interest here is in what constitutes a whole narrative text (as distinct from a text of no particular kind). An immediate complication, in the creation or designing for coherence in 43

texts generally, and perhaps especially in narratives, is the elliptical, the implied, the unsaid but inferable or adducible (such that a text has a covert wholeness). Prototype theory (Rosch 1978; Bortolussi & Dixon 2003) has been shown to be relevant to projections of narrative coherence; typification as an interpretive resource is very important in Stanzel 1955; and many approaches to inferability and its putative steps or degrees have been proposed: see Ingarden (1931) on reading as the creation of coherence; cf. also Schmid (2003) on narrativity and eventfulness. A maximal notion of coherence is invoked where analysts demand that all the segments of a text (however that segmentation is imposed: e.g. sentence by sentence, or shot by shot or scene by scene in film, or in some other way) fit together in multiple respects, to the point that every segment is deemed an indispensable part of the whole. But such an absolute standard is neither usual nor even optimal. Longer or more complex narratives where every segment fits and is indispensable for coherence seem rare. In a novel or film of normal length, absence or presence of a few sentences or of a few shotsprovided they are semantically congruent with adjacent materialrarely causes significant damage to the works perceived coherence; 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), but iterative statement is also often acceptable. It may be that coherence is analogous to the main load-bearing structure of a house, by contrast with various walls and materials whose present or absence has little or no effect on the robustness of the main building. By that reasoning, where the wall between the lounge and the study is non-load-bearing, one might be inclined to say that on coherence grounds it does not matter whether the wall is present or is removed. And yet one might immediately make the rejoinder that, on the contrary, a study without a wall sealing it off from the noisy lounge, the site of informal sociality, is no longer a fully coherent or coherently-functional study. So the limits and scope of coherence, in buildings and in texts, is by no means a settled question.

3.3 Coherence in Psychological Studies In the psychological literature relating to narrative representations, 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 the readers mental contribution is judged essential, so that coherence is in effect a mental entity (Gernsbacher & Givn 1995: vii). A text is deemed coherent if it is judged intelligible, with no required material or information missing. Immediately a clarification is needed, however: by missing here is meant total absence from the text without reasonable possibility of retrieval by means of ellipsis-detection, inference, attention to relevant context and background knowledge, or similar textuallyfacilitated means. So the key contrast here, with respect to coherence, is between contextually retrievable relevant information, and contextually unretrievable relevant information: the more there appears to be of the latter, the less coherent the narrative will be. 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, even if addressee attention to prototypical narrative patterns, genres, sub-genres, scripts, and cognitive frames can help to 44

delimit the problem space. 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, in licensed sequence, of a series of related events and states. But under a second definition it is the representation (or possibility of representation, by the reader/listener) of particular relations between the segments of a narrative: e.g. seeing one segment as a consequence following a reported cause, a further segment as an emotional response to a reported consequence, and so on. 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. Emmott 1997; Emmott et al. 2006; Gerrig 1993; Goldman et al. eds. 1999).

3.4 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, the interpreter must reconstruct a storyworld (Ryan 1991; Gerrig 1993; Herman 2002, 2009) or mental model, a rich projection of the entire, developing situation in which events, characters and their variously motivated actions are embedded. Where such reconstruction or imagining is thwarted (e.g. by narratorial or character-derived vagueness, unreliability, inconsistency, or even self-contradiction), then the sense of coherence is undermined. In these respects, 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, 1990; Culpeper 2001; Emmott 1997; Werth 1999; Schneider 2001) has done much to chart how interpreters draw on a texts characterizations, in interaction with the given or assumed background and non-specific real-world knowledge, to understand and evaluate characters. Also relevant here is the cognitive narratological idea of a narrative storyworld (Herman 2002, 2009). But even the assumption of co-reference among uses of a proper name can be overridden, as in Faulkners The Sound and the Fury, where there are two quite distinct Quentins (uncle and niece). As Chatman implies, much of this inferencing is basic interpretation; it may be that narrative coherence is threatened or damaged where basic inferencing of this kind cannot easily or obviously apply. Beyond consistency of naming, each character will be expected to be physically, emotionally and mentally self-consistent within reasonable or narrated limits. Thus a character at the close of a novel may not be quite the same person disclosed, many years earlier in the storyworld, at the novels opening; but the changes that are apparent are congruent with the experiences also narrated, and the ambient conditions within the storyworld (if those conditions are fantastical or magical realist ones, where a dead character can return to life in some other form, then coherence may well be maintained). In short, the criteria of coherence may change with genre, epoch, and culture.

3.5 The Pragmatics of Coherence: Cooperativeness and Relevance 45

Despite the steady advance in the descriptions of narrative coherence from TL, cognitive linguistics, and psycholinguistics, it is to pragmatics that many narrative analysts look for a general account of coherence, and to the seminal ideas of Grice in particular. Grice (1975) propounds the idea that participants in a conversation are predisposed to cooperate, making their contributionsall other things being equalsuitably truthful, informative, relevant, and orderly; and, knowing this, one party to a conversation is entitled and can be expected to derive what Grice called conversational implicatures where anothers contribution seems intentionally to diverge from reasonable truthfulness, informativity, relevance, and orderliness. What Grice applied to idealized conversational meaning, others have extended with due qualifications and adjustments to other uses of language, including literature (e.g. Pratt 1977; Watts 1981) and narrative (Bhaya Nair 2002; Bortolussi & Dixon 2003). 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, 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. Following Grice, but moving in a more explicitly cognitivist direction, Sperber & Wilson (1986), and some attempts have been made to develop a specifically relevance-theoretical account of narrative implicature (Walsh 2007). If a coherent narrative is one in which there are sufficient overt or covert clues for the reader to see links, understand the text as a totality (i.e. the double logic of narrationa telling here and now of a unified sequence of events that happened then and thereis felt to be sustained), see a point and a tellability ( Tellability), then an incoherent narrative is one in which such clues seem to be insufficient. And since coherence (like conversation cooperativeness) is such a strong norm, its absence in turn may give rise to strong reactions of frustration, annoyance, rejection of the text as unnatural, absurd, or valueless (irrelevant in the Sperber & Wilson sense, of yielding little or no benefits for the interpretive relevancecalculating efforts invested).

3.6 Narrativity, Tellability, and Coherence Is narrative coherence essentially a matter of narrativity, substantially overlapping with the latter, 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, and as one authoritative introduction states, discussions of narrativity can soon become a tangled web of differently emphasized elements (Abbott [2002] 2008: 25). For some, the focus is primarily on plot or event-progression, the sense of a narrative arc; others emphasize the creation of a storyworld; different again is Fluderniks emphasis on narrativity as mediated experientiality, sourced in oral storytelling (for a recent overview of discussions of narrativity, see Prince 1999; for a thought-provoking rebuttal of narratologys over-determining of progression, point, closure, etc., see Tammi 2005). Elsewhere, Fludernik treats narrativity as the quality of narrativehood that a reader can impose on a text by reading it as a narrative, calling that process narrativization (Fludernik 1996: 34). Abbott ( Narrativity) discusses narrativity under four headings, and by implication four at least partly distinct aspects: as inherent or extensional; as scalar or intensional (perhaps the most widely-adopted conception); as varying according to narrative type or genre; and as a mode among modes. Mention should also be made of Pier & Garca Landa eds. (2008). The several understandings of narrativity on offer nevertheless 46

suggest that it is a property of texts that is of a different order from coherence; texts can be high or low in coherence independently of their being high or low in narrativity. Generic and cultural narrative norms concerning tellability, narrativity, event and eventfulness, 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). Norms of narrativity and narrative comprehension are discussed (in addition to the authors cited above) by Kindt & Mller 2003; Culler 1975; Alber 2005; Emmott 1997. All the foregoing concepts are in part ways of addressing the issue of coherence in narrative, and all point to the difficulty of teasing apart what can be called the intensional and the extensional aspects of narrative coherence, or of making a distinction between what it consists in and how it is produced. Regarding the latter, reference can be made to patterns of grammatical and lexical cohesion at the level of rcit or discours, and to the normal expectation of multiple connections in the projected storyworld and in the sequence of incidents (chiefly at the level of histoire); similarly, continuity in the schemata (frames or scripts) activated on the discours level and in the references to the context, is usual. But it remains controversial to claim that they are essential.

3.7 Challenges to Coherence One form of challenge to coherence is, significantly, almost a design feature of modern literary narratives: free indirect discourse. Being unspeakable sentences, radically divided or indeterminate between two deictic centers of utterance or footing, free indirect discourse text is inherently problematic on first encounter. No less challenging is metaphor. Where metaphor is intended but fails to be detected by the reader or listener, the perception of coherence will be put to the test; on the other hand, a readers ability to interpret superficially unconnected entities or processes as metaphorical can enable the recognition of coherence. Besides metaphor, milder threats to coherence include hyperbole, litotes, irony, sarcasm, and metalepsis ( Metalepsis). Lying and misrepresentation often constitute an attempted counter-coherence, perhaps a coherence that seems more compelling or rewarding than the truth (cf. Iagos wicked storytelling to Othello), so perhaps need not be covered here as a threatening of coherence, but a manipulation of it. Different again, and much more troubling for the reader/addressee, is the narration which is or is suspected of being unreliable. With unreliable narration, the reader is able to reconstruct two or more coherent versions of events and their motivation. But by their very nature, each coherent version implies the false coherence of the others. 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, fly fishing, electronic engineering), to the point that the average addressee has only limited understanding of what is going on. One of the most basic of all challenges concerns continuity of topic: the sense that whatever a narrative is judged to be about, it is consistently about that person or situation, without digressions or irrelevances. But typically, literary narratives are sufficiently multidimensional that, at any transition point, a multiplicity of relevant discoursal continuations can reasonably be made and so must be chosen from. Flouting of the simplest topic-continuity and -progression does not invariably lead to incoherence (cf. Tristram Shandy as an early novelistic testing of topic and narrativity expectations). Lack of inferrable topic-attentiveness, in subsequent narration, may be grounds for suspecting incoherence, but not conclusive 47

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

potentially reportable via a different sequence of textual or filmic segments). Because the narrative discourse, whatever its anachronies and shifts of voice or viewpoint, is ultimately matched to a projected (imagined) prior event-sequence story, it cannot radically misrepresent that story without risking incoherence.

3.8 Perceived Coherence Coherence must be not merely local (i.e. appropriate anaphoric or cohesive links between sentences), but global (appropriate relevance of most if not all sentences to an overarching theme or purpose; cf. Reinhart 1980; Kintsch & van Dijk 1978; Goldman et al. eds. 1999). However, 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). 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. And as a rule of thumb, we can postulate that where some form of more global coherence is detectable, this will override or displace local discontinuities or incoherences. Furthermore, human language-users can be remarkably resourceful in making sense (global coherence) even where none is immediately apparent, e.g. by means of recontextualizing or interpreting selected items or events metaphorically (a literary theoretical term for such processes is naturalization; cf. Culler 1975: 13460; equally relevant is Fluderniks 1996 conception of narrativization). Like beauty, coherence seems finally to be perceptual, in the eye or mind of the beholder. We preferentially look for just one thing to be narrated, in all necessary detail, and completely. This may involve a shifting of attention among numerous different things (characters, places, times, etc.), provided they can eventually be seen to interrelate. By contrast, a seemingly unmotivated and unpredictable shifting of attention through a multiplicity of things is usually rejected as producing narrative incoherence. If at the ideational core of most narratives some kind of lack or problem is introduced, and an attempted resolution or completion of that lack or problem is then reported, then forms of narrative that are judged to move far from this core will tend to be seen as less than fully coherent. Narratives emphasis on a unifiable lack and its attempted resolution means that there is a natural place here for the Aristotelian unities of time, place, and action, as further standard measures of coherence (to be departed from where this is justified).

4 Topics for Further Investigation What may have escaped notice is the borrowing of the more particular notion of narrative coherence, which is now frequently invoked in (inter alia) theories and practices of psychiatry (Fiese ed. 2001), human psychology (McAdams 2006), psychotherapy (e.g. Linde 1993; Roberts & Holmes eds. 1999), and work with high-functioning autistic or learningdisabled children and adults (e.g. Diehl et al. 2006).


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. For example, life-story analyses often focus on the coherence within those stories (Linde 1993; 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.g. illness narratives: Hawkins 1993). And analysts of narratives who are most interested in the ideological, political or ecological positions depicted in life stories and many other public narratives evaluate their consistency and fairness by reference to coherence.

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Abbott, H. Porter ([2002] 2008). The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Alber, Jan (2005). Narrativisation. D. Herman et al. (eds). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 38687. Bhaya Nair, Rukmini (2002). Narrative Gravity: Conversation, Cognition, Culture. Delhi: Oxford UP. Bortolussi, Marisa & Peter Dixon (2003). Psychonarratology: Foundations for the Empirical Study of Literary Response. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Brown, Gillian & George Yule (1983). Discourse Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Bublitz, Wolfram (1999). Introduction: views of coherence. W. B. et al. (eds). Coherence in Spoken and Written Discourse. How to Create It and How to Describe It. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 17. Charolles, Marc & Marie-France Ehrlich (1991). Aspects of Textual Continuity: Linguistic Approaches. G. Denhire & J.-P. Rossi (eds). Text and Text Processing. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 25167. Chatman, Seymour (1978). Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Culler, Jonathan (1975). Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism, Linguistics and the Study of Literature. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Culpeper, Jonathan (2001). Language and Characterisation: People in Plays and other Texts. London: Longman. Cummings, E. E. (1991). Complete Poems: 1904-1962. Ed. G. J. Firmage. New York: Liveright. de Beaugrande, Robert & Wolfgang U. Dressler (1981). Introduction to Text Linguistics. London: Longman. Diehl, Joshua, et al. (2006). Story recall and narrative coherence of high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 34, 87102. Emmott, Catherine (1997). Narrative Comprehension: A Discourse Perspective. 50

Oxford: Oxford UP. Emmott, Cathrine, et al. (2006). Capturing the attention of readers? Stylistic and psychological perspectives on the use and effect of text fragmentation in narratives. Journal of Literary Semantics 35, 130. Fiese, Barbara, ed. (2001). The Stories That Families Tell: Narrative Coherence, Narrative Interaction and Relationship Beliefs. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. Fludernik, Monika (1996). Towards a Natural Narratology. London: Routledge. Georgakopoulou, Alexandra & Dionysis Goutsos ([1997] 2004). Discourse Analysis: An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP. Gernsbacher, Morton Ann & Talmy Givn (1995). Coherence in Spontaneous Text. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Gerrig, Richard J. (1993). Experiencing Narrative Worlds: On the Psychological Activities of Reading. New Haven: Yale UP. Giora, Rachel (1985). Notes Towards a Theory of Text Coherence. Poetics Today 6, 699715. Goldman, Susan R., et al. eds. (1999). Narrative Comprehension, Causality, and Coherence: Essays in Honor of Tom Trabasso. Mahwah: Erlbaum. Grice, Herbert Paul (1975). Logic and Conversation. P. Cole & J. L. Morgan (eds). Syntax and Semantics, Vol. 3, Speech Acts. New York: Academic Press, 4158. Halliday, Michael A. K. & Ruqaiya Hasan (1976). Cohesion in English. London: Longman. Hawkins, Anne (1993). Reconstructing Illness: Studies in Pathography. West Lafayette: Purdue UP. Herman, David (2002). Story Logic: Problems and Possibilities of Narrative. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Herman, David (2009). Basic Elements of Narrative. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell. Hoey, Michael (2005). Lexical Priming: A New Theory of Words and Language. London: Routledge. Hhn, Peter (2008). Functions and Forms of Eventfulness in Narrative Fiction. J. Pier & J. . Garca Landa (eds). Theorizing Narrativity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 14163. Ingarden, Roman ([1931] 1973). The Literary Work of Art. Evanston: Northwestern UP. Iser, Wolfgang ([1976] 1978). The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response. London: Routledge. Jauss, Hans Robert ([1977] 1982). Toward an Aesthetic of Reception. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Kindt, Tom & Hans-Harald Mller (2003). Narrative theory and/or/as Theory of Interpretation. T. K. & H.-H. M. (eds). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Berlin: de Gruyter, 20519. Kintsch, Walter & Teun A. van Dijk (1978). Toward a Model of Text Comprehension and Production. Psychological Review 85, 36394. Kock, Christian (1978). Narrative Tropes: A study of points in plots. G. D. Caie et al. (eds). Occasional Papers 1976-1977. Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 20252. Lmmert, Eberhard (1955). Bauformen des Erzhlens. Stuttgart: Metzler. Lesser, Ruth & Lesley Milroy (1993). Linguistics and Aphasia: Psycholinguistic and Pragmatic Aspects of Intervention. London: Longman. Linde, Charlotte (1993). Life Stories: The Creation of Coherence. New York: Oxford UP. 51

Mandler, Jean & Nancy Johnson (1977). Remembrance of things parsed: Story structure and recall. Cognitive Psychology 9, 11151. Margolin Uri (1983). Characterization in Narrative: Some Theoretical Prolegomena. Neophilologus 67, 114. Margolin, Uri (1990). Individuals in Narrative Worlds: An Ontological Perspective. Poetics Today 11, 84371. McAdams, Dan P. (2006). The Problem of Narrative Coherence. Journal of Constructivist Psychology 19, 10925. Ochs, Eleanor & Lisa Capps (2001). Living Narrative: Creating Lives in Everyday Storytelling. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Pier, John & Jos ngel Garca Landa (eds) (2008). Theorizing Narrativity. Berlin: de Gruyter. Poe, Edgar Allan ([1846] 1982). The Philosophy of Composition. The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 889907. Pratt, Mary Louise (1977). Towards a Speech Act Theory of Literary Discourse. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Prince, Gerald (1973). A Grammar of Stories: An Introduction. The Hague: Mouton. Prince, Gerald (1999). Revisiting Narrativity. A. Grunzweig & A. Solbach (eds). Grenzberschreitungen: Narratologie im Kontext / Transcending Boundaries: Narratology in Context. Tbingen: Narr, 4351. Propp, Vladimir ([1928] 1968). Morphology of the Folktale. Austin: U of Texas P. Reinhart, Tanya (1980). Conditions for Text Coherence. Poetics Today 1.1, 16180. Roberts, Glenn & Jeremy Holmes, eds. (1999). Healing Stories: Narrative in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. New York: Oxford UP. Rosch, Eleanor (1978). Principles of Categorization. E. R. & B. B. Lloyd (eds). Cognition and Categorization. Hillsdale: Erlbaum, 2748. Ryan, Marie-Laure (1991). Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Schmid, Wolf (2003). Narrativity and Eventfulness. T. Kindt & H.-H. Mller (eds). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1733. Schneider, Ralf (2001). Toward a Cognitive Theory of Literary Character: The Dynamics of Mental-Model Construction. Style 35, 60740. Sinclair, John M. & Malcolm Coulthard (1975). Towards an Analysis of Discourse: The English Used by Teachers and Pupils. London: Oxford UP. Sperber, Dan & Deirdre Wilson ([1986] 1995). Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell. Stanzel, Franz K. ([1955] 1971). Narrative Situations in the Novel: Tom Jones, MobyDick, The Ambassadors, Ulysses. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Stanzel, Franz K. ([1979] 1984). A Theory of Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Stein, Nancy & Christine Glenn (1979). An analysis of story comprehension in elementary school children. R. D. Freedle (ed). Advances in Discourse Processes: Vol. 2. New Directions in Discourse Processing. Norwood: Ablex, 53119. Stubbs, Michael (1983). Discourse Analysis: the Sociolinguistic Analysis of Natural Language. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Tammi, Pekka (2005). Against Narrative (A Boring Story). Partial Answers 4, 19 40. Thorndyke, Perry W. (1977). Cognitive structures in comprehension and memory of 52

narrative discourse. Cognitive Psychology 9, 77110. Todorov, Tzvetan (1969). Grammaire du Dcamron. The Hague: Mouton. Todorov, Tzvetan ([1971] 1977). The Poetics of Prose. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Todorov, Tzvetan ([1978] 1990). Genres in Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Toolan, Michael (2009). Narrative Progression in the Short Story: a corpus stylistic approach. Amsterdam: Benjamins. van Dijk, Teun A. (1972). Some Aspects of Text Grammars. The Hague: Mouton. Walsh, Richard (2007). The Rhetoric of Fictionality. Columbus: Ohio State UP. Watts, Richard J. (1981). The Pragmalinguistic Analysis of Narrative Texts. Tbingen: Narr. Werth, Paul (1999). Text Worlds: Representing Conceptual Space in Discourse. London: Longman. Yaron, Iris (2008). What is a Difficult Poem? Towards a Definition. Journal of Literary Semantics 37, 12950.

5.2 Further Reading Bordwell, David (1985). Narration in the Fiction Film. Madison: U of Wisconsin P. Bordwell, David (2006). The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies. Berkeley: U of California P. Brown, Gillian (1995). Speakers, Listeners and Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Bublitz, Wolfram, et al. eds. (1999). Coherence in Spoken and Written Discourse: How to Create it and How to Describe It. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Charolles, Michel, et al. (1986). Research in Text Connexity and Text Coherence: A Survey. Hamburg: Buske. Chafe, Wallace, ed. (1980). The Pear Stories. Cognitive, Cultural, and Linguistic Aspects of Narrative Production. Norwood: Ablex. Herman, David (2005). Events and Event Types. D. Herman et al. (eds). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 15152. Hhn, Peter (2005). Plotting the Lyric: Forms of Narration in Poetry. E. MllerZettelmann & M. Rubik (eds). Theory into Poetry: New Approaches to the Lyric. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 14772. Richardson, Brian, ed. (2008). Narrative Beginnings. Theories and Practices. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Sternberg, Meir (1993). Expositional Modes and Temporal Ordering in Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Sternberg, Meir (2001). How Narrativity Makes a Difference. Narrative 9, 11522. Trabasso, Tom, et al. (1984). Causal cohesion and story coherence. H. Mandl et al. (eds). Learning and Comprehension of Text. Hillsdale: Erlbaum, 83111. Viehoff, Reinhold (1988). Preliminary Remarks to Coherence in Understanding Poems. J. Petfi & T. Olivi (eds). From Verbal Constitution to Symbolic Meaning. Hamburg: Buske, 397414. Vorderer, Paul, et al. eds. (1996). Suspense: Conceptualizations, Theoretical Analyses, and Empirical Explorations. Mahwah: Erlbaum. 53

Fludernik, Monika: "Conversational Narration - Oral Narration". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Conversational Narration - 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; oral bardic poetry; simulations of orality in written texts by means of narrative strategies such as pseudo-orality or skaz. For narratology, oral narrative has been important at two different stages of the discipline. In Russian formalism (especially in the work of Propp) and during the 1960s (especially in the work of Bremond and Greimas) fairytales, which had their basis in orally transmitted storytelling, were used to analyze the deep structure of narrative and to discover functions of plot elements and typical actant structures ( Character). More recently, Herman, Fludernik and others, inspired by discourse analysis, have concentrated on conversational storytelling both as an interesting type of narrative in and by itself and as a prototype of all narration. This work has additionally had a close affinity with cognitive studies ( Cognitive Narratology). Institutionalized oral narrative as in the Homeric epics focuses on both the deep and the surface structure of narrative, analyzing plot-related motifs and the repetition of epitheta and formulae on the discourse level. The technique of pseudo-orality, finally, is a secondary phenomenon. It refers to the evocation of characters mode of utterance (especially in terms of dialect and colloquiality) in the written representation of speech.

2 Explication The basic prototype of oral narrative is spontaneous conversational narrative. This covers narratives produced in face-to-face exchanges in a variety of contexts such as storytelling sequences at dinner parties, brief narratives interspersed in telephone conversations or in doctor/patient and lawyer/client exchanges. Labov & Waletzky (1967) use the term natural 54

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

do with actual conversational storytelling, this phenomenon is widespread in literary texts and therefore of crucial importance to the narratologist. 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, as in the skaz (jxenbaum 1918). As pointed out by Leech & Short (1981: 16770), the transcription of oral speech in literary dialogue aims not at a phonologically precise rendering of dialect, but at accentuating typical dialect features. By orthographic means, authors thus seek to highlight the differences between standard written language and dialectal forms. In addition to narratives that evoke linguistic alterity by stressing stereotypical features, there are narratives that give prominence to a pseudo-oral narrative voice, a teller figure whose style suggests that the discourse has been uttered rather than written down. Such evocation of orality in narrative report can be based on the combination of several techniques. In English literature, it requires the avoidance of literate vocabulary and complex syntax. Thus, pseudooral narrators, such as Holden in J. D. Salingers The Catcher in the Rye, are often garrulous, repetitive, contradictory and illogical; they keep interrupting themselves and tend to address a fictive listener or audience familiarly; they seem to have an intimate rapport with the fictional world, to which they apparently belong, and also do not shy away from expressing their feelings and views emphatically, thus setting themselves off from the typical narrators of literary textsaloof, bland, reliable, neutral. Russian skaz (cf. jxenbaum 1918; Vinogradov 1925; Schmid 2005: 15676) often falls under this category of the pseudo-oral, but at times undermines the mimetic quality of the represented discourse by having a nave peasant narrator resort to inappropriately elevated diction, e.g. the register of the legal or administrative elite. 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. What counts for narrative purposes is not a faithful copy of the original utterance in all its linguistic detail, but the effect of deviation from the norm through quaintness, informality, intimacy, lack of education, cultural difference, class ascription. The simplifications and exaggerations of the linguistic features of orality and/or register therefore serve the purpose of facilitating identification, stereotyping, local color, or effet de rel. The technique is also used to characterize the narrator persona, just as dialect in the dialogue of 19th-century fiction tends to underline class difference, lack of education or idiosyncrasy (cf. Dickens, Scott or Trollope).

3 History of the Concept and its Study Returning to the first category, spontaneous conversational narratives, 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.

3.1 Discourse Analysis and Conversation Analysis


Discourse analysis developed as a sub-discipline of pragmatics, i.e. language in use (Levinson 1983). More immediately, it derives from the work of sociologists, in particular Sacks (1992). Sacks began by analyzing telephone exchanges at a call center and then went on to establish the basic rules of conversation, notably (in narrative sequences) turn-taking, adjacency pairs, overlap, repair and abstracts. His initial research (in 1972) was followed by a landmark contribution (Sacks et al. 1974) which concentrated on turn-taking. It was found that conversations are structured by turns taken and held by each speaker. In narratives, speakers are allowed longer turns, provided the interlocutors are alerted to the speakers intention to delve into a story. In ordinary conversation, turns often come in adjacency pairs, particularly at the beginning of exchanges: greeting/greeting; question/answer; request/agreement or compliance; command/compliance; identification/recognition (telephone); etc. Interlocutors frequently interrupt each other and overlap (B starts to speak while A is completing his/her turn), but they also proceed in fits and starts and may start their sentences over (repair): e.g. 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. Discourse analysis has also been heavily influenced by Labov (1972) and his school of discourse study, which remains fundamental to the study of conversational narrative. Labov collected narratives elicited in interviews with young African-American males, and from this material he developed a model of the structure of natural narrative. Labov & Waletzky (1967) propose a model of episodic narrative consisting of a basic structure: abstract; orientation; narrative clauses (insert clauses of delayed orientation and evaluation); result; coda. Abstract and coda provide a link with the conversational frame, while the orientation section introduces characters and setting. The authors also introduced the terms point and reportability or tellability: to be effective, narratives must be newsworthy (reportable) and have a point (demonstrate something). These features play a crucial role in Fluderniks definition of experientiality, which consists in the dialectic of tellability and point (1996: 26 30; Tellability). Discourse analysis since Sacks and Labov has developed in great strides. Many fruitful insights into natural narrative and oral exchange have been gained by Schegloff, Gail Jefferson, Schiffrin, Chafe, Tannen, Quasthoff, etc. Besides focusing on the structure and syntactic and lexical peculiarities of natural narrative, this research has moved into elucidating the psychological and cultural functions of conversational storytelling (Bamberg ed. 1997; Ochs & Capps 2001), the construction of identity (Lucius-Hoene & Deppermann 2004), and questions of gender (Tannen 1990) as well as the aesthetic effects of using quoted speech or thought (Schiffrin 1981). Conversational exchanges, including narratives, 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). To keep an audiences interest, natural narrative is often repetitious and interlaced with verbatim dialogue by the participants in the events and even quotations from their thoughts, thus fictionalizing and dramatizing stories in ways that are reminiscent of novels or short stories (Tannen 1984, 1989; Fludernik 1993: 398433). Conversational narratives also employ narrative and non-narrative discourse markers (Schiffrin 1987), namely particles (mostly adverbs) placed in conjunct or adjunct position of a clause but whose meaning remains vague. They serve primarily macrostructural discourse functions such as initiation of a new topic, return from a side remark to 57

the main topic, capturing the interlocutors attention, etc. Specifically narrative discourse markers shift between the on-plot and the off-plot levels of conversational narratives, and they also mark the key points of narrative episodes (Fludernik 1991, 1992a, 1992b, 1996). More recently, conversation analysis has been established as a still more refined research discipline for examining conversational exchange. According to Hutchby & Wooffitt (1998), discourse analysis describes the systematic, rule-governed features of natural narrative, whereas conversation analysis is concerned with the performative and interactive aspects of conversational exchange. In particular, conversation analysis studies the online production of utterances and the unfamiliar shape of oral syntax (Atkinson & Heritage eds. 1984; Longacre 1983; Hutchby & Wooffitt 1998; Schegloff 2007). However, few conversation analysts deal with narrative, Quasthoff & Becker (eds. 2005) being an exception. Another sub-discipline, having more literary credentials, is critical discourse analysis (Hodge & Kress 1979; Carter 1997; Blommaert 2005), which studies how discourses generate, transmit and perpetuate ideologies and interpellate readers. Two handbooks of discourse analysis also discuss some aspects of critical discourse analysis (van Dijk ed. 1997; Schiffrin et al. eds. 2001).

3.2 Oral Poetry and Narratology Analyses of oral poetry have concentrated on two questions: formulaicity and motifs. The formulaic repertoire of the epic was found to employ recurring epitheta for common objects and heroes such as the crafty Ulysses. Whole verse lines are repeated nearly verbatim in order to facilitate oral composition and delivery. The oral epic is also characterized by a recurrence of typical motifs such as greeting between host and guest, raising of the cup, embarkation, burial of the fallen hero. More narratologically relevant are discussions of narrative episodes based on Bremond (1973), revealing the affinity between the structure of the epic and that of the fairy tale (cf. Wittig 1978). However, due to narratologys concentration on the novel and on prose fiction, there has been little narratological analysis of epic verse narrative.

3.3 Relevance of Conversational Narrative for Narratology While classical narratology, in the foundational work of Propp (1928) and Bremond (1973), analyzed short forms of narrative (the fairytale), the emphasis fell on event sequences rather than on the oral delivery of such tales (in the absence of tape recordings, written transcriptions were used). 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, largely disregarding narratives prior to the 18th century and all forms of oral narration. Between the complexity and sophistication of the novel and seemingly unstructured, syntactically misformed conversational narratives, a wide gap was perceived, felt to be unbridgeable. 58

However, in the 1970s discourse analysts increasingly undertook research into the structure of conversational narratives, analyzing them in their own right. In addition to studies by Labov, Tannen, Johnstone and Chafe for English, major work was carried out for German (Ehlich ed. 1980; Quasthoff 1980; Quasthoff & Becker eds. 2005; Brinker & Sager 2006) and French (Glich 1970; Mondada ed. 1995; Kerbrat-Orecchioni 1996, 2001). In the field of narratology, two researchers have drawn inspiration from conversational narrative as a major source of their own work. Herman (1997, 1999) pleads for the relevance of natural narratives for postclassical narratology. Taking a cue from Young (1999), who examines the performative nature of spontaneous conversational narrative and the creation and maintenance of self in patient/doctor exchanges, Herman proposes a model of conversational storytelling treated as an interactive process in which the borders between ongoing conversation and story are marked. He underlines the jointly referential and evaluating function (1999: 231) of modal expressions and repetitions in conversational narratives and emphasizes their interactional achievement. 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, Herman presents narratives (in his example: elicited ghost stories) as relying on a process of negotiation between storytellers and their interlocutors (239). His ultimate aim is to examine narrative competence in conversational narrative. Fludernik moved into the study of conversational narrative through the problem of the historical present tense. 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, 1992a), serving a highlighting function (in modification of Wolfson 1982). Fludernik (1996) went on to define conversational storytelling as a prototype of narrative tout court. She maintains that conversational narrative is basically about experientiality and that this is also true of the fictional narrative of novels and short stories (5391), 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). She further demonstrates that substrata of the oral pattern of narrative episodes can be traced in English medieval and early modern texts (92128). In the history of English literature, the formal structure of the novel, which looks so very different from that of conversational narratives, developed slowly out of its oral roots in episodic narrative. Over the past forty years, massive material has become available to discourse analysts. Much of it was gathered in medical or therapeutic contexts (cf. Bamberg ed. 1997), but oral history has also produced extensive records (Perks & Thomson eds. 1990). One sophisticated model of conversational storytelling is provided by Lucius-Hoene & Deppermann (2004), describing conversational narrative as a process of ego construction, presentation of self, and negotiation of identities. In focusing on these performative issues, the authors come strikingly close to the kind of analysis of literary narratives undertaken by literary critics ( Identity and Narration).

4 Topics for Further Research 59

Now that so much conversational narrative is available in transcript, there is ample opportunity for narratological analysis of this material. The handling of dialogue and thought processes in conversational narratives, the management of time schemata, deictic shifts, the question of whether the concept of focalization ( Focalization) should be used in the analysis of conversational narrativesthese topics and more could well come into the scope of extensive research. Particularly with the narrative turn at the end of the 20th century, 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.

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Atkinson, John Maxwell & John Heritage, eds. (1984). Structures of Social Action: Studies in Conversation Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Bamberg, Michael, ed. (1997). Oral Versions of Personal Experience. Three Decades of Narrative Analysis. Special Issue of Journal of Narrative and Life History 7. Blommaert, Jan (2005). Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Brown, Gillian & George Yule (1983). Discourse Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Bremond, Claude (1973). Logique du rcit. Paris: Seuil. Brinker, Klaus & Sven F. Sager ([1989] 2006). Linguistische Gesprchsanalyse. Berlin: Schmidt. Carter, Ronald (1997). Investigating English Discourse. London: Routledge. Chafe, Wallace (1994). Discourse, Consciousness, and Time. The Flow and Displacement of Conscious Experience in Speaking and Writing. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Chafe, Wallace, ed. ([1980] 2006). Pear Stories. Cognitive, Cultural, and Linguistic Aspects of Narrative Production. Norwood: Ablex. Ehlich, Konrad, ed. (1980). Erzhlen im Alltag. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. jxenbaum, Boris (Eikhenbaum) ([1918] 1975). The Illusion of Skaz. Russian Literature 12, 23336. Fludernik, Monika (1991). The Historical Present Tense Yet Again: Tense Switching and Narrative Dynamics in Oral and Quasi-Oral Storytelling. Text 11, 36598. Fludernik, Monika (1992a). The Historical Present Tense in English Literature: An Oral Pattern and its Literary Adaptation. Language and Literature 17, 77107. Fludernik, Monika (1992b). Narrative Schemata and Temporal Anchoring. The Journal of Literary Semantics 21, 11853. Fludernik, Monika (1993). The Fictions of Language and the Languages of Fiction. The Linguistic Representation of Speech and Consciousness. London: Routledge. Fludernik, Monika (1996). Towards a Natural Narratology. London: Routledge. Foley, Miles (1990). Traditional Oral Epic. The Odyssey, Beowulf, and the Serbo60

Croatian Return Song. Berkeley: U of California P. Foley, Miles (1995). The Singer of Tales in Performance. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Goetsch, Paul (1985). Fingierte Mndlichkeit in der Erzhlkunst entwickelter Schriftkultur. Poetica 17, 20218. Glich, Elisabeth (1970). Makrosyntax der Gliederungssignale im gesprochenen Franzsisch. Mnchen: Fink. Herman, David (1997). Scripts, Sequences, and Stories. Elements of a Postclassical Narratology. PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 112, 104659. Herman, David (1999). Toward a Socionarratology: New Ways of Analyzing Natural-Language Narratives. D. Herman (ed). Narratologies. New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 21846. Hodge, Bob & Gunther Kress ([1979] 1993). Language as Ideology. London: Routledge. Hutchby, Ian & Robin Wooffitt (1998). Conversation Analysis. Principles, Practices, Applications. Cambridge: Polity. Jaworski, Adam & Nikolas Coupland, eds. (1999). The Discourse Reader. London: Routledge. Johnstone, Barbara ([2002] 2008). Discourse Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell. Kerbrat-Orecchioni, Catherine (1996). La conversation. Paris: Seuil. Kerbrat-Orecchioni, Catherine (2001). Les actes de langage dans le discours. Thorie et fonctionnement. Paris: Nathan. Labov, William (1972). Language in the Inner City: Studies in the Black English Vernacular. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. Labov, William & Joshua Waletzky (1967). Narrative Analysis: Oral Versions of Personal Experience. J. Helm (ed). Essays on the Verbal and Visual Arts. Seattle: U of Washington P, 1244. Leech, Geoffrey N. & Michael H. Short (1981). Style in Fiction. A Linguistic Introduction to English Fictional Prose. London: Longman. Levinson, Stephen C. (1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Longacre, Robert E. ([1983] 1996). The Grammar of Discourse. New York: Plenum. Lord, Albert (1960). The Singer of Tales. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Lucius-Hoene, Gabriele & Arnulf Deppermann (2004). Rekonstruktion narrativer Identitt: Ein Arbeitsbuch zur Analyse narrativer Interviews. Wiesbaden: VS fr Sozalwissenschaften. Mondada, Lorenza, ed. (1995). Formes linguistiques et dynamiques interactionelles. Lausanne: Institut de Linguistique des Sciences du Langage. Ochs, Elinor & Lisa Capps (2001). Living Narrative: Creating Lives in Everyday Storytelling. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Ong, Walter (1982). Orality and Literacy. London: Methuen. Ono, Tsuyoshi & Sandra A. Thompson (1995). What Can Conversation Tell Us About Syntax? P. W. Davis (ed). Alternative Linguistics: Descriptive and Theoretical Modes. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 21371. Parry, Adam, ed. (1971). The Making of Homeric Verse. The Collected Papers of Milman Parry. Oxford: Clarendon. Perks, Robert & Alistair Thomson, eds. ([1990] 2006). The Oral History Reader. London: Routledge. Propp, Vladimir ([1928] 1968). Morphology of the Folktale. Austin: U of Texas P. 61

Psathas, George (1995). Conversation Analysis. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Quasthoff, Uta (1980). Erzhlen in Gesprchen. Tbingen: Narr. Quasthoff, Uta & Tabea Becker, eds. (2005). Narrative Interaction. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Sacks, Harvey (1972). An Initial Investigation of the Usability of Conversational Data for Doing Sociology. D. Sudnow (ed). Studies in Social Interaction. New York: Free P, 3174. Sacks, Harvey(1992). Lectures in Conversation. Ed. G. Jefferson. 2 vols. Oxford: Blackwell. Sacks, Harvey et al. (1974). A Simple Systematics for the Organization of Turntaking for Conversation. Language 50, 696735. Schegloff, Emanuel A. (2007). Sequence Organization in Interaction: A Primer in Conversation Analysis. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Schiffrin, Deborah (1981). Tense Variation in Narrative. Language 57, 4562. Schiffrin, Deborah (1987). Discourse Markers. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Schiffrin, Deborah et al. eds. (2001). Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell. Schmid, Wolf (2005). Elemente der Narratologie. Berlin: de Gruyter. Tannen, Deborah (1984). Conversational Style. Analyzing Talk Among Friends. Norwood: Ablex. Tannen, Deborah (1989). Talking Voices. Repetition, Dialogue, and Imagery in Conversational Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Tannen, Deborah (1990). You Just Dont Understand. Women and Men in Conversation. New York: Morrow. Tedlock, Dennis (1983). The Spoken Word and the Work of Interpretation. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. Terkel, Studs ([1984] 1990). The Good War. An Oral History of World War Two. New York: Ballantine. van Dijk, Teun A., ed. (1997). Discourse Studies. 2 vols. London: Sage. Vinogradov, Viktor ([1925] 1980). The Problem of Skaz in Stylistics. E. Proffer & C. R. Proffer (eds). The Ardis Anthology of Russian Futurism. Ann Arbor: Ardis. Wittig, Susan (1978). Stylistic and Narrative Structures in the Middle English Romances. Austin: U of Texas P. Wolfson, Nessa (1982). CHP. Conversational Historical Present in American English Narrative. Dordrecht: Foris. Young, Katherine (1999). Narratives of Indeterminacy: Breaking the Medical Body into its Discourses; Breaking the Discursive Body out of Postmodernism. D. Herman (ed). Narratologies. New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 197217.

5.2 Further Reading Norrick, Neal R. (2000). Conversational Narrative. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Polanyi, Livia (1985). Telling the American Story: A Structural and Cultural Analysis of Conversational Storytelling. Norwood: Ablex. 62

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


Shepherd, David: "Dialogism". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

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, both past, to which it responds, and future, whose response it anticipates. The positive connotations of dialogism are often reinforced by a contrast with monologism, denoting the refusal of discourse to acknowledge its relational constitution and its misrecognition of itself as independent and unquestionably authoritative.

2 Explication Dialogism is overwhelmingly associated in accounts of literary theory in general, and of narratology in particular (e.g. Prince [1987] 2003: 1920; Phelan 2005; Williams 2005), with the work of the Russian thinker Baxtin and the Baxtin Circle. Although Baxtin first used the words dialogizm and dialoginost (literally dialogicality or dialogical quality) in his 1929 study of Dostoevskij, 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 object, a word enters a dialogically agitated and tense environment of alien words, evaluations and accents, is woven into their complex interrelationships, merges with some, recoils from others, intersects with yet a third group: and all this may in an essential manner shape the word, may leave a trace in all its semantic layers, may complicate its expression and influence its entire stylistic profile. / The living utterance, having taken meaning and shape at a particular historical moment in a socially specific environment, cannot fail to brush up against thousands of living dialogic threads, woven by socioideological consciousness around the given object of the utterance; it cannot fail to become an active participant in social dialogue. Indeed, the utterance arises out of this dialogue as a 64

continuation of it and as a rejoinder to itit does not approach the object from the sidelines (Baxtin [1934/35] 1981: 27677; translation modified). This extended quotation brings together many of the principal featuresutterance, evaluation, accent, social dialogueassociated with the Baxtinian account of dialogism; other terms from the essay that have gained widespread currency as denotations of discourse encapsulating social dialogue include hybridized and double-voiced. As the title of the essay suggests, for Baxtin the most effective means of representing the inherently dialogic quality of discourse is the novel; in turn, it is the polyphonic novel, exemplified most completely by the works of Dostoevskij, that is the acme of the novelists orchestration of raznoreie (usually translated as heteroglossia ( Heteroglossia), the diversity of socially specific discourses; Baxtin 1929, 1963). Baxtins promotion of the novel relies to a large extent on a contrast between prose as dialogic and epic and poetry as monologic, an opposition that is clearly unsustainable if all discourse is indeed inherently dialogic: monologic discourse (whether in poetry, epic or in any other medium or genre) can, in Baxtins terms, only be dialogic discourse that misrecognizes or misreads, wilfully or otherwise, its own relationship to other discourse in order to present itself as authoritative.

3 History of the Concept and its Study Not only is dialogism predominantly associated with Baxtin, but it has become for many a convenient denotation of the whole tenor of his work, shorthand for a theoretical position that, although refined and rearticulated over the course of decades, remained in essence unchanged, accounting for the Russian thinkers originality. In large measure, this oversimplification of Baxtins intellectual biography is a consequence of his coming to prominence in the Soviet Union, after decades of provincial obscurity, towards the end of his life, and indeed in the years after his death, and therefore also of the circumstances in which he became well known elsewhere. The collection The Dialogic Imagination is symptomatic: its title, furnished by its translators (and impossible to render convincingly in Russian), lends the dialogic a particular prominence and allure and exemplifies the translations anachronistic alignment of Baxtins texts with the alien time and place of the 1980s theory boom, allowing them to appear to offer an unusually sophisticated, grounded and user-friendly version of positions associated with poststructuralism. The effect, perhaps unavoidable at the time, was to mask the resonances of many of Baxtins 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. Recent work has uncovered the extent to which Baxtins 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, Cassirer, Misch, Vossler, Lukcs and Mixajlovskij, and that is marked by simultaneous adherence to contradictory neo-Kantian and Hegelian principles (Brandist 2002: esp. 12032; Tihanov 2000). Furthermore, the account of discourse that is part of this philosophical project is likewise crucially dependent on the work of others. It was largely thanks to Voloinov and Medvedev, until recently consistently misrepresented as mere acolytes of Baxtin, but now recognized as important figures in their own right, whose own interests were in significant measure shaped by their participation in the research programmes of the academic institutions where they worked, that Baxtin underwent in the late 1920s the linguistic turn (Hirschkop 65

2001) that allowed dialogue and the dialogic to assume such importance in his works of the 1930s. In particular, Voloinovs account of discursive interaction (Voloinov 1926, 1929), which drew on, inter alia, the work of the linguist Jakubinskij (1923), Brentanian psychology, Bhlers organon model of communication, Gestalt theory, and Cassirers Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, was a precondition for the dialogic theory of the utterance that usually but misleadingly bears Baxtins name. Overall, 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, and of the traditions to which he was, both directly and indirectly, affiliated. Perhaps the most notable instance, apart from dialogism itself, is the concept that underpins it, heteroglossia, the word usually used (although more accurate and appropriate would be heterology) to translate the Russian term raznoreie that is often considered a Baxtinian neologism, but that was in fact widely employed by contemporaneous linguists (Zbinden 1999; Brandist 2003; Shepherd 2005).

3.1 Relevance for Narratology If the account of dialogic discourse associated with Baxtin has proved attractive, this may be because it enables detailed description of aspects of fictional narrative such as point of view ( Perspective - Point of View) and voice ( Speech Representation) to be combined with reference to factors social and ideological, thereby offering apparent cover against accusations of arid narratological neglect of the referent. However, it has also been subject to misinterpretation as a relativistic rather than relational model, a sustained plea that we should always see all sides of an argument, or that faced with a choice of competing interpretations we must always choose both (Booker & Juraga 1995: 16). In large measure, the ease with which dialogism has been appropriated as a tool for (not only) literary analysis, and the blunting of this tool by casual use, are consequences of a failure to recognize and engage with the concepts place in intellectual history, with the philosophical and philological contexts in which dialogism denotes not an identifiable quality of a narrative text, but a set of problems in the study of human language, communication and cognition (Linell 1998). The implication of all this would appear to be not so much that dialogism is not relevant for narratology, but that there is a mismatch between the complexities of understanding dialogism in historical perspective on the one hand, and on the other narratologys apparent requirement for an instrument enabling more or less objective description and analysis of certain properties of narrative texts and their effects. But to assert this would be to disregard the prospect that theory describable as dialogic does hold out of a sensitive and sophisticated approach, firmly anchored in an account of the concrete institutions in which fiction is produced and consumed, to questions of authorial, narratorial and readerly agency and interdependencein Princes terms, the elaboration of an explicit, complete, 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). It would also be to disparage unduly the achievements and, especially, potential of narratology, not least in what Nnning (2003) describes as the postclassical phase in which it seeks to move beyond structuralist typologization (Herman 1999).


4 Topics for Further Investigation (a) The precise relationship between dialogism and other terms used to denote modes of representing point of view (focalization, free indirect discourse, polyphony, etc.; an excellent beginning to this investigation is offered by Lock 2001). (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). Is dialogism a solution to a (narratological) problem, or a convenient denotation of a set of complex (philosophical and linguistic) problems in search of a solution?

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Baxtin, Mixail ([1929] 2000). Problemy tvorestva Dostoevskogo. S. G. Boarov & L. S. Melixova (eds). Sobranie soinenij. Moskva: Russkie slovari, vol. 2, 5175. Baxtin, Mixail (Bakhtin, Mikhail) ([1934/35] 1981). Discourse in the Novel. M. B. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Austin: U of Texas P, 259422. Baxtin, Micail ([1963] 1984). Problems of Dostoevskys Poetics. Manchester: Manchester UP. Booker, M. Keith & Dubravka Juraga (1995). Bakhtin, Stalin, and Modern Russian Fiction: Carnival, Dialogism, and History. Westport: Greenwood P. Brandist, Craig (2002). The Bakhtin Circle: Philosophy, Culture and Politics. London: Pluto P. Brandist, Craig (2003). Bakhtine, la sociologie du langage et le roman. P. Sriot (ed). Le Discours sur la langue en URSS lpoque stalinienne (pistmologie, philosophie, idologie). Lausanne: Presses Centrales de Lausanne, 5983. Herman, David (1999). Introduction: Narratologies. D. H. (ed). Narratologies: New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 130. Hirschkop, Ken (2001). Bakhtins Linguistic Turn. Dialogism 56, 2134. Jakubinskij, Lev P. (Iakubinskii) ([1923] 1997). On Dialogic Speech. PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 112, 24956. Linell, Per (1998). Approaching Dialogue: Talk, Interaction and Contexts in Dialogical Perspectives. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Lock, Charles (2001). Double Voicing, Sharing Words: Bakhtins Dialogism and the History of the Theory of Free Indirect Discourse. J. Bruhn & J. Lundquist (eds). The Novelness of Bakhtin: Perspectives and Possibilities. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum P, 7187. Nnning, Ansgar (2003). Narratology or Narratologies? Taking Stock of Recent 67

Developments, Critique and Modest Proposals for Future Usages of the Term. T. Kindt & H.-H. Mller (eds). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Berlin: de Gruyter, 23975. Phelan, James (2005). Rhetorical Approaches to Narrative. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopaedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 50004. Prince, Gerald ([1987] 2003). Dictionary of Narratology. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Prince, Gerald (2003). Surveying Narratology. T. Kindt & H.-H. Mller (eds). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Berlin: de Gruyter, 116. Shepherd, David (2005). La Pense de Bakhtine: dialogisme, dcalage, discordance. K. Zbinden & I. Weber Henking (eds). La Quadrature du Cercle Bakhtine: traductions, influences et remises en contexte. Lausanne: Centre de Traduction Littraire de Lausanne, 525. Tihanov, Galin (2000). The Master and the Slave: Lukcs, Bakhtin, and the Ideas of Their Time. Oxford: Clarendon P. Voloinov, Valentin N. (Voloshinov) ([1926] 1983). Discourse in Life and Discourse in Poetry. A. Shukman (ed). Bakhtin School Papers. Oxford: RPT Publications, 1983, 530. Voloinov, Valentin N. Voloshinov) ([1929] 1973). Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Williams, Patrick (2005). Dialogism. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 10405. Zbinden, Karine (1999). Traducing Bakhtin and Missing Heteroglossia. Dialogism 2, 4159.

5.2 Further Reading Baxtin, Mixail (Bakhtin, Mikhail) (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Austin: U of Texas P. Brandist, Craig (2004). Voloshinovs Dilemma: On the Philosophical Roots of the Dialogic Theory of the Utterance. C. * Brandist et al. (eds). The Bakhtin Circle: In the Masters Absence. Manchester: Manchester UP, 97124. Cossutta, Frdric (2003). Dialogic Characteristics of Philosophical Discourse: The Case of Platos Dialogues. Philosophy and Rhetoric 36, 4876. de Man, Paul (1983). Dialogue and Dialogism. Poetics Today 4, 99107. Hirschkop, Ken (1992). Is Dialogism for Real? Social Text 30, 10213. Hirschkop, Ken (1986). The Domestication of M. M. Bakhtin. Essays in Poetics 11, 7687. Hirschkop, Ken (1999). Mikhail Bakhtin: An Aesthetic for Democracy. Oxford: Oxford UP. Holquist, Michael (2002). Dialogism: Bakhtin and His World. London: Routledge. Matejka, Ladislav (1996). Deconstructing Bakhtin. C.-A. Mihailescu & W. Hamarneh (eds). Fiction Updated: Theories of Fictionality, Narratology, and Poetics. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 25766. Morson, Gary Saul & Caryl Emerson (1990). Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics. Stanford: Stanford UP. 68

Pechey, Graham (2007). Mikhail Bakhtin: The Word in the World. London: Routledge. Schmid, Wolf (1999). Dialogizitt in der narrativen Kommunikation. I. Lunde (ed). Dialogue and Rhetoric.Communication Strategies in Russian Text and Theory. Bergen: U of Bergen, 923; and Amsterdam International Electronic Journal for Cultural Narratology 1 (2005) <>. Todorov, Tzvetan ([1981] 1984). Mikhail Bakhtin: The Dialogical Principle. Manchester: Manchester UP.


Hhn, Peter: "Event and Eventfulness". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Event and Eventfulness

Last modified: 7 June 2011 Peter Hhn

1 Definition The term event refers to a change of state, one of the constitutive features of narrativity. We can distinguish between event I, a general type of event that has no special requirements, and event II, a type of event that satisfies certain additional conditions. A type I event is present for every change of state explicitly or implicitly represented in a text. A change of state qualifies as a type II event if it is accreditedin an interpretive, context-dependent decision with certain features such as relevance, unexpectedness, and unusualness. 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.

2 Explication The concept of event has become prominent in recent work on narratology; it is generally used to help define narrativity in terms of the sequentiality inherent to the narrated story ( Narrativity). This sequentiality involves changes of state in the represented world and thereby implies the presence of temporality time), which is a constitutive aspect of narration and distinguishes it from other forms of discourse such as description or argumentation. 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), on the one hand, an interpretation- and context-dependent type of narration that implies changes of a special kind (event II), on the other. Both categories are characterized by the presence of a change of statethe transition from one state (situation) to another, usually with reference to a character (agent or patient) or a group of characters. The difference between event I and event II lies in the degree of specificity of change to which 70

they refer. Event I involves all kinds of change of state, whereas event II concerns a special kind of change that meets certain additional conditions in the sense, for example, of being a decisive, unpredictable turn in the narrated happenings, a deviation from the normal, expected course of things, as is implied by event in everyday language. Whether these additional conditions are met is a matter of interpretation; event II is therefore a hermeneutic category, unlike event I, which can largely be described objectively. A type I event is linguistically expressed by the difference of predicates (Prince 1987). A type II event, on the other hand, acquires the relevance and additional features that constitute it only with reference to intradiegetic expectations, to a literary or cultural context. It must, that is to say, be brought into being and related to its surroundings by an entity (character, narrator, or reader) that comprehends and interprets the change of state involved. 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. Consider the following examples. In and of itself, the sentence Eveline stepped onto the ship contains a type I event; only as a result of reference (via character, narrator, 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.g. emigration as a new beginning). Next, take a historiographical narrative in which the French Revolution is treated in the context of long-term socio-political developments in France. 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, we are dealing with the transformation not of a single type I event, but of a multiplicity of type I events. The two types of event imply different definitions of narrativity, each with a different scope. The type I event is treated as a defining feature inherent to every kind of narrative (e.g. Prince 1987; Herman 2005); the type II event, on the other hand, is integral to a particular type of narrative, providing the foundation for its raison dtre, or tellability (Labov 1972; Tellability). These two basic types of narrativity can be contrasted (drawing on Lotman 1970) as plotless narration vs. narration that possesses plot, or as process narration vs. event-based narration. Type I events, largely objective and independent of interpretation, have been studied primarily in linguistics (Frawley 1992), literary computing (Meister 2003), and numerous stucturalist approaches (from the Russian formalists to the French and American narratologists of the 1960s to the 1970s). The concept of the type II event, on the other hand, has been discussed above all in the context of Lotmans idea of plot concept, in research on everyday narratives (Labov 1972), in psychology (Bruner 1991), in literary theory, and also in historiography (Suter & Hettling 2001; Rathmann 2003).

3 History of the Concept and its Study

3.1 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, Aristotles description, in Poetics (Halliwell 1987: chaps. X, XI, XIII), of the plot in tragedies 71

as defined by a decisive turning point. He distinguishes three types of change which singly or ideallycombined constitute a tragic plot: reversal (peripeteia); recognition (anagnorisis); and suffering (pathos). While peripeteia is to be understood as the formal designation of eventful change, anagnorisis and pathos specify its concretecognitive and existentialmanifestations. The tragic hero thus undergoes a (primarily negative) eventful change from prosperity to adversity, but also from ignorance to knowledge. As to narrative fiction proper, there is a close connection between the event II concept and the genesis and development of the novella genre, implicitly with respect to plot structure and explicitly, if rarely and only at a late stage, with respect to poetological reflection. The relevant authors include, above all, Boccaccio and Goethe. In Boccaccios Decameron, 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). This implies a revolt against literary tradition (Pabst 1953: 17). The power of natural desire, frequently assisted by the role of chance, leads to an anarchic break with the established order that has the character of an event (Schlaffer 1993: 223). The obvious eventfulness of the narratives, however, is not as such a theme of the authors theoretical statements (to be found in the introductory passages); it is instead hidden behind his apologetic stance, which plays down the disruption of norms by diverting attention to the inferiority of the genre (with its orality, colloquial language, conversational style, and function of providing entertainment; Pabst 1953: 2741, esp. 37). Contrasting with the cases of eventfulness, however, we also find narratives aligned with the medieval exemplum tradition. In this respect, the genre term novella is not specific; it refers to what is new, but also to trivial and contemporary affairs, frequently presented with the help of earlier subject matter. 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, although they refer only to certain aspects of it and then only in a formulaic manner (Swales 1977: 16, 216; Aust [1990] 2006: 2636). The most concise formulation is to be found in Goethes conversations with Eckermann (29 January 1827): what is a Novelle if not an unheard-of occurrence [Begebenheit] that has taken place. These words stress both the exceptional nature of an event and its special, singular character of facticity (Perels 1998: 17980, 18189): in Goethes usage, Begebenheit means a disquieting, decisive turn that takes place in the public sphere or is significant in constituting the subject (cf. Begebenheit, in Goethe Wrterbuch 1989). This is also the sense in which the term is used in the Conversations of German Refugees (Goethe [1795] 1960: 188). In the 19th century, Tieck and Heyse stand out for making the event the defining property of the Novelle in their turning point and falcon theories respectively. Tieck describes the central feature of the Novelle as the turn in the story, that point at which it unexpectedly begins to take an entirely new course (1829, reprinted in Kunz ed. [1968] 1973: 53). Heyse highlights the anomalous, the unusual as a defining feature of the event, especially in his reference to the falcon (drawn from a Boccaccio novella), in which he says that the story, not the states, the event, not the world-view reflected in it, are what matters here, and the falcon [is] the special quality that distinguishes this story from a thousand others (1871, reprinted in Kunz ed. [1969] 1973: 678; italics in original).


3.2 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. Aspects of the phenomenon, however, have been highlighted in other contexts and in the guise of different terminology. Discussions of tellability and the point of the narrative (Labov 1972: 366) are the main examples of such contexts; they have led to the suggestion that events are one of the reasons why stories are narrated. An early approach to describing narrative noteworthiness, in which the term tellability was introduced, was put forward by Labov (1972: 36370) in his study of everyday narratives. He used evaluation (36675) as a category for covering the means that the narrator uses to mark what he calls the point of the narrative, its raison dtre. These include external evaluation (direct identification), embedding (of utterances of a character or the narrator in the narrated happenings), evaluative action (in which case emotional involvement in the decisive action is reported), and evaluation by suspension of the action (in which case the central aspect is highlighted by interrupting the reported action). Pratt (1977: 6378) transfers Labovs approach to literature and shows that his categories apply to literary narrative texts as well; the tellability of a literary narrative, she suggests, is also dependent on the presence of deviation from what is normal and on the relevance of such deviation (13251). In contrast to Labovs concentration on mediation techniques, Ryan (1991: 14866) develops a theory of tellability concerning the level of the narrated happenings. Particularly relevant to eventfulness is her distinction between three types of progression in the narrated happenings (15556): (a) sudden switches in the plot, contrasts between the goals and results of characters actions, and self-contradiction; (b) repetition of narrative sequences (e.g. the three wishes or three attempts found in fairy tales); and (c) elements of the narrated happenings that have multiple meanings (e.g. the marriage of Oedipus and Jocasta functions as a reward, as a case of incest, and as the fulfillment of a prophecy). In a second take on this issue, 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, that is to say, a network of realized and alternative, unrealized (desired, rejected, imagined) courses of action. In this way, as with event II, but without the term itself being used, the tellability of a story is derived from the structure of its course and the complexity of that structure. However, the equation of structural complexity with tellability is problematic, as is the isolation of textual structures from (cultural, literary) contexts. As a result, the definitions involved remain unspecific; for it is questionable whether complex texts are tellable simply because they are complex, and whether tellability is really determined by the text alone. 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, which it examines in terms of structural switches or contrasts. Kock (1978) represents an example of such an approach. He draws a direct link between the interest that genres such as tragedy, the story of quest or trickery in the fairy tale, and the detective novel awake in the reader and the genre-specific plot structures of those genres. Kock describes the plot structures concerned with the help of the concept of the narrative trope, which he uses to refer to aspects of the narrated happenings that have two functions, thereby generating tension between two levels (intention vs. outcome, appearances vs. reality, surface vs. depth, etc.), and thus serve as the central motivation for reading. An example of this occurs when the protagonist in a tragic or comic text unwittingly brings about a setback through his own actions. This approach does, it is true, identify the crucial switches or changes in the genres in question, but it too is 73

nonetheless vulnerable to the criticism outlined above regarding a definition of eventfulness that is based purely on textual structure-cultural dependency, like the relevance of textinternal norms, is ignored.

3.3 The Concept of Event in Historiographical Theory The concept of event has a long, albeit changeable heritage in historiography. The event, which usually lacked the foundations of an explicit definition, was an accepted historiographical category until the turn of the 19th century. Thereafter, however, it was subjected to increasing theoretical criticism, first in France, later in Germany, too (Rathmann 2003: 311). This criticism, marked by concern for scientific accuracy, was directed at aspects of the historical event that depend on interpretation: its singularity; its instantaneous nature; and the involvement of the subject. Event-based history was superseded by structural history and the history of ordinary life. Long-term tendencies, processes, structures, collective mentalities, and superindividual regularities were now the object of attention. However, a renaissance of the event can be observed in recent historiography; one factor at work here is the realization that events are an irrefutably relevant aspect of historical processes. Historical changes do not take place simply because of structural conditions; they are set in motion as unpredictable and unique occurrences by individuals and individual actions (Rathmann 2003; Suter & Hettling 2001; see also the volumes edited by these scholars). The definition of eventfulness proposed in this context displays affinities with the narratological concept of the type II event (3.4 below). Suter & Hettling (2001: 245) use three criteria to distinguish events from simple happenings: (a) contemporaries must experience a sequence of actions as disquieting and breaking with expectations; (b) the grounds on which the sequence of actions is considered surprising and disquieting must be collective in naturepart, that is, of a social horizon of expectations; and (c) the sequence of actions must result in structural changes that are perceived and discursively processed by those involved. Rathmann (2003: 124) argues that fulfillment of criterion (c) alone, without criteria (a) and (b), is enough to constitute an event if the change is presented and discursively mediated as a case of major upheaval. This definition seeks to connect structure and the event, long held to be incompatible with one another, as mutually dependent categories. The affinities with the narratological type II event lie in contextual reference, the importance of deviation, the role of relevance, the need for interpretation and perception, and the discursive foundations of the event. Differences exist regarding the point of reference, however: Suter & Hettling and Rathmann suggest primarily that reference is made to the consciousness of contemporaries, whereas narratologists distinguish various points of reference: a change can be eventful for characters, the narrator, the abstract author, or the intended (or actual) reader. Equally, though, since incidents may turn out to be eventful only in retrospect, the historian or a later generation can be postulated as a possible frame of reference in the case of historical events.


3.4 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.g. Friedemann 1910; Stanzel 1955; Mediacy and Narrative Mediation). Event-based approaches are supported by the insight that, although representations in language or other medianarratives, for example, but also descriptions and argumentsare always mediated, narration alone is set apart from other forms of discourse by the fact that what is represented is marked by temporality (Sternberg 2001: 115; Schmid 2003, 2005: 116). Accordingly, the representation of a change (of state, of situation, of a form of behavior) that takes place in time has been identified as constitutive of narration, as in Ryans (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. Similarly Herman (2005: 151): Events, conceived as time- and place-specific transitions from some source state S [] to some target state S [], are thus a prerequisite for narrative. Approaches to a definition that are based on changes in time can be divided into two basic types (cf. Explication above): event I (general changes of any kind) and event II (changes that meet further qualitative conditions).

3.4.1 Event I The approaches to defining narrativity based on event I are many and varied. 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. 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, the second active. Furthermore, the third event is the inverse of the first. Event here refers to stative and dynamic states of affairs (17). In a later take on the issue, in his programmatic definition of a minimal story, Prince ([1987] 2003: 28; emphasis in original) uses event to mean a change: event. a change of STATE manifested in DISCOURSE by a process statement in the mode of Do or Happen. Stempel (1973: 32830) defines the minimal narrative schema syntactically as a sequence of sentential statements that meet the following conditions: the subjects must have the same reference; it must be possible to contrast and correlate the predicates; and the predicates must be chronologically ordered. The same idea of the event is put forward, on a higher level of abstraction, by Meister (2003: 116; 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). Todorov (1971: 39) defines change in time as a necessary component of narration by referring to two principles of narrative: successiveness and transformation. By further distinguishing between different kinds of transformation, he arrives at a typology of narrative organization that should be understood as involving different kinds of event: mythological, gnoseological, and ideological transformationschanges, that is, involving situation, cognition, or behavioral norms (40, 42). With respect to the basic elements of the structure of narrative progression, Todorov ([1968] 1977: 111) proposes a three-stage configuration: initial equilibriumdestabilizationnew equilibrium. Bremond ([1966] 1980: 38788) sets out a more flexible dynamic way of modeling change in which alternatives are also 75

considered. He puts forward the idea of a three-part elementary sequence of events leading from the virtuality (of a goal or an expectation), via the act of (non-)actualization, to manifest (non-)realization, the attainment or non-attainment of the goal, with amelioration or degradation as variants of change (39092). Ryan (1991: 12747) uses a similar kind of sequential structure with multiple stages to classify events with reference to the causes or driving forces behind them, particularly in terms of the level of intentionality involved. Actions are contrasted with happenings (changes with and without human causation respectively) and moves with passive moves (plan-based action and lack of action, respectively, as conflict resolution). Ryans system also includes outcomes (the successes or failures that result from actions) and plans (the planning of actions). The study of linguistics has witnessed comparable efforts to draw up predicatebased typologies of events or their components. Examples include Frawley (1992: 18295), who distinguishes between statives, actives, inchoatives, and resultatives, and Vendler (1967), who distinguishes between activity, accomplishment, achievement, and state. Drawing on Frawley and Vendler, Herman (2002: 2751) refers to the selection and linking of such event components in an attempt to define individual narrative genres (e.g. the epic, newspaper articles, ghost stories) in terms of their event structures. The undertaking is not a convincing success, for it seems likely that the specific type of eventfulness associated with a genre can be identified only hermeneuticallyin terms of event II, that israther than on a linguistic level. 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, general formulas of this kind. All these different ways of conceptualizing event I have two features in common. (a) If they define narrativity in terms of temporality, they do so with reference to the presence of change on the level of the represented happenings. The necessity of linguistic mediation is highlighted in the process, but in the vast majority of cases this implies reference to changes in the narrated world alone, not to changes on the level of discourse (presentation). The proposals regarding sentence-based definitions (Stempel 1973; Todorov 1968; Prince 1973, 1987) are no different in this respect. In the terminology of Meister (2003: 10708, 11416), we are dealing with object events, which he distinguishes from what he refers to as discourse events, wherein the changes take place on the discourse level; the difference, though, concerns merely the recipients acts of cognitive interpretation involving the events. At any rate, 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. The hermeneutic role of the reader, that is to say, is excluded. (b) If different types of event are distinguished from one another, 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, however, is inadequate as far as the dimension of meaning is concerned). It was recognized at an early date (Culler 1975: 20507; Chatman 1978: 925) that the crucial processes and aspects of meaning in narrative texts cannot be grasped by means of categories, such as these, that can be formalized independently of interpretation and context.

3.4.2 Event II Use of the concept of event in literary theory requires that type II events meet certain 76

additional conditions. Such conditions have been identified from various perspectives, which will now be reviewed not in historical order but systematically, progressing from approaches concerned with definition to ones involving methodology and analysis, in particular Lotmans plot model, which has proved particularly productive in practice. In his discussion of the role of narration in structuring reality as part of human existence, Bruner (1991) draws attention to all the central dimensions of eventfulness involved in event II: the hermeneutic component; the modality of deviation; the place of norms as a point of reference; and context sensitivity. Bruner uses the idea of hermeneutic composability (7 11) to stress the fact that stories do not exist in the world, but depend for their existence on human consciousness to provide the horizon against which they stand. He uses the phrase canonicity and breach (113) to describe how a precipitating event, resulting in a break with expectations, a deviation from what is normal and from routine scripts, is a necessary condition of tellability. Breaks of this kind always involve norms (156). Finally, these features give rise to the context sensitivity (168) that makes real-world narration such a viable instrument for cultural negotiation (17). In order to distinguish event II from event I, Schmid (2003, 2005: 207) defines additional criteria that a change of state must fulfill in order to qualify as an event in this narrower sense. First, facticity and resultativity are specified as necessary conditions. Eventfulness, that is to say, 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). These binary conditions are supplemented by five properties that can be present to different degrees and must also be displayed by a change, if it is to qualify as eventful in the manner of a type II event. Changes, that is to say, are more or less eventful depending on the extent to which these five properties are present. Specifically, the criteria are those of relevance (significance in the represented world), unpredictability (deviation from what is expected, from the principles of the general order of the world), effect (implications of the change for the character concerned or the narrated world), irreversibility (persistence and irrevocability of the changes consequences), and non-iterativity (singularity of the change). In theory, the necessary conditions of facticity and resultativity are binary and contextindependent, whereas the nature and magnitude of the five additional criteria are predominantly dependent on cultural, historical, or literary contexts and can be interpreted in different ways by the various participants in narrative communication ( Author, Narrator, Characters, Reader). The extent to which a change in the narrated world qualifies as significant, unpredictable, momentous, or irreversible depends on the established system of norms, the conventional ideas about the nature of society and reality, current in any given case, but also on literary, e.g. genre-specific, conventions, and can therefore vary historically between different mentalities and cultures. This is ultimately true of facticity and resultativity as conditions for full type II eventfulness, too. In certain historical cultural contexts, changes that are only imagined or not fully realized can acquire (reduced) eventful status in so far as the act of imagining, planning, or similar functions as a sign of a (beginning or faltering) change in a character. The relevance of a change can be evaluated differently from different standpoints. Thus, the level of relevance often differs depending on whether the point of reference is the real author, the narrator, or one or more characters. In the case of unpredictability, we must distinguish the expectations of protagonists from the scripts of author and reader. What for a hero is an unpredictable event can for the reader be a central part of a genres script. These criteria allow 77

the role of interpretation, the modality of deviation, context sensitivity, and the relevance of norms, as also suggested by Bruner, to be broken down into a spread of features. Lotmans 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: 307784; Hauschild 2009). Lotman explicitly distinguishes two kinds of event: a basic concept of event of the event I variety, described as the smallest indivisible unit of plot construction (Lotman [1970] 1977: 233), and a concept of event of the event II variety, assembled on a higher level, which he defines in terms of spatial semantics as a unit of plot construction, writing that an event in a text is the shifting of a persona across the borders of a semantic field (233). By plot, Lotman means an eventful action sequence with three components: 1) some semantic field divided into two mutually complementary subsets; 2) the border between these subsets, which under normal circumstances is impenetrable, 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; 3) the hero-agent (240; emphasis in original). A semantic field represents a normative order, subdivided like any other order into two binary subsets, set apart, that is, from what it is not. Lotman uses topological terms as the basis for his definition of an event, but he stresses the normative relevance of the definition by pointing out that normative values (e.g. good vs. evil, ruling vs. serving, valuable vs. worthless) tend to be described using spatial images and oppositions (e.g. above vs. below, right vs. left, open vs. closed, near vs. far, moving vs. stationary). Thus, Lotmans spatial semantics should be understood as a metaphor for nonspatial, normative complexes. The concept of the semantic field is shaped by Lotmans belief that artistic language represents a secondary modeling system (9), that is, that its function in creating world structure is culturally and historically specific and in this respect embodies the link between text and context. In this way, 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. Whether or not a change (e.g. 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; it would be so to a far lesser degree, if at all, in the 21st century). Determining eventfulness is therefore a hermeneutic process. Lotman defines as plotless a text that simply describes a normative framework and anchors the characters in both subspaces without the possibility of changea text, that is to say, whose only function is one of classification. By adding the mobility of one or several characters, a boundary crossing, to this plotless substrate, a text that possesses plot is created and an event produced (23738). An event therefore represents a violation of the established order, a deviation from the norm, in extreme cases a revolutionary event (238). The boundary between the subsets can, according to how strict the system of norms is and how stable its order, be more or less impermeable, making it possible for events to have different levels of eventfulness, to be positioned at various points on the plot scale (236). Lotmans 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. The protagonist, for example, can be integrated into the second semantic subset, and thereby become immobile, after the boundary crossing has taken place; 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

motion, set forth again, and go through another important change, triggering a realignment of field structure (what was the second subset becomes the first subset of a new overall and differently defined field; 24041). Renner (1983, 2004), Titzmann (2003), and Krah (1999) seek to increase the practical suitability of Lotmans model for textual analysis by refining its concepts and formalizing its categories. Renner (1983, 2004) reformulates Lotmans spatial metaphor in terms of set theory, 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, removal, or replacement of such ordering statements. This picture of how the boundary crossing takes place provides a more precise impression of it as a potentially progressive, as opposed to instantaneous, phenomenon. 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, changing position within the space, the protagonist, because of his cumulative opposition to the dominant ordering statements, reaches an extreme point that qualifies as an event (the extreme point rule). It is questionable, however, whether Renners extreme formalization of Lotmans categories really represents a step forward for analysis in practice. Titzmann (2003) puts forward two additional categories to supplement those of Lotman. First, he introduces the concept of the meta-event, which involves not only the passage of the protagonist from the first to the second subset as a result of his boundary crossing, but also the modification of the entire field, the world order itself (if, for example, the boundary crossing results in the social opposition between the subsets being reconfigured as a morally defined division in the field). Second, Titzmann introduces the concept of the modalization of semantic spaces, which accounts for the fact that it is possible for subsets to differ from one another in terms of their modality (as dreams, fantasies, wishes contrasting with reality). Subcategories of spatial opposition and boundary crossing, in particular, are suggested by Krah (1999: 79) in the context of a closer study of certain aspects of the concept of space. Subspaces can represent autonomous alternatives in formal terms, or they can be related to one another functionally as contrastive spaces or by their relationship to a certain standpoint (system/environment, inside/outside). Spatial subdivisions can also be conceptually defined in many ways, in terms, for example, of nature vs. culture, home vs. foreign, normality vs. deviation, past vs. present, everyday vs. exotic, as well as from a gender-specific perspective. An event can take place in the form of a boundary crossing by a character in which that character retains his features unchanged or, alternatively, adopts opposing ones (adapts to the other field); or an event can alsoas a meta-event (Titzmann 2003)take place as a transformation of the spatial opposition. 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, absorption into the opposing space, or metaleveling (retracting the reorganization of the spatial opposition). Typologies of this kind allow the phenomenon of eventfulness to be identified more precisely in texts, thereby supplying a prerequisite for a closer analysis of it. Members of the Narratology Research Group in Hamburg have combined Lotmans 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 (Hhn & Schnert 2002; Hhn & Kiefer 2005; Hhn 2005, 2008; Schnert et al. 2007). Reference is made to lyric poetry on the one hand, to narrative literature on the other. The approach stresses the fact that eventfulness is dependent on cultural and historical context, and it proposes that the relevant contexts be treated in terms of the schemata (frames and scripts) called to mind and activated by the textthat is, the 79

meaning-bearing cultural or literary patterns relevant in each case (such as conventional patterns for how to proceed in choosing a partner, etc., or literary, genre-specific plot schemata). The presence of eventfulness results from deviation from a script, from a break with expectations. With this in mind, 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 (Hhn 2008). As levels of deviation can be more or less pronounced, eventfulness is not an absolute quality, but relative and a matter of degree: a text can be more or less eventful depending on the amount of deviation involved (Schmid 2003, 2005). 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). Correspondingly, three types of event can be distinguished (Hhn, in Hhn & Kiefer 2005: 24651, 2008). In events in the happenings, the crucial change affects the protagonist on the level of the narrated happenings, i.e. one or more characters in the narrated world. Presentation events involve the extradiegetic level, since they concern the narratorial figure as an agent, the story of the narrator (Schmid 1982). In reception events, the crucial change takes place neither on the level of the happenings nor on that of presentation, since its occurrence involves neither the protagonist nor the narrator as agent. Instead, 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, as in the dramatic monologue (Browning, Tennyson) or in Joyces Dubliners. In such cases, a full expression of the event is distinctively omitted from the text. This prompts readers to undergo an eventful mental change or arrive at a decisive increase in understandingin both cases against the text. In the context of practical analysis, this differentiation between event types, based on the structure of the narrative text, can be combined with Krahs concrete categorizations.

4 Topics for Further Investigation (a) The historical dimension of the category of event, i.e. its relationship to different types of culture and social world orders, remains open to study: does it appearas 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, Asia, Africa). (b) The potent concept of event forged by Lotman is particularly well suited for use with literary narrative texts. How might we describe points of eventfulness, or tellability, in the case of other text types (anecdotes, news reports, newspaper articles, jokes, gossip, etc.) that also involve surprises and the unexpected? (c) The expression of the concept of event in other literary genres, such as drama and lyric poetry, requires consideration. (d) It is also necessary to investigate the expression of the concept of event in other media, particularly film and painting.

5 Bibliography 80

5.1 Works Cited Aust, Hugo ([1990] 2006). Novelle. Stuttgart: Metzler. Bremond, Claude ([1966] 1980). The Logic of Narrative Possibilities. New Literary History 11, 387411. Bruner, Jerome (1991). The Narrative Construction of Reality. Critical Inquiry 18, 121. Chatman, Seymour (1978). Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Culler, Jonathan (1975). Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism, Linguistics and the Study of Literature. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Frawley, William (1992). Linguistic Semantics. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum. Friedemann, Kte ([1910] 1965). Die Rolle des Erzhlers in der Epik. Darmstadt: WBG. Goethe, Johann W. von ([1795] 1960). Goethes Werke. Vol. VI: Romane und Novellen. Eds. B. v. Wiese & E. Trunz. Hamburg: Wegner. Goethe Wrterbuch (1989). 2 Vols. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Halliwell, Stephen (1987). The Poetics of Aristotle: Translation and Commentary. London: Duckworth. Hauschild, Christiane (2009). Jurij M. Lotmans semiotischer Ereignisbegriff: Versuch einer Neubewertung. W. Schmid (ed). Slavische Erzhltheorie. Russische und tschechische Anstze. Berlin: de Gruyter, 14186. Herman, David (2002). Story Logic: Problems and Possibilities of Narrative. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Herman, David (2005). Events and Event-Types. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 15152. Hhn, Peter (2005). Plotting the Lyric: Forms of Narration in Poetry. E. MllerZettelmann & M. Rubik (eds). Theory into Poetry: New Approaches to the Lyric. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 14772. Hhn, Peter (2008). Functions and Forms of Eventfulness in Narrative Fiction. J. Pier & J. . Garca Landa (eds). Theorizing Narrativity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 14163. Hhn, Peter & Jens Kiefer (2005). The Narratological Analysis of Lyric Poetry: Studies in English Poetry from 16th to the 20th Century. Berlin: de Gruyter. Hhn, Peter & Jrg Schnert (2002). Zur narratologischen Analyse von Lyrik. Poetica 34, 287305. Kock, Christian (1978). Narrative Tropes: A study of points in plots. G. D. Caie et al. (eds). Occasional Papers 19761977. Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 20252. Krah, Hans (1999). Rume, Grenzen, Grenzberschreitungen: Einfhrende berlegungen. Kodikas/Code 22, 312. Kunz, Josef, ed. ([1968] 1973). Novelle. Darmstadt: WBG. Labov, William (1972). Language in the Inner City: Studies in the Black English Vernacular. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. Lotman, Jurij M. ([1970] 1977). The Structure of the Artistic Text. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P. Meister, Jan Christoph (2003). Computing Action: A Narratological Approach. Berlin: de Gruyter. 81

Pabst, Walter (1953). Novellentheorie und Novellendichtung: Zur Geschichte ihrer Antinomie in den romanischen Literaturen. Hamburg: Cram, de Gruyter. Perels, Christoph (1998). Der Begriff der Begebenheit in Goethes Bemerkungen zur Erzhlkunst. Ch. P. Goethe in seiner Epoche. Tbingen: Niemeyer, 17789. Pratt, Mary Louise (1977). Towards a Speech Act Theory of Literary Discourse. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Prince, Gerald (1973). A Grammar of Stories: An Introduction. The Hague: Mouton. Prince, Gerald ([1987] 2003). A Dictionary of Narratology. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Rathmann, Thomas (2003). Ereignisse Konstrukte Geschichten. Th. R. (ed). Ereignis: Konzeptionen eines Begriffs in Geschichte, Kunst und Literatur. Kln: Bhlau, 1119. Renner, Karl Nikolaus (1983). Der Findling: Eine Erzhlung von Heinrich von Kleist und ein Film von George Moorse. Prinzipien einer adquaten Wiedergabe narrativer Strukturen. Mnchen: Fink. Renner, Karl Nikolaus (2004). Grenze und Ereignis: Weiterfhrende berlegungen zum Ereigniskonzept von J. M. Lotman. G. Frank & W. Lukas (eds). NormGrenzeAbweichung: Kultursemiotische Studien zu Literatur, Medien und Wirtschaft. Passau: Stutz, 35781. Ryan, Marie-Laure (1991). Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Schlaffer, Hannelore (1993). Poetik der Novelle. Stuttgart: Metzler. Schmid, Wolf (1982). Die narrativen Ebenen Geschehen, Geschichte, Erzhlung und Prsentation der Erzhlung. Wiener Slawistischer Almanach 9, 83110. Schmid, Wolf (2003). Narrativity and Eventfulness. T. Kindt & H.-H. Mller (eds). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1733. Schmid, Wolf (2005). Elemente der Narratologie. Berlin: de Gruyter. Schnert, Jrg, et al. (2007). Lyrik und Narratologie: Text-Analysen zu deutschsprachigen Gedichten vom 16. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert. Berlin: de Gruyter. Stanzel, Franz ([1955] 1971). Narrative Situations in the Novel: Tom Jones, MobyDick, The Ambassadors, Ulysses. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Stempel, Wolf-Dieter (1973). Erzhlung, Beschreibung und der historische Diskurs. R. Koselleck & W.-D. Stempel (eds). GeschichteEreignis und Erzhlung. Mnchen: Fink, 32545. Sternberg, Meir (2001). How Narrativity Makes a Difference. Narrative 9, 11522. Suter, Andreas & Manfred Hettling (2001). Struktur und EreignisWege zu einer Sozialgeschichte des Ereignisses. A. Suter & M. Hettling (eds). Struktur und Ereignis. Geschichte und Gesellschaft. Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 732. Swales, Martin (1977). The German Novelle. Princeton: Princeton UP. Titzmann, Michael (2003). Semiotische Aspekte der Literaturwissenschaft: Literatursemiotik. R. Posner et al. (eds). Semiotik / Semiotics. Berlin: de Gruyter, vol. 3, 3028103. Todorov, Tzvetan ([1968] 1977). The Grammar of Narrative. T. T. The Poetics of Prose. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 10819. Todorov, Tzvetan (1971). The 2 Principles of Narrative. Diacritics 1, 3744. Vendler, Zeno (1967). Linguistics in Philosophy. Ithaca: Cornell UP.


5.2 Further Reading Audet, Ren, et al. (2007). Narrativity: How Visual Arts, Cinema and Literature are Telling the World Today. Paris: Dis Voir. Czucka, Eckehard (1992). Emphatische Prosa: Das Problem der Wirklichkeit der Ereignisse in der Literatur des 19. Jahrhunderts. Stuttgart: Steiner. Hhn, Peter & Jens Kiefer (2007). Approche descriptive de lintrigue et de la construction de lintrigue par la thorie des systmes. J. Pier (ed). Thorie du rcit. Lapport de la recherche allemande. Villeneuve dAscq: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 20926. Kdra-Kardela, Anna (1996). An (Un)Eventful Story: Events in Frank OConnors Short Story The Frying Pan. L. S. Kolek (ed). Approaches to Fiction. Lublin: Folium, 7180. Korthals, Holger (2003). Zwischen Drama und Erzhlung: Ein Beitrag zur Theorie geschehensdarstellender Literatur. Berlin: Schmidt. Koselleck, Reinhart & Wolf-Dieter Stempel, eds. (1973). GeschichteEreignis und Erzhlung. Mnchen: Fink. Lotman, Jurij M. (2009). Zum knstlerischen Raum und zum Problem des Sujets. W. Schmid (ed). Russische Proto-Narratologie. Texte in kommentierten bersetzungen. Berlin: de Gruyter, 26189. Meuter, Norbert (2004). Geschichten erzhlen, Geschichten analysieren. Das narrativistische Paradigma in den Kulturwissenschaften. F. Jger & J. Straub (eds). Handbuch der Kulturwissenschaften: Paradigmen und Disziplinen. Stuttgart: Metzler, vol. 2, 14055. Naumann, Barbara (2003). Zur Entstehung von Begriffen aus dem Ungeordneten des Gesprchs. Th. Rathmann (ed). Ereignis: Konzeptionen eines Begriffs in Geschichte, Kunst und Literatur. Kln: Bhlau, 10318. Nnning, Ansgar (2007). Grundzge einer Narratologie der Krise: Wie aus einer Situation ein Plot und eine Krise (konstruiert) werden. G. Grunwald & M. Pfister (eds). Krisis! Krisenszenarien, Diagnosen und Diskursstrategien. Mnchen: Fink, 48 71. Scherer, Stefan (2003). Ereigniskonstruktionen als Literatur. Th. Rathmann (ed). Ereignis: Konzeptionen eines Begriffs in Geschichte, Kunst und Literatur. Kln: Bhlau, 6384.


Schaeffer, Jean-Marie: "Fictional vs. Factual Narration". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. title=Fictional_vs._Factual_Narration&oldid=759

Fictional vs. Factual Narration

Last modified: 4 May 2010 Jean-Marie Schaeffer

1 Definition Factual and fictional narrative are generally defined as a pair of opposites. However, there is no consensus as to the rationale of this opposition. 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); (b) syntactic definition: factual narrative and fictional narrative can be distinguished by their logico-linguistic syntax; (c) pragmatic definition: factual narrative advances claims of referential truthfulness whereas fictional narrative advances no such claims. One could add a fourth definition, 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: 7888). But this fourth definition is better seen as a consequence of the pragmatic definition of fiction.

2 Explication

2.1 The Validity of the Fact/Fiction Opposition Poststructuralist philosophers, anthropologists and literary critics have questioned the validity of the fact/fiction distinction as such, sometimes contending, in a Nietzschean vein, that fact itself is a mode of fiction (a fictio in the sense of a making up). Applied to the domain of narrative, this approach insists on the fictionalizing nature of narrative because every narrative constructs a world. But at least in real-life situations, the distinction between factual 84

and fictional narrative seems to be unavoidable, since mistaking a fictional narrative for a factual one (or vice versa) can have dramatic consequences. One could object to this common-sense assertion that not all societies produce fictional narratives and that often the socially most important narratives, notably myths, cannot be accounted for in terms of the dichotomy between fact and fiction. But even if it may be true that fictional narrative as a socially recognized practice is not an interculturally universal fact, 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. Furthermore, 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; Goldman 1998). Finally, as far as myth is concerned, 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; see Sternberg 1985, 1990). As shown by Veyne (1983), the social construction of truthful discourse posits an array of truth programs linked to various ontological domains (e.g. the profane as distinct from the sacred). Thus myth can be true (i.e. treated as serious and referring to some reality), even if believing in its truth enters into conflict with what in another ontological domain is accepted as truthful. For example, in myth and its corresponding reality, people can be endowed with powers nobody would imagine them having in everyday life. This does not imply that there is no distinction between fact and fiction, but that what counts as a fact may be relative to a specific truth program. The poststructuralist criticism of the fact/fiction dichotomy has pointed out that every (narrative) representation is a human construction, and more precisely that it is a model projected onto reality. But the fact that discourse in general, and narrative discourse in particular, are constructions does not by itself disqualify ontological realism or the distinction between fact and fiction. To rule out ontological realism, 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. This proof has never been delivered, and so the common-sense hypothesis remains the default option.

2.2 Fact and Fiction, Narrative and Non-narrative The relationship between narratology ( Narratology) and theory of fiction long remained inexistent, in part because classical narratology rarely addressed the question of the fact/fiction difference. The theory was intended to be valid for all narratives, although in reality the classical narratologists drew only on fictional texts. The classical models by Genette (1972, 1983) and Stanzel (1964, 1979), for example, were general narratologies whose sole input was fictional texts. It was only at a later stage that narratologists explicitly investigated the relationship between narrative techniques and the fictionality/factuality distinction (Genette 1991; Cohn 1999). It is important, therefore, that the problem of the distinction between factual and fictional narrative be placed in its wider context. First, not every verbal utterance is narrative, nor is 85

every referential utterance narrative. Thus discursive reference cannot be reduced to narrative reference. More generally, reference is not necessarily verbal: it can also be visual (e.g. a photograph makes reference claims without being of a discursive nature). The same holds for fiction. Not every fiction is verbal (paintings can be, and very often are, fictional), and not every fiction, or even every verbal fiction, is narrative: both a painted portrait of a unicorn and a verbal description of a unicorn are fictions without being narrations. Factual narrative is a species of referential representation, just as fictional narrative is a species of non-factual representation. And of course not every verbal utterance without factual content is a fiction: erroneous assertions and plain lies are also utterances without factual content. Indeed, fiction, and its species narrative fiction, are best understood as a specific way of producing and using mental representations and semiotic devices, be they verbal or not. This means that narrative and fiction are intersecting categories and must be studied as such (see Martnez & Scheffel 2003).

2.3 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. The sense which is most current todaythat of a representation portraying an imaginary/invented universe or worldis not its original nor its historically most prominent domain of reference. In Latin, fictio had at least two different meanings: on the one hand, it referred to the act of modeling something, of giving it a form (as in the art of the sculptor); on the other hand, it designated acts of pretending, supposing, or hypothesizing. Interestingly, the second sense of the Latin term fictio did not put emphasis on the playful dimension of the act of pretending. On the contrary, during most of its long history, fiction, stemming from the second sense of the Latin meaning, was used in reference to serious ways of pretending, postulating, or hypothesizing. Hence the term has usually been linked to questions of existence and nonexistence, true and false belief, error and lie. In classical philosophy, fiction was often used to designate what we today would call a cognitive illusion ( Illusion (Aesthetic)). 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, Pt IV, Sec VI). Now, this type of fiction, as Hume himself explicitly stated, is quite different from fiction in the artistic field. It is part of the definition of a cognitive fiction that it is not experienced as a fiction. A narrative fiction, by contrast, is experienced as a fiction. This means that narrative fictions, contrary to cognitive fictions, should not produce real-world beliefs (even if in fact they sometimes do: fiction has its own pathologies). The term fiction has also often been used to designate willful acts of deception intended to be misleading or to produce false beliefs. In this sense, deceptive fiction resembles cognitive fiction. But in the case of willful deception, 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, one must hold at least some correct beliefs concerning the state of affairs about which false beliefs are to be produced, for otherwise the result of willful deception will be haphazard. Willful deception (lies and manipulations) are, once again, quite different from narrative fiction, which implies that at some level pretense is experienced as pretense. 86

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


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


3 History of the Concepts and their Study

3.1 The Semantic Definition of the Fact/Fiction Difference The semantic definition of the distinction between factual and fictional narrative is the most classical one. It was defended by Frege in his famous On Sense and Reference (1892) and by Russell in the no less famous On Denoting (1905), two seminal papers of 20th-century philosophical theories of reference. 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. The ontological status of entities and the truth value status of propositions are related, since an assertion which states something about an entity that is nonexistent is ipso facto referentially void. But it is important to bear in mind, firstly, that some types of fiction assign fictive properties and actions to proper names that refer to existing entities. This is the case for example of the subgenre of counterfactual novels which, like counterfactual history (see Ferguson ed. 1997), ascribe fictional actions to historical persons (e.g. Hitler winning World War II). Autofiction can be seen as a special case of such counterfactual fictions. Secondly, historical persons and descriptions of their real historical actions figure prominently in fictional texts, as in historical novels that often contain a fair amount of factual information. These mixed situations are difficult to integrate into a semantic definition of the fact/fiction distinction (see e.g. Zipfel 2001), since semantic definitions (with the exception of possible worlds semantic definitions: see Doleel 1999) are by necessity segregationist (Pavel 1986: 117). Counterfactual fictions seem on the face of it easy to manage, at least in terms of possible worlds semantic models. These models being ontologically holistic, it can be said, for example, that a narrative in which Napoleon wins the battle of Waterloo is not an example of outright falsehood, but refers to a possible world in which Napoleon wins the battle of Waterloo. But is it the same Napoleon? The principle of minimal departure (Lewis 1973; Ryan 1991) suggests a positive answer, but the holism of the possible worlds approach (each possible world being complete) suggests a negative answer. Whatever the answer, it is difficult to distinguish counterfactual fiction from counterfactual history on these grounds. Other mixed situations are even more difficult to handle. For example, the sentence Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo seems to express a plain simple truth. Does its status change when it is read in a historical novel as compared to when it is read in a biography of, say, 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, when used in the novel, does not refer to the real Napoleon but to some fictional counterpart (e.g. Ryan 1991; Ronen 1994). However, this seems counterintuitive, 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, and not to some fictional homonym of those real persons (see Searle 1975). Counterfactual fictions give rise to an analogous problem: it seems counterintuitive to say that in an autofiction, for example, proper names lose their referential power, since the point of autofiction is precisely the idea that fictional assertions apply to an existing person 89

(the author himself). This does not amount to saying that semantic criteria are irrelevant, for the idea that there is a semantic difference between fact and fiction certainly is part of our conception of fiction. 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. Invented entities and actions are the common stuff of fiction, and for this reason the idea of the non-referential status of the universe portrayed is part of our standard understanding of fictional narrative. Even so, this does not necessarily mean that a semantic definition of fiction is workable.

3.2 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, there would be no need to take a position as far as semantic problems are concerned, be they epistemological or ontological. It would then be possible to arrive at a purely formal definition of the two domains. The best-known theories that seek to define fiction on a syntactic level have been elaborated by Hamburger (1957) and Banfield (1982). Both theories define fictional narrative by syntactic traits which, in theory, are excluded from factual narrative. Hamburger famously stated that the domain of what is usually regarded as fiction divides into two radically disjoined fields: pretense, which is a simulation of real utterances and defines the status of first-person non-factual narrative; and fiction proper, which is a simulation of imaginary universes indexed to perspectively organized mental states and which defines non-factual third-person narrative. In other words, according to Hamburger, in the narrative realm only third-person narrative is fictional, non-factual first-person narrative belonging to another logical field, that of pretended utterances. Hamburger, at least in the first edition of her book (1957), contends that, contrary to pretense, fiction is narratorless, a view sharply opposed to mainstream narratology according to which the narrator (not necessarily personified) is a structural element of any narration, be it factual or fictional, first-person or third-person. Banfield, although her theory is formulated in a much more technical way (based on Chomskyan generative grammar), defends a position similar to that of the German critic. She develops a grammatical definition (Banfield 1982, 2002) of the genre novel, which in fact is a definition of internally focalized heterodiegetic fiction. Among the anomalies defining the novel understood this way, Banfield puts particular emphasis on the specific use of deictics and free indirect discourse. According to her theory, 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). 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). In a novel, a new point of view need not correspond to a new referent of the first person and hence to a new text. This situation is of course impossible in real-life communication, where each point of view is tied to a specific person. Therefore, fictional sentences are unspeakable. In fact, Banfields E-level shifter is functionally equivalent to Hamburgers floating narrative function which can move freely between different I-origins. 90

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. This is especially true of free indirect discourse and grammatical anomalies of spatial and temporal deictics. 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. 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: 89171). The symptoms of fictionality (see Schmid 2005: 3746) analyzed by Hamburger and Banfield all share the same characteristic: they use a third-person grammatical perspective to present a first-person mental (perceptual, etc.) perspective (Schaeffer 1998: 14866, 1999: 17997). On the side of the writer, these deviating practices are in fact the grammatical third-person transcription of the imaginative simulation of fictive I-origins ( Character). On the side of the reader, they activate an immersive dynamics: the reader slips into the characters, experiencing the fictional world as it is seen perspectively by the characters from within or sometimes, as Banfield suggests, from a point of view that remains empty (in terms of a specific I). Contra Hamburger and Banfield, however, 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: 61132). The textual passages which Banfield calls pure narration, and which correspond to Platos haple diegesis, are a case in point. Furthermore, if we look at the history of narrative fiction, the systematic use of internal (variable) focalization is fairly recent (as Banfield and Hamburger acknowledge). If we take a broad historical and intercultural outlook, 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, more frequently, in the 20th-century fiction. So instead of interpreting the symptoms of fictionality in an essentialist way and trying to use them as definitional criteria of fiction, as Hamburger and Banfield do, we should study them in a historical, cultural, 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, the answer to this question has to do with the processes of immersive simulation induced by narrative and maximized by fictional narrative. Whatever the importance of the insights gained by syntactic definitions of the fact/fiction distinction, as definitions they have severe shortcomings: to accept them, 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). More generally, it would be necessary to accept the counterintuitive conclusion that most fictional texts fall short of the definition of fiction. If semantic definitions of fiction are generally too weak (they fail to distinguish between a fiction and a lie), syntactic definitions are generally too strong (many texts must be excluded which common sense considers to be fictional).

3.3 The Pragmatic Status of Narrative Fiction: Imagination and Playful Pretense


The pragmatic definition of fiction is generally linked to the name of Searle, who is certainly its most important proponent, even though the idea of defining fiction pragmatically is much older than Searle. A pragmatic theory of narrative fiction was implicitly defended by Hume. It could be argued, more generally, that wherever and whenever public representations function as fictions, 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). Even so, Searles definition of verbal fiction in terms of pretended speech acts ([1975] 1979: 5875) is certainly one of the most important and influential contemporary pragmatic analyses of the fact/fiction distinction in the domain of verbal narrative. Walton, whose contribution to a pragmatics of fiction is as important as Searles, objected to the latters definition that the notion of a pretended speech act cannot yield a general definition of fiction because it has no application in, among other things, 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, 2.6). It could be argued, however, that Searles theory operates at two levels: a definition of verbal narrative fiction in terms of pretended speech acts, and a general definition of fiction in terms of intended playful pretense. 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. 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, 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. Walton is surely right, but Searles interest lies primarily in the canonical public status of narrative fiction, 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, more importantly, have been specifically designed to do so. So if it is true that fictional intention cannot define fiction as a pragmatic stance, 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. It is important to distinguish the question of the structural function of intentionality from that of the communication of that intentionality. According to Searle, public representations only possess derived intentionality, which implies that mental intentionality is not transparent across minds: it has to be communicated by conventional means, i.e. using verbal or other signals. This is true also for the intention of fictionality: as shown by Koselleck (1979), the intention to create a factual or a fictional text has to be communicated by signals to be effective. These signals are often paratextual, but for the competent reader there also exist many textual signposts (Cohn 1990) signaling fictionality or factuality (see Iser 1983: 121 52). 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. Narrative fiction qua artistic fiction is not opposed to truth in the way cognitive illusion, error, and manipulation are opposed to truth, nor is it constrained by realworld truth conditions in the way the suppositional and counterfactual fictions of thought experiments are. As propounded by Searle, it is best characterized by the irrelevance of realworld truth conditions. In the light of this pragmatic definition, what distinguishes fictional narrative from factual narrative is not that the former is referentially void and the latter referentially full. What distinguishes them is the fact that in the case of fictional narrative the 92

question of referentiality is irrelevant, whereas in non-fictional narrative contexts it is important to know whether the narrative propositions are referentially void or not. Searle has been criticized for excluding the possibility of any syntactical criterion of fictionality (Cohn 1990). In fact, 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). The same fact was pointed out long ago by Hume: one and the same text may be read both as fiction and nonfiction. The text (in its syntactic and semantic dimensions) remains the same whatever the type of pragmatic attitude, but the use to which it is put will differ according to the pragmatic attitude (see Hume [1739] 1992: Bk I, Pt III, Sec VII). So Searles thesis is compatible with the fact that fictional texts and factual texts generally differ syntactically. A more important criticism is that Searles pragmatic definition is only negative: it tells us what fiction is not, but not what fiction is. Genette (1991: chap. 2), while accepting Searles definition of fiction as a series of non-serious utterances, proposed to amend it by distinguishing two levels of illocution: a literal levelthe 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, or, alternatively, invites the reader to imagine the content transmitted by the pretended speech acts (see Crittenden 1991: 4552; Zipfel 2001: 18595). In conclusion, the pragmatic definition claims that the syntactic status of fiction depends on its formal make-up, its semantic status on its relationship to reality, but that its status as fiction (or not) depends on the way the representations implemented by the text are processed or used. This would imply that the pair fact/fiction is logically heterogeneous. The conditions for satisfying the criteria of factual narrative are semantic: a factual narrative is either true or false. Even if it is willfully false (as is the case if it is a lie), what determines its truth or its untruth is not its (hidden) pragmatic intention, but that which is in fact the case. The conditions for satisfying the criteria of fictional narrative are pragmatic: the truth claims a text would make if it (the same text, from the syntactic point of view) were a factual text (be these claims true or false) must be bracketed out.

3.4 Simulation, Immersion and the Fact/Fiction Divide In recent years, theories of fiction and narratology have been renewed by cognitive science ( Cognitive Narratology). 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. Simulation and playful pretense are basic human capacities whose roots are situated in mental simulation, a partly sub-personal process (Dokic & Proust 2002: intro., vii). Could it be that the mental specificity of fictional narrative is to be found in mental simulation? Actually, simulation is a very broad concept which encompasses much more than fiction. Theories of mental simulation were originally developed in order to account for mind reading, i.e. the ability to explain and predict the intentional behaviors and reactions of others. The assumption of simulation theories is that the competence of mind reading makes it possible to 93

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

from the immersive process of mental simulation. If such were the case, and if these linguistic anomalies were to be read as a cooptation of language by fictional simulation, this would imply that at some deep level the immersion induced by verbal narrative is never only propositional, but also phenomenological and imaginative. 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. 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, the real aim of the immersive process becomes how to maximize it. This in turn would serve to account for the development of the anomalies studied by Hamburger and Banfield.

4 Bibliography

4.1 Works Cited Aristotle (1996). Poetics. Tr. M. Heath. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Banfield, Ann (1982). Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Banfield, Ann (2002). A Grammatical Definition of the Genre Novel. Polyphonie linguistique et littraire / Lingvistik og litterr polyfoni No. 4, 77100. Cohn, Dorrit (1990). Signposts of Fictionality. Poetics Today 11, 75374. Cohn, Dorrit (1999). The Distinction of Fiction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Crittenden, Charles (1991). Unreality: The Metaphysics of Fictional Objects. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Currie, Gregory & Ian Ravenscroft (2002). Recreative Minds. Oxford: Oxford UP. Dokic, Jrme & Jolle Proust (2002). Simulation and Knowledge of Action. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Doleel, Lubomr (1998). Heterocosmica: Fiction and Possible Worlds. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Doleel, Lubomr (1999). Fictional and Historical Narrative: Meeting the Postmodernist Challenge. D. Herman (ed.). Narratologies: New Perspectives on Narrative Analysis. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 24773. Ferguson, Niall, ed. (1997). Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactual. London: Picador. Frege, Gottlob ([1862] 1960). On Sense and Reference. P. Geach & M. Black (eds). Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege. Oxford: Blackwell. 5678. Genette, Grard ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Cornell: Cornell UP. Genette, Grard ([1983] 1988). Narrative Discourse Revisited. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Genette, Grard ([1991] 1993). Fiction and Diction. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Goldman, Laurence (1998). Childs Play: Myth, Mimesis and Make-Believe. New 95

York: Berg. Goldman, Laurence & Michael Emmison (1995). Make-Believe Play among Huli Children: Performance, Myth, and Imagination. Ethnology 34, 22555. Hamburger, Kte ([1957] 1973). The Logic of Literature. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Hume, David ([1739] 1992). Treatise of Human Nature. Buffalo: Prometheus Books. Iser, Wolfgang (1983). Akte des Fingierens. Oder: Was ist das Fiktive im fiktionalen Text? D. Henrich & W. Iser (eds). Funktionen des Fiktiven. Mnchen: Fink, 12152. Koselleck, Reinhard (1979). Vergangene Zukunft. Zur Semantik geschichtlicher Zeiten. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. Kripke, Saul (1963). Semantical Considerations on Modal Logic. Acta Philosophica Fennica 16, 8394. Kripke, Saul (1980). Naming and Necessity. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Lewis, David (1973). Counterfactuals. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Lewis, David (1978). Truth in Fiction. American Philosophical Quarterly 15, 37 46. Martnez, Matas & Michael Scheffel (2003). Narratology and Theory of Fiction: Remarks on a Complex Relationship. T. Kindt & H.-H. Mller (eds). What Is Narratology: Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Berlin: de Gruyter, 22138. Pavel, Thomas (1986). Fictional Worlds. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Plato (1974). The Republic. Tr. L. Desmond. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Ronen, Ruth (1994). Possible Worlds in Fictional Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Russell, Bertrand ([1905] 2005). On Denoting. Special Issue: 100 Years of On Denoting. Mind 114, 87387. Ryan, Marie-Laure (1991). Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2001). Narrative as Virtual Reality. Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Schaeffer, Jean-Marie (1998). Fiction, Pretense and Narration. Style 32, 14866. Schaeffer, Jean-Marie (1999). Pourquoi la fiction? Paris: Seuil. Schmid, Wolf (2005). Elemente der Narratologie. Berlin: de Gruyter. Searle, John ([1975] 1979). The logical status of fictional discourse. J. S. Expression and Meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 5875. Stanzel, Franz K. (1964). Typische Formen des Romans. Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Stanzel, Franz K.( [1979] 1984). A Theory of Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Sternberg, Meir (1985). The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Sternberg, Meir (1990). Time and Space in Biblical (Hi)story Telling: The Grand Chronology. R. Schwartz (ed). The Book and the Text: The Bible and Literary Theory. Oxford: Blackwell. Veyne, Paul (1983). Les Grecs croyaient-ils leurs mythes? Paris: Seuil. Walton, Kendall (1990). Mimesis as Make-Believe. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Zipfel, Frank (2001). Fiktion, Fiktivitt, Fiktionalitt: Analysen zur Fiktion in der Literatur und zum Fiktionsbegriff in der Literaturwissenschaft. Berlin: Schmidt.


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


Niederhoff, Burkhard: "Focalization". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Last modified: 4 August 2011 Burkhard Niederhoff

1 Definition Focalization, a term coined by Genette (1972), may be defined as a selection or restriction of narrative information in relation to the experience and knowledge of the narrator, the characters or other, more hypothetical entities in the storyworld.

2 Explication Genette introduced the term focalization as a replacement for perspective and point of view ( Perspective - Point of View). He considers it to be more or less synonymous with these terms, describing it as a mere reformulation ([1983] 1988: 65) and general presentation of the standard idea of point of view (84). This, however, is an underestimation of the conceptual differences between focalization and the traditional terms. Genette distinguishes three types or degrees of focalizationzero, internal and externaland 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, and which Todorov symbolizes by the formula Narrator > Character (where the narrator knows more than the character, or more exactly, says more than any of the characters knows). In the second term [internal focalization], Narrator = Character (the narrator says only what a given character knows); this is narrative with point of view after Lubbock, or with restricted field after Blin; Pouillon calls it vision with. In the third term [external focalization], Narrator < Character (the narrator says less than the character knows); this is the objective or behaviorist narrative, what Pouillon calls vision from without ([1972] 1980: 18889).


The passage synthesizes two models: a quasi-mathematical one in which the amount of narrative information is indicated by the formulas derived from Todorov; and a more traditional one based on the metaphors of vision and point of view, which is derived from Pouillon and Lubbock. That these two models are not equivalent has been shown by Kablitz (1988). If a novel begins by telling us who a character is, to whom she is married, and for how long she has been living in a certain town, 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. To tell a story from a characters point of view means to present the events as they are perceived, felt, interpreted and evaluated by her at a particular moment. Genette himself leans in the direction of the Todorovian, information-based model. On occasion, he talks about focalization in terms of the point-of-view paradigm, e.g. when he describes it as placing narrative focus at a particular point ([1983] 1988: 73); but in general, he thinks of focalization in terms of knowledge and information. He thus defines it as a restriction of field [], a selection of narrative information with respect to what was traditionally called omniscience ([1983] 1988: 74). This emphasis is also implied by the very term itself and the preposition that goes along with it. Genette consistently writes focalisation sur in French: while a story is told from a particular point of view, a narrative focuses on something. This preposition indicates the selection of, or restriction to, amounts or kinds of information that are accessible under the norms of a particular focalization. If focalization is to be more than a mere reformulation of point of view, it is this aspect of the term, the information-based model, which should be emphasized. Genettes emphasis on knowledge and information is also revealed by his extensive treatment of alterations ([1972] 1980: 19498), defined as a transgression of the informational norm established by the focalization of a text. Alterations take two forms: paralepsis, the inclusion of an event against the norm of a particular focalization; and paralipsis, a similarly transgressive omission of such an event. According to Genette, the norms that are violated by these transgressions cannot be defined in advance (e.g. by commonsensical inferences as to what a particular narrator may have learnt about the story he or she tells). Instead, 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). Shen disagrees with this view, arguing that it boils down to a merely quantitative approach, a measurement of the relative length of the normative and the transgressive portions of the text; she suggests that there is a more general legitimacy that is violated by alterations (2001: 16869). However, her examples and her analyses show that legitimacy in matters of focalization is far from self-evident. In her case, it rests on rather arbitrary assumptions about the limited knowledge of first-person narrators and the unlimited knowledge of third-person narrators. A major point in Genettes theory is his rigorous separation between focalization and the narrator (referred to with the grammatical metaphor of voice). Most previous theories analyze such categories as first-person narrator, omniscience, and camera perspective under one umbrella term, usually point of view. 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 narratoror, more simply, the question who sees? and the question who speaks? ([1972] 1980: 186). What follows from the separation of the two questions is a plea for a relatively free combination of narrator types and focalization types, a position that has ignited a considerable amount of controversy. 99

3 History of the Concept and its Study Genettes theory was welcomed as a considerable advance on the previous paradigm of perspective or point of view, and the neologism of focalization has been widely adopted, at least by narratologists. Genette himself claims that his term is preferable because it is less visual and metaphorical than the traditional ones ([1972] 1980: 189). 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; Nnning 1990: 253; Fger 1993: 44). However, 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.g. Bal [1985] 1997: 143; Edmiston 1991: X; ONeill 1992: 331; Rimmon-Kenan [1983] 2002: 71; Nelles 1990: 366; Nnning 1990: 25556). Finney states it as follows: Focalization is a term coined by Grard Genette to distinguish between narrative agency and visual mediation, i.e. focalization. Point of View confuses speaking and seeing, narrative voice and focalization. Hence the need for Genettes term (1990: 144). It is true that Genette introduces the term focalization immediately after his polemics against the typological conflation of who sees? and who speaks?, but he does not establish a connection between these polemics and his neologismnor is there such a connection. As a term, focalization dispels the confusion of seeing and speaking no more than the traditional terms do. On the contrary, the connection between the question who sees? and point of view should be a little more evident than between who sees? and focalization. It is perfectly possible to embrace Genettes scheme, including the separation and free combination of narrator and focalization types, while referring to his three focalizations as points of view. The case that the advocates of focalization have made for its superiority to point of view is by no means beyond dispute. Nor is it improved by the fact that some of them use the new term while still thinking along the lines of the old, overlooking the semantic differences between them and neglecting the new conceptual emphasis of the neologism. Fger, for example, explains that internal and external focalization can be distinguished by the situation of the agent of the process of perception (1993: 47), which is nothing but a roundabout paraphrase of point 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 Genettes study: [L]e mode narratif de la Recherche est bien souvent la focalisation interne sur le hros (1972: 214). [T]he narrative mood of the Recherche is very often internal focalization through the hero ([1972] 1980: 199). The rendering of sur as through speaks volumes. It seems that the translator is under the spell of the point-of-view paradigm. Instead of thinking about focalization as a selection of or a focusing on a particular region of the storyworldin this case the mind of the protagonistthe translator regards this mind as a kind of window through or from which the world is perceived. Bals influential revision of Genettes theory is another example of the reinterpretation of focalization in terms of point of view, although she is more aware of this than others. Thus she admits that perspective reflects precisely what she means by focalization ([1985] 1997: 143), and she points out that Genette ought to have written focalisation par instead of focalisation sur (1977: 29). The continuing influence of the point-of-view paradigm also seems to underlie Bals reconceptualization of Genettes typology in terms of focalizing subjects and focalized objects. According to her, the distinction between Genettes zero 100

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

equation. Drawing on possible-worlds semantics, 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. Thus, in Poes The Fall of the House of Usher, 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, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall [] ([1839] 1956: 978). There is a basic problem with Hermans article. What he discusses is not hypothetical focalization, but hypothetical perception. The discovery of the fissure by Poes imaginary observer is hypothetical only in comparison with the case of a character actually seeing this fissure. In terms of the focalization of Poes story, the discovery is not hypothetical at all for the simple reason that the narrator utters it. 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, whereas the experiencing I seems to be unaware of it when he approaches the house for the first time. Generally speaking, instances of hypothetical perception would appear to point in the direction of zero focalization (or narratorial point of view in the traditional paradigm), just like the report [of] what a character did not in fact think or say discussed by Chatman ([1978] 1980: 225). Hypothetical focalization in the strict sense is a focalization option that is conceivable but not realized in a text, such as an internally focalized version of Fieldings Tom Jones. Whether a text itself can achieve or suggest such hypothetical focalization is an interesting question awaiting an answer. While Bals revision of Genettes theory involves deletions such as external focalization, it also contains additions, notably the focalizer, i.e. the agent that sees in a given focalization (Bal [1985] 1997: 146). This concept has spawned a considerable amount of controversy, including a more specific debate about the question of whether narrators can be focalizers. Bal, Phelan (2001) and many others assume that both characters and narrators can be focalizers; Chatman (1990) and Prince (2001) argue that characters can focalize while narrators cannot. Genette, on the other hand, rejects character focalizers but concedes, with some reluctance, the possibility of regarding the narrator as a focalizer ([1983] 1988: 723). However, he does not see any great need for the term, an attitude shared by Nelles, who considers it redundant (1990: 374). The skepticism of the latter two critics seems to be justified. To talk about characters as focalizers is to confuse focalization and perception. Characters can see and hear, but they can hardly focalize a narrative of whose existence they are not aware. This leaves us with the narrator (or the author?) as the only focalizer, an inference whose interest is primarily scholastic. If all the different focalization options can be attributed to one agent, this attribution does not provide us with any conceptual tools that we can use in distinguishing and analyzing texts. Furthermore, the concept of focalizer is misleading because it suggests that a given text or segment of text is always focalized by one person, either the narrator or a character. But this is a simplification. Consider the famous beginning of Dickenss Great Expectations in which Pip, the first-person narrator, tells us how, as a little orphan, he visited the graves of his family and drew some highly imaginative conclusions about his relatives from the shape of their tombstones. This passage focuses on the thoughts and perceptions of the boy, but it also communicates the knowledge and the attitude of the adult narrator, primarily through style (elaborate language, ironically inflated lexis, etc.). It makes little sense here to ask whether or not the boy is the focalizer in this passage. It is more appropriate to analyze focalization as a more abstract and variable feature of the text, wavering between the knowledge and the attitudes of the adult narrator and the experience of the child character. 102

To sum up, the various theoretical innovations introduced by the advocates of focalization are fraught with considerable problems; focalization is hardly so much superior to point of view that the old term can be discarded. Niederhoff (2001) compares the meanings and merits of the terms, making a case for peaceful coexistence of and complementarity between the two. There is room for both because each highlights different aspects of a complex and elusive phenomenon. 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; 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. 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, mystery, puzzlement, etc. If focalization theory is to make any progress, an awareness of the differences between the two terms and of their respective strengths and weaknesses is indispensable.

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, point of view, filter, etc. This needs to be complemented by a thorough, non-dogmatic analysis of texts that shows which of these terms is more appropriate to which kind of text. (b) The question raised by Hermans (1994) article remains to be investigated: Is there such a thing as hypothetical focalization? In other words, can a text suggest or imply a focalization that is not present in this text?

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Bal, Mieke (1977). Narratologie: Essais sur la signification narrative dans quatre romans modernes. Paris: Klincksieck. Bal, Mieke ([1985] 1997). Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. Toronto: U of Toronto P. Chatman, Seymour ([1978] 1980). Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Chatman, Seymour (1990). Coming to Terms: The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Edmiston, William F. (1991). Hindsight and Insight: Focalization in Four EighteenthCentury French Novels. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP. Finney, Brian (1990). Suture in Literary Analysis. LIT: Literature Interpretation 103

Theory 2, 13144. Fger, Wilhelm (1993). Stimmbrche: Varianten und Spielrume narrativer Fokalisation. H. Foltinek et al. (eds). Tales and their telling difference: Zur Theorie und Geschichte der Narrativik. Festschrift zum 70. Geburtstag von Franz K. Stanzel. Heidelberg: Winter, 4359. Genette, Grard (1972). Discours du rcit. G. G. Figures III. Paris: Seuil, 67282. Genette, Grard ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discourse. An Essay in Method. Oxford: Blackwell. Genette, Grard ([1983] 1988). Narrative Discourse Revisited. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Herman, David (1994). Hypothetical Focalization. Narrative 2, 23053. Herman, Luc & Bart Vervaeck (2004). Focalization between Classical and Postclassical Narratology. J. Pier (ed). The Dynamics of Narrative Form: Studies in Anglo-American Narratology. Berlin: de Gruyter, 11538. Jahn, Manfred (1996). Windows of Focalization: Deconstructing and Reconstructing a Narratological Concept. Style 30, 24167. Kablitz, Andreas (1988). ErzhlperspektivePoint of ViewFocalisation: berlegungen zu einem Konzept der Erzhltheorie. Zeitschrift fr franzsische Sprache und Literatur 98, 23755. Margolin, Uri (2009). Focalization: Where Do We Go from Here? P. Hhn et al. (eds). Point of View, Perspective, and Focalization. Modeling Mediation in Narrative. Berlin: de Gruyter 4858. Nelles, William (1990). Getting Focalization into Focus. Poetics Today 11, 36382. Niederhoff, Burkhard (2001). Fokalisation und Perspektive: Ein Pldoyer fr friedliche Koexistenz. Poetica 33, 121. Nnning, Ansgar (1990). Point of view oder focalization? ber einige Grundlagen und Kategorien konkurrierender Modelle der erzhlerischen Vermittlung. Literatur in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 23, 24968. ONeill, Patrick (1992). Points of Origin: On Focalization in Narrative. Canadian Review of Comparative Literature / Revue Canadienne de Littrature Compare 19, 33150. Phelan, James (2001). Why Narrators Can Be Focalizersand Why It Matters. W. van Peer & S. Chatman (eds). New Perspectives on Narrative Perspective. Albany: SUNY, 5164. Poe, Edgar Allan ([1839] 1956). Selected Writings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Prince, Gerald (2001). A Point of View on Point of View or Refocusing Focalization. W. van Peer & S. Chatman (eds). New Perspectives on Narrative Perspective. Albany: SUNY, 4350. Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith ([1983] 2002). Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. London: Routledge. Shen, Dan (2001). Breaking Conventional Barriers: Transgressions of Modes of Focalization. W. van Peer & S. Chatman (eds). New Perspectives on Narrative Perspective. Albany: SUNY.

5.2 Further Reading Rossholm, Gran, ed. (2004). Essays on Fiction and Perspective. Bern: Lang. 104

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


Tjupa, Valerij: "Heteroglossia". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Last modified: 4 May 2010 Valerij Tjupa

1 Definition This term results from a translation (Morson & Emerson 1990) of Mixail Baxtins neologism raznoreie. According to Baxtins understanding of language use, a social person, who is also a speaking person, operates not with language as an abstract regulatory norm, 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 process of heteroglot development, a process teeming with future and former languages, with prim but moribund aristocrat-languages, with parvenu-languages and with countless pretenders to the status of language which are all more or less successful, depending on their degree of social scope and on the ideological area in which they are employed (Baxtin [1934/35] 1981: 35657).

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. Narration not only takes place from a particular standpoint in time and space, but also inevitably has a certain stylistic color, a certain tone of emotion and intention that can be described as glossality. This is directed at the readers ability to hear (Tjupa 2006: 357). Heteroglossia is a dialogical, 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 ones own and anothers word is being waged (Baxtin [1934/35] 1981: 354), a struggle, that is, involving two or more codes between which links of selection and connotation emerge. The former kind of link is based on the use of different words to 106

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 narrators ( Narrator) text and the characters ( Character) text (Doleel 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 (Voloinov [1929] 1973: 115), as a framing context that, like the sculptors chisel, hews out the rough outlines of someone elses 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 characters 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 narrators 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 Dostoevskijs Gentle Spirit). And in the opposite case, that of a text stylized as skaz, in which the narrators 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 narrators text in the manner of quotation, as well as various forms of textual interference (Schmid 2003: 177222) 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 Tolstojs Resurrection, or the psalter in Bunins 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 characters 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 characters text contrast with the narrators 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 Tolstojs 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 Lermontovs The Fatalist (a chapter of the novel A Hero of our Times), the words of the Cossacks on the one hand and of Maksim Maksimy on the other are stylistically brief, but clearly set apart from the speech of Peorin (the narrator). They are the voices of another life, the life of the others. The replies by Vuli 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 Homers Iliad), but to the potential power of the narrator where discourse is concerned: for him, the characters (primarily Vuli, Peorins inner Doppelgnger) 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 narrators text and the characters text can take place through forms of indirect speech and free indirect speech ( Speech Representation), for which Schmid (2003: 21639, 2005: 177222) suggests a detailed classification. The leading role in a textual interference with many forms is performed by the narrators text, which can be characterized with reference to its intention regarding the characters text (its language, its style, its horizon of values). Using Baxtins terms, we can distinguish here between (a) assimilation, (b) demarcation (razmeevanie), 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 narrators text: a lexical, grammatical, or syntactic remnant of a foreign discourse can be identified in the narrators 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 narrators 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 Dostoevskijs story Mr Prokharin, 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 echov) has seen the possibility of having mutually complementary narrative entities emerge and establish themselves; this makes the convergence of narrators 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 Solenicyns One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovi). 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; Koevnikova 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 authors evaluative stance toward this subject and its mental horizon (Tamarenko 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 Lermontovs novel, for example, the fatalist Vuli 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 Peorin the narrator himself, another special being who remains a doubting officer.

3 History of the Concept and its Study Baxtins pupil and successor Voloinov (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 (Voloinov [1929] 1973: 148). In Russian literary studies, the terms voice and socio-linguistic horizon have become established in the wake of Baxtins 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 Baxtins ideas about heteroglossia via the work of Kristeva (1966, 1970), whose writings have enjoyed a wide and favorable international reception. In enthusiastically adapting Baxtins theory to the emerging ideology of postmodernism, however, this French scholar distorted his ideas significantly: she replaced Baxtins 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 Kristevas 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 criture (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 sidestreats 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 Baxtins 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 Baxtins typology of the prose word are typical of Schmids narratology (2005). In Russian-language scholarship, Baxtins narratological ideas, particularly that of heteroglossia, have been developed by Tamarenko (2004) and Tjupa (2006), as well as in Schmids 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. Encyclopdia universalis. Paris: Seuil, vol. 15, 101317. Barthes([1984] 1986). The Rustle of Language. Oxford: Blackwell. Baxtin, Mixail (1929). Problemy tvorestva Dostoevskogo. Sobr. so. v 7 tt. Moskva: Russkie slovari, vol. 2, 5175. Baxtin, Mixail (Bakhtin, Mikhail) ([1934/35] 1981). Discourse in the novel. M. M. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Austin: U of Texas P, 259422. Baxtin, Mixail ([1959/60] 1996). Problema teksta. Sobr. so. v 7 tt. Moskva: Russkie slovari, vol. 5, 30626. Baxtin, Mixail (Bakhtin, Mikhail) ([1963] 1984). M. M. Problems of Dostoevskys Poetics. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Baxtin, Mixail (Bakhtin, Mikhail) (1986). Speech Genres and Other late Essays. Austin: U of Texas P. Doleel, Lubomr (1960). O stylu modern cesk przy. Vystavba textu. Praha: Nakl. eskoslovensk Akad. Vd. Doleel, Lubomr (1973). Narrative Modes in Czech Literature. Toronto: U of Toronto P. Genette, Grard ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Korman, Boris O. ([1975] 2006). Zametki o toke zrenija. Teorija literatury. Ievsk: Izd. Udmurtskogo un-teta, 18085. Koevnikova, Natalja A. (1994). Tipy povestvovanija v russkoj literature XIXXX 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 smiologique dune 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 Erzhlungen Dostoevskijs. Amsterdam: Grner. Schmid, Wolf (2003). Narratologija. oskva: Jazyki slavjanskoj literatury. Schmid, Wolf (2005). Elemente der Narratologie. Berlin: de Gruyter. Tamarenko, Natan D. (2004). Sobytie rasskazyvanija: struktura teksta i ponjatija narratologii. N. D. T. et al. (eds). Teorija literatury. Moskva: Academia, t. 1, 20542. jupa, Valerij I. (2006). Analiz khudoestvennogo teksta. Moskva: Academia. Uspenskij, Boris A. ([1970] 1973). A Poetics of Composition. Berkeley: U of 111

California P. Voloinov, Valentin N. ([1926] 1995). Slovo v izni i slovo v pozii. Filosofija i sociologija gumanitarnykh nauk. S-Peterburg: Asta-Press, 5987. Voloinov, Valentin N. (Voloshinov) ([1929] 1973). Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. New York: Seminar P.

5.2 Further Reading Padueva, Elena V. (1996). Semantika narrativa. Semantieskie issledovanija. oskva: Jazyki russkoj kultury, 193418. Schmid, Wolf (1998). Proza kak pozija. 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 potique de lnonciation. Paris: Corti. Zbinden, K. (1999). Traducing Bakhtin and Missing Heteroglossia. Dialogism: An International Journal of Bakhtin Studies 2, 4159.


Bamberg, Michael: "Identity and Narration". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, 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--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 lifesomething 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--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 analysisa new territory for inquiry (cf. Ricur 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 narrators 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--vis others that help to trace the narrators 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

course, can be more fully (micro-analytically) scrutinized in terms of the contextualized coordination of narrative form, content, and performance features ( Performativity) in the service of identity formation processes. Recently, this type of micro-analytic analysis has been applied to identity as achieved in narration under the heading of positioning analysis (Bamberg 1997, 2003; 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. Navigating and connecting temporal continuity and discontinuity, self and other differentiation, and the direction of fit between person and world, take place in the small stories told on everyday occasions in which tellers affirm a sense of who they are. It is precisely this sense of self and identity grounded in sequential, moment-by-moment interactive engagements, largely undertheorized and often dismissed in traditional identity inquiry, that operates on verbal texts or cognitive representations ( Cognitive Narratology).

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- as well as in socio- and onto-genetic terms. However, this overlooks how conceptions of self and identity have evolved historically and culturally and also how each individuals personal ontogenesis undergoes continuous change. In addition, essentialist views of self and identity camouflage the links between these concepts and their counterparts in narration and narrative practices. Section 3.1 will further explore the connection between self and identity dilemmas (b) and (c), while section 3.2 will be devoted to identity and dilemma (a).

3.1 Self and Narration Although self, like I and me, are highly specific morphological items of the English lexicon, they are commonly assumed to refer universally to corresponding concepts in other languagesan assumption that has been contested, however. A closer look reveals that these concepts most often have a history of their own that varies in illuminating ways (cf. Heelas & Lock eds. 1981; Triandis 1989). Modern notions of self and individuality (cf. Elias 1987; Gergen 1991) are taken to be closely intertwined with the emergence of local communities, nation states, new forms of knowledge and reflection (rationalization), feeling, and perceptionall in conjunction with increasing interiorization and psychologization. In this process of becoming individualized, self-narration (autobiography, life-writing, 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. the narratological distinctions between narrating self and narrated self and between narrator and protagonist). 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, self-reflection and self-criticism, potentially 115

leading to self-control, self-constraint, and self-discipline. What further comes to light in this process is an increasing differentiation between (and integration of) I and me (James 1890), and simultaneously between I-we-us and them-other (Elias 1987). Thus, self, apparently, is the product of an I that manages three processes of differentiation and integration: (a) it can posit a me (as distinct from I); (b) it can posit and balance this Ime distinction with we; and (c) it can differentiate this we as us from them as other. 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). Self, as differentiated from other by developing the ability to account for itself (as agent or as undergoer), to self-reflect, and to self-augment, can now begin to look for something like temporal continuity, unity, and coherence, i.e. identity across a life (cf. Ricur 1990).

3.2 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. The underlying assumption here is that life begins to cojell into building blocks that, when placed in the right order, cohere: important moments tie into important events, events into episodes, and episodes into a life story. It is this analogy between life and storyor better: the metaphoric process of seeing life as storied (in narratological terms: story and discourse) that has given substantive fuel to the narrative turn. The strength of how scholars (and laypeople) in the past have made use of this connection, though, varies: on the one hand, there is a relatively loose connection according to which we tell stories of lives by using particular narrative formats. Lives can be told as following an epic script or as if consisting of unconnected patches. Most often, though, lives are told by depicting characters and how they develop. Character, particularly in modern times, rests on an internal and an external form of organization. The former is typically a complex interiority, a set of traits organizing underlying actions and the course of events as outcomes of motives that spring from this interiority. The latter, an external condition of character development, 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; cf. Herman 2002: chap. 3). 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. It also should be noted that the arrangement of interiority as governed by the availability of plots gives answersat least to a degreeto the direction-of-fit or agency identity dilemma. With narration thus defined, life transcends the animalistic and unruly body so that narration gains the power to organize human temporality (Punday 2003; see also Ricur 1985): the answer to non-human, a-temporal, and discontinuous chaos. Another, and probably stronger reason for employing the narrative metaphor for life starts with the assumption of a narrative mode of thinking. 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; cf. Herman 2002, 2009). Freemans (1993) and Mishlers (1986) work with autobiographical memories focuses particularly on the interrelationship between memory, 116

autobiographical memory, and narrative. 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, but that focuses on interaction and relationships. McAdams (1985), building on narrative theorists such as Bruner, Polkinghorne, and Sarbin, has turned the assumption of selves plotting themselves in and across time into a life-story model of identity. His model clearly states that life stories are more than recapitulations of past events and episodes, that they have a defining character: our narrative identities are the stories we live by (McAdams et al. 2006: 4). McAdams efforts to connect the study of lives to life stories is paralleled in a wider turn to biographic methods in the social sciences, leading to Lieblich & Josselsons eleven-volume series titled The Narrative Study of Lives. The origins of these efforts stretch across a wide range of disciplines including psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Goodson & Sikes (2001: 129) date the origins of life history methods in the form of autobiographies back to the beginning of the 20th century. Since then, life history methods have spread from the study of attitudes in social psychology to community studies in sociology, particularly within the Chicago School, and forty years later back into psychology. Retrospectively, it can be argued that the early studies by the members of the Chicago School, and in particular oral history popularized by the works of Studs Terkel, lacked the analytic component of modern day narrative inquiry. However, without these origins and the works of Bertaux (1981) and Plummer (1983), the foundation of the Research Committee on Biography and Society (within the International Sociological Association) would have been unthinkable. The methodological principles were laid out in the early work by Schtze (1977) and later picked up and refined in current narrative interview approaches by Fischer-Rosenthal & Rosenthal (1997). Thanks to these developments, 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. 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 selfinto an answer that addresses the three dilemmas of identity laid out earlier. A teller accounts for how s/he (a) has emerged (as character) over time, (b) as different from others (but same), and simultaneously (c) how s/he views her-/himself as a (responsible) agent. Managing these three dilemmas in concert is taken to establish what is essential to identity. Consequently, life-writing and biography, preferably as autobiography or life story, become privileged arenas for identity research.

3.3 Problems of Linking Life, Narration, 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), and Murray (1938). However, this close connection between life and narrative is said to require a particular retrospectiveness that values life as reflected and discredits life as lived. 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

that narrative theorists often assume. The problem Sartwell sees in this kind of approach is that the lived moment, the way it is sensed and experienced, is said to gain its life-worthy quality only in light of its surrounding moments. Rather than empowering the subject with meaning in life, Sartwell argues, narrative, conceived this way, drains and blocks him or her from finding pleasure and joy in the here-and-now. The subject is overpowered by narrative as a normalizing machine. Another difficulty resulting from the close linkage between life, narration, and identity consists in what Lejeune (1975) termed the autobiographical pact. According to Lejeune, what counts as autobiography is somewhat blurry, since it is based on a pact between author and reader that is not directly traceable down into the textual qualities. Thus, while a life story can employ the first-person pronoun to feign the identity of author, narrator, and character, use of the third-person pronoun may serve to camouflage this identity (cf. narrative unreliability). Autobiographical fiction thrives on the blurring of these boundaries. 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. Genettes 1990 distinction between fictional narrative and factual narrative). While most research on biography has been quite aware of the situated and locally occasioned nature of peoples accounts (often in institutional settings) and the problems this poses for claims with regard to the speaker/narrators sense of self or identity, 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, (sense of) self, and identity. At the core of these voices is the call for a much needed antidote to the longstanding tradition of big stories which, be they in the form of life stories or of stories of landmark events, have monopolized the inquiry into tellers representations of past events and themselves in light of these events (Georgakopoulou 2007: 147; cf. Strawson 2004).

3.4 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.g. Mishler 1986; Riessman 2008). More recent attempts to integrate this acknowledgment into empirical analysis center around a number of key positions. First is the proposal to resituate narration as performative moves (cf. Langellier & Peterson 2004), calling for the analysis of embodied practices and material conditions of narrative productions. Similarly, Gubrium & Holstein (2008) argue for a narrative ethnographyone that is able to analyze the complex interplay between experience, storying practices, descriptive resources, purposes at hand, audiences, and the environments that condition storytelling (250). Georgakopoulou (2006, 2007) and Bamberg (1997, 2003; Bamberg & Georgakopoulou 2008) have tried to develop an alternative approach to big story narrative research that takes narratives-in-interaction, i.e. the way stories surface in everyday conversation (small stories), as the locus where identities are continuously practiced and tested out. This approach allows for exploring self at the level of the talked-about and at the level of tellership in the 118

here-and-now of a storytelling situation. Both of these levels feed into the larger project at work in the global situatedness within which selves are already positioned, i.e. with more or less implicit and indirect referencing and orientation to social positions and discourses above and beyond the here-and-now. Placing emphasis on small stories allows for the study of how people as agentive actors position themselvesand in doing so become positioned. This model of positioning affords the possibility of viewing identity constructions as two-fold: analyzing the way the referential world is constructed, with characters (self and others) emerging in time and space as protagonists and antagonists. Simultaneously, it is possible to show how the referential world (what the story is about) is constructed as a function of interactive engagement, i.e. the way the referential world is put together points to how tellers want to be understood, how they index their sense of self. Consequently, 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, to a lesser degree, what is represented or reflected upon in the stories told. 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, while big story research analyzes the stories as representations of world and identities within them. 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, fashioned and refashioned in local interactive practices (cf. Antaki & Widdicombe eds. 1998; Dialogism). At the same time, it recognizes that small story participants generally attune their stories to various local, interpersonal purposes, sequentially gauging themselves to prior and upcoming talk, continuously challenging and confirming each others positions. It is in and through this type of relational activity that representations in the form of content, i.e. what the talk is intended to be about, are brought off and come into existence. By contrast, 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. Furthermore, this kind of analysis aims at scrutinizing the inconsistencies, ambiguities, contradictions, moments of trouble and tension, and the tellers constant navigation and finessing between different versions of selfhood and identity in local interactional contexts. However well-established the line of identities-in-interaction may be in the context of the analysis of conversational data, this emphasis still contrasts with the longstanding privileging of coherence by traditional approaches to narrative theory. Through the scrutiny of small stories in a variety of sites and contexts, the aim becomes to legitimize the management of different and often competing and contradictory positions as the mainstay of identity through narrative. A final aim is to advance a project of documenting identity as a process of constant change that, when practiced over and over again, has the potential to result in a sense of constancy and sameness, i.e. big stories that can be elicited under certain conditions.

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. Usually, this question is decided on 119

the basis of a pre-theoretical, epistemological (if not ontological) stance. But the question itself may be open to different interpretations. (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, cultural exclusion, imagined communities, symbolic representations of belonging, and even general processes of globalization. (c) Illness and traumatic experiences are typically viewed as disruptions of continuity and coherence, posing challenges to the formation of a sense of self and (biographic) identity as well as to our sense of agency. 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, their inherent action potential, and the relationship to mapping out possible reconstructions from being re-active to becoming proactive in the construction of patients healing dramas. (d) The increasing diversification into different narrative methods and approaches (content/thematic vs. structural/formal methods, 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, self, and identitythe way, in retrospect, it seemed to have begun about thirty-five years ago.

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Allport, Gordon W. (1937). Personality: A Psychological Interpretation. New York: Holt. Antaki, Charles & Sue Widdicombe, eds. (1998). Identities in Talk. London: Sage. Aristotle (1996). Poetics. Tr. M. Heath. Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics. Bamberg, Michael (1997). Positioning between Structure and Performance. Journal of Narrative and Life History 7, 33542. Bamberg, Michael (2003). Positioning with Davie Hogan: Stories, Tellings, and Identities. C. Daiute & C. Lightfoot (eds). Narrative Analysis: Studying the Development of Individuals in Society. London: Sage, 13557. Bamberg, Michael & Alexandra Georgakopoulou (2008). Small Stories as a New Perspective in Narrative and Identity Analysis. Text & Talk 28, 37796. Bertaux, Daniel (1981). Biography and Society: The Life History Approach in the Social Sciences. London: Sage. Bruner, Jerome (1986). Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Burke, Kenneth (1945). A Grammar of Motives. New York: Prentice-Hall. Elias, Norbert ([1987] 1991). The Society of Individuals. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Erikson, Erik H. ([1950] 1963). Childhood and Society. New York: Norton. Fisher-Rosenthal, Wolfram & Gabriele Rosenthal (1997). Narrationsanalyse biographischer Selbstreprsentation. R. Hitzler & A. Horner (eds). Sozialwissenschaftliche Hermeneutik. Opladen: Leske & Budrich, 13364. 120

Freeman, Mark P. (1993). Rewriting the Self. History, Memory, Narrative. London: Routledge. Freud, Sigmund ([1900] 1913). The Interpretation of Dreams. New York: Macmillan. Genette, Grard (1990). Fictional Narrative, Factual Narrative. Poetics Today 11, 75574. Georgakopoulou, Alexandra (2006). The Other Side of the Story: Towards a Narrative Analysis of Narratives-in-Interaction. Discourse Studies 8, 26587. Georgakopoulou, Alexandra (2007). Small Stories, Interaction and Identities. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Gergen, Kenneth (1991). The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York: Basic Books. Goffman, Erving (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden City: Doubleday. Goodson, Ivor F. & Pat Sikes (2001). Life History Research in Educational Settings: Learning from Lives. Buckingham: Open UP. Gubrium, Jaber F. & James A. Holstein (2008). Narrative Ethnography. S. B. HesseBiber & P. Leavy (eds). Handbook of Emergent Methods. New York: Guildford P, 24164. Heelas, Paul & Andrew Lock, eds. (1981). Indigenous Psychologies: The Anthropology of the Self. London: Academic P. Herman, David (2002). Story Logic: Problems and Possibilities of Narrative. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Herman, David (2009). Basic Elements of Narrative. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell. James, William ([1890] 1900). Principles of Psychology. Vol. I. New York: Holt & Co. Langellier, Kristin M. & Eric E. Peterson (2004). Storytelling in Daily Life: Performing Narrative. Philadelphia: Temple UP. Lejeune, Philippe ([1975] 1989). On Autobiography. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. McAdams, Dan P. (1985). Power, Intimacy, and the Life Story: Personological Inquiries into Identity. New York: Guildford P. McAdams, Dan P., et al. (2006). Introduction. D. P. McA. et al. (eds). Identity and Story. Washington: American Psychological Association, 111. Mishler, Elliot G. (1986). Research Interviewing. Context and Narrative. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Murray, Henry A. (1938). Explorations in Personality. New York: Oxford UP. Ong, Walter (1982). Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Methuen. Plummer, Kenneth (1983). Documents of Life. London: Allen & Unwin. Polkinghorne, Donald (1988). Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. Albany: State U of New York P. Porter, Roger J. (2008). Introduction to World Narrative. M. Fuchs & C. Howes (eds). Teaching Life Writing Texts. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2331. Punday, Daniel (2003). Narrative Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Narratology. New York: Palgrave. Ricur, Paul ([1985] 1988). Time and Narrative. Vol. 3. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Ricur, Paul ([1990] 1992). Oneself as Another. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Riessman, Catherine Kohler (2008). Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. 121

Thousand Oaks: Sage. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2006). Narrative, Media, and Modes. M.-L. R. Avatars of Story. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 330. Sartwell, Crispin (2000). End of Story. Toward an Annihilation of Language and History. Albany: State U of New York P. Schtze, Fritz (1977). Die Technik des narrativen Interviews in Interaktionsfeldstudien dargestellt an einem Projekt zur Erforschiung von kommunikativen Machtstrukturen. Universitt Bielefeld: Department of Sociology. Strawson, Galen (2004). Against Narrativity. Ratio n.s. 17, 42852. Taylor, Charles (1989). Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Triandis, Harry Ch. (1989). The Self and Social Behavior in Differing Contexts. Psychological Review 96, 50620.

5.2 Further Reading Bamberg, Michael, ed. (2007). NarrativeState of the Art. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Bamberg, Michael, et al. eds. (2007). Selves and Identities in Narrative and Discourse. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Brockmeier, Jens & Donal Carbaugh, eds. (2001). Narrative and Identity: Studies in Autobiography, Self and Culture. Amsterdam: Benjamins. de Fina, Anna, et al. eds. (2006). Discourse and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Holstein, James A. & Jaber F. Gubrium (2000). The Self We Live By: Narrative Identity in a Postmodern World. New York: Oxford UP. McAdams, Dan P., et al. eds. (2006). Identity and Story. Washington: American Psychological Association.


Wolf, Werner: "Illusion (Aesthetic)". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

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, artifacts or performances. These representations may be fictional or factual, and in particular include narratives (2.3 and 4). Like all reception effects, aesthetic illusion is elicited by a conjunction of factors that are located (a) in the representations themselves, (b) in the reception process and the recipients, and (c) in cultural and historical contexts. Aesthetic illusion consists primarily of a feeling, with variable intensity, 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. At the same time, however, this impression of immersion is counterbalanced by a latent rational distance resulting from a culturally acquired awareness of the difference between representation and reality.

2 Explication

2.1 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, texts or performances. Moreover, it is distinct from delusions in that it is neither a conceptual nor a perceptual error, but a complex phenomenon characterized by an asymmetrical ambivalence. This ambivalence derives from the positioning of aesthetic illusion on a scale between two poles, mutually exclusive, of total rational distance (disinterested observation of an artifact as such [Walton 1990: 273]) and complete immersion (psychological participation [24089]) in the 123

represented world and moreover from the fact that the position between these poles always maintains a certain proximity to the pole of immersion. In view of this, the term aesthetic illusion, where aesthetic implies awareness that illusion is triggered by an artifact, is more satisfactory than the various synonyms used in research: absorption (Cohen 2001: 258); recentering and immersion (Ryan 1991: 213; cf. also Schaeffer 1999: 243 passim); involvement and psychological participation (Walton 1990: 24089); transportation (Gerrig 1993: 12 passim); effet de rel (Barthes 1968). Strictly speaking, it is even erroneous to call aesthetic illusion simply illusion or immersion except by way of abbreviation, since by thisas in all of these alternative terms (and also in the misleading attempt to regard aesthetic illusion as a form of magic; Balter 2002)the rational distance induced by the underlying awareness of the non-natural character of representation is disregarded. Illusion, to the extent it is aesthetic, presupposes the implicit acceptance of a reception contract, one of whose stipulations Coleridge described as the willing suspension of disbelief for the moment ([1817] 1965: 169). Aesthetic illusion thus involves several mental/psychic spheres and operates within two dimensions (cf. also Walton 1990: 273): (a) in the background as a latent, rational awareness from without, namely that the illusioninducing artifact is a mere representation; 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. This simulation involves emotions and sensory quasiperceptions (including, but not restricted to, visual imagination), but also reason to the extent that a certain rationality is required to make sense of the represented world. Owing to its dual nature, aesthetic illusion is gradable according to the degree of immersion or distance and is thus unstable. Immersion, 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: 26263), can be suspended or undermined at any given moment by the actualization of the latent consciousness of representationality. This willing construction of disbelief (Gerrig 1993: 230) can be triggered not only by the recipient, but also by the work itself, thanks to metalepsis ( Metalepsis) and to other illusion-breaking devices employed by metafictionality ( Metanarration and Metafiction), or due to interference by contextual factors. Since illusionist works provide a simulation of real-life experience, aesthetic illusion always has a quasi-experiential quality about it and sometimes, in addition, a referential dimension: the tendency to credit illusionist representation with having indeed taken place in the real world. This referential aspect is not always at issue, however, for fantasy or science fiction, which make no pretense at referring to reality, can nevertheless induce a powerful aesthetic illusion. In all cases, aesthetic illusion implies the subjective impression of being experientially re-centered in a represented world, whether factual or fictional, an impression that amounts to a side-participant stance (Gerrig 1993: 108, 239) rather than to identification with a character ( Character), the latter being a special case of feeling recentered. Functionally, aesthetic illusion constitutes one of the most effective ways of ensuring the reception of representations, since it can cater to various human desires and offers vicarious experience without serious consequences. The general attractiveness of aesthetic illusion also qualifies it as a vehicle of persuasion for didactic, advertising or propaganda purposes. 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

unrealistic surplus of coherence and meaning, i.e. to present worlds whose closure and meaningfulness, through such devices as the use of coincidence, poetic justice, etc., may be regarded as deviating from the contingency of life. From a historical point of view, the persuasiveness of aesthetic illusion may even be regarded as related to the process of secularization in the Western world, 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. It seems that with the increase of credibility invested in individual works, aesthetic belief has progressively filled the place occupied by philosophical and religious beliefs as tacit basis of meaning, even though, outside deconstructionist and postmodernist circles, belief in the power of representation as such persists.

2.2 Factors Contributing to Aesthetic Illusion Aesthetic illusion is produced by several factors, described by Gombrich (1960: 169) as elements contributing to a guided projection. Such projection takes place in the mind of the recipient. When it is in a state of aesthetic illusion, however, the minds activity is not freefloating, but rather guided by the illusionist representation, both recipient and representation being influenced by contexts which in turn also contribute to the illusionist projection. Thus the representation, the recipient and the context (situational, cultural, etc.) must all be taken into account as factors in a theory of illusion. 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. Owing to the quasi-experiential nature of this state of mind, successful illusionist representations furnish formal analogies to the structures and features of real-life experience. Moreover, they offer contents that correspond to the objects and scripts encountered in, or applicable to, real-life experience, at least to a certain extent. Generally, illusionist representations are accessible with relative facility. They offer potential recipients with material to lure them into the represented worlds and create a sense of verisimilitude, a prerequisite for the emergence of aesthetic illusion, although generic conventions may serve to counteract improbable elements. While the illusionist representation provides the script, the recipients are called on to act as its (mental) directors or producers, using it along with their own world-knowledge and empathetic abilities for projection onto their minds screen. This activity, as well as the nature of the mental screen, results in the recipients and the reception process becoming decisive, albeit problematic, factors in the production of aesthetic illusion. 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, someone else, in some other time) is an anthropological constant, a recipients illusionist response to an artifact remains heavily dependent on individual factors. These include range of experience, age, gender, interests, cultural background, and the ability to read works of art aesthetically, but also the situation of reception and, of course, the recipients willingness to participat[e] psychologically in [a] game of make-believe (Walton 1990: 242). As for the latter factor, immersion seems to satisfy a powerful psychological predisposition, even enabling one, under the influence of generic conventions, to integrate into the reception such 125

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


2.3 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. There is no restriction as to their being factual or fictional, narrative or descriptive (a fact often overlooked in narratological treatments of immersion, as e.g. in Schaeffer & Vultur 2005), and they may occur in a wide variety of media and genres. Aesthetic illusion is therefore a transmedial, transmodal and transgeneric phenomenon. There is only one general proviso, namely that it be triggered by a representation, including narrative fiction, drama, lyric poetry (Wolf 1998; Mller-Zettelmann 2000: chap. 3.2.6; Hhn & Kiefer 2005), painting, sculpture, photography, film, and contemporary virtual realities such as computer games (Ryan 2006: 181203), while excluding (most) instrumental music (Ryan 2001: 15) from the range of potentially illuding media. Since describing aesthetic illusion in the various media would require, at least in part, a media-specific theory in each case and also because, as will become clear below, 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. In the history of prose fiction, one illusionist prototype is the 19th-century realist novel, a genre that has always been credited with a particularly high potential for eliciting illusionist immersion. Realist novels draw their readers into their worlds by maintaining a feeling of verisimilitude and experientiality while minimizing aesthetic distance. Considering illusionist texts such as these, 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. In narratological terms, typically illusionist novels (e.g. Eliots Adam Bede or Hardys Tess of the dUrbervilles) display the following four characteristic features (Wolf 1993a: chap. 2.3): (a) their content or story level is the central text level, as their storyworlds are characterized by a certain extension and complexity, are consistent, tend to be life-like in their inventory and thus elicit the interest of the (contemporary) reader; (b) their transmission or discourse level remains comparatively inconspicuous and transparent, serving mainly to depict the storyworld and to enhance the tellability ( Tellability), consistency and life-likeness of the story; (c) the content and its transmission tend to be serious; (d) illusionist texts are predominantly hetero-referential. As not all of these traits are self-explanatory, some comment is required. Highlighting of the content level (a) can be explained by the attempt to portray a represented world in which recipients can become experientially immersed. 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. If this process is too short owing to a minimal text basis, immersion may fail to take place. This factor also accounts for the relative complexity of typical illusionist worlds. Although this may seem a special feature of realist fiction only, 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. The consistency and life-likeness (or probability) of realistic narratives are actually facets of a more general quality of illusionist worlds, namely their accessibility. Represented worlds can provide different degrees and types of accessibility (Ryan 1991: 323). It is obvious that 127

enhanced accessibility facilitates illusionist immersion and that illusionist works therefore tend to lower the threshold of access as much as possible. In realism, 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, temporal (contemporary) and social settings but also, for instance, in terms of norms, ideals and epistemological preconceptions about the readability of reality. The relative inconspicuousness of the transmission level (b), which is responsible for the mediality ( Narration in Various Media) but also for the artificiality of representation and thus for potentially distance-creating factors, corresponds to the centrality of the content level and is closely related to the tendency of illusionist immersion to predominate over aesthetic distance. Therefore, typically illusionist works, and in particular realist novels, usually keep distancing elements to a minimum. The shunning of aesthetic distance can also be witnessed in a no less typical tendency of illusionist works toward seriousness (c), although this does not exclude the comic from illusionism entirely. Comedy and laughter imply emotional distance, which runs counter to the strong affinity between emotional involvement and aesthetic illusion. The interrelation between illusion, emotions and seriousness can be seen not only in realist fiction, but also in drama: tragedy tends toward aesthetic illusion (Aristotles catharsis presupposes empathetic immersion), while comedy frequently suspends illusion. The predominant hetero-referentiality of realist fiction (d) is a consequence of the general fact that all illusionist artifacts, even those that ultimately play with illusion, are representational: they evoke or re-present a world that seems to exist outside the artifact, and they appear to refer to something other than the works in question. As a special, historical kind of mimesis, the realistic novel is in fact strongly hetero-referential. This does not mean, however, that mimesis alone guarantees the emergence of aesthetic illusion, 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, in defiance of such imitation, can also be illusionist). The basic characteristics found at the textual level of illusionist fiction can be linked to a number of intra-compositional principles of illusion-making, the cumulative effect of which is to produce its typical features of illusion-making as detailed above. These principles regulate the predominant immersive facet of illusionist works, while the latent distance also implied in aesthetic illusion is usually regulated by framing devices (e.g. 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, these principles can only be regarded as tendencies that enhance a potential of aesthetic illusion but cannot guarantee its realization per se. The following four principles, which shape the material, coherence and presentation of an illusionist world, plus two additional principles that contribute to the persuasiveness peculiar to the rhetoricity of illusionist texts, must be distinguished (Wolf 1993a: chap. 2.2, 2004). (a) The principle of access-facilitating construction and vivid presentation of the represented worlds inventory. The main function of this principle is to provide the inventory or repertoire of an illusionist world with activating concepts, schemata and scripts stored in the recipients mind, stemming mostly from previous real-life experience. These schemata ( Schemata) are bound mainly to concrete phenomena (story existents in the case of narratives) rather than 128

abstract ones. 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. principle (e)) as well as by providing graphic details about this world. (b) The principle of consistency of the represented world. Illusionist works enhance the probability of their worlds by linking their inventory according to abstract syntactic concepts (in narratives this includes chronology, causality, etc.) on the basis of fundamental logical and epistemological rules that are compatible with, or identical to, the rules that (appear to) govern real life. 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). Thus the overall tendency is to ensure a fundamental analogy between the illusionist world and the perception of the real world. Consistency operates according to Ryans principle of minimal departure (1991: 51): it is a default option, although departures are possible and may even remain compatible with illusion, provided they are explained or linked to generic conventions, for example, thus obtaining a secondary kind of plausibility. (c) The principle of life-like perspectivity. The experientiality and probability of illusionist representations, which tend to provide recipients with deictic centers as a vantage point from which to experience the represented worlds (Zwaan 1999: 15), are the result of other principles as well. Motivated by the perspectivity of everyday experiencei.e. the inevitable limitation of perception according to the point of view ( Perspective - Point of View) and the horizon of the perceiverone 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. In Western fiction, 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. On the other handand this illustrates the fact that aesthetic illusion is frequently the result of a fine balance between the various principles of illusionextreme curtailment of overt narrators can also threaten textual coherence. In this way, the principle of perspectivity may come into conflict with the principle of consistency. (d) The principle of respecting and exploiting the potentials of the representational macroframes, media and genres employed. Representations rely on semiotic macro-frames (typically narrative and descriptive ones), and they also employ specific media and genres. All of these basic frames of individual representations have particular potentials and limits. 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, for instance. 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. Again, certain deviations may remain illusioncompatible, but going too much against the grain of these basic frames of representation (as in the hypertrophy of description in the French nouveau roman, for example) would highlight mediality as such and foreground the conventionality of narrative or of certain narrative genres. As a result, the readers focus would shift from the represented world as the center of aesthetic illusion to the conditions of its construction and transmission, thereby activating aesthetic distance and undermining immersion. (e) The principle of generating interest, and in particular emotional interest, in the represented world. This is an active rhetorical principle resulting from the use of various devices of 129

persuasio that render representations attractive and keep distance at a minimum. It imitates real-life perception in that perception is usually motivated by certain interests. The means by which the recipients interest is elicited are highly variable. They often include moderate departures from conventions and expectations as mentioned in connection with other illusionist principles, and they may range from catering to recipients desires by providing certain inventory-elements (e.g. sex and crime) to topical references and discursive devices intended to create suspense. In accordance with the importance of feelings for illusionist immersion, one particular area of this principle is appeal to the recipients emotions. This principle is also responsible for the scarcity, in typically illusionist representations, of elements such as carnivalesque comedy, as this tends to reduce emotional involvement. (f) The principle of celare artem. The tendency of illusionist fiction to minimize aesthetic distance and the inconspicuousness of its discourse is regulated mainly by a principle which, in accordance with the rhetoric of antiquity and post-medieval aesthetics, may be called the principle of celare artem. Similarly to other illusionist principles, celare artem contributes to forming an analogy with a condition of real-life perception, namely the tendency to disregard the fact that perception is limited owing to its inevitable mediacy. This principle favors immersion by concealing the mediacy and mediality of representation, but also, where applicable, fictionality by avoiding paradox-creating devices such as (non-naturalizable) metalepsis and abstaining from overly intrusive metatextual elements and, generally, from devices that lay bare scripts and clichs as constituents of the represented world (although in some cases authenticity-enhancing metatextual devices may be illusion-compatible).

3 History of the Concept and its Study

3.1 History of the Term In Latin, illusio (from illudere [in+ludere]: make fun of, jeer, deceive) has both a negative sense (deceit, jeering) and a neutral or positive sense, notably in classical rhetoric, where illusio is an acceptable device sometimes used as a synonym of irony. The negative sense acquires Christian overtones in post-classical times, as in illusiones diaboli (the devils deceits), and retains this negative meaning through Medieval Latin, Old French and Middle English to Shakespeare. A neutral or positive meaning re-emerges only in the 17th century, as can be seen in the title of Corneilles comedy LIllusion comique (1636). Shortly afterwards, the term can be encountered as an aesthetic notion denoting dramatic illusion in French aesthetic theory (e.g. in Abb dAubignacs Pratique du thtre, 1657). In French 18th-century aesthetic theory from Dubos to Marmontel and Diderot, illusion becomes a much discussed term, 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; Oelmller ed. 1982). In English, Henry Home, Lord Kames called illusion an ideal presence (Home 1762), but Coleridge began to use the term Dramatic Illusion ([1804/05] 1960, vol. 1: 176). In the 20th century, it is the art historian Gombrich who, owing to his magisterial Art and Illusion (1960), perhaps, has done most to disseminate the term. It continues to be used in spite of 130

Brinkers plea that the concept (he actually means term) be eliminate[d] from aesthetic theory (1977/78: 191). Nowadays, immersion is often used in place of illusion.

3.2 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.C. 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. The famous anecdote of the illusionist contest between the trompe-lil painters Parrhasios and Zeuxis is a good illustration of this new approach to art. With reference to literature, Aristotles theory of tragedy, which hinges on the notion of mimesis in conjunction with the triggering of the emotional effects of eleos and phobos, 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. Most important, however, is Platos hostility toward the mimetic arts due to the illusory nature of artistic representation. During the Renaissance, aesthetic illusion became a consciously produced effect in literature and was even the object of metatextual commentary (although not under this term), as can be seen in Cervantess Don Quixote and in Shakespeare (Wolf 1993b). In the history of fiction, Don Quixote is a particularly remarkable milestone, owing to its illusionist ambivalence (Wolf 1993a: chap. 4; 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). It can thus be said to inaugurate two antagonistic traditions: the great tradition of illusionist fiction, which found its peak in the 19th-century realist novel, and an anti-illusionist counter-tradition in which various devices of defamiliarization (ostrananie) were developed, notably in Romanticism (in texts characterized by romantic irony), in modernism and in the experimentations of radical postmodernism, the hitherto unsurpassed climax of anti-illusionism. In contemporary post-postmodernist fiction, 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.

3.3 Influential Positions Ever since it has been cognized as such, aesthetic illusion has been accompanied by controversial evaluations, the first manifestation of which can be seen in the differing stances taken by Plato and Aristotle toward immersion as an effect of mimesis. From the 17th to the end of the 19th century, 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

effects of literature and art as well as on a probabilistic persuasiveness rivaling non-fictional discourses. The illusion-critical position was motivated by equally diverse factors. With reference to literature, one factor was concern for the aesthetic appreciation of literature as an art (in his entry on Illusion in the Encyclopdie, Marmontel opposes Diderots ideal of complete illusion); another factor was distrust of complacent passivity in the reception of literature, which was thought to prevent its political efficiency (cf. Brecht)a position overlooking the fact that all reception is an active process. Yet another factor was the Romantic and, later, postmodernist diffidence with regard to the pre-condition of all aesthetic illusion, namely representation. It does not come as a surprise, however, that despite fierce opposition, particularly in recent cultural history, aesthetic illusion seems to be more alive than ever, notably in the mass media, since immersion appears to cater well to a fundamental human need for imaginary experience. Both aesthetic illusion and anti-illusionism (often designated by other terms such as realism and immersion for illusion, and metafiction for anti-illusionism) have been discussed from various angles. Up to the 1990s, historical approaches (e.g. in part, Gombrich 1960; Strube 1971; Alter 1975), phenomenological and reader-response approaches (e.g. Lobsien 1975; Smuda 1979) as well as text-centered approaches (Wolf 1993a) prevailed. More recently, aesthetic illusion has been viewed from the perspective of possible-worlds theory (Ryan 1991, 2001) as well as in the context of emotion research (Mellmann 2002, 2006), a focus which also informs part of empirical reader response research (Miall 1995) and cognitive and/or psychological approaches (Walton 1990; Gerrig 1993; Anderson 1996; Zwaan 1999; Bortolussi & Dixon 2003).

3.4 Relevance for Narratology Aesthetic illusion is not restricted to narratives, as illustrated by important forms of nonnarrative illusionist painting (portraits, still lives, genre scenes, landscape painting, etc.). However, there is a special relationship between aesthetic illusion and narrative and, consequently, a special relevance of this phenomenon to narratology. The link between illusion and narrative resides in the quasi-experiential quality of all aesthetic illusion and the characteristic experientiality of typical narratives. It is true that experience can relate merely to space, a moment in time or a static state, but that movement and change, especially if unexpected, have a particular affinity to experience (as the German Erfahrung suggests, containing fahren, to move, to ride), pointing to narrative as the most important cognitive macro-frame man has developed to make sense of experience in and of time. Experientiality has therefore justly been viewed as one of the fundamental elements of narrativity (Fludernik 1996). Another link, closely related, is that aesthetic illusion provides life-like experience and that illusionist works provide analogies to structures and contents of real-life experience, while life is in turn often experienced according to narrative patterns. If there is indeed a special but not necessary relationship between narrative and aesthetic illusion, 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. It has been claimed that this is the narrating process and thus the narrator (Nnning 2000, 2001). While in some cases this may be true (e.g. in Tristram Shandy), privileging the narrator in this general way would render stories with covert narrators or narratives without 132

narrators (drama, film) less prone to illusion, which is clearly not the case. We may experience a single voice (including a narrators voice), yet a whole world usually has a higher potential of experientiality, in particular if it is a narrative world with a high degree of tellability, and this shows that the primary center of illusion in narratives is the story, i.e. characters and events ( Event and Eventfulness), rather than narration.

4 Topics for Further Investigation In spite of the fact that aesthetic illusion is an extremely widespread phenomenon in the reception of artistic representations, it has received amazingly scant attention in research, leaving open several areas for additional research. Investigations could focus on a broader systematic search for historical evidence of aesthetic illusion, its nature and functions in the various media (narrative as well as descriptive media), and also on empirical testing of illusion-creating principles (3.3) by collecting responses of contemporary readers to certain representations and determining to what degree they reflect these principles. Cognitive psychology, together with empirical enquiries, also seems to provide a promising approach to aesthetic illusion, 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. Last but not least, 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, a desideratum for future research is certainly interdisciplinary cooperation, not only between narratologists and cognitive psychologists, but also, and closer to aesthetic concerns, between narratology and drama theory, art history and film studies. For aesthetic illusion is a transmedial, transmodal and transgeneric phenomenon, and if this is taken into account, a still better understanding of it will be achieved, ultimately leading, perhaps, to a general theory of aesthetic illusion that transcends individual genres, modes of representation and media.

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Alter, Robert (1975). Partial Magic: The Novel as a Self-Conscious Genre. Berkeley: U of California P. Anderson, Joseph D. (1996). The Reality of Illusion: An Ecological Approach to Cognitive Film Theory. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP. Balter, Leon (2002). Magic and the Aesthetic Illusion. Journal of the American Psychoanalytical Society 50, 1163196. Barthes, Roland (1968). LEffet de rel. Communications No. 11, 849. Bortolussi, Marisa & Peter Dixon (2003). Psychonarratology: Foundations for the Empirical Study of Literary Response. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 133

Brinker, Menachem (1977/78). Aesthetic Illusion. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 16, 19196. Cohen, Annabel J. (2001). Music as a Source of Emotion in Film. P. N. Juslin & J. A. Sloboda (eds). Music and Emotion: Theory and Research. Oxford: Oxford UP, 24972. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor ([1804/05] 1960). Elements of Shakespearean Criticism, 2 vols. Ed. Th. Middleton Raysor. London: Dent. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor ([1817] 1965). Biographia Literaria. Ed. G. Watson. London: Dent. Fludernik, Monika (1996). Towards a Natural Narratology. London: Routledge. Gerrig, Richard J. (1993). Experiencing Narrative Worlds: On the Psychological Activities of Reading. New Haven: Yale UP. Gombrich, Ernst H. (1960). Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation. Oxford: Phaidon. Home, Henry, Lord Kames ([1762] 1970). Elements of Criticism. Ed. R. Voitle. Hildesheim: Olms. Hhn, Peter & Jens Kiefer (2005). The Narratological Analysis of Lyric Poetry: Studies in English Poetry from the 16th to the 20th Century. Berlin: de Gruyter. Lobsien, Eckhard (1975). Theorie literarischer Illusionsbildung. Stuttgart: Metzler. Mellmann, Katja (2002). E-Motion: Being Moved by Fiction and Media? Notes on Fictional Worlds, Virtual Contacts and the Reality of Emotions. PsyArt: A Hyperlink Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts. Article 020604 <> (accessed March 23, 2006). Mellmann, Katja (2006). Literatur als emotionale Attrappe: Eine evolutionspsychologische Lsung des paradox of fiction. U. Klein et al. (eds). Heuristiken der Literaturwissenschaft. Paderborn: Mentis, 14566. Miall, David S. (1995). Anticipation and Feeling in Literary Response: A Neuropsychological Perspective. Poetics 23, 27598. Mller-Zettelmann, Eva (2000). Lyrik und Metalyrik: Theorie einer Gattung und ihrer Selbstbespiegelung anhand von Beispielen aus der englisch- und deutschsprachigen Dichtkunst. Heidelberg: Winter. Nnning, Ansgar (2000). Great Wits Jump: Die literarische Inszenierung von Erzhlillusion als vernachlssigte Entwicklungslinie des englischen Romans von Laurence Sterne bis Stevie Smith. B. Reitz & E. Voigts-Virchow (eds). Lineages of the Novel: Essays in Honour of Raimund Borgmeier. Trier: WVT, 6791. Nnning, Ansgar (2001). Mimesis des Erzhlens: Prolegomena zu einer Wirkungssthetik, Typologie und Funktionsgeschichte des Akts des Erzhlens und der Metanarration. J. Helbig (ed). Erzhlen und Erzhltheorie im 20. Jahrhundert: Festschrift fr Wilhelm Fger. Heidelberg: Winter, 1347. Oelmller, Willi, ed. (1982). Kolloquium Kunst und Philosophie. Vol. 2: sthetischer Schein. Paderborn: Schningh. Ryan, Marie-Laure (1991). Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence and Narrative Theory. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2001). Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2006). Avatars of Story. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Schaeffer, Jean-Marie (1999). Pourquoi la fiction? Paris: Seuil. 134

Schaeffer, Jean-Marie & Ioana Vultur (2005). Immersion. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 23739. Smuda, Manfred (1979). Der Gegenstand in der bildenden Kunst und Literatur: Typologische Untersuchungen zur Theorie des sthetischen Gegenstands. Mnchen: Fink. Strube, Werner (1971). sthetische Illusion: Ein kritischer Beitrag zur Geschichte der Wirkungssthetik des 18. Jahrhunderts. PhD Diss. U of Bochum. Walton, Kendall L. (1990). Mimesis as Make-Believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Wolf, Werner (1993a). sthetische Illusion und Illusionsdurchbrechung in der Erzhlkunst. Theorie und Geschichte mit Schwerpunkt auf englischem illusionsstrenden Erzhlen. Tbingen: Niemeyer. Wolf, Werner (1993b). Shakespeare und die Entstehung sthetischer Illusion im englischen Drama. Germanisch-Romanische Monatsschrift, n.s. 43, 279301. Wolf, Werner (1998). Aesthetic Illusion in Lyric Poetry? Poetica 30, 25189. Wolf, Werner (2004). Aesthetic Illusion as an Effect of Fiction. Style 38, 32551. Wolf, Werner (2006). Introduction: Frames, Framings and Framing Borders in Literature and Other Media. W. Wolf & W. Bernhart (eds). Framing Borders in Literature and Other Media. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 140. Zwaan, Rolf A. (1999). Situation Models: The Mental Leap into Imagined Worlds. Current Directions in Psychological Science 8, 158.

5.2 Further Reading Burwick, Frederick & Walter Pape, eds. (1990). Aesthetic Illusion: Theoretical and Historical Approaches. Berlin: de Gruyter. Grabes, Herbert (1978). Wie aus Stzen Personen werden ... ber die Erforschung literarischer Figuren. Poetica 10, 40528. Grau, Oliver (2003). Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion. Cambridge: MIT P. Pape, Walter & Frederick Burwick eds. (1995). Perception and Appearance in Literature, Culture and the Arts. Berlin: de Gruyter. Strube, Werner (1976). Illusion. J. Ritter & K. Grnder (eds). Historisches Wrterbuch der Philosophie. Darmstadt: WBG, vol. 4, 20415. Walsh, Dorothy (1983). The Non-Delusive Illusion of Literary Art. The British Journal of Aesthetics 23, 5360. Wolf, Werner (2008). Is Aesthetic Illusion illusion rfrentielle? Immersion and its Relationship to Fictionality and Factuality. Journal of Literary Theory 2.1, 99 126, 17173.


Schmid, Wolf: "Implied Author". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

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, ideological, and aesthetic properties for which indexical signs can be found in the text. Thus, the implied author has an objective and a subjective side: it is grounded in the indexes of the text, but these indexes are perceived and evaluated differently by each individual reader ( Reader). We have the implied author in mind when we say that each and every cultural product contains an image of its maker. The implied author is therefore not a category specific to verbal narration; it is, however, most often discussed in relation to linguistic texts, particularly in narratological contexts.

2 Explication The implied author has, after being introduced by Booth (1961), become a widespread term for a concept referring to the author contained, but not represented, in a work. This concept presents itself in various forms. 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. Those adopting a critical stance, on the other hand, use it as a term for a reader-generated construct without an equivalent pragmatic role in the narrative work. In neither of these usages it is claimed that authors have the intention of creating an image of themselves in their works. Instead, the image is understood as one of the byproducts that, in the sense of Bhlers expressive function of language (1918/20), necessarily accompany each and every symbolic representation. Any of the acts that produced a work can function as an indexical sign bearing this indirect form of self-expression. In particular, these acts include the fabrication of a represented world; the invention of a story with situations, characters ( Character), and actions; the selection of a particular action logic with a more or less pronounced world-view; the deployment of a narrator and his or her perspective ( 136

Perspective - Point of View); 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 finally, the presentation of the narrative in particular linguistic (or visual) forms. The concept has provoked questions above all because it has two dissimilar aspects. On the one hand, it has an objective component: the implied author is seen as a hypostasis of the works structure. On the other hand, it has a subjective component relating to reception: the implied author is seen as a product of the readers meaning-making activity. The relative importance of these two aspects varies depending on how the concept is used: essentialists insist on the importance of the works structure in defining the implied author, whereas constructivists highlight the role played by the freedom of interpretation. At any rate, it must be remembered that, like the readings of different recipients, the various interpretations of a single reader are each associated with a different implied author. Depending on the function a work is believed to have had according to a given reading, the implied author will be reconstructed as having predominantly aesthetic, practical, or ideological intentions.

3 History of the Concept and its Study

3.1 Russian Formalism, Czech and Polish Structuralism The concept of the implied author was first formulated systematically against the background of Russian formalism. The formalist Tynjanov ([1927] 1971: 75) coined the term literary personality, which he uses to refer to a works internal abstract authorial entity. Vinogradov, a scholar of language and style with links to the formalist movement, began developing the concept of the authors image (obraz avtora) in 1926 (1992: 23742; Glz 2009). He later defined this image as the concentrated embodiment of the essence of the work, as drawing together the entire system of the linguistic structures of the characters in their correlation with the narrator or narrators, and thereby being the conceptual stylistic centre, the focus of the whole (Vinogradov 1971: 118). In the 1970s, Russian thought on the idea of the author in the text was taken further by Korman (Rymar & Skobelev 1994: 60102). Drawing on Vinogradovs concept of the authors image and Baxtins theory of dialogic interaction between different points of meaning, Korman (1977) developed a method that he described as systemically subjectbased. At its center lies the study of the author as the consciousness of the work. Kormans approach differs from the theory of his predecessors in two ways. In Vinogradovs writings, the authors image is described stylistically and presented as the product obtained when the different styles brought into play in a work are drawn together; Korman, on the other hand, concentrates primarily on the relations between the various centers of consciousness in the work. And whereas Baxtins interest in the problem of the authors image is primarily philosophical and aesthetic in nature, Kormans deliberations are dominated by poetics. For Korman, the author in the workwhich he calls the conceived authoris realized in the 137

correlation of all the constituent textual elements of the work in question with its subjects of speech, i.e. those subjects to whom the text is attributed, and the subjects of consciousness, i.e. those subjects whose consciousnesses are expressed in the text (Korman 1977: 120). In the context of Czech structuralism, Mukaovsk (1937: 353) spoke at an early date of the author in the work as an abstract subject that, contained in the structure of the work, is merely a point from which it is possible to survey the entire work at a glance. In any given work, Mukaovsk adds, it is possible to find indications pointing to the presence of this abstract subject, which must never be identified with an actual individual such as the author or the recipient. 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). Taking the ideas of his teacher as his starting point, the second-generation Czech structuralist ervenka suggested that the subject of the work, or personalitythe entity that Mukaovsk called the abstract subjectis the signified, the aesthetic object of the literary work, the work itself being treated as an index in the Peircean sense (ervenka 1969). For ervenka, the personality thus defined embodies the principle by which all the semantic levels of the work are dynamically united, without forcing us to suppress the inner richness and personal color that points back to the concrete author. At the beginning of Polish research on the subject of the work we find Sawiski (1966, 1967), whose writings reflect the ideas of Vinogradov and Mukaovsk. Where Vinogradov introduces the concept of the authors image, Sawiski refers to the subject of the creative acts or the maker of the rules of speech. Balcerzan (1968) uses the term internal author to refer to the same entity. Subject of the work is the name given to the authorial entity in the work in the framework of literary communication outlined by Okopie-Sawiska (1971). Fieguth (1975: 16), Okopie-Sawiskas German translator and commentator, describes it as the subject of the use of literary rules in the work.

3.2 Approaches in the West In Western narratology, the introduction of the implied author concept was linked to work on the notion of the unreliable narrator, in other words, the axiological disconnection of the narrator from the horizon of values against which a work operates. The paradigmatic form of the concept was developed by Booth (1961), an American literary scholar belonging to the Chicago School (Kindt & Mller 1999, 2006a, 2006b). Since Flaubert, there had existed a view according to which authors should be objective, that is to say neutral and impassionnate; Booth, in contrast, underlined the inescapable subjectivity of the author: As he writes, [the real author] creates not simply an ideal, impersonal man in general, but an implied version of himself that is different from the implied authors we meet in other mens works. [] the picture the reader gets of his presence is one of the authors most important effects. However impersonal he may try to be, his reader will inevitably construct a picture of the [author] who writes in this manner (Booth [1961] 1983: 701). These words have been understood by some as referring to a self-image intentionally created by the author. However, it is more likely that Booths rather imprecise formulation was meant to capture the idea that the creator of every product is inevitably and involuntarily represented 138

indexically in it. Booth, who subscribed to the criticism of the intentional fallacy presented by Wimsatt & Beardsley (1946), 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. As Booth (1968: 11213) objected, the New Criticisms fight against a string of fallacies and heresies served to rule out not just the author but also the audience, the world of ideas and beliefs, and even the narrative interest itself. The concept of authorship in the work was meant to provide a way round these obstacles, to make it possible to talk about a works meaning and intention without falling foul of the criminal heresies. Booths approach has subsequently been taken up and refined on many occasions (cf. in particular Iser 1972; Chatman 1978: 14749; Rimmon-Kenan [1983] 2002: 878). Equivalent concepts have also been introduced, some closely associated with Booths, others less so. Eco (1979), for example, speaks of the model author, which he treats as an interpretive hypothesis of the empirical reader, and Easthope (1983: 3072) draws on the linguistic work of mile Benveniste in suggesting the term subject of enunciation. Building on the Slavic origins of the concept, Schmid (1973) introduced the term abstract author (taken up by, for example, Link 1976: 40; Lintvelt [1981] 1989: 1722; Hoek 1981), which he has subsequently defended against criticism (Schmid 1986: 30006; cf. also the revision in Schmid [2005] 2008: 4564).

3.3 The Implied Author Dispute The concept of the implied author has given rise to heated debate. Hempfer (1977: 10) passed categorical judgment over the concepts of the implied (in his words implizit, i.e. implicit) author and reader, writing that the two entities not only seem to be of no theoretical use but also obscure the real fundamental distinction, that between the speech situation in the text and that outside it. Over two decades later, Zipfel (2001: 120) presented a similar indictment of the implied author, condemning the concept as superfluous to narrative theory, hopelessly vague, and terminologically imprecise. Bal has established herself as a bitter opponent of Booths implied author and Schmids abstract author. These superfluous concepts (1981a: 20809), she believes, have fostered the misguided practice of isolating authors from the ideologies of their works. The implied author, she believes, is a deceptive notion that promised to account for the ideology of the text. This would have made it possible to condemn a text without condemning its author and vice versaa very attractive proposition to the autonomists of the 60s (1981b: 42). More balanced criticism has been put forward in many forms. The objections raised can be summarized as follows: (a) Unlike the fictive narrator, the implied author is not a pragmatic agent but a semantic entity (Nnning 1989: 33, 1993: 9); (b) the implied author is no more than a reader-created construct (Rimmon-Kenan [1983] 2002: 87; Toolan [1988] 2001: 64) and as such should not be personified (Nnning 1989: 3132); (c) despite repeated warnings against an overly anthropomorphic understanding of the implied author, Chatman (1978: 151) puts forward a model in which the implied author functions as a participant in communication which is, according to Rimmon-Kenan ([1983] 2002: 89), precisely what the implied 139

author is not; (d) in so far as it involves a semantic rather than a structural phenomenon, the concept of the implied author belongs to the poetics of interpretation rather than the poetics of narration (Diengott 1993: 189); (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 & Mller 2006b: 16768). These criticisms are perfectly legitimate, but they are not sufficient to justify excluding the implied author from the attention of narratology. Many critics continue to use the concept, clearly because no better term can be found for expressing that authorial element whose presence is inferred in a work. It is also striking that those who advocate abandoning the implied author have put forward few convincing alternatives. Nnning, for example, who believes that it is terminologically imprecise, theoretically inadequate, and unusable in practice, suggests replacing it with the totality of all the formal and structural relations in a text (1989: 36). In a chapter In Defense of the Implied Author, Chatman (1990: 7489) suggests a series of alternatives for readers uneasy with the term implied author: text implication; text instance; text design; or simply text intent. Finally, Kindt & Mller (1999: 28586) identify two courses of action. We should, they suggest, either replace the term implied author with that of author itself (which would attract familiar objections from anti-intentionalistic quarters); or, if a non-intentionalistic concept of meaning is to be retained, we should speak instead of text intention. (Since texts as such do not have intentions, the latter term brings with it an undesirable metonymic shift from maker to product.) The case of Genette sheds light on the double-sided view of the implied author concept held by many theorists. Genette did not cover the implied author in his Narrative Discourse (1972), which led to a certain amount of criticism (e.g. Rimmon 1976: 58; Bronzwaer 1978: 3); he then devoted an entire chapter to it in Narrative Discourse Revisited ([1983] 1988: 13554). Detailed analysis in the latter work leads to a conclusion that is not at all unfavorable to the implied author. Genette observes first that, because it is not specific to the rcit, the auteur impliqu is not the concern of narratology. His answer to the question is the implied author a necessary and (therefore) valid agent between the narrator and the real author? (139; emphasis in original) is ambivalent. The implied author, he says, is clearly not an actual agent, but is conceivably an ideal agent: the implied author is everything the text lets us know about the author (148). But we should not, Genette warns, turn this idea of the author into a narrative agent. 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; Chatman 1978; Bronzwaer 1978; Hoek 1981; Lintvelt 1981), none of whom intend to make the implied author a narrative agent.

3.4 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. These signs mark out a specific world-view and aesthetic standpoint. The implied author is not an intentional creation of the concrete author and differs categorically in this respect from the narrator, who is always an explicitly, or even implicitly, represented entity. The implied author belongs to a different level of the work; the implied 140

author stands for the principle behind the fabrication of a narrator and the represented world in its entirety, the principle behind the composition of the work (note here Hhns subject of composition [1995: 5], a development of Easthopes subject of enunciation [1983]). It has no voice of its own, no text. Its word is the entire text with all its levels, the entire work as a created object. Its position is defined by both ideological and aesthetic norms. 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, taking concrete shape only with the help of the reader. The implied author is a construct formed by the reader on the basis of his or her reading of the work. If the process of construction is not to simply confirm to the meanings that readers want to find in the first place, it must be based on the evidence in the text and the constraints this places on the freedom of interpretation. It would therefore be more appropriate to speak of reconstruction instead of construction. The implied authors of various works by a single concrete author display certain common features and thereby constitute what we might call an uvre author, a stereotype that Booth (1979: 270) refers to as a career author. There are also more general author stereotypes that relate not to an uvre but to literary schools, stylistic currents, periods, and genres. Contrary to the impression given by the term authors image, 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. And despite the connotations of the German impliziter Autor (implicit author, which brings with it a shift from the reception-based orientation of implied to an ontologizing concept), the implied author cannot be modeled as the mouthpiece of the real author. It is not unusual for authors to experiment with their worldviews and put their beliefs to the test in their works. In some cases, for example, authors use their works to depict possibilities that cannot be realized in the context of their real-life existence, adopting in the process standpoints on certain issues that they could not or would not wish to adopt in reality. In such cases, the implied author can be more radical than the real author ever really was or, to put it more carefully, than we imagine him or her to have been on the basis of the evidence available. Such radicalization of the implied author is characteristic, for example, of Tolstojs late works. The late Tolstoj was much less convinced by many of his ideas than his implied authors; the latter embodied, and took to extremes, one particular dimension of Tolstojs thought. Conversely, 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. An example of this is Dostoevskij, who in his late novels developed a remarkable understanding of ideologies that he vehemently attacked as a journalist.

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), who points out that without the implied author it is difficult to analyze the norms of the text, especially when they differ from those of the narrator. Similarly, Bronzwaer (1978: 3) notes that we need an instance that calls the extradiegetic narrator into existence, which is responsible for him in the same way as he is responsible for the diegesis. 141

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 authors intentions and ideology. 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. The existence of the implied author, not part of the represented world but nonetheless part of the work, casts a shadow over the narrator, who often appears as master of the situation and seems to have control over the semantic order of the work. The presence of the implied author in the model of epic communication highlights the fact that narrators, their texts, and the meanings expressed in them are all represented. Only on the level of the implied author do these meanings acquire their ultimate semantic intention. The presence of the implied author in the work, above the characters and the narrator and their associated levels of meaning, establishes a new semantic level arching over the whole work: the authorial level ( Narrative Levels).

3.6 Implied Reader In many discussions, 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), to be distinguished from the addressee of the fictive narrator, known as the narratee (Prince 1971) or fictive reader (Schmid 1973). Among the theorists who have worked on the implied reader, Iser (1972, 1976) deserves special mention. In the first, German version of The Act of Reading, Iser describes the implied reader (or impliziter Leser, as he calls it) as a structure inscribed in the texts not having any real existence (Iser 1976: 60). 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 effectpredispositions laid down, not by an empirical outside reality, but by the text itself. Consequently, the implied reader as a concept has his roots firmly planted in the structure of the text; he is a construct and in no way to be identified with any real reader (Iser 1978: 34). ervenka ([1969] 1978: 17475) characterizes the addressees personality, by which he means the implied reader, with the statement that if the subject of the work was the correlate of the totality of the acts of creative choice, then the overall meaning of the works 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, the ability to transform the potentiality of the work into an aesthetic object. In Russia, following on from Korman, Rymar & Skobelev (1994: 11921) use the term conceived reader. Korman (1977: 127) himself had paired the author as bearer of the works concept with the corresponding entity of the reader as postulated addressee, ideal principle of reception. Similarly, Eco (1979) pairs the model author with the model reader, defined by him as a hypothesis formed by the empirical author. It is tempting to assume, as several theorists have indeed done, that the relationship between implied author and implied reader is a symmetrical one. If the implied author is an image of 142

the real author created by the real reader, then, we might be inclined to conclude, the implied reader must be the image of the real reader envisaged by the real author. The true state of affairs, of course, is more complicated, for there is no symmetry between the ways in which the two abstract entities are formed. The implied reader is ultimately one of the attributes of the concrete readers reconstructed implied author. It follows that the implied reader is no less dependent on the readers individual acts of reconstruction than the implied author whose attribute it is. Two hypostases of the (re)constructed implied reader should be distinguished on the basis of the functions it can be thought to have. First, the implied reader can be seen as an assumed addressee to whom the work is directed and whose linguistic codes, ideological norms, and aesthetic ideas must be taken account of if the work is to be understood. In this function, the implied reader bears the factual codes and norms that it is assumed the audience will use. Second, 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: 6872, 2007).

4 Topics for Further Research (a) Where systematic considerations and practical applications are concerned, there is a pressing need to identify the indexical signs that refer to the implied author, and to distinguish between author- and narrator-specific indexes. (b) The manifestation of the implied author in different periods, cultural spheres, text types, and genres has yet to be examined in detail. (Translated by Alastair Matthews)

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Bal, Mieke (1981a). The Laughing Mice, or: on Focalisation. Poetics Today 2, 202 10. Bal, Mieke (1981b). Notes on Narrative Embedding. Poetics Today 2, 4159. Balcerzan, Edward (1968). Styl i poetyka twrczoci dwujzycznej Brunona Jasiskiego. Z zagadnie teorii przekadu. Wrocaw: Zakad Narodowy im. Ossolinskich, 1416. Booth, Wayne C. ([1961] 1983). The Rhetoric of Fiction. Chicago: Chicago UP. Booth, Wayne C. (1968). The Rhetoric of Fiction and the Poetics of Fictions. Novel: A Forum on Fiction 1, 10517. 143

Booth, Wayne C. (1979). Critical Understanding: The Powers and Limits of Pluralism. Chicago: Chicago UP. Bronzwaer, Wilhelmus J. M. (1978). Implied Author, Extradiegetic Narrator and Public Reader. Neophilologus 62, 118. Bhler, Karl (1918/20). Kritische Musterung der neueren Theorien des Satzes. Indogermanisches Jahrbuch 4, 120. ervenka, Miroslav ([1969] 1978). Das literarische Werk als Zeichen. Der Bedeutungsaufbau des literarischen Werks. Mnchen: Fink, 16383. Chatman, Seymour (1978). Story and Discourse. Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Chatman, Seymour (1990). Coming to Terms. The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. udakov, Aleksandr (1992). V. V. Vinogradov i ego teorija potiki. Slovovemir. Moskva: Sovremennyj pisatel, 21964. Diengott, Nilli (1993). Implied Author, Motivation and Theme and Their Problematic Status. Orbis Litterarum 48, 18193. Easthope, Antony (1983). Poetry as Discourse. London: Methuen. Eco, Umberto (1979). The Role of the Reader. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Fieguth, Rolf (1975). Einleitung. R. F. Literarische Kommunikation. Kronberg: Scriptor, 922. Genette, Grard ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Genette, Grard ([1983] 1988). Narrative Discourse Revisited. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Glz, Christine (2009). Autortheorien im slavischen Funktionalismus. W. Schmid (ed). Slavische Erzhltheorie. Russische und tschechische Anstze. Berlin: de Gruyter, 187237. Hempfer, Klaus W. (1977). Zur pragmatischen Fundierung der Texttypologie. W. Hinck (ed). TextsortenlehreGattungsgeschichte. Heidelberg: Quelle & Meyer, 126. Hoek, Leo H. (1981). La marque du titre. La Haye: Mouton. Hhn, Peter (1995). Geschichte der englischen Lyrik, vol. 1. Tbingen: Francke. Iser, Wolfgang ([1972] 1974). The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Iser, Wolfgang (1976). Der Akt des Lesens: Theorie sthetischer Wirkung. Mnchen: Fink. Iser, Wolfgang (1978). The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Kindt, Tom & Hans-Harald Mller (1999). Der implizite Autor. Zur Explikation und Verwendung eines umstrittenen Begriffs. F. Jannidis et al. (eds). Rckkehr des Autors. Tbingen: Niemeyer, 27387. Kindt, Tom & Hans-Harald Mller (2006a). The Implied Author. Concept and Controversy. Berlin: de Gruyter. Kindt, Tom & Hans-Harald Mller (2006b). Der implizite Autor. Zur Karriere und Kritik eines Begriffs zwischen Narratologie und Interpretationstheorie. Archiv fr Begriffsgeschichte 48, 16390. Korman, Boris (1977). O celostnosti literaturnogo proizvedenija. Izbrannye trudy po teorii i istorii literatury. Ievsk: Izd. Udmurtskogo un-ta, 11928. Link, Hannelore (1976). Rezeptionsforschung. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Lintvelt, Jaap ([1981] 1989). Essai de typologie narrative. Le point de vue. Thorie 144

et analyse. Paris: Corti. Mukaovsk, Jan (1937). Lindividu dans lart. Deuxime congrs international desthtique et de la science de lart. Paris: F. Alcan, vol. 1, 34954. Nnning, Ansgar (1989). Grundzge eines kommunikationstheoretischen Modells der erzhlerischen Vermittlung. Trier: WVT. Nnning, Ansgar (1993). Renaissance eines anthropomorphisierten Passepartouts oder Nachruf auf ein literaturkritisches Phantom? berlegungen und Alternativen zum Konzept des implied author. Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift fr Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 67, 125. Okopie-Sawiska, Alexandra ([1971] 1975). Die personalen Relationen in der literarischen Kommunikation. R. Fieguth (ed). Literarische Kommunikation. Kronberg: Scriptor, 12747. Prince, Gerald (1971). Notes toward a Characterization of Fictional Narratees. Genre 4, 10006. Rimmon, Shlomith (1976). A Comprehensive Theory of Narrative: Genettes Figures III and the Structuralist Study of Fiction. PTL: A Journal for Descriptive Poetics and Theory of Literature 1, 3362. Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith ([1983] 2002). Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. London: Methuen. Rymar, Nikolaj & Vladislav Skobelev (1994). Teorija avtora i problema chudoestvennoj dejatelnosti. Vorone: Logos-Trast. Schmid, Wolf (1973). Der Textaufbau in den Erzhlungen Dostoevskijs. Amsterdam: Grner. Schmid, Wolf (1986). Nachwort zur zweiten Auflage. Eine Antwort an die Kritiker. W. Sch. Der Textaufbau in den Erzhlungen Dostoevskijs. Amsterdam: Grner, 299 318. Schmid, Wolf ([2005] 2008). Elemente der Narratologie. Berlin: de Gruyter. Schmid, Wolf (2007). Textadressat. Th. Anz (ed). Handbuch Literaturwissenschaft. Stuttgart: Metzler, vol. 1, 17181. Sawiski, Janusz (1966). O kategorii podmiotu lirycznego. Tezy referatu. J. Trzynadowski (ed). Wiersz i poezja. Wrocaw: Zakad Narodowy im. Ossolinskich, 5562. Sawiski, Janusz ([1967] 1975). Die Semantik der narrativen uerung. Literatur als System und Proze. Mnchen: Nymphenburger, 81109. Toolan, Michael J. ([1988] 2001). Narrative. A Critical Linguistic Introduction. London: Routledge. Tynjanov, Jurij ([1927] 1971). On Literary Evolution. L. Matejka & K. Pomorska (eds). Readings in Russian Poetics: Formalist and Structuralist Views. Cambridge: MIT P, 6678. Vinogradov, Viktor (1971). Problema obraza avtora v chudoestvennoj literature. O teorii chudoestvennoj rei. Moskva: Izd. Vysaja kola, 105211. Wimsatt, William K. & Monroe C. Beardsley ([1946] 1976). The Intentional Fallacy. D. Newton-de Molina (ed). On Literary Intention. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 113. Zipfel, Frank (2001). Fiktion, Fiktivitt, Fiktionalitt. Berlin: Schmidt.


5.2 Further Reading Kahrmann, Cordula, et al. ([1977] 1996). Erzhltextanalyse. Weinheim: Beltz. Schnert, Jrg (1999). Empirischer Autor, Impliziter Autor und Lyrisches Ich. F. Jannidis et al. (eds): Rckkehr des Autors. Tbingen: Niemeyer, 28994. Suleiman, Susan R. & Inge Crosman eds. (1980). The Reader in the Text. Princeton: Princeton UP.


Alber, Jan & Fludernik, Monika: "Mediacy and Narrative Mediation". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. 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 narrators discourse in one of two ways. 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, im-mediate presentation of the story through the consciousness of a reflector (character). In the reflector mode, we seem to see the storyworld through the eyes of a character and there seems to be no narrator operating as a mediator. Since the introduction of Stanzels term, the fact of a mediate presentation of the story has become a general foundation in structuralist narratology. In Genette, mediation is two-fold on the levels of the discourse (rcit) and the narrators act of telling (narration) ([1972] 1980: 27, [1983] 1988: 13); Prince ([1987] 2003: 58) defines narrative as always having a mediating narratorial level; and Chatman, who looks at film and non-verbal narratives like ballet, speaks of narrative transmission (1978: 22). In recent years, 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, drama, cartoons, ballet, music, pictures, hypertext narratives, and other genres and forms of narrative.

2 Explication Narratives can be mediated by narrators who tell and comment on the story or through agents who merely think, feel, or perceive. Stanzel discriminates between teller- and reflectorcharacters, arguing that they are mediators of [...] fictional events ([1979] 1984: 150). However, they mediate story material, i.e. event sequences, in different ways. Tellercharacters narrate, inform, and comment as if they were transmitting a piece of news or a message. Reflector-characters, on the other hand, do not narrate or transmit. Rather, the 147

reader perceives the action through the eyes of the reflector character, and this veiled mediacy produces what Stanzel calls the illusion of immediacy (141). For Genette, 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. More specifically, the narrating instance represents events and existents (story), and they are thereby mediated in a particular (verbal, visual, or audio-visual) sign system (narrative) ([1983] 1988: 13). Chatman speaks of the process of narrative transmission as the source or authority for the story (1978: 22). For him, 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. Chatman discriminates between overt narrators, who communicate directly to the reader, and covert narrators, who remain more or less hidden in the narratives discursive shadows (1990: 115). Fludernik argues that all narrative is built on the mediating function of consciousness, a complex natural category with several available cognitive frames to choose from. She integrates Stanzels mediacy into a more general cognitive model of narrative transmission based on real-life schemata. Teller-mode narratives are mediated by the consciousness of a narrator; reflector-mode narratives by the consciousness of a protagonist; and neutral narratives by the reader who views and constructs narrative experience (1996: 50). Underlying the question of what constitutes narrative is the concept of mediacy. While most narrative theorists define narrative in terms of event sequences, Stanzel and Genette reject blanket uses of the term narrative, the latter defining narrative stricto sensu as a verbal transmission ([1983] 1988: 16). In Stanzels account, drama and film are im-mediate renderings of story, while (verbal) narrative is a mediated representationmediated by the discourse of a narrator (openly mediated) or a reflector (obliquely mediated by presenting an illusion of im-mediacy). In contrast, Chatman also considers plays, movies, and cartoons to be narrative because they present stories (1990: 117). For him, there are diegetic and mimetic forms of narrative; narratives can be told or shown. Finally, Fluderniks redefinition of narrativity on the basis of experientiality, i.e. the quasi-mimetic evocation of real-life experience (1996: 12), and its mediation through consciousness allows her to open up the field of narrative inquiry not only to drama and film, but also to oral storytelling and some kinds of poetry.

3 History of the Concept and its Study

3.1 Mediacy from Plato to Stanzel Stanzels notion of mediacy has roots in the distinction between mimesis and haple diegesis in Platos Republic (cf. also Lubbock [1921: 62], Blackmur [1934: xviixviii], and Friedman [1955: 116165]). In Platos diegetic or pure mode, the poet himself is the speaker and does not even attempt to suggest to us that anyone but himself is speaking. In the mimetic mode, however, the poet delivers a speech as if he were someone else. According to Plato, the poet may also combine these two modes and use the mixed mode, as in epic poetry (Plato 1937: 392c95; cf. also Schaeffer & Vultur 2005: 309). Although Plato talks about speech 148

representation (pure narrative and poetry vs. pure drama vs. narrative including dialogue insets), 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. free indirect speech) and the generic distinction between narrative and drama. Stanzels assignment of drama to the pole of immediacy (i.e. unmediated representation of story) therefore aligns immediacy with mimesis and mediacy with diegesis in the Platonic sense ( Speech Representation). While for Plato (and later Stanzel) the term diegetic refers to narratorial discourse (i.e. the act of telling), Genette uses the term digse (adopted from Souriau 1951) to denote the fictional world of the characters ([1972] 1980: 27 n. 2, [1983] 1988: 178). Genettes term digse has many affinities with Aristotles notion of mimesis. For Aristotle, pure narratives and direct representations are two varieties of what he calls mimesis because both represent a world (2002: 1448a). Similarly, Genettes notion of digse refers to the primary story level, specifically excluding the narratorial discourse which is constitutive of both Platos and (in his wake) Stanzels understandings of diegesis. For Genette, the digse is [...] the universe in which the story takes place ([1983] 1988: 17). Despite this terminological disparity, however, Genette and Stanzel agree with regard to the constitutive narratorial mediation of narrative, even though for Genette this is achieved through the narrating instance. For him, the narrators speech act produces the story through the narrative discourse. Stanzels concept of mediacy is directed against Spielhagens prescriptive demand for objectivity, i.e. immediacy of presentation ([1883] 1967: 220). Stanzel seeks to counter the excessive demands of neutralists like Spielhagen, who argued that the narrator should remain completely invisible throughout the narrative and thus wished to see every trace of a narrator erased. Stanzels proposal is closely related to Friedemanns argument that the presence of a narrator in prose writings is in no way inferior to immediacy in drama, since the narrator is evocative of actual experience of the world. According to Friedemann, it is the narrator who evaluates, who is sensitively aware, who observes ([1910] 1965: 26), thus conveying an image of the world as s/he sees it, not as it is in a depersonalized objectivity. From the beginning, Stanzel presents the concept of mediacy as the linchpin for a definition of the term narrative, and he puts forth a sophisticated argument for mediacy as a gradable concept ([1955] 1971: 6). More specifically, he points out that mediacy is more or less foregrounded (as revealed by the presence or absence of comments by an authorial narrator), but its absence in the figural narrative situation is merely apparent. In the final version of his model, Stanzel revises the figural narrative situation by integrating it into the illusion of immediacy in order to constitute the reflector mode of narration, which is responsible for producing this illusion. In opposing the teller mode and the reflector mode, he significantly reformulates his original typology, dating from 1955, by instituting two basic types of mediacy: teller-mode and reflector-mode mediacy. In this discussion, Stanzel proceeds from three pairs of oppositions arranged as scaled categories of person, perspective, and mode (mediacy). The first element of the narrative situation, person, is based on the relations between the narrator and the characters, 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). Perspective directs the readers attention to the way in which s/he perceives the fictional world, 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). 149

Finally, mode breaks down into overt mediacy of narration [teller mode, J.A./M.F.] and covert [...] mediacy which produces the illusion of immediacy in the reader [reflector mode, J.A./M.F.] (Stanzel [1979] 1984: 141). Stanzel regards the three narrative situations (first-person, authorial, and figural) as descriptions of basic possibilities of theorizing narration as mediacy. He also introduces a dynamic analysis into narrative transmission by demonstrating that narrative situations do not span entire novels uniformly. In his remarks on narrative dynamization, he discusses narrative profile and narrative rhythm. Although this dynamization is defined as a dynamization of the narrative situation, i.e. a study of the variations of the narrative situation during the course of the narrative process, the subsequent analysis actually focuses on the relation of the narrative parts, that is, to dialogue and dramatized scene; specifically [on] their purely quantitative ratio and their distribution ([1979] 1984: 637). Besides these proportions, the incidence of direct speech vs. indirect and free indirect speech and thought representation is also taken into account. The second term, narrative rhythm, concerns the distribution of narratorial emphasis in a specific novel and refers to the fact that in most novels, the narrator figure manifests him- or herself prominently at the beginning of the text and sometimes at the end, but then lapses into inactivity when the plot becomes exciting, resurfacing only at moments of narrative report, commentary, or description. The result of this configuration is a simultaneous decrease in these authorial intrusions [which] parallels the increase of the heros perspective solipsism ([1979] 1984: 69). Nevertheless, it must be noted that the introduction of the three axes (identity vs. non-identity of realms of existence; external vs. internal perspective, teller vs. reflector modes) and emphasis on the dynamization of the narrative situation tend to foreground mode (i.e. the distinction between tellers and reflectors) and to background person (Cohn 1981: 168). Cohn additionally points out that Stanzels category of perspective merges the presentation of space (the visible outer world) into the presentation of consciousness (the invisible inner world) (175). And since perspectives on fictional space and fictional minds do not always coincide (Uspenskij 1973: 10507), Cohn considers this axis to be less unified than the other two (cf. also Cohn 1990). She therefore proposes to simplify Stanzels typological circle by subsuming the category of perspective under the heading of mode (1981: 179).

3.2 Mediacy in Genette and Chatman Genette considers Stanzels category of mode to be superfluous, as he finds it easily reducible to our common category of perspective ([1983] 1988: 116). In his view, Stanzels distinction between teller- and reflector-characters confuses the question of voice, or, more precisely, person (who speaks?) with that of mood or, more precisely, perspective (who sees?). He thus revises Cohns amendment of Stanzel by proposing a different taxonomy which diversifies an initial typology that was [...] altogether too limited to the most frequent situations (119). Genettes model is based on the cross-tabulation of heterodiegetic and homodiegetic forms of narrating (who speaks?) and the three types of focalization (zero, internal, external) (who sees?) (21; [1972] 1980: 18994, 245). Genette considers this taxonomy to be an improvement because it is more systematic and includes less common narrative forms such as Hemingways The Killers, a form of heterodiegetic narration with external focalization (the neutral subtype in Stanzel [(1955) 1971: 93]), and Camuss 150

Ltranger, a form of homodiegetic narration with external focalization. Stanzels mediacy is equivalent to what Genette calls narrating act and narrative. More specifically, Genette discriminates between story (the totality of the narrated events), narrative (the discourse, oral or written, that narrates them), and narrating (the real or fictive act that produces that discoursein other words, the very fact of recounting) ([1983] 1988: 13). In this model, the narrating act shapes and transforms the story through the narrative discourse. Similarly, Rimmon-Kenan uses the terms story, text, and narration ([1983] 2002: 3), while Bal modifies Genettes terminology by arguing that it is by way of the text that the reader has access to the story, of which the fabula is a memorial trace that remains with the reader after the reading ([1985] 1997: 5). When Chatman introduced the principle of narrative transmission, he discriminated between overt narrators, covert narrators, and forms of non-narration for neutral narratives (1978: 22). Later, Chatman rejects the idea of non-narration by arguing that every narrative is by definition narratedthat is, narratively presented (1990: 115), but he maintains the distinction between overt and covert narrators, equivalent to Stanzels mediacy. His model is in close agreement with Stanzels, 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. Chatman provides a sliding scale from overt to covert narrators based on the linguistic markers of subjectivity, the presence of narratorial comments, and the use of evaluative phrases. Like Stanzel and Genette, he argues that all narratives have a narrator, so that all three theorists clearly oppose the Banfieldian nonarrator theory (1982), according to which certain sentences of fiction cannot possibly be enunciated by a narrator. Chatman argues that narrative presentation entails an agent, even when the agent bears no signs of human personality (1990: 115). The three authors agree that narratives always present a story which is mediated by a narrators discourse. Furthermore, 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, film, play), but also internally (the duration of the sequence of events that constitute the plot) (9). It is quite apparent that Stanzels teller mode corresponds to Chatmans scale which ranges from overt to covert narration (i.e. from subjective and foregrounded tellers to objective, neutral, and backgrounded narration). By contrast, with regard to Stanzels reflector-mode narrative, in which an illusion of immediacy is projected, Chatman (1978: 198) argues that a covert narrator expresses the thoughts of a character, while Genette ([1983] 1988: 115) describes such a scenario as heterodiegetic narration with internal focalization. What the two terminologies fail to take into account, however, is the prototypical absence of a foregrounded narrator in reflector-mode narratives or, to put it differently, the fact that in order to read an extended passage as internal focalization, a pronounced teller must not interfere because such a foregrounded narrative voice would impede a reading of the text from the characters perspective. Stanzel shows that Modernist novels (e.g. Joyces 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. also James [1909]: 32225). This effect can only be achieved by completely backgrounding the narrative voice reporting on external events (for a critique of this claim, see Schmid 1968). By distinguishing between a teller and a reflector mode, however, the mere reduction of the narratorial voice to a default existence is not sufficient to characterize the reflector mode, since it is equally necessary to have a predominant internal perspective to produce the 151

relevant effect. The reflector mode as mode only makes sense theoretically when one conceives of a different type of transmission through the characters perspective or consciousness in contrast to the prominent (first- or third-person) teller-mode narrative which is mediated by an explicit transmitter.

3.3 Newer Developments Schmid (1982) puts forth an alternative model of narrative mediation by breaking down the story vs. discourse dichotomy into four terms: Geschehen (events); Geschichte (fabula or story); Erzhlung (plot); Prsentation der Erzhlung (narrative discourse). He goes on to posit three processes of transformation between these levels, all of which are accomplished by the narrator. According to Schmid, the mediating narrator first selects particular situations, characters, events, and qualities from the invented story material and transforms them into a story. The narrator then transforms the story into a narrative plot, going through a process that correlates with the linearization of simultaneous event sequences and the permutation of chronological story segments. And finally, the narrator presents the narrative by verbalizing it in a particular style. However, as Cohn argues, fictional narratives do not typically transform something pre-existent into a narrative, and they are thus plotted rather than emplotted (1990: 781). It is therefore worth noting that Schmid assumes an ideal-genetic perspective: the invented story material logically precedes the presentation of the narrative. Fludernik (1996) takes Stanzels concept of mediacy further by locating all mediation in narrative transmission through consciousness (which can surface on several levels and in different shapes). For her, all narratives operate through the projection of consciousnessthe characters, that of the narrative voice, or the readers. She also departs from the general tendency to identify narrativity ( Narrativity) with the presence of a story/plot transmitted in narrative discourse. While most narrative theorists define narrative through sequentiality or progression, Fludernik argues that there can be narratives without plot, but there cannot be narratives without a human experiencer of some sort at some narrative level. 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. In addition, she broadens the analysis to include a wide variety of narratives, following on from Chatman (1978: 96, 1990: 115) and Bal ([1985] 1997: 5). Fludernik proposes to expand the ways in which narrative transmission occurs, 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), but experientiality, a conjunction of reportability and point ( Tellability). Reportability characterizes the interest which tellers and listeners entertain in narratives while point refers to the motivations for telling the story. Since experience is closely associated with actions, event sequences underlie experientiality, with suspense fulfilling a prominent role. Other emotions or thoughts may be foregrounded, however, and some narratives (though few) actually operate without plot. Becketts short prose work Ping is an example of a plotless narrative. In this text, a disembodied voice presents us with repeated descriptions of the same strange world which is somewhat reminiscent of a prison scenario. The only thing we learn is that a body is trapped in a small, 152

white container. This prose work lacks events, but it clearly depicts consciousness and might be read as the agonized ruminations of the bodys mind struggling with some kind of traumatic experience (Alber 2002). Mediacy is constituted by the following cognitive frames or schemata, all of which relate to our real-world knowledge (about telling, experiencing, viewing/observing, and reflecting) and provide us with access to the narrative: (a) the telling frame (narratives focusing on a teller figure); (b) the experiencing frame (narratives roughly corresponding to reflectormode narratives); (c) the viewing frame (this frame occurs less frequently than (a) or (b), but relies on a basic witness position in relation to observed events); (d) the reflecting frame (when narratives project a ruminating consciousness). Consciousness mediates these frames in the reading process in which readers narrativize what they read as narrative, 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: 1252). On this basis, 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. Like all cognitive approaches, this model is grounded in the real-world frames of everyday experience and is reader- rather than production-oriented (Alber 2005). The question of mediacy in narrative fiction has also been examined by Walsh, who argues quite provocatively that the narrator is always either a character who narrates, or the author (2007: 78). For him, extradiegetic heterodiegetic narrators [], who cannot be represented without thereby being rendered homodiegetic or intradiegetic, are in no way distinguishable from authors (84). Walsh suggests eradicating both impersonal and authorial narrators. While the first case aligns with Stanzels illusion of immediacy, the second differs radically from Stanzels distinction between authors and authorial narrators. 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, the (evidently superhuman) agent of narration must indeed have such power, or some lesser or intermittent version of it (73). Thus, omniscience is not a faculty possessed by a certain class of narrators, but a quality of the authors imagination. While some theoreticians infer from this an implied author ( Implied Author) (an ideal, literary, created version of the real man [Booth (1961) 1983: 75]) as the mediating agent of narrative, Walsh speaks of the author, stating that our idea of the author of a written narrative is no more than an interpretation (2007: 84). Two things are worth noting here. First, the difference between Booths implied author and Walshs interpretation of the author is of course minimal or nonexistent. Second, why should it be problematic to argue that third-person narrators can occasionally have supernatural (Ryan 1991: 67) or unnatural (Cohn 1999: 106) powers?

3.4 Mediacy and Narrative Media As pointed out in Nnning & Nnning (2002) and Wolf (2002), the definition of narrativity in reference to experientiality and the extension of mediacy to include an open list of cognitive frames, scripts, and schemata lead in the direction of transmedial and transgeneric narratology, as proposed in Fludernik (1996; Narration in Poetry and Drama; Narration 153

in Various Media). Many forays have recently been made into the area of narratological approaches to film, hypertext narrative, ballet, comic strips, drama, poetry, even painting and music (Ryan 2006, ed. 2004; Wolf 2002, 2003a, 2003b, 2004; Nnning & Nnning 2002). In this area, Chatman (1978, 1990) was an important innovator, 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, putting the concept of narrative under a new light. Chatman sees narrative transmission as media-related, and he therefore dissociates narrativity from the figure of a human narrator (1990: 116; cf. Ryan 2001, 2006). Although he reintroduces a so-called cinematic narrator for film, this figure is not a human or humanlike narrator as in novels. Rather, the term denotes the organizational and sending agency (1990: 127) behind the film and fulfills a neutral or covert shower or arranger function. The notion is similar to what Jahn calls the filmic composition device (FCD), which refers to the theoretical agency behind a films organization and arrangement (2003: F4.1). Even so, the question of who (or what) mediates a film as a whole remains highly disputed. Bordwell, for one, argues that film has narration but no narrator, and that consequently cinematic narration is created by the viewer (1985: 61). On the other hand, 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). And finally, theoreticians such as Gaut speak of an implied filmmaker who mediates the film (2004: 248). From the perspective of natural narratology, one can alternatively argue that film resorts more generally to the viewing frame than to the telling, reflecting, or experiencing frame. Like experimental literary narratives (Alber 2009), new media such as hypertext narratives or computer games require the introduction of new cognitive frames into the model proposed by Fludernik. From this perspective, mediacy does not refer to mediating through a (narrators) discourse, but mediation through consciousness. More specifically, we can gain access to these new media through the identification of consciousness. The verbal medium of a teller/narrator is only one possibility among many others; cognitive frames such as viewing, observing, experiencing, and reflecting (and maybe others) also play an important role. However, 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. As shown by Wolf (2002), paintings and music can only occasionally be narrativized. 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). With poetry, the situation is more vexed. On the one hand, there is narrative poetry (the epic, the ballad), a genre much neglected by narrative theory. On the other hand, many lyric poems exist that are also readable as narratives or contain narrative elements (Fludernik 1996: 30410; Hhn 2002, 2005; Hhn & Schnert 2002; Mller-Zettelmann 2002, 2011; Schnert et al. 2007). All types of poetry (narrative and lyric) are mediated by a speaker. The lyric persona also clearly operates as a mediator on the reflecting frame. However, this does of course not turn lyric poetry into a narrative genre. Lyric poetry does not typically evoke experientiality, i.e. temporal and spatial parameters, and thus lacks the situatedness of narrative. In prototypical cases of lyric poetry, we are confronted with the musings of a disembodied voice about feelings or abstract ideas. Drama has long been a neglected object of narratological analysis. Drama was the focus not only of Aristotles discussion of mimesis and has thus become a subtext of all narrative theory, but like epic forms it is closely bound up with sequentiality and thus invites 154

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

that current research on mediacy has some distinct limits or horizons and that there are numerous matters waiting to be resolved by further research.

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 Walshs proposal to dispense with all extra- and heterodiegetic narrators in novels and short stories. In most cases, it certainly makes sense to discriminate between the author and the authorial or impersonal narrator. (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).

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Alber, Jan (2002). The Moreness or Lessness of Natural Narratology: Samuel Becketts Lessness Reconsidered. Style 36, 5475 (reprinted in: Short Story Criticism 74, 2004, 11324). Alber, Jan (2005). Natural Narratology. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 39495. Alber, Jan (2009). Impossible StoryworldsAnd What To Do With Them. Storyworlds: A Journal of Narrative Studies 1, 7996. Aristotle (2002). On Poetics. Tr. S. Benardete & M. David. South Bend: St. Augustines P. Bal, Mieke ([1985] 1997). Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. Toronto: U of Toronto P. Banfield, Ann (1982). Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Blackmur, Richard P. (1934). Introduction. H. James. The Art of the Novel: Critical Prefaces. New York: Scribners, viixxxix. Booth, Wayne C. ([1961] 1983). The Rhetoric of Fiction. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Bordwell, David (1985). Narration in the Fiction Film. London: Routledge. Chatman, Seymour (1978). Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Chatman, Seymour (1990). Coming To Terms: The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction 156

and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Cohn, Dorrit (1981). The Encirclement of Narrative. Poetics Today 2, 15782. Cohn, Dorrit (1990). Signposts of Fictionality: A Narratological Approach. Poetics Today 11, 775804. Cohn, Dorrit (1999). The Distinction of Fiction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Fludernik, Monika (1996). Towards a Natural Narratology. London: Routledge. Fludernik, Monika (2008). Narrative and Drama. J. Pier & J. . Garca Landa (eds). Theorizing Narrativity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 35583. Friedemann, Kte ([1910] 1965). Die Rolle des Erzhlers in der Epik. Darmstadt: WBG. Friedman, Norman (1955). Point of View in Fiction: The Development of a Critical Concept. PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 70, 116084. Gaut, Berys (2004). The Philosophy of the Movies: Cinematic Narration. P. Kivy (ed). The Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics. Malden: Blackwell, 23053. Genette, Grard ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Genette, Grard ([1983] 1988). Narrative Discourse Revisited. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Hhn, Peter (2002). Reading Poetry as Narrative: Towards a Narratological Analysis of Lyric Poems. Ch. Todenhagen & W. Thiele (eds). Investigations into Narrative Structures. Frankfurt a.M.: Lang, 1327. Hhn, Peter (2005). Plotting the Lyric: Forms of Narration in Poetry. E. MllerZettelmann & M. Rubik (eds). Theory into Poetry: New Approaches to the Lyric. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 14772. Hhn, Peter & Jrg Schnert (2002). Zur narratologischen Analyse von Lyrik. Poetica 34, 287305. Jahn, Manfred (2001). Narrative Voice and Agency in Drama: Aspects of a Narratology of Drama. New Literary History 32, 65979. Jahn, Manfred (2003). A Guide to Narratological Film Analysis. <>. James, Henry ([1909] 1934). Preface to The Ambassadors. H. James. The Art of the Novel: Critical Prefaces. New York: Scribners, 30726. Lothe, Jakob (2000). Narrative in Fiction and Film: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP. Lubbock, Percy (1921). The Craft of Fiction. New York: Scribner. Mller-Zettelmann, Eva (2002). Lyrik und Narratologie. V. Nnning & A. Nnning (eds). Erzhltheorie transgenerisch, intermedial, interdisziplinr. Trier: WVT, 129 53. Mller-Zettelmann, Eva (2011). Poetry, Narratology, Meta-Cognition. G. Olson (ed). Current Trends in Narratology. Berlin: de Gruyter, 23253. Nnning, Ansgar & Roy Sommer (2002). Drama und Narratologie: Die Entwicklung erzhltheoretischer Modelle und Kategorien fr die Dramenanalyse. V. Nnning & A. Nnning (eds). Erzhltheorie transgenerisch, intermedial, interdisziplinr. Trier: WVT, 10528. Nnning, Ansgar & Roy Sommer (2008). Diegetic and Mimetic Narrativity. Some Further Steps Towards a Narratology of Drama. J. Pier & J. . Garca Landa (eds). Theorizing Narrativity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 33154. Nnning, Vera & Ansgar Nnning (2002). Produktive Grenzberschreitungen: 157

Transgenerische, intermediale und interdisziplinre Anstze in der Erzhltheorie. V. Nnning & A. Nnning (eds). Erzhltheorie transgenerisch, intermedial, interdisziplinr. Trier: WVT, 122. Pfister, Manfred ([1977] 1988). The Theory and Analysis of Drama. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Plato (1937). The Republic. Tr. P. Shorey. Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library. Prince, Gerald ([1987] 2003). A Dictionary of Narratology. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Richardson, Brian (1987). Time is Out of Joint: Narrative Models and the Temporality of the Drama. Poetics Today 8, 299310. Richardson, Brian (1988). Point of View in Drama: Diegetic Monologue, Unreliable Narrators, and the Authors Voice on Stage. Comparative Drama 22, 193214. Richardson, Brian (1991). Pinters Landscape and the Boundaries of Narrative. Essays in Literature 18, 3745. Richardson, Brian (2006). Unnatural Voices: Extreme Narration in Modern and Postmodern Contemporary Fiction. Columbus: Ohio State UP. Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith ([1983] 2002). Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. London: Methuen. Ryan, Marie-Laure (1991). Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2001). The Narratorial Functions: Breaking Down a Theoretical Primitive. Narrative 9, 14642. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2006). Avatars of Story. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Ryan, Marie-Laure, ed. (2004). Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Lincoln: U Nebraska P. Schaeffer, Jean-Marie & Ioana Vultur (2005). Mimesis. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 30910. Schmid, Wolf (1968). Zur Erzhltechnik und Bewusstseinstechnik in Dostoevskijs Venyj mu. Die Welt der Slaven 13, 294306. Schmid, Wolf (1982) Die narrativen Ebenen Geschehen, Geschichte, Erzhlung und Prsentation der Erzhlung. Wiener Slawistischer Almanach 9, 83110. Schnert, Jrg, et al. (2007). Lyrik und Narratologie: Text-Analysen zu deutschsprachigen Gedichten vom 16. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert. Berlin: de Gruyter. Souriau, Etienne (1951). La structure de lunivers filmique et le vocabulaire de la filmologie. Revue internationale de filmologie 7/8, 23140. Spielhagen, Friedrich ([1883] 1967). Beitrge zur Theorie und Technik des Romans. Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Stanzel, Franz K. ([1955] 1971). Narrative Situations in the Novel: Tom Jones, MobyDick, The Ambassadors, Ulysses. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Stanzel, Franz K. ([1979] 1984). A Theory of Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Uspenskij, Boris (Uspensky) (1973). A Poetics of Composition: The Structure of the Artistic Text and Typology of a Compositional Form. Berkley: U of California P. Walsh, Richard (2007). The Rhetoric of Fictionality: Narrative Theory and the Idea of Fiction. Columbus: Ohio State UP. Wolf, Werner (2002). Das Problem der Narrativitt in Literatur, bildender Kunst und Musik: Ein Beitrag zu einer intermedialen Erzhltheorie. V. Nnning & A. Nnning (eds). Erzhltheorie transgenerisch, intermedial, interdisziplinr. Trier: WVT, 23 104. Wolf, Werner (2003a). The Lyrican Elusive Genre. Problems of Definition and a 158

Proposal for Reconceptualization. Arbeiten aus Anglistik und Amerikanistik 28, 59 91. Wolf, Werner (2003b). Narrative and Narrativity: A Narratological Reconceptualization and its Applicability to the Visual Arts. Word & Image 19, 180 97. Wolf, Werner (2004). Cross the BorderClose that Gap: Towards an Intermedial Narratology. European Journal of English Studies 8, 81103.

5.2 Further Reading Jahn, Manfred (2005). Mediacy. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 29293. Stivers, David (2007). Witnessing the Invisible: Narrative Mediation in The Princess Casamassima. The Henry James Review 28, 15973.


Pier, John: "Metalepsis". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Last modified: 11 June 2011 John Pier

1 Definition In its narratological sense, metalepsis, first identified by Genette, 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, etc.), or the inverse [] ([1972] 1980: 23435). Described as taking hold of (telling) by changing level (235 n. 51) and thus combining the principle of narrative levels ( Narrative Levels) with the rhetorical figure of metalepsis originating in ancient legal discourse, narrative metalepsis is a deliberate transgression of the threshold of embedding resulting in intrusions [that] disturb, to say the least, the distinction between levels. It produces an effect of humor or of the fantastic or some mixture of the two [], unless it functions as a figure of the creative imagination [] (Genette [1983] 1988: 88). Genette (2004) also argues that not only is metalepsis a violation of the separation between syntactically defined levels, but also a deviant referential operation, 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. Factual Narration). More is at issue, then, than localized rhetorical or stylistic devices, for metalepsis has been characterized as undermining the separation between narration and story (Rimmon-Kenan [1983] 2002: 93), 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, 213), as a narrative short circuit causing a sudden collapse of the narrative system (Wolf 1993: 35658), as producing a disruptive effect on the fabric of narrative (Malina 2002: 1), etc. Unlike factual narrative, moreover, fictional narrative betrays at least the potential for narrative metalepsis (Nelles 1997: 152). 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), but they also suggest that fictional narrative is by nature metaleptic, bound to the paradox of a current presentation of 160

the past (Bessire 2005), or that [a]ll fictions are woven through with metalepses (Genette 2004: 131).

2 Explication Narrative metalepsis as a concept results from the convergence of rhetoric (placing it alongside metaphor and metonymy as tropes of transformation, substitution and succession) and the principle of narrative levels. Genette ([1972] 1980: 23234) explains that metadiegetic (or second-degree) narrative bears either an explanatory, a thematic or an enunciative (rather than content-based) relation to the primary narrative, and it is under the latter that his comments on metalepsis are included, emphasizing a shifting but sacred frontier between two worlds, the world in which one tells, the world of which one tells (236). Essentially, 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)); (b) transgressive merging of two or more levels; (c) doubling of the narrator/narratee axis with the author/reader axis. These features are illustrated by Balzacs While the venerable churchman climbs the ramps of Angoulme, it is not useless to explaina minimal metalepsis (cf. Pier 2005: 24950) which, being incipiently transgressive, 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, demonstrating the latent metaleptic quality of narrative embedding in general.

2.1 Rhetorical vs. Ontological Metalepsis Genettes remarks, though concise, stake out the key features of metalepsis, one of the least debated of his theoretical innovations for many years. 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. Following a proposal by Ryan (2005, 2006: 20430, 24648), it is now widely acknowledged that metalepsis breaks down into a rhetorical (Genette) and an ontological variety (McHale), parallel to the distinction between illocutionary boundary at discourse level and ontological boundary at story level. Rhetorical metalepsis, Ryan claims, opens a small window that allows a quick glance across levels, but the window closes after a few sentences, and the operation ends up reasserting the existence of the boundaries (2006: 207). It has been shown by Fludernik, however, that Genettes narrative metalepsis is in effect an umbrella term containing an implicit typology that integrates Ryans distinction (Fludernik 2003: 38289): (a) authorial metalepsis (Virgil has Dido die): a metafictional strategy that undermines mimetic illusion, foregrounding the inventedness of the story; (b) narratorial or type 1 ontological metalepsis (in Eliots Adam Bede, the narrator invites the narratee to accompany him to Reverend Irwines study): transgression from the extradiegetic to the intradiegetic level is illusionary, drawing a fine line between the readers immersion and lifting of the mimetic illusion; (c) lectorial or type 2 ontological metalepsis (in a story by Cortzar, the 161

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); (d) rhetorical or discourse metalepsis (the Balzac example above). Given the fluid transitions between these types, it can be seen that the more pronounced forms of metalepsis are contained embryonically in the fourth variety, suggesting that rhetorical metalepsis covers all fourwhence the present authors proposal to rename Fluderniks and Ryans rhetorical metalepsis minimal metalepsis. Rather than two distinct types of metalepsisone rhetorical, the other ontologicalwhat is at stake are the forms and degrees of violation of the boundary between the telling and the told, two aspects of the effects of narrative discourse and, more generally, the role such violations play in artistic representation (cf. 2001: 403 on the accentuation of metaleptic relations).

2.2 From Figure to Fiction Genettes rhetorical theory of metalepsis highlights the relation between figural and fictional metalepsis. Both figure and fiction derive from the Latin fingere (to fashion, represent, feign, invent), such that a figure of substitution (i.e. a trope such as metaphor, metonymy, litote, etc.) forms the embryo or outline (esquisse) of a fiction (Genette 2004: 168). 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, a fiction, taking form in the passage between figure as a formal but semantically weak verbal schema and figure as a transfer of meaning, is defined as a figure taken literally and treated as an actual event (20). In contrast to narrative considered as the expansion of a verb (cf. Genette [1972] 1980: 30), fiction can be regarded as a figure taken la lettre, and in the case of metalepsis fictively literalized, it introduces into narratology the problem of ontological transgression in representation. The focus falls no longer on metalepsis as a narrative category forming a system with other describable categories (prolepsis, analepsis, etc.), but on the functioning of representation and the intersection of narrative and fiction. Called into question is the Coleridgean willing suspension of disbelief, triggering a playful simulation of belief, as in the fantastic or the marvelous mode (Genette 2004: 23, 25): with metalepsis, it is the readers belief, not disbelief, that is suspended, setting up a reading contract based not on verisimilitude, but on a shared knowledge of illusion (Baron 2005: 298; cf. Mac 2007). In effect, 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, the one based primarily in the (rhetorical) effects produced by representation through discourse or other semiotic means, the other in the problems of logical paradox encountered by modern science. This can in fact be seen in the partially overlapping concerns of the two orientations. Ryan (2005: 205 n. 3) notes that Genettes discussion bears on the two types without differentiating them, and also that figural and fictional metalepsis correspond roughly to rhetorical and ontological metalepsis (2006: 247 n. 3). It is useful to bear in mind, however, that for Genette fiction is addressed in rhetorical and pragmatic terms, while the ontological approach takes the transdisciplinary ramifications of scientific logic as its reference point.


2.3 Metaleptic Affinities Originating in rhetoric, later to be integrated into narrative theory, metalepsis is now seen as a more widespread phenomenon than initially thought and also to have affinities that vary according to different factors. Thus metalepsis, being paradoxical, is more likely to be cultivated by the baroque, by romanticism or by certain types of modernism than by mimetically inclined classicism or realism, much as it shows a greater propensity for the comic and the ironic than it does for the tragic or the lyric (cf. Pier & Schaeffer 2005: 101; Grabe et al. eds. 2006). Furthermore, being restricted by neither genre nor media, metalepsis is manifested in various ways and to different degrees: the theater arts, thanks to the possibilities of audience participation, are metalepsis-friendly; the cinema, with its technical capacity for hypotyposis (what is presented is depicted as though it were before ones very eyes), can be highly metaleptic, contrary to music, suggesting that metalepsis is bound to the question of representation; the pictorial arts, as demonstrated by the works of Escher and Magritte, possess considerable metaleptic potential, but this is not the case of sculpture, where boundaries between levels are more difficult to define; digital media, with their capacity for generating virtual realities, are fertile terrain for ontological transgressions. And finally, metalepsis is not restricted to high culture, since it is freely resorted to in popular culture, as witnessed by reality TV or by unscripted spectator interventions at sporting events.

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, the practice itself, under different denominations or none at all, extends back to antiquity. 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, more generally, on representation as a cultural phenomenon.

3.1 The Historical Background

3.1.1 Rhetoric The etymology of metalepsis is disputed, but its sense can readily be grasped from the words Latin equivalenttransumptio: assuming one thing for another. Metalepsis has a complex history in that it has been regarded either as a variety of metonymy, a particular form of synonymy, or both. As metonymy, it has been identified: (a) in simple form, or expression of the consequent understood as the precedent or vice versa and; (b) as a chain of associations (a few ears of corn for a few years, the transfer of sense implying a few harvests and a 163

few summers). Metalepsis can also be understood in Quintilians sense as the intermediate step or transition between a term which is transferred and the thing to which it is transferred, resulting in an inappropriate synonym (Morier 1961; Burkhardt 2001; Meyer-Minnemann 2005: 14043; Roussin 2005: 404; on metalepsis and evidentia, see Hsner 2001: 207; Cornils 2005). From the perspective of narrative theory, two positions derive from the rhetoric of metalepsis. Firstly, Genette (2004: 716), drawing on the first two types above, 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 then expands it (with Fontanier) beyond the single word to include an entire proposition. Metalepsis, he argues, combines cause for effect or effect for cause with substitution of an indirect for a direct expression. He points out the importance, in narrative, of authorial metalepsis, by which an author is represented or represents himself as producing what, in the final analysis, he only relates (Fontanier). He draws attention to the proximity for the two rhetoricians of metalepsis and hypotyposis (a figure in which the copy is treated, illusorily, as though it were the original), but particularly to the fact that with metalepsis, the author pretends to intervene in a story which is in fact a representation, so that transgression of the threshold of embedding merges with that of the threshold of representation, affirming the existence of the very boundaries that are effaced. There have also been proposals to refer narrative metalepsis back to metalepsis as use of an inappropriate synonym, notably by Meyer-Minnemann (2005) and Schlickers (2005) (see also Nelles 1997: 15257). The emphasis here is not on authorial metalepsis as a type of metonymy, but on the paradoxical transgression of boundaries, of which there are two main types: one at discourse level with breaching of the me-here-now of enunciation (in verbis transgression), the other at story level with violation of the coordinates of the enunciate (in corpore transgression). Taking a cue from Genette, this model provides for metalepsis of enunciation and metalepsis of the enunciate in which each functions either vertically (bottomup or top-down) or horizontally, i.e. without change of level (dubbed perilepsis by Prince 2006: 628). To take only a few illustrations: (a) a vertical metalepsis of enunciation (topdown) would be the Balzac example cited above; (b) a horizontal metalepsis of enunciation occurs with the juxtaposition of two communicative situations at the same level; (c) with transgression of the diegetic, ontological, spatial or temporal order, there occurs a vertical metalepsis of the enunciate; (d) a horizontal metalepsis of the enunciate is produced when e.g. Woody Allen enters the world of Madame Bovary. In this system, metalepsis is seen as producing an effect of strangeness, either comical or fantastic, but it is not regarded as a figure of fictionality in Genettes sense (on the fictionality of paradoxical narration, however, see Meyer-Minnemann 2006).

3.1.2 Logical Paradox For narrative metalepsis in an ontological perspective, paradox is central, as it involves the logically inconsistent passage between two separate domains through suspension of the excluded middle. At issue is the problem, originating in logic and mathematics, of maintaining distinct levels through avoidance of self-reference by elaborating meta- levels, an endeavor that requires the addition of recursive meta-levels ad infinitum. The inevitable paradox is captured by Gdels theorem, although it has long plagued scientific thought in the 164

form of the liars paradox (Epimenides is a Cretan and says All Cretans are liars); it is also conveyed visually by the Mbius strip, Kleins bottle and Eschers drawings. Hofstadter (1979) has examined various manifestations of this paradox in his important transdisciplinary study, even providing a recursive dialogue (10326) that illustrates the problem of metalepsis, although the term appears nowhere in the book. McHale has integrated these paradoxes into the poetics of postmodernist fiction, a type of writing that foregrounds ontological issues of text and world (1987: 27). Adopting an ontology taken from possible worlds theory (336), he recasts Genettes 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 particular, McHale identifies metalepsis with the Strange Loop, a phenomenon that occurs whenever, by moving upwards (or downwards) through the levels of some hierarchical system, we unexpectedly find ourselves right back where we started. 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, 691; qtd. in McHale 1987: 119). He also draws attention to the metaleptic function of the second-person pronoun (22325), as does Genette (2004: 969; cf. Fluderniks 2003: 389 lectorial or type 2 ontological metalepsis); but he does not distinguish between rhetorical and ontological metalepsis, nor does Wolf (2005b), whose definition of metalepsis combines ontology with possible worlds theory (93). A particular capacity for generating feedback loops and hierarchies of levels is demonstrated by the computer, dubbed metaleptic machine by Ryan. A case in point is the Metalepticon, a computer algorithm designed by Meister (2005) to reproduce the recursive structures of Eschers Drawing Hands: here, however, computational powers are quickly exhausted and Program Space Full/looping error is displayed. 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 (24546). 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). On the other hand, the recursive chain is broken when it is recognized, for example, that the creator of Drawing Hands occupies a space outside the representation in question, even though that creator can in turn be portrayed in a (meta-) representation (cf. Authorship Triangle; Hofstadter 1979: 9495, 68889)a situation not unlike that of authorial metalepsis.

3.2 Typologies As seen in 2.1 and 2.2 above, Genettes original conception of narrative metalepsis hinted at a typology without actually proposing one. Since then, a number of typologies have been elaborated, a survey of which reveals that to varying degrees theories of metalepsis discriminate between minimally and conspicuously transgressive changes of level. Ontological approaches tend to focus on the latter while rhetorical approaches also take account of the metaleptic potential of e.g. the apostrophic gentle reader.


Nelles (1997: 15257), referring narrative metalepsis back to metonymy as trope (Quintilian), differentiates unmarked (at discourse level) from distinctly marked (at story level) metalepsis and, for the latter, intrametalepsis (movement from the embedding to the embedded level) from extrametalepsis (movement in the opposite direction), subdividing each type into analeptic and proleptic forms on the temporal plane (on inward vs. outward metalepses, see Malina 2002: 4650). The degree of transgressionknowledge of the other world as opposed to physically penetrating itis characterized as either epistemological (verbal) or ontological (modal). According to Pier (2005: 253), there is a tendency in intrametaleptic movements to favor the narrator/narratee relation, and in extrametaleptic movements the character/narrator relation. Wagner (2002: 24348), for whom the metatextual nature of metalepsis signals the constructedness of narrative along the lines of the Russian formalist notion of defamiliarization, emphasizes the reversibility of metaleptic displacements between extra-, intra- and metadiegetic levels. He also draws attention to circulation, at a given level, between collateral fictive universes, not unlike the horizontal metalepses included in the Meyer-Minnemann/Schlickers model. And finally, Wagner takes up the question, largely neglected, of the compositional distribution of metalepses: their location, amplitude and frequency can have a significant impact on the strategy and readability of a narrative (cf. Hsner 2001: 403). Defamiliarization and composition point to the Russian formalists use of metalepsis, although the term was not employed by them. At issue was neither a rhetorical figure nor an ontological paradox or a typology of its use, but laying bear the device: the deliberate distortion of form aimed at highlighting the artificial relations between form and materials, between sujet and fabula, and the fact the art is made of devices. As shown in particular by klovskij (1921) in his essay on Tristram Shandy, the numerous digressions, etc. lay bare the relations between the time of the telling and the time of the told, thus conflating narration and action in a seemingly unmotivated way and drawing attention to the idea that form, not the world, is the content of the novel (cf. Schmid 2005). Herman (1997: 13336) analyzes metalepsis firstly by identifying the textual markers that, in the formal sense, signal illicit movements up or down the hierarchy of diegetic levels structuring narrative discourse and, from the functional perspective, transgression of the ontological boundaries. In terms of possible worlds theory, metalepsis solicits temporary entry of the reader into a re-centered modal system. Since, in this account, metalepsis abolishes the distinction between storyworld and the world(s) from which addressees relocate, Herman adopts Goffmans concept of frame analysis as a set of expectations about narrative universes in place of diegetic level. Wolf, considering the forms of disturbance of mimetic illusion caused by the failure to observe ontological boundaries, sets the mixing of extra-fictional reality with textually produced fiction off from violations of levels in inner-fictional boundaries (1993: 34972). The latter, metalepses, are a metafictional technique characterized as a narrative short circuit and are likened to Hofstadters (1979: 134 passim) heterarchy, a structure distinct from hierarchy in that it possesses no single highest level (cf. McHale 1987: 120). 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. interior metalepsis, see Cohn 2005). Both (a), marked by punctual violations of levels by characters and/or their words, and (b), punctual short circuits between intradiegetic reality and 166

fiction, are found in minimal and conspicuous forms and can take place either bottom-up or top-down. In its complex form, metalepsis combines the previous two types, setting in motion a recurrent contamination of levels, as in the Mbius strip, and whose effects are distributed throughout a given narrative. Where the above typologies can be grouped under the heading meta-, situating metalepsis on the same conceptual plane as metanarrative, metadiegesis, etc., another typology, the most elaborate to date, is built up around the suffix -lepsis in the sense of action of taking (Lang 2006; cf. Meyer-Minnemann 2006). Narration is paradoxical when, in violation of the principle either one or the other (cf. the liars paradox), coherence (Coherence) is undermined. On this basis, Lang provides a typology of paradoxical narration divided into devices that cancel out boundaries (syllepsis, epanalepsis, the latter term designating specular devices including the mise en abyme) and those that transgress boundaries (metalepsis, hyperlepsis, the latter equivalent to Genettes pseudodiegesis: a metadiegetic narrative presented as though it were diegetic). As in the Meyer-Minnemann/Schlickers typology, each of these devices is analyzed into vertical (bottom-up or top-down) and horizontal relations of discourse and story, respectively. In contrast to the other models presented, this typology includes metalepsis among other forms of paradoxical narration.

3.3 Related Concepts As shown, inter alia, by Langs typology, the scope of paradox-producing devices is not restricted to metalepsis. Thus the effects of pseudodiegesis (or hyperlepsis), also studied under the term trompe lil by McHale (1987: 11519), can produce variable realities as destabilizing as those of metalepsis. As for mise en abyme, it shares with metalepsis the feature of embedding, but it additionally includes resemblance between levels (e.g. a story within a story) and reduplication and is characterized by reflexivity rather than by transgression of levels. Only in the case of aporistic reduplication (fragment supposedly including the work in which it is included; Dllenbach 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; cf. McHale 1987: 12428). And finally, while metalepsis is generally found within a given text, violating that texts system of diegetic levels, infringement of boundaries can also take place across texts. Such is the case in horizontal metalepsis of enunciation, studied by Rabau (2005) under the term heterometalepsis, but it also occurs in horizontal metalepsis of the enunciate, a phenomenon that coincides with transfictionality as when, say, Sherlock Holmes appears in the fictional universe of Madame Bovary (cf. Lavocat 2007 on metaleptic and intrametaleptic transfictionality). This dimension of metalepsis opens up issues of transtextual relations (cf. Genette 1982), but it also touches on the numerous implications of metalepsis for fictionality and metafictionality.

3.4 Metalepsis and Trans-/Intermediality


The violation of levels and boundaries is not limited to narrative, and while metalepsis in its narrative form was originally studied in verbal narratives, it is not a media-specific phenomenon. This is confirmed by a number of contributions in Pier & Schaeffer (eds. 2005) as well as by Genette (2004), much of which is devoted to metalepsis in theater, film, television, painting and photography (see also Genette 2009: 17680), and Wolf (2005b) which, additionally, looks at comic strips. It would seem, then, that metalepsis has a significant role to play in transmedial narratology (e.g. Ryan 2006: 330, ed. 2004) and in intermediality (e.g. Wolf 2005a), although to date this connection remains largely unexplored.

4 Topics for Further Investigation More than a rhetorical flourish, metalepsis raises the question of the porosity of levels and borders in cultural representations, but not their dissolution. Originating in structuralist narratology, 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. Among topics requiring further study are: (a) relative weight of local vs. global effects of metalepsis; (b) metalepsis and fictionality (breaking/intensification of mimetic illusion, immersion, etc.); (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; (d) the role of metalepsis in trans-/intramediality with regard in particular to multimedia and popular culture.

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Baron, Christine (2005). Effet mtaleptique et statut des discours fictionnels. J. Pier & J.-M. Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 295310. Bessire, Jean (2005). Rcit de fiction, transition discursive, prsentation actuelle du rcit, ou que le rcit de fiction est toujours mtaleptique. J. Pier & J.-M. Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 27994. Burkhardt, Arnim (2001). Metalepsis. G. Ueding (ed). Historisches Wrterbuch der Rhetorik. Tbingen: Niemeyer, vol. 5, 108799. Cohn, Dorrit (2005). Mtalepse et mise en abyme. J. Pier & J.-M. Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 12130. Cornils, Anja (2005). La metalepses dans les Actes des Aptres: un signe de narration fictionnelle? J. Pier & J.-M. Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 95107. 168

Dllenbach, Lucien (1977). Le rcit spculaire. Essai sur la mise en abyme. Paris: Seuil. Fludernik, Monika (2003). Scene Shift, Metalepsis, and the Metaleptic Mode. Style 37, 382400 (= Changement de scne et mode mtaleptique. J. Pier & J.-M. Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 7394). Genette, Grard ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Genette, Grard ([1982] 1997). Palimpsests. Literature in the Second Degree. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Genette, Grard ([1983] 1988). Narrative Discourse Revisited. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Genette, Grard (2004). Mtalepse. De la figure la fiction. Paris: Seuil. Genette, Grard (2009). Codicille. Paris: Seuil. Grabe, Nina, et al. eds. (2006). La narracin paradjica. Normas narrativas y el principio de la transgresin. Frankfurt a.M.: Vervuert. Hsner, Bernd (2001). Metalepsen. Zur Genese, Systematik und Funktion transgressiver Erzhlweisen. PhD Dissertation. Freie Universitt Berlin. Herman, David (1997). Toward a Formal Description of Narrative Metalepsis. Journal of Literary Semantics 26, 13252. Hofstadter, Douglas (1979). Gdel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid. New York: Basic Books. Lang, Sabine (2006). Prolegmenos para una teora de la narracin paradjica. N. Grabe et al. (eds). La narracin paradjica. Normas narrativas y el principio de la transgresin. Frankfurt a.M.: Vervuert, 2147. Lavocat, Franoise (2007). Transfictionalit, mtafiction et mtalepse aux XVIe et XVIIe sicles. R. Audet & R. Saint-Gelais (eds). La fiction, suites et variations. Quebec: Nota bene; Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 15778. Mac, Marielle (2007). Une lecture de Mtalepse, Grard Genette. Conference De la figure la fiction autour dun livre. <>. Malina, Debra (2002). Breaking the Frame: Metalepsis and the Construction of the Subject. Columbus: Ohio State UP. McHale, Brian (1987). Postmodernist Fiction. London: Methuen. Meister, Jan Christoph (2005). Le Metalepticon: une tude informatique de la mtalepse. J. Pier & J.-M. Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 22546. Meyer-Minnemann, Klaus (2005). Un procd narratif qui produit un effet de bizarrerie: la mtalepse littraire. J. Pier & J.-M. Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 13350. Meyer-Minnemann, Klaus (2006). Narracin paradjica y ficcin. N. Grabe et al. (eds). La narracin paradjica. Normas narrativas y el principio de la transgresin. Frankfurt a.M.: Vervuert, 4971. Morier, Henri (1961). Mtalepse. Dictionnaire de potique et de rhtorique. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 67376. Nelles, William (1997). Frameworks: Narrative Levels and Embedded Narratives. New York: Lang. Pier, John (2005). Mtalepse et hirarchies narratives. J. Pier & J.-M. Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 24761. 169

Pier, John & Jean-Marie Schaeffer (2005). Introduction. La mtalepse, aujourdhui. J. Pier & J.-M. Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 715. Pier, John, & Jean-Marie Schaeffer eds. (2005). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS. Prince, Gerald (2006). Disturbing Frames. Poetics Today 27, 62530. Rabau, Sophie (2005). Ulysse ct dHomre. Interprtation et transgression des frontires nonciatives. J. Pier & J.-M. Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 5972. Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith ([1983] 2002). Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. London: Routledge. Roussin, Philippe (2005). Rhtorique de la mtalepse, tats de cause, typologie, rcit. J. Pier & J.-M Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 3758. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2005). Logique culturelle de la mtalepse, ou la mtalepse dans tous ses tats. J. Pier & J.-M. Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 20123. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2006). Avatars of Story. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Ryan, Marie-Laure, ed. (2004). Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Schlickers, Sabine (2005). Inversions, transgressions, paradoxes et bizzareries. La mtalepse dans les littratures espagnole et franaise. J. Pier & J.-M. Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 15166. Schmid, Wolf (2005). La mtalepse narrative dans la construction du formalisme russe. J. Pier & J.-M. Schaeffer (eds). Mtalepses. Entorses au pacte de la reprsentation. Paris: d. de lEHESS, 18995. klovskij, Viktor (Shklovsky, Victor) ([1921] 1990). The Novel as Parody: Sternes Tristram Shandy. V. . Theory of Prose. Elmwood Park: Dalkey Archive P, 14871. Wagner, Frank (2002). Glissements et dphasages: note sur la mtalepse narrative. Potique 33, No. 130, 23553. Wolf, Werner (1993). sthetische Illusion und Illusionsdurchbrechung in der Erzhlkunst: Theorie und Geschichte mit Schwerpunkt auf englischem illusionsstrenden Erzhlen. Tbingen: Niemeyer. Wolf, Werner (2005a). Intermediality. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 25256. Wolf, Werner (2005b). Metalepsis as a Transgeneric and Transmedial Phenomenon: A Case Study of the Possibilities of Exporting Narratological Concepts. J. Ch. Meister (ed). Narratology beyond Literary Criticism: Mediality, Disciplinarity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 83107.

5.2 Further Reading Lodge, David (1977). The Modes of Modern Writing: Metaphor, Metonymy, and the Typology of Modern Literature. London: Arnold, esp. 23945. Pier, John (2005). Metalepsis. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 30304. 170

Ryan, Marie-Laure (1991). Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory. Bloomington: Indian UP, esp. chap. 9. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2005). On the Theoretical Foundations of Transmedial Narratology. J. Ch. Meister (ed). Narratology beyond Literary Criticism: Mediality, Disciplinarity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 123. Saint-Gelais, Richard (2001). La fiction travers lintertexte: pour une thorie de la transfictionnalit. A. Gefen & R. Audet (eds). Frontires de la fiction. Quebec: Nota bene; Bordeaux: Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux, 4375.


Neumann, Birgit & Nnning, Ansgar: "Metanarration and Metafiction". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. title=Metanarration_and_Metafiction&oldid=1733

Metanarration and Metafiction

Last modified: 28 January 2012 Birgit Neumann & Ansgar Nnning

1 Definition Metanarration and metafiction are umbrella terms designating self-reflexive utterances, i.e. comments referring to the discourse rather than to the story. Although they are related and often used interchangeably, the terms should be distinguished: metanarration refers to the narrators reflections on the act or process of narration; metafiction concerns comments on the fictionality and/or constructedness of the narrative. Thus, whereas metafictionality designates the quality of disclosing the fictionality of a narrative, metanarration captures those forms of self-reflexive narration in which aspects of narration are addressed in the narratorial discourse, i.e. narrative utterances about narrative rather than fiction about fiction.

2 Explication The terms metanarration and metafiction are both based on the model of metalanguage, which designates a (system of) language positioned on a level above the ordinary use of words for referential purpose (Fludernik 2003: 15). Metanarration and metafiction therefore have one point in common, namely their self-reflexive or self-referential character. However, these two types of narrative self-reflexivity differ greatly, and this difference has tended to be ignored in most existing typologies. Therefore, the widely-used umbrella term metafiction not only needs to be elaborated, but a clear distinction also has to be made between metanarration and other forms of self-reflexive narration. 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. Metafiction is, literally, fiction about fiction, i.e. fiction that includes within itself reflections on its own fictional identity 172

(Hutcheon 1980). Thus, 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). Following Wolfs definition of metafiction as a form of discourse which draws the recipients attention to the fictionality of the narrative, it becomes evident that the term cannot be equated with metanarration (Nnning 2004). Metanarrative comments are concerned with the act and/or process of narration, and not with its fictional nature. In contrast to metafiction, which can only appear in the context of fiction, types of metanarration can also be found in many non-fictional narrative genres and media. Metanarrative passages need not destroy aesthetic illusion ( Illusion (Aesthetic)), but may also contribute to substantiating the illusion of authenticity that a narrative seeks to create. It is precisely the concept of narratorial illusionism, suggesting the presence of a speaker or narrator, that illustrates that metanarrative expressions can serve to create a different type of illusion by accentuating the act of narration, thus triggering a different strategy of naturalization, viz. what Fludernik (1996: 341) has called the frame of storytelling. As a distinct form of narratorial utterance, metanarration displays a variety of textual functions (Prince [1987] 2003: 51). In contrast to Genettes ([1972] 1980: 26162) suggestion, it cannot be restricted to the narrators directing functions, i.e. to references thematizing the internal organization of the text. Rather, all comments which address aspects of narration in a self-reflexive manner as well as the narrators references ( Narrator) to his or her communication with the narratee on the discourse level can be subsumed under the term metanarration. Although such comments are detached from the narrated world, they do not possess a high degree of generality because they refer to one specific object: the act of narrating. Since such self-reflexive comments can be defined according to their reference to the act of narration, they make the reader ( Reader) realize that what s/he is dealing with is a narrative. Fludernik (1996: 278) describes the accumulation of metanarrative expressions as a deliberate meta-narrative celebration of the act 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, when the term was first introduced in essays by Scholes (1970) and Gass (1970). Analyzing Laurence Sternes novel Tristram Shandy, klovskij (1921), for instance, addresses the concept as a device of laying bare the device, namely as a device through which the storytelling itself is made part of the story told. Scholes (1970) coined the term metafiction to designate fiction that incorporates various perspectives of criticism into the fictional process, thereby emphasizing structural, formal, or philosophical problems. Since then, metafiction has become a major topic in narratological research, replacing the hitherto established and more narrowly defined terms self-conscious narration (Booth 1952) and irony of fictionality. In fact, metafiction has met with considerable academic interest both as a historical element of (narrative) fiction and as a hallmark of postmodernism, and booklength studies (Hutcheon 1980; Waugh 1984) have been devoted to it. The conceptualization of forms and functions of metafiction evolved from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, 173

precisely when scholars were attempting to define postmodernism as an epoch and ethos (ODonnell 2005). The first attempt to propose a comprehensive theory of metafiction was made by Hutcheon (1980). She understands metafictional narratives as narcissistic because they are fundamentally self-referring and auto-representational (1980: x). By mirroring their own process of fictional construction, metafictional texts, such as Gabriel Garca Mrquezs One Hundred Years of Solitude or Italo Calvinos If on a Winters Night a Traveler, draw the readers attention to the storytelling process and undermine the realism of the narrative. Metafictional strategies therefore often produce a hermeneutic paradox: readers are forced to acknowledge the fictional status of the narrative, while at the same time they become cocreators of its meanings. Hutcheons most crucial distinction is that between overt and covert forms of metafiction. While overtly metafictional texts disclose their self-awareness in explicit thematizations [] of their diegetic or linguistic identity within the texts themselves, covert forms internalize this process: They are self-reflective but not necessarily self-conscious (7). Similarly, Waugh (1984: 14) defines metafiction as fiction which self-consciously reflects upon its own structure as language, thereby ostentatiously parading the conventions and language of the realistic novel. Although Hutcheons and Waughs approaches have contributed to a better understanding of metafiction, they are problematic because they reduce its effects to anti-illusionism. A different approach is put forward by Wolf (1993, 1998) who focuses, firstly, on the formal variety of metafiction. To capture the different forms of metafiction and their potential effects, Wolf (1993: 22065) develops a typology based on three dimensions: the form of mediation, the contextual relation, and the contents value. The first dimension refers to the level of narration on which the speaker engaged in metafictional reflections can be situated. 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). Alternatively, they can be conveyed implicitly through formal means, e.g. through contradictory and highly implausible elements which disrupt the mimetic illusion (mode of showing). According to the second criterion, contextual relation, 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. Using Wolfs third criterion, contents value, one can differentiate between various forms of explicit metafiction depending on whether metafiction refers to the fictio or the fictum status of a passage, whether it contains comments on the entire text or only on parts of it, and whether the commentary refers to the text itself, to literature in general, or to another text. While metafiction has often been perceived as a primary quality of postmodern literature, Wolf (1998) stresses that (Western) narrative fiction has contained metafictional elements ever since its beginnings (cf. also Alter 1975 and Hutcheon 1980). From Homer to Salman Rushdie, from Don Quixote and Jacques le fataliste to The Remains of the Day, narratives have bared the conventions of storytelling and highlighted their constructed nature. However, its frequency and function vary depending on genres and epochs. The functions of metafiction range from undermining aesthetic illusion to poetological self-reflection, commenting on aesthetic procedures, the celebration of the act of narrating, and playful exploration of the possibilities and limits of fiction. Wolfs detailed typology has also provided a sound basis for the analysis of metafiction in various other genres such as poetry, drama and music. In recent contributions, Wolf (2009) 174

seeks to increase the transmedial applicability of metafiction by reconceptualizing it in a first step as a non media-specific concept, namely as metareference. Metareference denotes a signifying practice that generates a self-referential meaning and actualizes a secondary cognitive frame in the recipient. On this basis, individual media can be examined with respect to their metareferential capacities. In contrast to metafiction, the terms metanarration or metanarrative comment have not become common categories of narratology, although they have been used in some narratological studies (e.g. Genette 1972; Hamon 1977; Prince 1982; Scheffel 1997; Cutter 1998). There are at least two reasons for this. Firstly, 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. Secondly, in the few contributions in which the term metanarrative is used at all, it is commonly perceived as an English equivalent of grand rcit (in Lyotards sense) and thus as synonymous with master narrative (e.g. Hutcheon [1989] 1996: 262). Due to the equation of metanarration with metafiction, narratological research has largely focused on metafictional forms of narrative self-reflexivity, giving little attention to such metanarrative phenomena as digressions and other self-reflexive narratorial interventions. The exception to the rule is Prince (1982: 11528). A number of recent articles have redressed the balance, putting the subject of metanarrative on the map of narratological research (Nnning 2004; Fludernik 2003). 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. Predicated on the assumption that metanarration is a distinct form of narratorial utterance, Nnning (2004), drawing on Wolfs (1993) distinction between various forms of metafiction, develops a typology that identifies the most important sub-categories of metanarration. The typology is based on four basic aspects, which in turn give rise to subsidiary distinctions: (a) formal; (b) structural; (c) content-related; and (d) reception-oriented types of metanarrative. Firstly, a formal distinction can be made between diegetic, extradiegetic, and paratextual types of metanarration, depending on the level of communication at which the speaker of the metanarrative comments can be situated. Metanarrative comments typically occur on the discourse level, though intradiegetic character-narrators may also thematize narrative aspects. Secondly, 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. Thirdly, depending on the subject area or the selection of topic, various types of metanarration can be distinguished on the basis of content. One important content-related criterion concerns the reference point of metanarrative expressions. Metanarrative reflections can be restricted to auto-referential comments on the narrators own act of narrating, they can thematize the narrative style of other authors and texts, or they can refer to the process of narration in general. Fludernik (2003) has coined the terms proprio-metanarration, allometanarration and general metanarration in order to distinguish between these different reference points. Fourthly, a typological differentiation arises as to the potential effects and functions of metanarration. This differentiation is based on the assumption that an accumulation of metanarrative commentaries contributes to foregrounding the narrative act and to creating the 175

illusion of being addressed by a personalized voice or a teller (Fludernik 1996: 278). As in Tristram Shandy, the plethora of metanarrative often enhances the mimesis of narrating (Nnning 2001). 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. These functions range from authenticating and empathy-inducing functions ( Narrative Empathy), which are fully compatible with mimetic aesthetic illusion, to parodic and anti-illusionistic types of metanarrative interventions. Of course, not only the forms but also the functions of metanarration are subject to historical variability. Whereas, for instance, in realistic 19th-century novels metanarration primarily serves to create a trust-inducing conversation between the explicit narrator and the narratee, in numerous novels from the second half of the 20th century it is functionalized in a metafictional way. Drawing on Nnnings typology of metanarration, Fludernik (2003) suggests subdividing the category of metanarration into metadiscursive, metanarrational, meta-aesthetic and metacompositional elements, highlighting the extensiveness and historical variability of this narrative form. Moreover, she proposes an alternative schema which differentiates between metafiction, metanarrative and non-narrational self-reflexivity. To circumvent the potential ambiguity between metanarration and metafiction, 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.e. to Wolfs explicit metafiction). By introducing the category of non-narrational self-reflexivity (i.e. Wolfs implicit metafiction), which comprises, e.g. miseen-abyme or metaleptic plot configurations, 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.

4 Topics for Further Investigation Desiderata for narratological research still include differentiated investigations of the forms, functions, and diachronic development of metafiction and metanarration. One relatively unexplored issue concerns the development of self-reflexive narrative forms over various periods of literary history, not only in narrative fiction, but also in other genres and media. Moreover, 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. Finally, it is also necessary to investigate the culture-specific forms and functions of metafiction and metanarration. In this respect, it would be interesting to provide comparisons between forms of narrative self-reflexivity or self-referentiality in Western and non-Western literature.

5 Bibliography


5.1 Works Cited Alter, Robert (1975). Partial Magic: The Novel as a Self-Conscious Genre. Berkeley: U of California P. Booth, Wayne C. (1952). The Self-Conscious Narrator in Comic Fiction before Tristram Shandy. PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 67, 16385. Cutter, Martha J. (1998). Of Metatexts, Metalanguages, and Possible Worlds: The Transformative Power of Metanarrative in C.P. Gilmans Later Short Fiction. American Literary Realism 31, 4159. Fludernik, Monika (1996). Towards a Natural Narratology. London: Routledge. Fludernik, Monika (2003). Metanarrative and Metafictional Commentary: From Metadiscursivity to Metanarration and Metafiction. Poetica 35, 139. Gass, William H. (1970). Fiction and the Figures of Life. New York : Knopf. Genette, Grard ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Hamon, Philippe (1977). Texte littraire et metalanguage. Potique 31, 26184. Hutcheon, Linda (1980). Narcissistic Narrative: The Metafictional Paradox. New York: Methuen. Hutcheon, Linda ([1989] 1996). Incredulity toward Metanarrative: Negotiating Postmodernism and Feminisms. K. Mezei (ed). Ambiguous Discourse: Feminist Narratology and British Women Writers. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 26267. Nnning, Ansgar (2001). Mimesis des Erzhlens: Prolegomena zu einer Wirkungssthetik, Typologie und Funktionsgeschichte des Akts des Erzhlens und der Metanarration. J. Helbig (ed). Erzhlen und Erzhltheorie im 20. Jahrhundert: Narratologische Studien aus Anlass des 65. Geburtstags von Wilhelm Fger. Heidelberg: Winter, 1347. Nnning, Ansgar (2004). Towards a Definition, a Typology and an Outline of the Functions of Metanarrative Commentary. J. Pier (ed). The Dynamics of Narrative Form: Studies in Anglo-American Narratology. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1157. ODonnell, Patrick (2005). Metafiction. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narative Theory. London: Routledge, 30102. Prince, Gerald (1982). Narratology: The Form and Functioning of Narrative. Berlin.: Mouton de Gruyter. Prince, Gerald ([1987] 2003). A Dictionary of Narratology. Aldershot: Scolar Press. Scheffel, Michael (1997). Formen selbstreflexiven Erzhlens: Eine Typologie und sechs exemplarische Analysen. Tbingen: Niemeyer. Scholes, Robert (1970). Metafiction. Iowa Review 1, 10015. klovskij, Viktor (Shklovsky, Victor) ([1921] 1965). Sternes Tristram Shandy: Stylistic Commentary. L. Lemon & M. Reis (eds). Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2557. Waugh, Patricia (1984). Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction. London: Methuen. Wolf, Werner (1993). sthetische Illusion und Illusionsdurchbrechung in der Erzhlkunst: Theorie und Geschichte mit Schwerpunkt auf englischem illusionsstrenden Erzhlen. Tbingen: Niemeyer. Wolf, Werner ([1998] 2004). Metafiktion. A. Nnning (ed). Metzler Lexikon Literatur- und Kulturtheorie. Stuttgart: Metzler, 44748. Wolf, Werner (2009). Metareference across Media: The Concept, its Transmedial 177

Potentials and Problems, Main Forms and Functions. W. Wolf (ed) in collaboration with Katharina Bantleon and Jeff Thoss. Metareference across Media. Theory and Case Studies. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 185.

5.2 Further Reading Dupuy, Jean-Pierre (1989). Self-reference in Literature. Poetics 18, 491515. Peters, Joan D. (2002). Feminist Metafiction and the Evolution of the British Novel. Gainesville: UP of Florida. Quendler, Christian (2001). From Romantic Irony to Postmodernist Metafiction: A Contribution to the History of Literary Self-Reflexivity in its Philosophical Context. Frankfurt a.M.: Lang.


Schmidt, Johann N.: "Narration in Film". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Narration in Film
Last modified: 2 December 2011 Johann N. 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, etc.). Though almost all of these films, many of them adaptations from literature, abound in storytelling capacities and thus belong to a predominantly narrative medium, 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. The narratological inventory, when applied to cinema, 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. The absence of a narrative subject is to be compensated for by the construction of a visual narrative instance (Deleyto 1996: 219; Kuhn 2009) mediating the paradigms of overtly cinematographic devices (elements relating to camera, sound, editing), the mise-en-scne (arranging and composing the scene in front of the camera), and a distinctly filmic focalization. On the other hand, the most solid narrative link between verbal and visual representation is sequentiality, since literary and filmic signs are apprehended consecutively through time, mostly (though not always) following a successive and causal order. It is this consecutiveness that gives rise to an unfolding structure, the diegetic whole (Cohen 1979: 92). The main features of narrative strategies in literature can also be found in film, although the characteristics of these strategies differ significantly. 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. These equivalences are far more complex than is suggested by any mere translation or adaptation from one medium into another.


2 Explication Broadly speaking, there are two different outlooks on cinema that divide the main camps of narratological research. 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), many of its parameters either transcend or obscure the categories that have been gained in tracking narrative strategies of literary texts. Thus Metz states that film is not a language but another kind of semiotic system with articulations of its own (Chatman 1990: 124). 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), 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. Despite the fact that adapting literary texts into movies has long since become a conventional practice, 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. If, however, narratological principles sensu stricto move to the fore of analysis, the question of medial specificity seems to be less important. Narratologists of a strongly persistent stance regret that connotations of visuality are dominant even in terms like point of view ( Perspective - Point of View) and focalization ( Focalization), and they maintain that the greatest divide between verbal and visual strategies is in literature, not in film (Brtsch 2011). They hold that narratological categories in film and literary studies differ much less than most scholars would suggest. Since Genettes model presents a primarily narratological, transliterary concept (albeit close to novel studies), mediality is seen as affecting narrative in a number of important ways, but on a level of specific representations only. In general, narrativity can be constituted in equal measure in all textual and visual media (Fludernik 1996: 353). The two approaches being given, they themselves depend on which scholarly perspective is preferred: either how far narrative principles can be limited to questions of narrativity alone, or whether the requirements of the medium are a conclusive consequence for its narrative capacities.

3 Development of Film Narration and History of the Study of Film Narration Film as a largely syncretistic, hybrid, 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.

3.1 Development of Film Narration


3.1.1 Literature into Film According to Deleyto, [it] is through cinema, television, and video, and not through novels that most stories are told nowadays (1996: 218). Film can claim to be a legitimate successor (and competitor) of fictional literature insofar as it is capable of employing complex sujet constructions, developing parallels in the fabula, enacting changes of any given action, accentuating details, etc. (jxenbaum [1927] 1990: 116). jzentejn claims that Charles Dickenss narrative art anticipated the method of his own montage of parallel scenes ([1949] 1992: 395402).

3.1.2 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. 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. However much meaning can be attributed to the visual track of the film, it would be wrong to state that it is narrated visually and little else. On the other hand, 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. 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. This peculiarity makes it difficult to sort out the various categories that are operative in its narration. Like drama, 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. 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-scne. Unlike drama, however, a film is not produced in quasi-lifelike corporal subsequences, 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). Similar to literary narration, 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).

3.1.3 Technical Strategies of Storytelling Films are generally made by a large group of people, aside from the very few exceptions where one person is the producer, director, camera operator, sound expert and actor at the same time (e.g. Fassbinders In a Year of Thirteen Moons, 1978). It derives its impact from a number of technical, performative and aesthetic strategies that combine in a syncretizing, largely hybrid medium, establishing interlocking conventions of storytelling. As an industrial product, it also reflects the historical standard of technology in its narrative structure, whether 181

it is a silent film with inserted reading titles or a film using high-resolution digital multi-track sound, whether a static camera is turned on the scene or a modern editing technique lends the images an overpowering kinetic energy, etc. 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. Thus it has long been a rule that the speed and the sequentiality of a films 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. In the auditorium-space, s/he lacked any manifest control over the screen-space. It was with the introduction of video and DVD that the viewer could control speed variations, play the film backwards, view it frame by frame and freeze it, and (as in DVD) use the digitalized space of navigation to interact, select menus and construct a new film with deleted scenes, an unused score, and alternative endings. This multiple and fragmented reception gradually led to new perceptive appropriations of cinema, also changing the users sense of narrative, which is no longer predominantly linear. Inward contemplation, 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, interactivity, and versatility.

3.1.4 Narrative Modes in the History of Cinema Narration in film possesses as its two main components current aesthetic concepts and, inseparably interwoven with these concepts, the technical means available at the time of production. Silent movies from 1895 onward lacked not only verbal expression, but also narrative structures beyond the stringing together of stage effects, arranged tableaux, and sensationalist trick scenes. 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. But on the whole, 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). 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). The result, initiated by David Wark Griffith in particular, was an institutional mode of representation, also known as classical narration (Schweinitz 1999: 74). 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. 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, a clear subject-object relation, and a cohesive effect of visual and auditive perception aimed at providing the story with an organic meaning, however different the shots that are sliced together might be. 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. 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 viewers capacity to combine visual impressions with a story. Modernist cinema and non-canonical art films, especially after 1945, repudiate the 182

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. They disrupt the narrative continuum and convert the principle of succession into one of simultaneity by means of iteration, frequency (e.g. Kurosawas Rashomon, 1950, repeating the same event from different angles as in internal multiple focalization), and dislocation of the traditional modes of temporal and spatial representation (e.g. Resnais Lanne dernire Marienbad, 1960). In each of these films, there is an ever-widening gap between fabula and discourse. Modern cinema also made possible the flash-forward as the cinematographic equivalent of the prolepsis (e.g. Loseys The Go-Between, 1970), used jump cuts (e.g. Godards bout de souffle, 1959) and nonlinear collage elements, or broke with the narrative convention of character continuity, as when a central protagonist disappears in the course of events (Antonionis LAvventura, 1959). All of these assaults on traditional narrativity nevertheless depend upon narrativity [or our assumptions about it; J.N.S.] and could not function without it (Scholes 1985: 396). Postclassical cinema, responding to growing globalization in its world-wide distribution and reception, enhances the aesthetics of visual and auditory effects by means of digitalization, computerized cutting techniques, and a strategy of immediacy that signals a shift from linear discourse to a renewed interest in spectacular incidents.

3.1.5 Editing as a Narrative Device Editing is one of the decisive cinematographic processes for the narrative organization of a film: it connects montage (e.g. the splitting, combining and reassembling of visual segments) with the mix of sound elements and the choice of strategic points in space (angle, perspective). The most prominent examples in the early history of filmic narrativization are: (a) the simple cut from one scene to another, thus eliminating dead time by splitting the actual footage (ellipsis); (b) cross-cutting, which alternates between shots of two spaces, as in pursuit scenes; (c) parallel montage to accentuate similarity and opposition; (d) the shotreverse-shot between two persons talking to each other; (e) the cut-in, which magnifies a significant detail or grotesquely distorts certain objects of everyday life. Continuity editing (or analytic montage) aims primarily at facilitating orientation during transitions in time and space. One basic rule consists in never letting the camera cross the line of action (180-degree rule), thus respecting geometrical orientation within a given space. Narrative devices not only obey cognitive storytelling practices, but also reflect a certain vision of the world. Whereas continuity editing presupposes a holistic unity in a world which is temporarily in conflict but finally homogenized (not only plot-wise, but via sensory connection with the audiences preferred viewing), jzentejns collision editing accentuates stark formal and perceptual contrasts to create new meanings or unusual metaphorical links (Grodal 2005: 171). For other directors (e.g. Pudovkin), narration in film concentrates not on events being strung together in chronological sequence, but on the construction of powerful situations and significant details presented in an antithetical manner of association. Internal editing, as advocated by Andr Bazin, avoids visible cuts and creates deep focus (depth of field), making foreground, middle ground, and background equally sharp, thus establishing continuity in the very same take.


3.1.6 Time and Space in Cinema To evoke a sense of the real, film creates a temporal and spatial continuum whose components can be separated only for heuristic purposes. In their succession and mutual blending, images let chronologically extended events appear in their full concrete sequentiality (Ingarden [1931] 1972: 344). The temporally organized combination of visual and acoustic signs corresponds to the unmediated rendering of space, albeit on a twodimensional screen. The realization of a positioned space lies in movement, which imposes a temporal vector upon the spatial dimension (Lothe 2000: 62). Panofsky describes the result as a speeding up of space and a spatialization of time ([1937] 1993: 22). This also explains the inherent dialectic of film as the medium that appears closest to our mimetic registration of the real world, and yet deviating from real-life experience by its manifold means of establishing a second world of fantasy, dream, and wish fulfillment. Time can be either stretched out in slow motion or compressed in fast motion; different spaces may be fused by double exposure or by a permanent tension between external and internal time sequences. 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, image and sound, depending on the artistic and emotional effect that is to be achieved.

3.1.7 Narrative Functions of Sound Fulton emphasizes the role of sound in film: [It] is one of the most versatile signifiers, since it contributes to field, tenor, and mode as a powerful creator of meaning, mood and textuality (Fulton 2005: 108). It amplifies the diegetic space (thus Bordwell [1985: 119] speaks of sound perspective) and emphasizes modulation of the visual impact through creating a sonic dcor or sonic space. Language, noises, electronic sounds and music, whether intradiegetic or (like most musical compositions) extradiegetic, help not only to define the tonality, volume, tempo and texture of successive situations, but also to orchestrate and manipulate emotions and heighten the suggestive expressivity of the story. Sound can range from descriptive passages to climactic underlining and counterpointing what is seen. Again, what was once considered as a complete break with narrative rules has become a convention, so that when off-camera sounds are used before the scene they are related to, they serve as a springboard between sequences. As Elsaesser & Hagener point out, there is a potential dissociation between body and voice as well as between viewing and hearing which can be used for comic purposes, but which also stands in the service of narration (2007: 17273). A voice may have a specific source in the diegetic space, although separate from the images we see (voice-off), or it can be heard beyond the diegetic limits (voice-over). New technologies such as multi-track sound with high digital resolution (e.g. Dolby Surround) negate the directional coherence of screen and sound source, thus leading to tension between the aural and the visual. Whereas the image can be fixed, the sound derives its existence from the moment when it is perceived.


3.2 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. This reflects the difficulty of specifying the narrative process in general and, more than any other question, it reveals the limits of literary narrativity when applied to film studies.

3.2.1 Film as Sign System With the exception of the character narrator and the cinematic device of the voice-over (whether homo- or heterodiegetic), the traces of a narrating agency are virtually invisible, so that the term film narrator is employed as hardly more than a metaphor. Undecidedness in terminology became evident right from the beginnings of film theory. Thus the term film language, if not used for a system of signs as was done by the Formalists, bore the implication that there must also be a speaker of such a language. Modeling cinema after literature in this way, however, tends to weaken the notion of cinema as an independent art form. For this reason, jxenbaum 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 first systematic interest in narratology came from the semiotic turn of film theory starting in the 1960s, notably with Metzs construct of the grande syntagmatique (1966). In order to overcome the restriction to small semiotic units (e.g. the single shot in cinema), the concept of code was used to encompass more extensive syntagmata in film such as sequences and the whole of the narration. In Metzs phenomenology of narrative, film is a complex system of successive, encoded signs (Lothe 2000: 12). Metzs position was criticized by Heath (1986), who saw in it a neglect of the central role of the viewer in making meaning (Schweinitz 1999: 79). By excluding the subject position of the spectator, a predominantly formalistic approach overlooks the potentially decisive impact of affectivity and subconscious processes. For this reason, psychoanalytic theories concentrated on the similarities that exist between film and dream, hallucination, and desire as important undercurrents of the realist surface. Feminist theories dealt with the gendered gaze that is applied not only in the film itself, but is also cast on the film by the viewer, thus creating a conflict between voyeurism and subjugation to the power of images. Studies of popular culture, finally, examined the functioning of cinematic discourse within a wider cultural communicative process which is conveyed by a host of visual signs.

3.2.2 Film NarratorFilm Narration In the 1980s, the more systematic narrative discourse of the Wisconsin School resorted to a cognitive and constructivist approach, defining the narrative scheme as an optional redescription of data under epistemological restraint (Branigan 1992: 112). Its main interest is in a strictly rational and logical explication of narrative and in mental processes that render perceptual data intelligible. Whereas Chatmans concept of narration is still anchored in literary theory (Booth, Todorov), seeing the visual concreteness of cinema as its basic mark of distinction from literature, Branigan and Bordwell abandon straightaway the idea of a 185

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). 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, but no sender. According to Bordwell and Branigan, cinematographic narratives cannot be understood within a general semiotic system of narrative, but only in terms of historically variant narrative structures that are perceived in the act of viewing. They are supported by the viewers hypotheses about spatial and temporal conventions as well as by stabilized patterns behind individual perception. It follows from this that certain prerequisites of filmic narration are not natural or taken from literary models, but have been conventionalized: such is the case when a characters walk from A to B is shortened to the points of departure and arrival with a sharp cut in between, or when a flashback bridges vast leaps of time, or when extradiegetic music is no part of the story proper, even though it may reflect the inner state of a character or establish a certain mood. The same holds true for the almost imperceptibly varying amount of information that is shared by characters and audience alike. At this point, focalization becomes a major issue when the viewer shifts into the diegetic world of a film. 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, however impersonal. Many different terms and theoretical constructs have been introduced to overcome the logical impasse of having a narration without a narrator (Vlker 1999: 48): camera eye, first-degree narrator, primary narrative agency (Black 1986: 4, 22); ultimate narratorial agency or supra-narrator (Tomasulo 1986: 46); organising consciousness, heterodiegetic narrator (Fulton 2005: 113); heterodiegetic camera in a metaphoric sense (Schlickers 1997: 6); invisible observer (Bordwell 1985: 910); etc. 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. The invisible observer theory even maintains that it is the camera that narrates (the French director Alexandre Astruc coined the famous phrase camra stylo). Deleyto (1996: 217) rejects this view, drawing on the conventional distinction between narrator (who speaks?) and focalizer (who sees?) although, unlike Bordwell, he does not grant the external focalizer the option of occupying the position of the camera. He rather contends that whereas in the novel the two kinds of focalization (internal/external) alternate, in film several internal and external focalisers can appear simultaneously at different points inside or outside the frame, all contributing to the development of the narrative and the creation of a permanent tension between subjectivity and objectivity (217). A case in point is the objective presentation of external narration to make internal processes both visible and understandable. Even in voice-over narration, the figural and auditive representation of the narrator is soon forgotten in favor of the virtual position of an impersonal narrative instance. The few experimental films that construct events through the eyes of the main character (e.g. Montgomerys The Lady in the Lake, 1947), thus creating an unmediated presence by means of internal ocularization, 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.


3.2.3 Unreliability of Film Narration Though there are filmic devices to give a scene the appearance of unreliability or deception, the visual narrator in film, unlike the homodiegetic one in written narrative, cannot tell a downright lie that is visualized at the very same moment, unless the veracity of the photographic image is put into question (cf. the fabricated, hence untrue flashback in Stage Fright, 1950, which director Alfred Hitchcock considered a serious mistake since it didnt work). However, there can be various types of fictional contracts with the audience that transcend the postulate of narrative verisimilitude, allowing even a dead person to tell his story as a character narrator (e.g. Wilders Sunset Boulevard, 1950), or when the dancers in a musical step on walls and ceilings, or when a film is built around a puzzle, putting into question any form of reliable narration (a summary of unreliable situations in cinema is given in Liptay & Wolf eds. 2005, passim; Helbig ed. 2006, passim).

3.3 Point of View Even if one accepts the seemingly contradictory postulate of a narrative situation without a narrator, the question of perspective in narrative discourse becomes an all-important issue as soon as the viewer shifts into the diegetic world. According to Genette, there is a difference between mood and voice, i.e. 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; Schlickers 1997: 12732).

3.3.1 Viewpoints Point of view (POV) clearly becomes the prime starting point for narratology when applied to film. Though it has been defined as a concrete perceptual fact linked to the camera position (Grodal 2005: 168), its actual functions in narrative can be far more flexible and multifarious than this definition suggests. As Branigan states in his landmark study on narrative comprehension in cinema, 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, more specifically, the mediator and the object of our gaze (1984: 47). Branigan offers a model of seven levels of narration which is based on Genettes study of focalization and allows for constant oscillation between these levels, from extra-/heterodiegetic and omniscient narration to adapting the highly subjective perception of a character. Fulton speaks of a multiple focalisation that is realized by different camera angles, which position us to see the action from a number of different viewpoints (2005: 114). Yet there are many more focusing strategies which select and control our perception as well as our emotional involvement such as deep-focus, the length and scale of a shot, specific lighting, etc. The prerequisite for any POV analysis, however, is the recognition that everything in cinema consists of looks: the viewer looks at characters who look at each other, or s/he looks at them, adopting their perspective of the diegetic world while the camera 187

frames a special field of seeing, or the viewer is privileged to look at something out of the line of vision of any of the characters. 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, not to speak of auditory information.

3.3.2 Focalization and Ocularization POV has been understood as an optical paradigm or, quite literally, 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. Schlickers speaks in this respect of a double perspectivation (2009). In many cases, it seems almost impossible to come to a clear conclusion whether the camera imitates the eyepoint of a character (i.e. the literal viewpoint as realized in eye-line matches) or whether it observes from outside in the sense of narrative mediation. 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, as is the case in Langs Die Nibelungen (1924) when the Nibelung treasure appears to Siegfried on a rock. Jost suggests distinguishing between internal focalization and zero focalization ([1987] 1989: 157), whereas Bal differentiates between focalization on perceptible objects and focalization on imperceptible objects ([1985] 1997: 153). Both alternatives, however, neglect the possibility of the blurring of the two types of focalization. Moreover, 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. 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, whether in an optical perspective or in a subjective perception (or both). To understand POV in terms of the optical and auditory vantage point of a character, as Bordwell does when he speaks of an optically subjective shot (1985: 60), 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. Though narratology possesses tools for analyzing these shifts, the categories used for film analysis seem to be far more complicated than those employed for literary narration.

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). Various levels of perception and cognition, many of them rooted in convention, are related to a logic of combination which determines the basic qualities of filmic narration. This paves the way for two approaches which should be tried in fruitful competition. 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, or there must be an attempt to analyze the multiple forms of interplay that stem 188

from the double vantage points of seeing and being seen, sight and sound, light and shadow, spatial and temporal elements, moving images and movement within the images. (b) If narrative is a fundamental issue in filmic signification, 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. Narrativity, 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. The repertoire of narratology must be extended to explain the functioning of modern media. (c) In sum, there is no doubt that feature films are a form of narrative that share the principal features of storytelling in literature. The crux of the matter, however, is that almost every analysis which is restricted to transmedial narrativity risks blotting out the historical developments of film narration, inseparably interwoven with the achievements and capacities of the medium. In Metzs words: [Film] says things that could also be conveyed in the language of words, yet it says them differently ([1968] 1974: 44).

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Bal, Mieke ([1985] 1997). Narratology. Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. Toronto: U of Toronto P. Black, David A. (1986). Genette and Film: Narrative Level in the Fiction Cinema. Wide Angle 8.34, 1926. Bordwell, David (1985). Narration in the Fiction Film. Madison: U of Wisconsin P. Branigan, Edward R. (1984). Point of View in the Cinema. A Theory of Narration and Subjectivity in Classical Film. Berlin: Mouton. Branigen, Edward R. (1992). Narrative Comprehension and Film. London: Routledge. Brtsch, Matthias (2011). Traumbhne Kino. Der Traum als filmtheoretische Metapher und narratives Model. Marburg: Schren. Burgoyne, Robert (1990). The Cinematic Narrator: The Logic and Pragmatics of Impersonal Narration. Journal of Film and Video 42, 316. Chatman, Seymour (1974). Narration and Point of View in Fiction and the Cinema. Poetica (Tokyo) 1, 2146. Chatman, Seymour (1978). Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Chatman, Seymour (1990). Coming to Terms. The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Chatman, Seymour (1999). The Cinematic Narrator. L. Braudy & M. Cohen (eds). Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. New York: Oxford UP, 47386. Cohen, Keith (1979). Film and Fiction: The Dynamics of Exchange. New Haven: Yale 189

UP. Deleyto, Celestino (1996). Focalisation in Film Narrative. S. Onega & J. . Garca Landa (eds). Narratology. London: Longman, 21733. jxenbaum, Boris (Eikhenbaum) ([1926] 1973). Literature and Cinema. St. Bann & J. Bowlt (eds). Russian Formalism: A Collection of Articles and Texts in Translation. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 12227. jxenbaum, Boris (Ejchenbaum) ([1927] 1995). Probleme der Filmstilistik. F.-J. Albersmeier (ed). Texte zur Theorie des Films. Stuttgart: Reclam, 97137. jzentejn, Sergej (Eisenstein, Sergei) ([1949] 1992). Dickens, Griffith, and the Film Today. G. Mast et al. (eds). Film Theory and Criticism. Oxford: Oxford UP, 395 402. Elsaesser, Thomas (1990). Film Form: Introduction. Th. E. (ed). Early Cinema: SpaceFrameNarrative. London: BFI, 1130. Elsaesser, Thomas & Malte Hagener (2007). Filmtheorie zur Einfhrung. Hamburg: Junius. Fludernik, Monika (1996). Towards a Natural Narratology. London: Routledge. Fulton, Helen (2005). Film Narrative and Visual Cohesion. H. F. et al. (eds). Narrative and Media. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 10822. Genette, Grard ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discours: An Essay in Method. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Grodal, Torben (2005). Film Narrative. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 16872. Gunning, Tom (1986). The Cinema of Attraction: Early Film, Its Spectator, and the AvantGarde. Ph. Rosen (ed). Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology. A Film Theory Reader. New York: Columbia UP, 22935. Heath, Stephen (1986). Narrative Space. Ph. Rosen (ed). Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology. A Film Theory Reader. New York: Columbia UP, 379420. Helbig, Jrg, ed. (2006). Camera doesnt lie: Spielarten erzhlerischer Unzuverlssigkeit im Film. Trier: WVT. Ingarden, Roman ([1931] 1972). Das literarische Kunstwerk. Mit einem Anhang Von den Funktionen der Sprache im Theaterschauspiel. Tbingen: Niemeyer. Jost, Franois ([1987] 1989). LilCamra. Entre film et roman. Lyon: PU de Lyon. Kuhn, Markus (2009). Film Narratology: Who Tells? Who Shows? Who Focalizes? Narrative Mediation in Self-Reflexive Fiction Films. P. Hhn et al. (eds). Point of View, Perspective, and Focalization: Modeling Mediacy in Narrative. Berlin: de Gruyter, 25978. Liptay, Fabienne & Yvonne Wolf, eds. (2005). Was stimmt denn jetzt? Unzuverlssiges Erzhlen in Literatur und Film. Mnchen: edition text + kritik. Lothe, Jakob (2000). Narrative in Fiction and Film. Oxford: Oxford UP. Metz, Christian (1966). La grande syntagmatique du film narratif. Communications No. 8, 12024. Metz, Christian ([1968] 1974). Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema. New York: Oxford UP. Panofsky, Erwin ([1937] 1993). Die ideologischen Vorlufer des Rolls-Royce-Khlers & Stil und Medium im Film. Frankfurt a.M.: Campus, 1748. Schlickers, Sabine (1997). Verfilmtes Erzhlen: Narratologisch-komparative Untersuchung zu El beso de la mujer araa (Manuel Puig/Hctor Babenco) und Crnica de una muerte anunciada (Gabriel Garcia Mrquez/Fraqncesco Rosi). 190

Frankfurt a. M.: Vervuert. Schlickers, Sabine (2009). Focalization, Ocularization and Auricularization in Film and Literature. P. Hhn et al. (eds). Point of View, Perspective, and Focalization: Modeling Medicy in Narrative. Berlin: de Gruyter, 24358. Scholes, Robert (1985). Narration and Narrativity in Film. G. Mast et al. (eds). Film Theory and Criticism. New York: Oxford UP, 390403. Schweinitz, Jrg (1999). Zur Erzhlforschung in der Filmwissenschaft. E. Lmmert (ed). Die erzhlerische Dimension: eine Gemeinsamkeit der Knste. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 7387. Tomasulo, Frank P. (1986). Narrate and Describe? Point of View and Narrative Voice Citizen Kanes Thatcher Sequence. Wild Angle 8.3/4, 4552. Vlker, Katrin (1999). Der erzhlte Blick. Eine vergleichende Analyse von Henry James The Portrait of a Lady und Jane Campions filmischer Adaption. M.A.Hausarbeit U of Hamburg.

5.2 Further Reading Bach, Manuela (1999). Dead MenDead Narrators: berlegungen zu Erzhlern und Subjektivitt im Film. W. Grnzweig & A. Solbach (eds). Grenzberschreitungen: Narratologie im Kontext / Transcending Boundaries: Narratology in Context. Tbingen: Gunter Narr, 23146. Cordes, Stefan (1997). Filmerzhlung und Filmerlebnis: Zur rezeptionsorientierten Analyse narrativer Konstruktionsformen im Spielfilm. Mnster: Lit Verlag. Fleishman, Avrom (1992). Narrated Films. Storytelling Situations in Cinema History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Griem, Julika & Eckhart Voigts-Virchow (2002). Filmnarratologie: Grundlagen, Tendenzen und Beispielanalysen. V. Nnning & A. Nnning (eds). Erzhltheorie transgenerisch, intermedial, interdisziplinr. Trier: WVT, 15583. Hurst, Matthias (1996). Erzhlsituationen in Literatur und Film. Ein Modell zur vergleichenden Analyse von literarischen Texten und filmischen Adaptionen. Tbingen: Niemeyer. Hurst, Matthias (2001). Mittelbarkeit, Perspektive, Subjektivitt: ber das narrative Potential des Spielfilms. J. * Helbig (ed). Camera doesnt lie: Spielarten erzhlerischer Unzuverlssigkeit im Film. Trier: WVT, 23353. Kozloff, Sarah (1988). Invisible Storytellers. Voice-over Narration in American Fiction Film. Berkeley: U of California P. Ryan, Marie Laure (2005). On the Theoretical Foundations of Transmedial Narratology. J. Ch. Meister (ed). Narratology beyond Literary Criticism. Mediality, Disciplinarity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 123. Tolton, C. D. E. (1984). Narration in Film and Prose Fiction: A Mise au point. University of Toronto Quarterly 53, 26482. Wilson, George M. ([1988] 1992). Narration in Light. Studies in Cinematic Point of View. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP.


Hhn, Peter & Sommer, Roy: "Narration in Poetry and Drama". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. title=Narration_in_Poetry_and_Drama&oldid=1569

Narration in Poetry and Drama

Last modified: 4 August 2011 Peter Hhn & 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, represent temporally organized sequences and thus relate stories, albeit with certain genre-specific differences, necessarily mediating them in the manner of presentation. 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. Drama enacts strings of happenings with actors in live performance, the presentation of which, though typically devoid of any overt presenting agency, is mediated e.g. through selection, segmentation and arrangement. Thanks to these features characteristic of narrative, lyric poems as well as plays performed on the stage can be profitably analyzed with the transgeneric application of narratological categories, though with poetry the applicability of the notion of story and with drama that of mediation seems to be in question.

2 Explication Transgeneric narratology proceeds from the assumption that narratologys highly differentiated system of categories can be applied to the analysis of both poems and plays, possibly opening the way to a more precise definition of their respective generic specificity, 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, the following argument concentrates on lyric poetry in the narrow sense: that narratological categories are generally applicable to narrative verse is obvious. If narration is defined as the representation of chains of happenings in a medium by a mediating agent, then the three traditional genres, prose fiction, poetry (Schnert 2004) and 192

drama, can be differentiated semiotically by the extent to which they utilize the range of possible modes and levels of mediation ( Mediacy and Narrative Mediation). While novels, short stories, etc. typically make use of all available levels and modes of mediation (superordinate narrator, subordinate characters utterance ( Character), various modes of focalization ( Focalization)), lyric and dramatic texts can be reconstructed as reduced forms in which the range of instances of mediation varies in each case. Seen in this way, lyric texts in the narrower sense (i.e. 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. Like prose narratives, they can instantiate the two fundamental constituents of the narrative process, temporal sequentiality and mediation, equally well. Similarly to the enacted utterances of characters in dramatic texts, however, they can also seemingly efface the narrators level and create the impression of performative immediacy of speaking. As a result, the speakers voice is felt to emanate from simultaneously occurring experience and speech. 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). In dramatic texts in performance, on the other hand, the sequence of happenings is presented directly, corporeally, in the form of live characters interacting and communicating on stage, without an overt mediator (such as a narrator ( Narrator)) and seemingly without any mediation whatsoever. Nevertheless, selection, segmentation, combination and focus of the scenes presented imply the existence of a superordinate mediating instance (Jahn 2001; Weidle 2009) or, in other terms, of the abstract author ( Implied Author). In addition, narrative elements and structures do normally occur at the intradiegetic level of the characters utterances, but can also be introduced at the extradiegetic level, such as prologues and epilogues and comments by stage managers or overt narrators. 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; Nnning & Sommer 2008). A transgeneric narratology is, however, by no means restricted to applying narrative theories and terminologies to other genres for analytical purposes. 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, the realization or transmission of narrative content in different media ( Narration in Various Media), and the cognitive activities involved in narrative comprehension.

3 History of the Concept and its Study

3.1 Dimensions of the Transgeneric Approach to Poetry


The following survey focuses specifically on lyric rather than on narrative poetry such as ballads, verse narratives or verse romances. The latter lend themselves readily to the concepts generally employed for prose fiction, albeit with certain differences like the added structuring device of versification (Kinney 1992; McHale 2005). A transgeneric application of narratology to lyric poetry is of relatively recent vintage, the earliest examples dating back only to the 1980s. For the following discussion, such approaches will be ordered according to the dimension(s) of the poem qua narrative text to which narratological categories are applied. These basic dimensions are the levels of the happenings and of their mediation in the form of the poetic text, in particular the modality of its mediation and the organization of its sequential structure, as well as the act and process of articulation. According to a traditional view, which remains widespread even today, 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 qualitydirect, unfiltered communication of experience by an author identified with a speaker as the subject of this experience. It is this traditional notion of poetic immediate subjectivity that several early narratological approaches to lyric poetry address and try to remedy. Bernhart (1993: 36668) draws on Stanzels distinction between dramatized and withdrawn narrators (i.e. between overt and covert narration) to describe two degrees of the perceptibility of mediation in poetry, the effect of which is either to foreground mediation or to background the mediator and produce the illusion of immediacy. The merit of Bernharts argument is its insistence on the ineluctably mediate quality of poetry and on the existence, as in fiction, of an organizing and shaping consciousness, whether visible or invisible. Owing to his adoption of Stanzels one-dimensional modeling of mediacy, however, Bernhart refers merely to the variable perceptibility of the narrator, neglecting other modes of mediating such as the various facets of focalization (e.g. perceptual, psychological or ideological). Seemann (1984: 53538), likewise rejecting the notion of poetic immediacy, derives a much more differentiated hierarchy of levels of mediation from narrative and drama theory. He distinguishes five levels of communication: (a) characters; (b) narrator/speaker; (c) implied author; (d) author as the creator of the work in question; (e) author as a biographical person. He points out that the lowest level, the utterances of characters, is often unrealized in poetry and that the highest level, the real author ( Author), is usually irrelevant for understanding a work. Of particular interest is his distinction between speaker and implied author, based on textual signals in the composition of the work, opening the way to clearer differentiations in the analysis of perspective ( Perspective - Point of View), not only in satiric verse and dramatic monologues, but more generally, even in cases where these levels appear to collapse into one another. In a similar manner, Kraan (1991) distinguishes empirical author, implied author and what he calls lyric subject (with a certain affinity to the German concept of lyrisches Ich / lyrical I), stressing the historical variability in the distinctness of these three mediators, e.g. their implicit identity in Romanticism or clear differentiation in modernism (22223). 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. Dismissing conventional views of the all-embracing emotionality and self-contained artificiality of poetry that preclude rational analysis, Mller-Zettelmann (2002: 13031) programmatically advocates a systematic transfer of the results of narratology to raise the theoretical level both of reflection on poetry and of poetry criticism (13948). As for the dimension of mediation, she concentrates on one singular aspect of lyric poetry: its generic subjectivity (14244), which she identifies as part of the larger phenomenon of aesthetic illusion ( Illusion (Aesthetic)) and analyzes 194

(drawing on Wolf 1998 as the intended effect of various techniques simulating the general position-boundedness of human experience as manifest in the spatial, temporal, cognitive, emotional and ideological restriction of perception and consciousness. This effect of aesthetic illusion, she argues, is further heightened by self-referential artificiality in poems where the speaker presents himself as a creative poet. In Genettes terms, this phenomenon could be classified as the coincidence of speakers voice with internal focalization and simultaneous narration. Despite her initial comprehensive claim, Mller-Zettelmann refrains from exploring the wide range of poetic mediation with the various possible constellations of voice, focalization and time of narration, singling out one special albeit significant case: generic subjectivity. A systematic all-encompassing application of narratology, differentiating two basic aspects of mediation, agents or instances and levels of mediation and types of perspective, is outlined by Hhn & Schnert (2002: 29598) and Hhn (2004: 14751). Firstly, the four agents located on four hierarchical levels largely coincide with those named by Seemann and Kraan: biographical author; abstract (or implied) author; speaker/narrator; protagonist or character in the happenings. Secondly, the two types or modes of perspective are voice (a narrators or a characters verbal utterance, their language) and focalization (the position that determines perception and cognition, the deictic center of the perceptual, cognitive, psychological and ideological focus on the happenings). For the notoriously tricky problem of distinguishing speaker and abstract author and of relating focalization to agent (e.g. whether to speaker or character), they introduce the operation of attribution performed by the reader in accordance with his particular understanding of the text. These two sets of differential categories, in conjunction with the operation of attribution, allow for a more precise analysis of lyric poems in their individual, historical and cultural variations than do traditional methods. Hence the seemingly unmediated self-expression of the poet in a simultaneously ongoing experience characteristic of many Romantic poems, for example, can be re-described as the manipulated collapse of the agents/instances and levels of protagonist, speaker and author as well as the contrived congruence of voice and focalization, thus creating the effect of unmediated subjectivity. The other dimension of the poetic text, sequentiality, has hitherto been widely neglected in traditional approaches to poetry analysis, even though it constitutes a central part of a poems meaning. For the transgeneric approach to poetry, investigation of this dimension in its temporal organization is essential, since it forms the basis for the application of narratology in the first place. Contrary to mediation with the highly differentiated system of relevant categories already developed by narratology, the dimension of sequentiality lacks a broadly accepted narratological terminology. Because of this, critics are left to develop categories of their own or to draw on a variety of sources from elsewhere. Stillinger (1985: 989) sketches five concrete types of plot in Romantic poetry: conflict between binary forces (mostly of a mental kind) and its resolution; journeys or quests; confrontation between imagination and reality with resultant disillusionment; violation and its consequences; competition between spatial divisions. From these he abstracts two general patterns: (a) progress from a state of equilibrium to disturbance to a final resolution; (b) encounter of a protagonists desire or goal with resistance and its resolution. This is an early and rudimentary attempt, loosely inspired by action models applied to prose fiction (Propp, Bremond), in need of further refinement and adaptation. Weststeijn (1989), in another early proposal, advocates application of the concept of plot to lyric poems and provides a demonstration, highlighting two features specific to poetry: the preference for mental actions 195

and the omission (deliberate or not) of the social, spatial and temporal particulars of situation, character and action. Mller-Zettelmann (2002: 13335), in a programmatic plea for the general transfer of narratological categories to poetry analysis, also mentions these two features, but without further specification, merely referring to the applicability of frame (or schema) theory (14950). This same concept was earlier proposed by Semino (1995) as a practical instrument for the detailed analysis of poetry, without, however, linking it to narrative. Schema theory, derived from cognitive psychology, explains the readers comprehension of texts as an operation of activating and applying relevant prior knowledge. According to this theory, 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 (857). The concept of schema facilitates precise description of the sequential dimension of poetic texts. A systematic approach to modeling sequentiality combining schema theory with Lotmans concept of sujet (in the sense of transgression of a boundary or deviation from a norm) is put forward by Hhn & Schnert (2002), Hhn (2004, 2005) and Hhn & Kiefer (2005). The notion of cognitive schemata, especially in the further distinction between frames (stereotypical knowledge about settings, situations and themes) and scripts (knowledge about stereotyped series of actions and processes), allows for differentiated analysis of the sequential structure of poems and their thematic significance with direct reference to the cultural, social and historical context, since such schemata ( Schemata) are always formed by and dependent on experience within a particular society and culture. Because of the poetic convention of brevity, abstractness and situational and personal indeterminacy, poems are usually less circumstantial than prose fiction in presenting textual triggers for activating frames and scripts, thus requiring greater effort on the readers part to infer the relevant schemata. Combining schema theory with Lotmans model provides a means for identifying the turning point in a poem, a decisive or merely inferable change from one state (attitude, view, emotion, etc.) to another signaled by deviation from the conventional and predictable pattern of one or more schemata which constitutes the point of the text, its raison dtre ( Tellability). Events are ascribed to a figure, an agent who undergoes a decisive change. According to the level of the poetic text at which the figure is located and at which the decisive turn takes place, three basic event types or planes of eventfulness can be distinguished (Hhn & Kiefer 2005: 7, 24651): (a) events in the happenings, ascribed to storyworld incidents with the protagonist or persona as agent; (b) presentation events, located at the discourse level with the speaker/narrator as agent enacting a story of narration; in addition, 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, e.g. by modification or replacement of schemata, attributable not to the speaker but to the abstract author (as when the speakers lament about his artistic sterility is mediated in the form of a perfect poem); (c) reception events, 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, an event the reader is meant to perform vicariously, as in dramatic monologues ( Event and Eventfulness). Analysis of poetry in English (Hhn 2005: 16768; Hhn & Kiefer 2005: 23335) and in German (Schnert et al. 2007: 31113) bears out a number of characteristic tendencies in which narration in lyric poems seems to differ from that in novels and stories. To name just one such tendency, there is a preference (in certain periods) for stories in which simultaneous narration aspires to merge with the presentation event: the speakers process of reflection and articulation is performed in the present, while moving toward a decisive turn in his attitude or 196

insight. This presentation event is achieved at the very end of the poem or, more characteristically, the poem breaks off before it is achieved, the change being too difficult to bring about or shied away from because of the risks involved. To negotiate this problematic transition, the speaker often narrates the further movement prospectively. In conclusion, the claim formulated in some programmatic statements that the transfer of narratological concepts to poetry will contribute to a differentiated theory of poetry (MllerZettelmann 2000: 4; Hhn & Schnert 2002: 28788) has yet to bear its full fruit. Even so, 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.

3.2 Dimensions of the Transgeneric Approach to Drama Most categories commonly used for the analysis of narrative fiction can equally be applied to drama, as Richardson (2007: 14251) argues convincingly. This is valid for representations of character, plot, beginnings and endings, time and space as well as for fictional causality (defined by Richardson as the canon of probability [150] to which plays and novels adhere), narrative framing and narration. Whereas plot, beginnings and endings and character also belong to the traditional categories of drama criticism, the relevance of concepts of narrative mediation and their applicability in a transgeneric context is currently under debate. Narratological approaches to drama routinely focus on choric speeches, prologues and messengers, onstage audiences and commentators, instances of character narration and of epic narrators such as the stage manager in Wilders Our Town, on frame narratives and embedded narratives, monologues, soliloquies, asides, audience address, self-reflective or meta-dramatic comments, instances of metalepsis ( Metalepsis) as well as on selfreferential techniques such as the play-within-the-play. Recent research also suggests a distinction between mimetic and diegetic narrativity ( Narrativity) (Nnning & Sommer 2008: 33739) and combines the analysis of narration in drama with performative approaches to the study of discourse in narrative fiction (Fludernik 2008: 36769). Historically, 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). This view was challenged radically by 20th-century playwrights such as Beckett and, of course, Brechts programmatic use of alienating techniquesfrequently narrative or meta-dramatic in naturewhich defined his internationally acclaimed notion of an epic theater. Throughout the 20th century, narrative experiments in drama have contributed to the emergence of a canon of plays (including Brechts Caucasian Chalk Circle, Williamss The Glass Menagerie and Shaffers Amadeus) routinely quoted in narratological accounts of drama. The development of drama and theater in the second half of the 20th century, however, 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 fusion of theater with other genres, media and technologies, and the emergence of a post-dramatic theater which abandons conventional story-based and character-oriented dramaturgy (Lehmann 1999). 197

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. Instead of identifying the former with showing and preserving the latter for the verbal mediation of narrative content, Chatman points to the fact that both modes (showing and telling) can be used to transmit a story. Thus, a narrator might present a story through a teller or a shower or some combination of both (113). In order to avoid terminological confusion, Chatman suggests the new umbrella term presenter to designate his broader conception of narrator which subsumes both the narrator in Genettes narrower sense of verbal narration by anthropomorphic narrating instances (a notion compatible with Stanzels definition of mediacy as the sine qua non of fictional narration), on the one hand, and a kind of narration that is not performed by a recognizably human agency (115), on the other. The latter type of narrator may be said to tell (or show or present) the majority of enacted stories on stage and screen. Chatmans 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), then logically, at least, narratives can be said to be actualizable on the stage or in other iconic media (114). This idea is further developed by Jahn (2001), who emphasizes the diegetic nature of stage directions and compares the multiple levels of communication within dramatic texts with narrative embedding in the novel. He also modifies Chatmans 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 Chatmans subdivision of diegetic and mimetic with the distinction between written/printed and performed narratives. More recently, Nnning & Sommer (2008) have argued that plays make acts of (intradiegetic) storytelling theatrical by representing acts of character 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, 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). Another direction is taken by Fludernik (2008), whose notion of experientiality paves the way for a cognitive narratological approach to drama. 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, corresponding to performance or enactment in order to highlight the specific circumstances in which storytelling occurs: In drama, there is a real performance involving actors; in a performance of narrative, the performer and audience take over the roles of narrator and narratee. What the model allows one to argue is that in drama, the narratorial level is optional and the performative level is constitutive, whereas in epic narrative, it is the performance level that is optional (365). Whereas narratologists from Chatman and Richardson to Jahn and Fludernik have repeatedly emphasized the narrativity of drama from a variety of perspectives, there are also critical voices rejecting the idea of a narratology of drama (or at least parts of it). Referring to Stanzels notion of mediacy, Rajewsky (2007: 58) insists on the distinction between narrative communication in the novel and non-mediated communication in drama, thus excluding the possibility of heterodiegetic narration on the stage (where, she argues, discourse is always produced by participants of the storyworld). This view is supported by Schenk-Haupt (2007: 30), who maintains that extradiegetic narration is impossible in dramatic writing. 198

Proponents of a narratology of drama, however, generally agree that both Genettes notion of diegetic narration as a verbal transmission of narrative content and Stanzels insistence on mediacy as a prerequisite of narrative are too restrictive, proceeding, as they do, from the normative assumption (based on normative genre theory) that there is no narrative discourse in drama. There are several more recent (and more convincing) alternatives to Genettes and Stanzels definitions of narrative available, including Chatmans revision of Genettes concept and Jahns subsequent modification of Chatman, Ryans transgeneric and transmedial definitions of narrative as a cognitive template (Ryan 2005; Nnning & Sommer 2008: 333), or Fluderniks natural narratology, based on her definitions of narrativity and experientiality. Therefore, attempts to prove transgeneric narratology wrong by pointing out its incompatibility with Genette (Schenk-Haupt 2007: 312) or Stanzel (Rajewsky 2007: 58) can hardly be convincing. Schenk-Haupts conclusion that there is no direct extradiegetic communication in dramatic writingauthorial characters, embedded stories, epic devices, 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, visual or auditive signs. 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. For this reason, she rejects Jahns argument that unperformable, unrealizable stage directions can be regarded as evidence of a heterodiegetic narrating instance: since they cannot be performed, they highlight generic conventions and emphasize the distinctions between narrative fiction and narrative drama which transgeneric narratology seeks to overcome (61). Schenk-Haupt (2007) offers a similar argument: If we accepted that [...] the secondary text took over a narrative, mediating function, this would eventually lead to a confusion of generic boundaries (36). 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. performance debate and/or with generic issues. Ultimately, the existence (or absence) of a narrating instance in drama is a matter of perspective: it depends both on the critics chosen theoretical framework (Genette/Stanzel vs. Chatman /Jahn/ Ryan/ Fludernik) and on his or her main research interests (narrative vs. genres/media). Admittedly, narratology sometimes tends to produce counter-intuitive concepts, and a plays 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. Transgeneric narratology is still in its infancy, however, and if the current cognitive approaches are pursued further, 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, but also allow for a better understanding of the anthropological function of narrative in literary and in non-literary discourses.

4 Topics for Further Investigation


4.1 Topics for Further Investigation: Poetry The relation of the various event types with different historical epochs and with different cultures and cultural traditions; comparison between poetry and prose fiction in their various genres with respect to the schemata used, event types and the degree of realization of events.

4.2 Topics for Further Investigation: Drama The compatibility or mutual dependency of transgeneric and transmedial theories of narrative; a comparative discussion of diegetic narrativity in dramas, play texts and performances; a revision of structuralist narratological approaches to drama from a cognitive and pragmatic/semantic perspective.

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited: Poetry Bernhart, Wolfgang (1993). berlegungen zur Lyriktheorie aus erzhltheoretischer Sicht. H. Foltinek et al. (eds). Tales and their telling difference: Festschrift fr Franz K. Stanzel. Heidelberg: Winter, 35975. Hhn, Peter (2004). Transgeneric Narratology: Applications to Lyric Poetry. J. Pier (ed). The Dynamics of Narrative Form. Berlin: de Gruyter, 13958. Hhn, Peter (2005). Plotting the Lyric: Forms of Narration in Poetry. E. MllerZettelmann & M. Rubik (eds). Theory into Poetry. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 14772. Hhn, Peter & Jens Kiefer (2005). The Narratological Analysis of Lyric Poetry: Studies in English Poetry from the 16th to the 20th Century. Berlin: de Gruyter. Hhn, Peter & Jrg Schnert (2002). Zur narratologischen Analyse von Lyrik. Poetica 34, 287305. Kinney, Clare R. (1992). Strategies of Poetic Narrative: Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, Eliot. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Kraan, Menno (1991). Towards a Model of Lyric Communication: Some Historical and Theoretical Remarks. Russian Literature 30, 199230. McHale, Brian (2005). Narrative in Poetry. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 35658. Mller-Zettelmann, Eva (2000). Lyrik und Metalyrik: Theorie einer Gattung und ihrer Selbstbespiegelung anhand von Beispielen aus der englisch- und deutschsprachigen Dichtkunst. Heidelberg: Winter. Mller-Zettelmann, Eva (2002). Lyrik und Narratologie. A. Nnning & V. Nnning (eds). Erzhltheorie transgenerisch, intermedial, interdisziplinr. Trier: WVT, 129 53. 200

Schnert, Jrg (2004). Normative Vorgaben als Theorie der Lyrik? Vorschlge zu einer texttheoretischen Revision. G. Frank & W. Lukas (eds). Norm GrenzeAbweichung. Kultursemiotische Studien zu Literatur, Medien und Wirtschaft. Michael Titzmann zum 60. Geburtstag. Passau: Stutz, 30318. Schnert, Jrg, et al. (2007). Lyrik und Narratologie: Text-Analysen zu deutschsprachigen Gedichten vom 16. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert. Berlin: de Gruyter. Seemann, Klaus Dieter (1984). Die Kommunikationsstruktur im lyrischen Gedicht. W. Schmid & R. Dring-Smirnov (eds). Text, Symbol, Weltmodell: Johannes Holthusen zum 60. Geburtstag. Mnchen: Sager, 53354. Semino, Elena (1995). Schema theory and the analysis of text worlds in poetry. Language and Literature 4, 79108. Stillinger, Jack (1985). The Plots of Romantic Poetry. College Literature 12, 95 112. Weststeijn, Willem G. (1989). Plot Structure in Lyric Poetry: An Analysis of Three Exile Poems by Aleksandr Pukin. Russian Literature 26, 50922. Wolf, Werner (1998). Aesthetic Illusion in Lyric Poetry? Poetica 30, 1856.

5.2 Further Reading: Poetry Adam, Jean-Michel (2002). Conditions et degrs de narrativation du pome. Degrs: Revue de Synthse Orientation Smiologique 111, a 1a 26. Kafalenos, Emma (2006). Narrative Causalities. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 15778. McHale, Brian (2009). Beginning to Think about Narrative in Poetry. Narrative 17, 1127. Schnert, Jrg (2008). Auteur empirique, auteur implicite et moi lyrique. J. Pier (ed). Thorie du rcit. Lapport de la recherche allemande. Villeneuve dAsqc: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 8496. Semino, Elena (1997). Language and World Creation in Poems and Other Texts. London: Longman. Simon, Ralf (2004). Handlungstheorie des Lyrischen: mit Analysen zu Hlderlins Heidelberg, Mrikes Die schne Buche und Georges Wir werden heute nicht zum garten gehen. Rhetorik: Ein internationales Jahrbuch 23, 5080.

5.3 Works Cited: Drama Chatman, Seymour (1990). Coming to Terms: The Rhetoric of Narrative Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Delius, Nikolaus (1877). Die epischen Elemente in Shakespeares Dramen. Shakespeare-Jahrbuch 12, 128. Fludernik, Monika (2008). Narrative and Drama. J. Pier & J. . Garca Landa (eds). Theorizing Narrativity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 35381. Jahn, Manfred (2001). Narrative Voice and Agency in Drama: Aspects of a Narratology of Drama. New Literary History 32, 65979. 201

Lehmann, Hans-Thies ([1999] 2001). Postdramatisches Theater. Frankfurt a.M.: Verlag der Autoren. Nnning, Ansgar & Roy Sommer (2008). Diegetic and Mimetic Narrativity: Some Further Steps towards a Narratology of Drama. J. Pier & J. . Garca Landa (eds). Theorizing Narrativity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 32952. Rajewsky, Irina O. (2007). Von Erzhlern, die (nichts) vermitteln: berlegungen zu grundlegenden Annahmen der Dramentheorie im Kontext einer transmedialen Narratologie. Zeitschrift fr franzsische Sprache und Literatur 117, 2568. Richardson, Brian (2007). Drama and Narrative. D. Herman (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 14255. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2005). On the Theoretical Foundations of Transmedial Narratology. J. Ch. Meister (ed). Narratology beyond Literary Criticism: Mediality, Disciplinarity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 123. Schenk-Haupt, Stefan (2007). Narrativity in Dramatic Writing: Towards a General Theory of Genres. Anglistik 18.2, 2542. Weidle, Roland (2009). Organizing the Perspectives: Focalization and the Superordinate Narrative System in Drama. P. Hhn et al. (eds). Point of View, Perspective, and Focalization. Modeling Mediation in Narrative. Berlin: de Gruyter, 22142.

5.4 Further Reading: Drama de Jong, Irene J. F. (1991). Narrative in Drama: The Art of the Euripidean Messenger Speech. Leiden: Brill. Elam, Keir (1980). The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama. London: Methuen. Garner, Stanton B. (1989). The Absent Voice: Narrative Comprehension in the Theater. Urbana: U of Illinois P. Hauthal, Janine (2008). Metadrama und (Text-)Theatralitt: (Selbst-)Reflexionen einer intermedialen literarischen Gattung am Beispiel englischer und nordamerikanischer Meta- und Postdramatik. Trier: WVT. Korthals, Holger (2003). Zwischen Drama und Erzhlung: Ein Beitrag zur Theorie geschehensdarstellender Literatur. Berlin: Schmidt. Morrison, Kristin (1983). Canters and Chronicles: The Use of Narrative in the Plays of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Pavel, Thomas G. (1985). The Poetics of Plot: The Case of English Renaissance Drama. Manchester: Manchester UP. Pfister, Manfred ([1977] 1988). The Theory and Analysis of Drama. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Ryan, Marie-Laure, ed. (2004). Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Sommer, Roy (2005). Drama and Narrative. D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 11924.


Meuter, Norbert: "Narration in Various Disciplines". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. 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, we need to distinguish between two main aspects. On the one hand, narratives are the subject area, or at least an important issue among others, in many disciplines, without this being explicitly thematized in every case. Here, one would have to distinguish whether these disciplines find their narrative objects more or less ready-made, or whether they themselves create these totally or at least partially. On the other hand, implicit references to narratives have sparked a growing tendency towards explicit reflection upon various aspects of narration. In conjunction with this reflection, the phenomenon of narrativity ( Narrativity) itself is thematized, and with it content- or methodology-oriented concepts of narrativity are developed within the varied frameworks of the disciplines in question.

2 Explication Narrative as a phenomenon has a pivotal role in literary studies and history, for narratives have always formed a key subject of these disciplines. In the field of literature, narrative objects are fully formed from the outset (at least if one excludes interpretation and historical contextualization from the concept of the literary text), whereas the historical disciplines need to construct these objects, if not completely, then at least to a large extent. Accordingly, it is in these two disciplines that we find the first fundamental theoretical discussions of the concept of narrativity, making them the leading disciplines in the study of narrativity. Further important impulses have come from psychology, philosophy and the philosophy of science. Even beyond these disciplines, we not only find narrative objects which are to a large extent unspecified, but also explicit content- and methodology-oriented discussions of narrative in sociology, theology, pedagogy, ethics, psychoanalysis, art, and art history as well as law 203

studies (Mitchell ed. 1981; Polkinghorne 1988; Nash ed. 1990; Mller-Funk 2002). 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). Today, the varied approaches to the theory of narrative in the humanities constitute the interdisciplinary study of narratology (Prince 1997; Phelan & Rabinowitz eds. 2005; Herman et al. eds. 2005; Kindt & Mller eds. 2003). In the natural sciences, however, the study of narratology ( Narratology) remains to a large extent a desideratum. So far, it is only in medicine that rudimentary attempts have been made; however, these concern aspects of the doctor-patient relationship rather than the core problems of narrative. 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.

3 Concepts and their History

3.1 Literary Studies Literary studies deserve to be called the leading discipline in the study of narrative, with Aristotles Poetics constituting a seminal source. The triadic structure of classical tragedy, based on the terms beginning, middle and end, can be applied to any kind of narratable material (Straub 1998). Significant beginning- and end-markers make the totality (holos) of the story emerge from the sequence of experiences. A story only becomes meaningful through the selection and combination of happenings and actions (mythos). These do not follow one upon the other in a random sequence or simply one after the other (meta), but rather one out of the other (dia), so that an intrinsic connection is made between them. Seen as a whole, there emerges a suspenseful trajectory or development from beginning to end with one or more disruptions and moderate or radical changes in direction (peripeteia). For Aristotle, a narrative is constituted by establishing a meaningful, cohesive, probable, and possibly even necessary order out of dissonant, fragmented, merely episodic, accidental or contingent elements (Halliwell 1987; Ricur 1983). Thus, 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. In the 20th century, the German hermeneutic tradition, harking back to Aristotle, formulates elements of narration (Bauformen des Erzhlens, Lmmert 1955) which are then reformulated as a general theory of narration (Theorie des Erzhlens, Stanzel 1979). The focus is on the relationship between narration and temporality, on the significance and function of the narrator (Narrator), and on inquiries into the elements and structures of the narrative (Martnez & Scheffel 1999). (Regarding other traditions, e.g. formalist or structuralist, cf. Herman 1999; Nnning 2003.) In the course of this development, narrative theorists in literary studies have increasingly had to grapple with the fact that the authors of Modernism and Postmodernism tend to break 204

down the classic Aristotelian structures in order to construct anti-narratives. 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, more importantly, in the destruction of a suspenseful fable (plot, story, intrigue) with a clear climax or anti-climax. In the wake of this development, the sovereignty of the narrator, even of the author ( Author) (Foucault 1969), is regarded as increasingly problematic. Still, 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; Currie 1998).

3.2 The Arts In the context of the arts, the study of narrativity can turn to Lessings famous Laocon (1766). According to the definition proposed by this essay for demarcating the fine arts from the literary arts ( Narration in Various Media), painting and sculpture are marked by spatiality and synchronicity, whereas temporality and diachronicity are the features of poetry. The simultaneous arrangement of shapes and colors depicts objects or bodies, while the successive arrangement of articulated sounds results in the narration of actions. The visual arts can mediate actions only indirectly through the depiction of bodies, whereas in poetry a body can be portrayed only through the narration of actions. According to Lessing, the painter or sculptor must therefore find the pregnant moment that condenses the temporal movement in contrast to the poet, who must integrate the defining trait of a body into narration of the action. Moving beyond Lessing, other narrative means that allow the visual arts to depict temporal sequences might be taken into account (Pochat 1996).

3.3 The Historical Sciences Traditionally, 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. Aristotles Poetics (Halliwell 1987) already formulates the assumption that the role of fictionin contrast to historiographyis not to convey what really happened, but rather what, under the given circumstances, could happen. At the same time, fiction has a generalizable, representative quality: the actual (ta genomena) of history vs. the possible (ta dynata) of fiction. Still, the question remains whether it is actually possible to differentiate clearly between historical or factual and literary or fictional narratives ( Fictional vs. Factual Narration). Goethes categories, poetry and truth (Dichtung und Wahrheit), might well be more closely linked than they appear to be at first glance. As for philosophical contributions to this debate (Ricur 1985), they presuppose an ontological and epistemological cross-over relationship between history and fiction (cf. also Danto 1965; Veyne 1971). 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. Many authors 205

contend that narratives are a suitable and even necessary medium for recording, describing, and explaining historical developments (Rsen 1986, 1990). Others suggest a type of historical argumentation that in logical terms is independent of any form of narrative (Kocka 1980), an argument supported by the positions of the Ecole des Annales (cf. Ricur 1983). 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, comedy, tragedy, satire). According to White, the real events of the past are molded into an artificial narrative form, giving them a certain meaning they did not inherently possess. Since every narrative form inevitably transports certain normative statements and value judgments, White (1987) regards this molding of reality to create narrative patterns of meaning as a potentially totalitarian act. It cannot be denied that grands rcits (Lyotard 1979) are potential instruments of power. However, any critique of history as narrative from the position of ideological criticism as a principle is a questionable exercise (Straub 2001). Such is the case especially if this critique relies on a contestable dualism between artificial forms and real events, 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. Consequently, the concept of narrativity should be limited to explicit forms of (oral or written) narration, such that the existence of untold stories is negated: stories are never lived, but told. Life itself is seen as without beginning, middle and end, nor is it tragic, amusing, suspenseful, etc. Other authors (MacIntyre 1981; Carr 1986; Bruner 1990; Gergen 1998) take a diametrically opposed view. For them, narrative structures are not the product of literary writers or historians. On the contrary, stories are already formed in actions and life cycles: stories are lived before they are told. Therefore, narrativity is not primarily an aesthetic category, but is rooted in practice. This means that the historical sciences are not merely allowed to resort to narration, but are required to do so if they are to do their subject matter justice. A simple chronicle in which events are simply linked together by dates may be more objective, but this cannot generate understanding because such understanding can be achieved only if a specifically narrative connection is established between the recorded dates. The configuration of this connectionand the selective process behind itwill 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, interests, etc. White seems justified in his contention that narrativization of historical events comes at the expense of objectivity, but one has to take into account that historical events fundamentally differ from the natural events that occur in physics, for example, since such events possess no ontological or epistemological objectivity outside of a frame of reference. A historical narrative and its portrayal of a sequence of events do not form a mimetic relationship but a metaphorical relationship (Ricur 1985): narrative makes visible something that would otherwise remain unperceived (cf. also Jaeger 2002).

3.4 Psychology The concept of narrativity is increasingly being used as a key not only in the historical and literary disciplines, but also in (hermeneutically-oriented) psychology. Narrative psychology 206

has emerged as an independent discipline, emphasizingin contrast to the dominant objectivist and positivist orientation in the fieldthe significance of forms which are meaningful for human experience and actions (Sarbin ed. 1986; Polkinhorne 1988). 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. Bruner (1990) has influenced the debate with his distinction between paradigmatic and narrative modes of thought. In the paradigmatic mode, individual events or objects are linked with conceptual categories during the thought process, while in the narrative mode, events are perceived as elements of a story which contribute to its development. This concerns the cognitive ability to configure diverse events and actions into larger temporal and meaningful unitsa capacity for narrative structuring (emplotment) which is obviously one of the fundamental capabilities of human consciousness. Bruner also examines the question of whether this ability is genetic and universal or acquired and learnt, i.e. shaped in different ways by the cultural environment. His position is one of compromise: according to him, we all have an innate predisposition for telling and understanding stories, but this must be developed through cultural models and social interaction into an active competence. A number of studies in developmental psychology on the formation of narrative competence have been published (e.g. Wolf 2001). 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). The focal point here is not well-constructed literary tales, but simple everyday stories. In such studies, the Aristotelian middle represents the turning point of the story in which something surprising, unexpected or interesting constitutes the center around which other happenings are grouped. Empirical studies show that children generally acquire the competence that enables mastery of this basic narrative model between the ages of seven and ten. This is preceded by a development which begins with the ability to string together events in a merely linear fashion, 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. One specific focus of psychological studies bearing on narrative is the significance of narrative forms for the understanding of emotions. In these studies, emotions are not regarded as isolated and disjointed phenomena but as situationally and socially contextualized. 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; Gergen 1998), a finding that appears to be a cultural universal (Hogan 2003). Emotions are made understandable through stories and in turn, stories also generate emotions, making us feel angry, sad, happy, etc. This is due to the fact that stories are presentative symbolizations (Langer 1948). Even though they rely on the discursive medium of language, stories speak to us on a far deeper emotional level than discursive symbolizations such as abstract argumentation or scientific theories can ever do.

3.5 Psychoanalysis


The realization of the importance of narrative in the field of psychology has generated therapeutic, and especially psychoanalytical, concepts which interpret the therapeutic process in its entirety with the help of narrative categories (Boothe 1994). Accordingly, neurotic conditions are rooted in untold, repressed stories, 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). This being the case, narratives have not only an informative function, but also a presentational one. The analyst must thus take note not just of what is told but also how it is told, taking into account both the content and the style of narrative self-presentation and its performative or theatrical manifestations (Lorenzer 1973, 1979), since this is precisely the area where the patients unconscious identity and personality traits are articulated. There appear to be increasing discussions of the active role of the analyst during this process. Initially, the analyst must record the free associations of the patient with evenly-hovering attention (Freud 1912), after which this material is condensed into narratives thanks to the focus provided by the analyst. These narratives in turn can become paradigmatic case studies and, as a possibly problematic result, may influence the analysts focusing acts (Thom & Kchele 2006).

3.6 Philosophy Plato refers to stories and myths that serve as a point of departure and exemplification for his abstract teachings, 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. Hegel formulates the insight that philosophical concepts can themselves only be understood as the end result of their own story (Plotnitsky 2005a). Husserls disciple Schapp (1953) was the first to develop a distinctive philosophy of stories. According to his main thesis, the human being is not the autonomous subject of his own constructions of meaning, but throughout his life is inextricably entangled in stories which are the prerequisite for the formation of his identity and subjectivity. Since, according to Schapp, stories are the fundamental medium without which we would not be able to perceive meaning, one is justifiedwith reference to Heideggerin speaking of a narrative being-in-the-world. This philosophical point of departure raises questions concerning the constructive character of narrative. Explicitly told stories are symbolic constructions. The question is whether, and in what way, these constructions are connected with the experience and behavior of the individuals concerned. From a philosophical perspective, an assumed dualism of artificial form and real events (cf. 2.2 above) appears equally contestable. Human experience and behavior do not show well-organized narrative patterns comparable to the careful compositions of fiction and history writing. Rather, the identifying and shaping of a narrative structure of a certain complexity, with a clear point of view, an individual line of suspense, a characteristic peripeties, etc., is always the result of an active endeavor. On the other hand, experience and behavior cannot exist without some kind of structure. If, for example, one presupposes that to act means (at least partly) to follow a project, this already constitutes a complex achievement, even on the level of action. There is constant interference in and interruption of the project in hand by other experiences, actions and projects. In addition, it is often not clear from the beginning whether one is actually engaged in a project at all. Without 208

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

usage, it is possible to distinguish two types of identity (Ricur 1985, 1990): on the one hand, identity as sameness (German: Selbigkeit; Latin: idem; French: mmet); on the other hand, identity as selfhood (German: Selbstheit; Latin: ipse; French: ipsit). Narrative identities are invariably ipse-identities which are constantly reconfigured through the telling of stories.

3.7 Ethics The concept of narrative identities has a genuine moral or ethical dimension (Korthals-Altes 2005). In relation to neo-Aristotelian concepts, 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, generally speaking, moral awareness. The stories of the literary canon provide a rich source of alternative forms of the good life. But there is an even deeper structural interrelation between narrative identity formation and the moral dimension of human existence. 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 lifeor at least certain stages of a lifemoral meaning and stability. This is a genuinely social process in the sense of interaction with others to accomplish shared projects. Thus the narrative process also serves to generate forms and expressions of mutual respect. In this context, Ricur (1990) speaks of the complementary dialectics of identity formation and respect for others. The other individual represents the moral imperative to take responsibility for his potential suffering. However, in order to be able to reflect critically on the relationship with the other, the self must define its own position. Forms of self love, or at least of self esteem, are thus essential for moral behavior with regard to the other, and these constitute the reflexive moment in the orientation towards a good life. This dialectic of identity formation and respect takes place in and with the stories we live through and tell each other (Meuter 2007).

3.8 Sociology Studies on narrative in the field of sociology (Morrison 2005) also focus on the problem of personal identity. In the sociology of knowledge (Luhmann 1989), this problem is regarded as a feature of the modern functionally differentiated society which, unlike pre-modern societies, no longer ascribes a fixed identity to its members on the basis of birth, class, etc. Identity thus becomes an accomplishment for which the individual himself is responsible. Society no longer provides an answer to the question who am I?, but leaves it to the individual to find his or her own answer. To do so, 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, academia, education, the economy, the arts, etc.). Nowadays, the necessity of having multi-layered identities that enable participation in various social environments is a given. Consequently, the modern individual can only resolve the problem of his (all-embracing) identity by adopting a self-image as an individual individual, i.e. an 210

individual with a unique, distinctively individual life story whose decisive meaning resides in its distinctiveness from other life stories (Meuter 2002). Accordingly, the modern concept of the identity of the individual is articulated mainly through narrative. Narrative forms, with their inherent structures of temporality and meaning, indeed appear to lend themselves particularly well to questions concerning ones own (individual) identity: it is possible in a story for one to change, develop, and integrate sudden changes (peripeteia) while somehow remaining the same. The question is, though, 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; cf. Salmon 2007). Critics regard such categories as continuity, consistency, and coherence, which are inherent in narrative and biographical identity, as a fundamentally totalitarian coercion into regarding ones own life as an integral unity which must be realized. 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, but at best within the conceptual framework of a patchwork-identity (Keupp 1996).

3.9 Theology All religions rely on narrative myths of foundation which have subsequently acquired canonical status. Theological studies with a narratological orientation (Goldberg 1982; Sternberg 1987; Hauerwas & Jones eds. 1989; Cornils 2005) have picked up on this connection and can be understood as reflections on the narrative practices of religion. 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). There is no isolated plane of pure theological abstraction, since theological discourse has always been a part of religious practice. On this basis, the matter in hand is the development of a theology through narration which defines the genuinely narrative dimension of religious belief (Wenzel 1997). However, the question remains as to whether there are inherent limits to a narrative theology, since theology centers on faith which, by its nature, cannot be narrated. Even so, narrative has an immense significance for theology with respect to ethics. Christian ethics in particular must be seen as rooted within a specific religious community, the church. 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 Gods relationship with the beings he has created (Hauerwas 1983).

3.10 Pedagogy Narrative pedagogy implicitly criticizes the abstract structural analysis of institutions, systemic constraints and patterns of interaction, focusing instead on the concrete situations in which teaching and learning take place. 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. 1979). Where this is applied to concrete didactic problems, school lessons and the teaching of content-oriented knowledge can be 211

analyzed with regard to narrative forms (Krummheuer 1997). Narrating in this context means describing a specific phenomenon in everyday classroom communication. 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. In order to understand experience, and particularly the experience of the self and its identity, pedagogy requires narrative elements that supplement academic knowledge with narrative knowledge. 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).

3.11 Law Studies Law studies have a strong affinity with the concept of narrativity, especially in the AngloSaxon tradition of case law based on precedent (Lderssen 1996; van Roermund 1997; Bruner 2002). All laws can be understood as abstractions of individual cases. Individual cases, in turn, enter the legal system by way of narrations. The prosecutor, defendant, defense counsel, counsel for the prosecution, witnesses, and experts tell the court their version of events relevant to the case. Judge and jury then selector adequately transformthe one version that in their judgment corresponds to what really happened, a procedure that presupposes a high degree of narrative competence. In particular, 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. 1996). Another characteristic central to narrative competence in legal contexts is the ability to compare and evaluate stories in view of their legal relevance. Here, the legal sciences can resort to literary renderings of legal problems (Geary 2005; Brooks 2005; Sternberg 2008), a connection that represents one aspect of the law and literature movement.

3.12 Medicine In the field of medicine, questions relating to narrative have been explicitly thematized for some time now (Greenhalgh & Hurwitz eds. 2005). This results from an understanding of medicine that regards the discipline not primarily as a natural science, but as a behavioral science: scientific knowledge of the human being is necessary, but in the end it only serves to enable the medical practitioner to heal the patient or provide palliation for his ailment. Stories are generally a central factor in the doctor-patient relationship, particularly where anamnesis is concerned. Before a doctor can begin treating the patient, he must learn as much as possible about his supposed condition on the basis of what the patient tells him. In this situation, linguistic, empathetic and interpretative faculties are required. 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 patients real-life experience, but at the same time providing a structural basis for the next steps in the professional-medical treatment (Hydn 2005). The doctors medical training, however, will in no way have prepared him to meet these 212

requirements. As a medical student, he will have been confronted with a number of significant case studies, but at present there is a lack of systematic socio-cultural training of narrative competence. This is relevant because such stories provide the meaning, context and perspective for the specific problematics of an individual patients case. Stories explain how and why someone has fallen ill. By evoking as many subjective aspects of the illness as possible, they make possible a holistic approach to diagnosis and therapy. Periods of sickness are important peripeties in life and often figure prominently in life stories.

3.13 Philosophy of Science Starting with Danto (1965), 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. According to the positivist-nomological position, the humanities, too, are governed by a process of logical deduction whereby individual events must be explained, i.e. the event to be explained (the explanandum) is deduced from certain a priori conditions and empirical laws which, together, constitute the explanans. A critique of this model hinges mainly on the concept of cultural laws, although these laws are not to be understood as analogous to the laws of nature. In the humanities we do not expect explanations to be founded on laws, but on motives, reasons and aims, in other words, on the intentions of persons who take part in given scenarios. Furthermore, there are many other factors that lead to cultural events taking place such as the behavior of other people, circumstances and coincidences, etc. Still, the question remains as to whether one is justified at all, and if so, to what extent, in speaking of intentions in relation to actions that are manifest before and independent of the process of their realization. It is therefore clearly insufficient to explain actionand even more so, complex cultural processessolely, or even predominantly, on the basis of the intentions of acting subjects (Schwemmer 1987; Meuter 2000). Instead, it is necessary to reconstruct the individual story of which the action in question forms a part. Furthermore, the purely nomological philosophy of science ignores the fact that the explanandum does not constitute just an event, but a transformation. It is therefore wrong to regard the former state, in the sense of initial conditions, as part of the explanans. On the contrary, the beginning and the end of a process of transformation both form part of the explanandum. On this basis, 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. A story is the explanation of how a transformation took place from beginning to end: (a) x is F in t-1; (b) H happens in conjunction with x in t-2; (c) x is G in t-3. (a) and (c) form the explanandum, and (b) the explanans of the narrative explanation. Together, the three steps delineate the relevant transformation in keeping with the triadic 213

structure: the explanation has a beginning (a), a middle (b), and an end (c). One must bear in mind, though, that this basic schema is an oversimplification. Many transformations, especially those which the historical sciences seek to explain, are far more complex and incorporate numerous factors that have to be integrated into the narrative explanation. The complexity of factual processes cannot serve as an argument against narrative explanations per se. On the contrary, a narrative, by definition, 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 any case, the specific rationality and scientific nature of explanations in cultural studies are directly linked with the narrative formula. In cultural studies, narratives are not regarded as a deficiencysomething that one has to fall back on in the absence of alternatives due to a lack of insight into cultural laws, for examplebut rather a genuine means for formulating insights and research findings.

4 Topics for Further Research

4.1 Natural Sciences Despite the fact that on occasion narrative elements are used in explanations in the natural sciences (e.g. the narrative of Schroedingers cat; cf. Plotnitsky 2005b) and that certain narrative backgrounds exist (e.g. in the term natural history in the theory of evolution and in paleontology), a specifically narratological inquiry in the natural sciences remains a desideratum. In the philosophy of science, 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; by contrast, the world of culture and human understanding is rendered meaningful and can be understood through stories (among other means). 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, but primarily constitutes a dynamic and creative process. This calls for philosophical paradigm shifts, the beginnings of which can be found in Whiteheads (1929) cosmology. In the tradition of Aristotelian physics, being is conceived as a complex interplay of processes of becoming, each having their own structure. Every occurrence in nature begins with an event which becomes part of a creative process oriented towards the final outcome. From this point of view, it seems possible to describe processes in nature with narrative categories (Lachmann & Meuter 2011).

4.2 Systems Theory A systems theoretical approach, which encompasses the difference between nature and culture, might prove productive with regard to potential studies on the role of narrative in the 214

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

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited 215

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Anschlu an Ernst Tugendhat, Niklas Luhmann und Paul Ricur. Stuttgart: Metzler/Poeschel. Meuter, Norbert (2000). Die krperliche und soziale Infrastruktur des Handelns. Deutsche Zeitschrift fr Philosophie 4, 57993. Meuter, Norbert (2002). Mssen Individuen individuell sein? J. Renn & J. Straub (eds). Transitorische Identitt. Der Prozesscharakter des modernen Selbst. Frankfurt a.M.: Campus, 187210. Meuter, Norbert (2004). Geschichten erzhlen, Geschichten analysieren. Das narrativistische Paradigma in den Kulturwissenschaften. F. Jger & J. Straub (eds). Handbuch der Kulturwissenschaften: Paradigmen und Disziplinen. Stuttgart: Metzler, vol. 2, 14055. Meuter, Norbert (2007). Identitt und Empathie. ber den Zusammenhang von Narrativitt und Moralitt. K. Joisten (ed). Narrative Ethik. Das Gute und das Bse erzhlen. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 4560. Mink, Louis O. (1978). Narrative Form as a Cognitive Instrument. R. H. Canary & H. Kozicki (eds). The Writing of History: Literary Form and Historical Understanding. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 12849. Mitchell, William J. Thomas, ed. (1981). On Narrative. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Morrison, Linda (2005). Sociology and Narrative. D. Herman et al. (eds). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 54850. Mller-Funk, Wolfgang (2002). Die Kultur und ihre Narrative. Berlin: Springer. Nash, Christopher, ed. (1990). Narrative in Culture. The Use of Storytelling in the Sciences, Philosophy, and Literature. London: Routledge. Neubert, Hansjrg (1998). Pdagogische Theoriebildung und Narrativitt. <>. Nnning, Ansgar (2003). Narratology or Narratologies? Taking Stock of Recent Developments, Critique and Modest Proposals for Future Uses of the Term. T. Kindt & H.-H. Mller (eds). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Berlin: de Gruyter, 23975. Nussbaum, Martha (1990). Loves Knowledge. Essays on Philosophy and Literature. Oxford: Oxford UP. Phelan, James & Peter J. Rabinowitz, eds. (2005). A Companion to Narrative Theory. Malden: Blackwell. Plotnitsky, Arkady (2005a). Philosophy and Narrative. D. Herman et al. (eds). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 42728. Plotnitsky, Arkady (2005b). Science and Narrative. D. Herman et al. (eds). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 51418. Pochat, Gtz (1996). BildZeit. Zeitgestalt und Erzhlstruktur in der bildenden Kunst von den Anfngen bis zur frhen Neuzeit. Kln: Bhlau. Polkinghorne, Donald E. (1988). Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. Albany: State U of New York P. Prince, Gerald (1997). Narratology and Narratological Analysis. Journal of Narrative and Life History 7, 3944. Ricur, Paul ([1965] 2007). History and Truth. Evanston: Northwestern UP. Ricur, Paul ([1983/85] 1984/88). Time and Narration. 3 vols. Chicago: U of Chicago P: vol. 1 ([1983] 1984); vol. 2 ([1984] 1985); vol. 3 ([1985] 1988). Ricur, Paul ([1990] 1992). Oneself as Another. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Roth, Paul A. (1989). How Narratives Explain. Social Research 56, 44978. 218

Rsen, Jrn (1986). Rekonstruktion der Vergangenheit. Grundzge einer Historik II. Die Prinzipien der historischen Forschung. Gttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht. Rsen, Jrn (1990). Zeit und Sinn. Strategien historischen Denkens. Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer. Salmon, Christian (2007). Storytelling: la machine fabriquer des histories et formater les esprits. Paris: La Dcouverte. Sarbin, Theodore R., ed. (1986). Narrative Psychology. The Storied Nature of Human Conduct. New York: Praeger. Sarbin, Theodore R. (1989). Emotions as Narrative Emplotments. M. J. Packer & R. B. Addison (eds). Entering the Circle. Hermeneutic Investigations in Psychology. Albany: State U of New York P, 185201. Schafer, Roy (1992). Retelling a Life. Narration and Dialogue in Psychoanalysis. New York: Basic Books. Schapp, Wilhelm ([1953] 1985). In Geschichten verstrickt. Zum Sein von Mensch und Ding. Frankfurt a.M.: Klostermann. Schwemmer, Oswald (1987). Handlung und Struktur. Zur Wissenschaftstheorie der Kulturwissenschaften. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. Stanzel, Franz K. ([1979] 1984). A Theory of Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Sternberg, Meir (1987). The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Sternberg, Meir (2008). If-Plots: Narrativity and the Law-Code. J. Pier & J. . Garca Landa. Theorizing Narrativity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 29107. Straub, Jrgen (1998). Geschichten erzhlen, Geschichten bilden. Grundzge einer narrativen Psychologie historischer Sinnbildung. J. St. (ed). Erzhlung, Identitt und historisches Bewutsein. Die psychologische Konstruktion von Zeit und Geschichte. Erinnerung, Geschichte, Identitt. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 81169. Straub, Jrgen (2001). ber das Bilden der Vergangenheit. J. Rsen (ed). Geschichtsbewutsein. Psychologische Grundlagen, Entwicklungskonzepte, empirische Befunde. Kln: Bhlau, 45113. Strawson, Galen (2004). Against Narrativity. Ratio n.s. 17, 42852. Taylor, Charles (1989). Sources of the Self. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Thom, Helmut & Horst Kchele (2006). Psychoanalytische Therapie. Band 3: Forschung. Berlin: Springer; also: <>. van Roermund, G. C. (1997). Law, Narrative and Reality. An Essay in Intercepting Politics. Den Haag: Kluwer. Veyne, Paul ([1971] 1984). Writing History: Essay on Epistemology. Middletown: Wesleyan UP. Wenzel, Knut (1997). Zur Narrativitt des Theologischen. Prolegomena zu einer narrativen Texttheorie in soteriologischer Absicht. Frankfurt a.M.: Lang. White, Hayden (1973). Metahistory. The Historical Imagination in NineteenthCentury Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. White, Hayden (1987). The Content of the Form. Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Whitehead, Alfred North ([1929] 1978). Process and Reality. An Essay in Cosmology. New York: Free Press. Wolf, Dagmar (2001). Zur Ontogenese narrativer Kompetenz. J. Rsen (ed). Geschichtsbewutsein. Psychologische Grundlagen, Entwicklungskonzepte, 219

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Ryan, Marie-Laure: "Narration in Various Media". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

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, radio, and the internet (especially the WWW) as the media of mass communication; (b) music, painting, film, the theater and literature as the media of art; (c) language, the image and sound as the media of expression (and by implication as the media of artistic expression); (d) writing and orality as the media of language; (e) handwriting, printing, the book, and the computer as the media of writing. The definition provided by Websters dictionary puts relative order in this diversity by proposing two distinct definitions: (1) Medium as a channel or system of communication, information, or entertainment; (2) Medium as a material or technical means of expression (including artistic expression) .

2 Explication The first definition regards media as conduits for the transmission of information, while the second describes them as languages that shape this information (Meyrowitz 1993). (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.) The relevance of the concept of medium for narratology is much more evident for type 2 than for type 1. Ong (1982) has objected to a conception of media that reduces them to pipelines for the transfer of a material called information. If indeed conduit-type media were nothing more than hollow pipes for the transmission of artifacts realized in a medium of type 2 (e.g. a film broadcast on TV, a painting digitized on the WWW, a musical performance recorded and played on a phonograph), they would bear little narratological interest. But the shape of the pipe affects the kind of information that can be transmitted, alters the conditions of reception, and often leads to the creation of works tailor-made for the medium (cf. films made for TV). For the narratologist, channel-type media are only interesting to the extent that they involve 221

differences that make a narrative differencein other words, to the extent that they function as both conduits and languages. Among technologies, TV, radio, film, and the internet have clearly developed unique storytelling capabilities, but it would be hard to find reasons to regard Xerox copy machines or phonographs as possessing their own narrative language.

3 History of the Concept and its Study

3.1 Historical Background In Western thought, reflection on how narrative is conditioned by the medium in which it is realizedwhat we may call its medialitycan be traced as far back as Platos distinction between a diegetic and a mimetic mode of narration. According to Plato, in diegetic narration the poet speaks in his own voice (or rather, in the case of fiction, in the voice of a narrator), while in mimetic narration, he speaks through the characters. Both modes occur in epic poetry, but while diegetic narration, interpreted as reporting, remains dependent on language, in the long run of the centuries until now mimetic narration, interpreted as showing, has become the dominant mode of presentation in multi-channel performing arts, such as drama, film, the opera, mime, and ballet. In these last two cases, as well as in silent film, mimetic narration becomes emancipated from language. It was left to Aristotle to acknowledge medium as a distinctive property of art. After defining poetry as imitation (in the sense of representation), Aristotle mentions three ways of distinguishing various types of imitation: through medium, object and mode. Under medium, he classifies expressive resources such as color, shape, rhythm, melody, and voice. The notion of object (or content) creates a generic distinction between imitations that share the same medium: for instance, tragedy deals with people of higher standing, while comedy represents people of lower social stature. Mode, finally, covers Platos distinction between diegetic and mimetic presentation, 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, as in Homers poetry, or as the same person without variations), or else with all the imitators as agents and engaged in activity (1996: 2.2). Here Aristotle regards narration and impersonation as instances of the same medium because both are made of language; but if we make a pragmatic distinction between enacting and reporting and regard this distinction as constitutive of medium, 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. Another landmark in the study of narrative mediality is Lessings distinction between spatial and temporal forms of art. Reacting to the 18th-century philosophy of art, which was captured by the saying of Simonides of Ceos, painting is mute poetry, and poetry is speaking painting, Lessing insisted on the sensory and spatio-temporal dimensions of the two media: painting speaks to the sense of sight, poetry to the imagination; painting extends in space, 222

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

almost exclusively devoted to literary fiction. Media representing the mimetic mode, such as drama and film, were largely ignored, and because of their absence of narrator, sometimes not even recognized as narratives, despite the similarity of their content with the plots of diegetic narration. But this situation changed dramatically in the late 20th century with the so-called narrative turn in the humanities. In the past twenty years, the study of non-literary or nonverbal forms of narrative has extended to conversational narrative (Labov 1972), film (Bordwell 1985; Chatman 1978), comic strips (McCloud 1994), painting (Bal 1991; Steiner 1988), photography (Hirsch 1997), opera (Hutcheon & Hutcheon 1999), television (Kozloff 1992; Thompson 2003), dance (Foster 1996), and music (Abbate 1989; Grabsz 1999, 2007: 23198; Tarasti 2004; Seaton 2005). Media studies took a theoretical turn in the 1990s. In the U.S., Bolter & Grusin (1999) proposed the concept of remediation to explain the relations between different media. In their view, every new technology-based medium must be understood, in the context of other media, as an attempt to remediate their limitations and get closer to the elusive goal of achieving the real. Video games, for instance, remediate film by incorporating narrative techniques commonly used in cinema within an interactive environment; digital photography remediates analogue photography by making images easier to manipulate; analogue photography remediates painting by being more faithful to its object; and the Internet remediates all other media by encoding them digitally in order to facilitate their transmission. In its narratological applications, remediation directs attention to how narrative texts may create networks of connections between different media. 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, for every gain in expresseness comes at a cost, and new media do not necessarily produce better narratives than old ones. The concept of intermediality, now widely adopted in Europe, is more narrowly focused on art forms than remediation, and it avoids the meliorism inherent in this term. As Wolf (2008) observes, intermediality can be conceived in a narrow and in a broad sense. In a broad sense, it is the medial equivalent of intertextuality and covers any transgression of boundaries between different media. In a narrow sense, it refers to the participation of more than one mediumor sensory channelin a given work. The opera, for instance, is intermedial through its use of gestures, language, music, and visual stage setting. If intermediality is interpreted in a wide sense, other terms must be forged to differentiate its diverse forms, including a new term for the narrow sense. Wolf (2005) suggests plurimediality for artistic objects that include many semiotic systems; transmediality for phenomena, such as narrative itself, whose manifestation is not bound to a particular medium; intermedial transposition for adaptations from one medium to another; and intermedial reference for texts that thematize other media (e.g. a novel devoted to the career of a painter or composer), quote them (insertion of text in a painting), describe them (representation of a painting through ekphrasis in a novel), or formally imitate them (a novel structured as a fugue).

3.2 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 Websters definitiontransmitting information or forming the support of informationbut also from the nature of the criteria that differentiate 224

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

be explained culturally by the importance of guns in American society (Japanese games are much less violent), as well as by the fact that the computer-game industry targets an audience of young males. 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). By far the majority of media studies have been devoted to the cultural use of medium-specific narratives. Possible topics for this approach include the rhetoric of TV news or the social impact of such phenomena as computer games, Internet pornography, and film violence.

3.3 The Primacy of Language as Narrative Medium Though we lack documents about the earliest manifestations of narrative among higher primates, it is reasonable to assume that language capacities, storytelling abilities, and human cultures co-evolved in symbiotic relation with each other. Dautenhahn (2003) attributes the need to tell stories to the complex social organizations of humans, compared to that of apes, while Turner (1996) argues that humans did not start telling stories as the result of developing language, but rather that language was developed in response to the need to tell stories. In these accounts of the social and cognitive foundations of storytelling, natural language is presented as the original narrative medium. 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, either out of data provided by life or out of invented materials. Similarly, as a mode of representation, language speaks to the mind rather than to the senses, though it is of course through the senses that its signs are perceived. Thanks to its semantic nature and its power of articulation, language is the only semiotic system (besides formal notation systems) in which it is possible to formulate propositions. Stories are about characters placed in a changing world, and narration is crucially dependent on the ability of a medium to single out existents and attribute properties to them. Neither images nor pure sound possesses this intrinsic ability: sound has no meaning, and pictures can show, but they cannot refer (Worth 1981). This makes it difficult for them to foreground specific properties of objects out of the background of their global visual appearance. If we look at the constitutive features of narrative, we see other reasons why natural language is its medium of choice. Narrative is widely regarded by scholars as a discourse that conveys a story; story, in turn, 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); (2) a temporal constituent, by which this world undergoes significant changes caused by non-habitual events ( Event and Eventfulness); (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); (4) a formal and pragmatic constituent, advocating closure and a meaningful message. The first and fourth of these conditions are not particularly dependent on language. Closure and meaningfulness can be achieved in any semiotic system, 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. But the second and third features of narrative are 226

highly language-dependent. As Lessing observed, the temporality of language is naturally suited to represent events that succeed each other in time. With its combination of dynamic unfolding and visuality, film may be as efficient as words at representing a succession of events such as the king died and then the queen died, 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. In a film (and even more so in a static image), causal relations between events must be left to the spectators interpretation, and without a voice-over narration ( Narration in Film), we can never be completely sure that it was grief and not illness that killed the queen. 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, but if all causal relations had to be guessed, this would place serious limitations on the repertory of stories that can be told by a medium. However, it is with condition 3 that language displays its true narrative superiority over other semiotic media. In language, we can express emotions and intents unambiguously by saying x was scared, x was upset, x was in love, or x decided to take revenge. Language can dwell at length on the mental life of characters, on their considerations of multiple possible courses of actions, on their philosophy of life, on their hopes and fears, on their daydreams and fantasies, because mental life can be represented as a kind of inner discourse, structured in the same way as language. Cognitive science may tell us that not all thinking is verbal, but the translation of private thought into language is one of the most powerful and widespread narrative devices. Most importantly, only language can represent the most common type of social interaction between intelligent agents, namely verbal exchanges, for the very simple reason that only language can represent language. The narrative power and diversity of film, drama and the opera is mainly due to the presence of a language track. This track, traditionally, has been limited by the conventions of realism to what an observer looking through an imaginary fourth wall can hear, namely dialogue. But phenomena such as the chorus of Greek tragedy, the written signs of epic theater, the asides to the audience of modern drama, and the voice-over narration of film represent an attempt to use language not only to imitate the speech of characters, but also to comment on the action, as it does so often in diegetic narrative. The storytelling potential of a medium is directly proportional to the importance and versatility of its language component.

3.4 Narrating without Language The independence of narrative from language is a matter of degree. In its strictest interpretation, narrating without language means that a story unknown to the appreciator is evoked by the purely sensory, non-semantic resources of image or sound. (Taste, touch, and smell are far less developed senses, and they do not seem to have any narrative potential.) In a slightly weaker form of non-verbal narrativity ( Narrativity), the work tells a story new to the user, but it uses a language-based title to suggest a narrative interpretation. In the loosest interpretation, a narrative without language is a work that illustrates a story already known to the user (Varga 1988), and its narrativity is parasitic on the narrativity of the original text, which, most likely, will be known through language. This illustrative function is by far the most common occurrence in non-verbal narration.


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

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

sight, and the reader is transported back to the time of the narrated events. 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 psychiatrists door. Thanks to the visual conventions of the modern comic strip, 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.

3.4.2 Narrating through Gestures As ballet, pantomime, and the movies of the silent area demonstrate, it is possible to tell a story through the kinetic means of gestures and facial expression. But ballet either fulfills an illustrative function (cf. for this aspect also 3.4.3 on music) with respect to the story referred to by its title (Cinderella, The Nutcracker) or relies on a summary in the program, while silent movies use music and subtitles to suggest a narrative interpretation. Can body movement tell a story that is new to the spectator without external help? The answer is yes, but the repertory is very limited. A pantomime could for instance tell the story of a scorned lover who becomes depressed and attempts suicide, but suddenly regains his lust for life when an attractive woman walks by. Narrative is about evolving networks of human relations; and gestures and movement, by varying the distance between bodies, are reasonably good at representing the evolution of interpersonal relations, as long as mental life can be translated into visible body language. But even though gestures add a kinetic element to serial still pictures, this does not result in a significant increase in narrative power. On the contrary: it is much more difficult to narrate through continuous gestures than it is through discrete pictures frames. The chronological rearrangements of the Semp cartoon would be impossible in a pantomime because gestural narration unfolds entirely in the present. 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. Serial pictures, by contrast, break the continuity of action into distinct frames, 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. Gestural narration could admittedly signal breaks between episodes by making the actors disappear from the stage and reappear. But in contrast to still pictures, language, and film, the live performance of gestural narration is incapable of skipping a moderate period of time. 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.g. Bordwell & Thompson 2008: 22931).

3.4.3 Musical Narratives Music has a long history of being paired with language for narrative effects (sung poetry, texted music, opera, sound track of film and computer games), but it may seem paradoxical to even mention the possibility of telling stories through pure sounds. As a semiotic substance, 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. Music cannot imitate speech, represent thought, narrate actions, or express causal relations. Its mimetic abilities are limited to the imitation of aural phenomena: the gurgling of a brook, 230

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


3.5 Combining Sensory and Semantic Dimensions into Plurimedial Texts Given the overwhelming storytelling superiority of language, one may wonder why mankind ever bothered to develop other narrative media. The limited narrative power of non-verbal media does not mean, however, that they cannot make original contributions to the formation of narrative meaning. The affordances of language, pictures, movement, and music complement each other, and when they are used together in multi-channel media, 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, pictures through their immersive spatiality and visuality, movement through its dynamic temporality, and music through its atmospherecreating, tension building and emotional power. The ultimate goal of art is to involve the whole of the embodied mind, the intellect as well as the senses. To achieve this wholeness, sensorial art forms must be coaxed into conveying messages, while language-based art forms must be taught to appeal to the senses. Through narrativization, sensorial arts acquire a sharper mental dimension, and through collaboration with sensorial signs, language-based narrative allows a fuller experience of the storyworld. In multi-channel media, the appreciator can directly see, hear, and maybe even interact with objects, and the imagination, relieved from the cognitive burden of simulating sensory data, can more easily immerse itself in the story. But this does not mean that multi-channel media are automatically superior to literature in narrative power because every gain in the visual, aural or even interactive domain may bring a loss of attention to the language channel (e.g. for the relation between audiovisual and voice-over narration in film Kozloff 1988: 822).

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.g. which media allow discourse features such as temporal reordering, evaluation, digressions, effects of suspense and surprise, irony, 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.g. practices such as the creation of fan communities on the Internet, fan fiction, spoiling, online discussions of plots)? (f) In which media, besides language, does fictionality exist? (g) What forms does (or will) narrative take in interactive environments?

5 Bibliography


5.1 Works Cited Abbate, Carolyn (1989). What the Sorcerer Said. 19th-Century Music 12, 22130. Aristotle (1996). Poetics. Tr. & intr. M. Heath. London: Penguin Books. Bal, Mieke (1991). Reading Rembrandt: Beyond the Word-Image Opposition. New York: Cambridge UP. Barthes, Roland ([1966] 1977). Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative. Image Music Text. New York: Hill & Wang, 79124. Barthes, Roland ([1980] 1981). Camera Lucida. Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill & Wang. Baudrillard, Jean ([1981] 1994). Simulacra and Simulations. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P. Bolter, Jay David & Richard Grusin (1999). Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge: MIT P. Bordwell, David (1985). Narrative in the Fiction Film. Madison: U of Wisconsin P. Bordwell, David & Kristin Thompson (2008). Film Art. An Introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill. Bremond, Claude (1973). Logique du rcit. Paris: Seuil. Chatman, Seymour (1978). Story and Discourse. Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Dautenhahn, Kirsten (2003). Stories of Lemurs and Robots: The Social Origin of Story-Telling. M. Mateas & Ph. Sengers (eds). Narrative Intelligence. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 6390; also on WWW at <>. Deleuze, Gilles ([1983] 1986). Cinema 1: The Movement Image. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Deleuze, Gilles ([1985] 1989). Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Foster, Susan Leigh (1996). Choreography and Narrative. Bloomington: U of Indiana P. Grabcz, Mrta (1999). Paul Ricurs Theories of Narrative and Their Relevance for Musical Narrativity. Indiana Theory Review 20, 1940. Grabcz, Mrta (2007). Sens et signification en musique. Paris: Hermann. Hirsch, Marianne (1997). Family Frames: Photography, Narrative, and Postmemory. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Hutcheon, Linda & Michael Hutcheon (1999). Opera: Desire, Disease, Death. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Kozloff, Sarah (1988). Invisible Storytellers. Voice-Over Narration in American Fiction Film. Berkeley: U of California P. Kozloff, Sarah (1992). Narrative Theory and Television. R. C. Allen (ed). Channels of Discourse, Reassembled. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 4371. Labov, William (1972). Language in the Inner City. Studies in the Black English Vernacular. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim ([1766] 1984). Laocon: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. McCloud, Scott (1994). Understanding Comics. New York: Harper Perennials. McLuhan, Marshall (1996). E. McLuhan & F. Zingrone (eds). Essential McLuhan. New York: Basic Books. Metz, Christian ([1968] 1974). Film Language. A Semiotics of the Cinema. New York: 233

Oxford UP. Meyrowitz, Joshua (1993). Images of Media: Hidden Fermentand Harmonyin the Field. Journal of Communications 43, 5566. Ong, Walter J. (1982). Orality and Literacy. The Technologizing of the Word. London: Methuen. Nattiez, Jean-Jacques (1990). Can one Speak of Narrativity in Music? Journal of the Royal Musical Association 115, 24057. Rabinowitz, Peter (2004). Music, Genre, and Narrative Theory. M.-L. Ryan (ed). Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 30528. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2007). Toward a Definition of Narrative. D. Herman (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2235. Seaton, Douglas (2005). Narrative in Music: The Case of Beethovens Tempest Sonata. J. Ch. Meister (ed). Narratology beyond Literary Criticism. Mediality, Disciplinarity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 6582. Steiner, Wendy ([1988] 2004). Pictorial Narrativity. M.-L. Ryan (ed). Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 14577. Sternberg, Meir (1992). Telling in Time (II): Chronology, Teleology, Narrativity. Poetics Today 13, 463541. Tarasti, Eero (2004). Music as Narrative Art. M.-L. Ryan (ed). Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 283304. Thompson, Kristin (2003). Storytelling in Film and Television. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Turner, Mark (1996). The Literary Mind. New York: Oxford UP. Varga, A. Kibdi (1988). Stories Told by Pictures. Style 22, 194208. Wolf, Werner (2005). Intermediality; Music and Narrative; and Pictorial Narrativity. D. Herman et al. (eds). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 25256, 32429, and 43135. Wolf, Werner (2008). The Relevance of Mediality and Intermediality to Academic Studies of English Literature. M. Heusser et al. (eds). Mediality / Intermediality. Gttingen: Narr, 1543. Worth, Sol (1981). Pictures Cant Say Aint. S. W. Studying Visual Communication. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 16284.

5.2 Further Reading Kafalenos, Emma (2001). Reading Visual Art, Makingand ForgettingFabulas. Narrative 9.2, 13845. Kafalenos, Emma (2004). Overview of the Music and Narrative Field. M.-L. Ryan (ed). Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 27582. Nnning, Vera & Ansgar Nnning, eds. (2002). Erzhltheorie transgenerisch, intermedial, interdisziplinr. Trier: WVT. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2005). On the Theoretical Foundation of Transmedial Narratology. J. Ch. Meister (ed). Narratology Beyond Literary Criticism. Mediality, Disciplinarity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 123. 234

Ryan, Marie-Laure (2006). Avatars of Story. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Wolf, Werner (2002). Das Problem der Narrativitt in Literatur, Bildender Kunst und Musik: Ein Beitrag zu einer Intermedialen Erzhltheorie. V. Nnning & A. Nnning (eds). Erzhltheorie transgenerisch, intermedial, interdisziplinr. Trier: WVT, 23 104.




Scheffel, Michael: "Narrative Constitution". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Narrative Constitution
Last modified: 16 May 2010 Michael Scheffel

1 Definition In general terms, the term narrative constitution refers to the composition of narratives. In a narrower sense, it involves structural models with two or more tiers that, following the tradition of formalism and structuralism, 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. In a wider sense, though, the concept touches on the basic questions attached to the construction of narratological models in any form. It concerns, in fact, the theoretical modelingwhich can differ widely depending on the methodological approach takenof both the relationship between happenings and narrative and the relationship between literary and non-literary narration.

2 Explication Building on corresponding formulations associated with Russian formalism, Schmid introduced the expression narrative constitution into narratological discussion and has retained the term in a prominent piece of recent work (1982, 1984, 2005: 22372). 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, i.e. fictional narrative. The work is understood here as an object sui generis and divided into individual levels (understood as tiers of its constitution); in the process, 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, such as fabula/sujet (e.g. Tomaevskij 1925), histoire/discours (e.g. Todorov 1966; story/discourse), and story/plot (e.g. Forster 1927), as have multileveled models such as Geschehen/Geschichte/Text der Geschichte (Stierle 1971; happenings /story /text of the 238

story), histoire /rcit /narration (Genette 1972, 1983; story/narrative/narrating), and Geschehen/Geschichte/Erzhlung/ Prsentation der Erzhlung (Schmid 1982; happenings/story/narration/presentation of the narration). 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. Where the modeling of the relationship between happenings and narrative is concerned, these approaches can be said to make the happenings logically antecedent to the narrative itself. In the sense of the distinction between the two principles of narrative elucidated by Culler, in other words, they assume a theoretical priority of events posited in the case of fictional narrative (1981: esp. 179, 18687). Even if we subscribe to the theoretical premises of approaches with a textinternal or formalist orientation, the practicality of such models is affected not least by the fact that their authors, though sharing the idea that narrative works can be decomposed into levels or components, often have very different starting points and sometimes even associate significantly different meanings and concepts with a particular term (Martnez & Scheffel 1999: 26, for a comparative table of the basic terms used by nineteen theorists from Propp to Schmid). In actual fact, the study of narrative composition should be confined neither to a text-internal perspective nor to works of literary narrative. Thus, against the background of a newly developed interest in narration as one of the fundamental forms of human cultural activity, more recent narratological approaches have adopted a broader understanding of the concept of narrative constitution, in the context of which they take into consideration the problem of the relationship between narrative and reality in general ( Fictional vs. Factual Narration). The historiographical theorist White took a crucial step in this direction when, in the 1970s, he developed several theses regarding the fiction of the factual. These theses have been taken up repeatedly in the context of post-structuralism. They are based on a multileveled, originally abstract model of production in the tradition of formalism and structuralism, 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). On this basis, 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, at base, a process that gives rise to literature (in this case, the set of happenings presents itself as a product of the narrative, creating an unbridgeable gap between historical reality and all narratives of any kind). Whites concept of emplotment has been cited many times in the context of the narrative turn in cultural studies. Ricur 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. In his far more complex concept of a narrative hermeneutics, however, Ricurunlike Whitetakes as his starting point the idea that there is a mutual relationship between narrative and human activity, and that the concept of narrative constitution applies to essential parts of the reality of human life in general.

3 History of the Concept and its Study


3.1 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. Against this historical background in the first quarter of the 20th century, one model emerged that was to have a greater influence than any other on subsequent literary research. This model was developed in the context of Russian formalism. The model, which has two tiers, is based on the opposition generally described using the terms fabula and sujet. Where details are concerned, though, jxenbaum, klovskij, Tomaevskij, Tynjanov, Vygotskij, and other theorists proceed from markedly different starting points, using the corresponding terms with different, sometimes even opposing meanings in each case (for detailed reconstructions, see e.g. Volek 1977; Garca Landa 1998: 3248; Schmid 2005: 22436). From a historical perspective, the use of the terms fabula and sujet in the manner of a binary opposition can be seen to begin with klovskij. The locus classicus for their definition is to be found in an essay in which, at the end of a detailed consideration of the idiosyncratic narrative form of Sternes Tristram Shandy, klovskij points out the chronological differences between chains of events in actual life and in art. In this context, he stresses that the aesthetic laws of artistic narrative can be grasped only if we distinguish between sujet and fabula. In the process, klovskij 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; Schmid 2009). It is clear here and in other contexts that klovskij, like most other Russian formalists after him, does not associate the fabula with a neutral, given phenomenon. Instead, in contrast to the sujet, which is understood as bearing the literariness of the narrative work, he sees the fabula as something subordinate that is overcome, so to speak, in the work of art (in the same historical context, the opposite is the case in the work of Propp [1928] which, with its model of actants and functions, was concerned solely with the plot structure of narrative works, and more precisely with the rules governing constitution of the fabula). Numerous Russian formalists took up the pair of terms during the 1920s and put what were at times very different slants on it. Tomaevskij used and popularized the fabula/sujet distinction in a way that retained at least something of klovskijs understanding of it. In the first edition of his textbook-like Teorija literatury (1925, revised 1928), which found a relatively wide readership in Western European literary studies, a footnote deleted from later editions contains the concise, much-quoted formulation that in short, the fabula is that which really was, the sujet that how the reader has learnt about it ([1925] 1991: 137). In the main text of the work, on the other hand, Tomaevskij 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 (ernov 1977: 40). Thus, here and in other passages of his Teorija literatury, Tomaevskijin contrast to klovskijassociates the fabula with the property of causally connected motifs (in the sense of events). To this extent, it contains more than the aesthetically indifferent, preliterary happenings, and is, even if Tomaevskij himself does not say so directly, already part of the artistic fashioning of the work.


3.2 Story and Plot in the Work of E. M. Forster and other English-speaking Scholars of the 1920s to the 1940s Roughly contemporaneously with the Russian formalists, Forster (1927) outlined a two-tiered model based on the terms story and plot. Forster sees the story as the lowest and simplest of literary organisms, explaining that it is a narrative of events arranged in their time sequencedinner coming after breakfast, Tuesday after Monday, decay after death, and so on ([1927] 1972: 35). As for plot, 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. A plot is also a narrative of events, the emphasis falling on causality. The king died and then the queen died, is a story. The king died, and then the queen died of grief, is a plot (93). For Forster, then, the crucial difference between story and plot lies in the move from simple chronology to causalityin the establishment of a causal relationship between individual events. If we consider the fabula/sujet opposition of the formalists with this in mind, it becomes clear that Forsters model should not be understood as straightforwardly analogous to the two terms of Russian origin (Volek 1977: 14748; Sternberg 1978: 814, for a detailed description of the terms and concepts involved, and Pier 2003: 7778, for a discussion of the issue of translating Russian fabula and sujet into English). The concept of sujet has no direct equivalent in Forsters work; what Forster refers to with plot would seem to correspond to the meaning fabula has for Tomaevskij; and Forsters concept of story corresponds to what the formalists either consider part of the fabula but do not name or, like Tomaevskij, say, distinguish from the fabula and call xronika (chronicle; Tomaevskij [1925] 1965: 215). If we exclude the case of Muir, who refers to plot and story but uses the terms imprecisely and at times synonymously (e.g. [1928] 1979: 1617), 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. From the 1930s onward, they used it as a central category in work on the composition of narrative works (reconstructions of this process can be found in e.g. Garca Landa 1998: 4860). Brooks & Warren provided a widely known definition: Plot, we may say, is the structure of an action as it is presented in a piece of fiction. It is not, we shall note, the structure of an action as we happen to find it out in the world, but the structure within a story. It is, in other words, what the teller of the story has done to the action in order to present it to us ([1943] 1959: 77).

3.3 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. As part of this process, French structuralism picked up the terms fabula and sujet and replaced them in the 1960s with the binary oppositions of rcit/narration (Barthes 1966) and histoire/discours (Todorov 1966). 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. It was developed, building on Tomaevskij (1925), by Todorov, a Bulgarian whose academic background lay in Slavonic 241

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

Martnez & Scheffel distinguish further between Ereignis (event), Geschehen (happenings), Geschichte (story), and Handlungsschema (plot schema).

3.4 Three- and Four-Tier Models Even in the context of French structuralism itself, 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 example, Genette (1972) outlined a three-part framework to which he returned in (1983). On the one hand, he retains the term histoire, which he defines as the signified or narrative content. On the other side of the dichotomy, though, Genette replaces discours, which he criticizes for being heterogeneous, with the terms rcit and narration. By rcit, Genette means the signifier, statement, discourse or narrative text itself; by narration, in contrast, he means the producing narrative action and, by extension, the whole of the real or fictional situation in which that action takes place ([1972] 1980: 27). Genettes triad of histoire/rcit/narration reappears in the guise of different terms, but essentially unchanged with respect to content, as story/text/narration in Rimmon-Kenan (1983; similar also is story/plot/narration in Abbott 2002). Bal (1977: 6), though, points out correctly that Genettes concept of narration operates on a different logical level from that of the two other concepts: it refers to the activity of utterance, whereas rcit and histoire refer to the result of this activity (from a theoretical point of view, indeed, Genette did not apply his triadic system consistently: he treats the narration under the heading of voice as part of the discours; for an alternative model that takes account of the special features of fictional narration, see Scheffel 1997: 4954). 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, which itself refers to the signifiers or surface structure of the fabula. Adopting a similar approach to Bal and Volek, who refers in German to the triad Fabula/Sujet/Text (Volek 1977: 165), Garca Landa distinguishes between three levels of the narrative work in a monograph that has been influential in the Spanish-speaking countries. These levels, essentially of equal importance, are arranged above one another in tiers or nested within one another. They are accin (plot), relato (narrative), and discurso narrativo (narrative discourse). By accin, Garca Landa means the sequence of narrated events; by relato the presentation (representacin) of the narrated events (i.e. tense and mood in Genettes sense; Perspective/Point of View); and by discurso the presentation of the relato, the transformation of the relato, that is to say, into a sign system in conjunction with the act of utterance that is the narracin (narration). In this latter level Garca Landa includes what Genette covers under voice as well as pragmatic aspects such as the communication between author and reader (Garca Landa 1998: esp. 201; Mediacy and Narrative Mediation). Unlike Genette and Rimmon-Kenan, who take distinctions in the field of the discours as the basis for their tripartite models, Garca Landas relato is situated in a borderline region between discours and histoire, and he himself treats it as a kind of intersection (a terreno commn) between accin and discurso. Stierle, meanwhile, makes clear that his proposed triad of Geschehen/Geschichte/Text der Geschichte is grounded in the field of the fabula. Here, Geschehen is the aesthetically neutral narrative material implied by the Geschichte, which is understood as the result of artistic operations that generate meaning. Text der Geschichte, on the other hand, resembles the 243

discours of, for example, Todorov in that it includes both the arrangement of the events as well as the Geschichte as manifested in a medium (Stierle 1971). 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, respectively. They are developed further, or indeed in a sense synthesized, in Schmids four-tiered model of Geschehen/Geschichte/Erzhlung/Prsentation der Erzhlung. Schmid developed his model at the beginning of the 1980s and has defended it again in the recent past (1982, 1984, 2005, 2007). According to this framework, Geschehen is the implied raw material for selections whose output constitutes the Geschichte, understood in the sense of Tomaevskijs fabula and Todorovs histoire (selected happenings in ordo naturalis). Erzhlung, on the other hand, is the result of the composition that arranges the happenings in an ordo artificialis, and Prsentation der Erzhlung means the representation of the Geschichte in a particular medium (the result, that is, of the elocutio; cf. 2005: 24172). Schmid treats the Prsentation der Erzhlung as a pheno-level, the only level accessible to empirical observation, whereas the three other levels are geno-levels that can be arrived at only by means of abstraction. In addition, Schmids model assumes that the four levels can be identified from changing angles, specifically from the producers or recipients side of the narrative work. If we move in an upward direction, an abstract perspective on production takes shape, extending from the Geschehen to the Prsentation der Erzhlung; if we move in the opposite direction, namely downward, a semiotic perspective, the beginnings of which can also be found in Bal and others, takes shape. Seen from this latter perspective, the Prsentation der Erzhlung is a signifier denoting the signified Erzhlung, which itself is a signifier pointing to the Geschichte as a third level, and so on.

3.5 Narrative Constitution in Historiographical and Philosophical Theory In the 1970s, White (1973) adopted the model of narrative constitution in the formalist and structuralist tradition and applied it to the description of historiographical texts. So, something originally concerned with literary texts and meant as an abstract model of productionone abstracting away from the actual process by which narratives are madeis openly applied to non-fictional narratives, their actual genesis, and their relationship to historical reality. White uses the terms historical field, chronicle, story, and emplotment to describe the genesis of a historiographical work as follows. Historians are presented with their material, the elements of the historical field, in the form of events. The first step involves arranging these events into a chronologically ordered chronicle. The second step involves transforming this chronological sequence of events into a structured unity in the guise of a story with beginning, middle, and end; in the process, individual events acquire the function of initial motifs, transitional motifs, and the like. There then remains the question of the storys meaning. According to White, 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; italics in original). This is where emplotment comes in, a concept much quoted in the context of the narrative turn in cultural studies but used somewhat vaguely by White himself. 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; italics in original). For White, then, who does not make a precise theoretical distinction between the acts of production and 244

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

narrative constitution, widened as it is by the idea of interplay between experience and narrative, reveals new angles of research for a context-based narratology with an interest in the pragmatics of narrative: For a semiotic theory, the only operative concept is that of the literary text. Hermeneutics, however, is concerned with reconstructing the entire arc of operations by which practical experience provides itself with works, authors, and readers. [] What is at stake, therefore, 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, vol. 1: 53).

4 Topics for Further Investigation (a)The place of voice as a text- 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.(b) If we follow Ricur in considering the problem of narrative constitution in the broader sense of a narrative hermeneutics, 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. (Translated by Alastair Matthews)

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Abbott, H. Porter ([2002] 2008). The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Bal, Mieke (1977). Narratologie. Les instances du rcit. Essais sur la signification narrative dans quatre romans modernes. Paris: Klincksieck. Bal, Mieke ([1985] 1997). Narratology. Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. Toronto: U of Toronto P. Barthes, Roland ([1966] 1977). Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives. R. B. Image Music Text. London: Fontana, 79124. Benveniste, mile ([1959] 1971). The Correlations of Tense in the French Verb. . B. Problems in General Linguistics. Coral Gables: U of Miami P, 20515. Bremond, Claude (1964). Le message narrative. Communications No. 4, 432. Brooks, Cleanth & Robert Penn Warren ([1943] 1959). Understanding Fiction. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. ernov, Igor (Chernov, Igor) (1977). A Contextual Glossary of Formalist Terminology. A. Shukman & L. M. OToole (eds). Formalist Theory (Russian Poetics in Translation 4). Oxford: Holdan, 1348. 246

Chatman, Seymour (1978). Story and Discourse. Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Culler, Jonathan (1981). Story and Discourse in the Analysis of Narrative. J. C. The Pursuit of Signs. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 16987. Forster, Edward M. ([1927] 1972). Aspects of the Novel. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Frye, Northrop (1957). Anatomy of Criticism. Princeton: Princeton UP. Garca Landa, Jos ngel (1998). Accin, relato, discurso. Estructura de la ficcin narrativa. Salamanca: Universidad de Salamanca. Genette, Grard ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Genette, Grard ([1983] 1988). Narrative Discourse Revisited. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Greimas, Algirdas Julien ([1967] 1970). La structure des actants du rcit. Essai dapproche gnerative. A. J. G. Du sens. Essais smiotiques. Paris: Seuil, 24970. Martnez, Matas & Michael Scheffel ([1999] 2007). Einfhrung in die Erzhltheorie. Mnchen: Beck. Meuter, Norbert (1994). Pr-Narrativitt. Ein Organisationsprinzip unseres Handelns. Studia Culturologica 3, 11940. Muir, Edwin ([1928] 1979). The Structure of the Novel. London: Chatto & Windus. Pier, John (2003). On the Semiotic Parameters of Narrative: A Critique of Story and Discourse. T. Kindt & H.-H. Mller (eds). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Berlin: de Gruyter, 7397. Prince, Gerald (1982). Narratology. The Form and Functioning of Narrative. Berlin: Mouton. Propp, Vladimir ([1928] 1968). Morphology of the Folktale. Austin: U of Texas P. Ricur, Paul ([1983/1985] 1984/1988). Time and Narrative. 3 vols. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith ([1983] 2002). Narrative Fiction. Contemporary Poetics. London: Methuen. Scheffel, Michael (1997). Formen selbstreflexiven Erzhlens. Eine Typologie und sechs exemplarische Analysen. Tbingen: Niemeyer. Schmid, Wolf (1982). Die narrativen Ebenen Geschehen, Geschichte, Erzhlung und Prsentation der Erzhlung. Wiener Slawistischer Almanach 9, 83110. Schmid, Wolf (1984). Der Ort der Erzhlperspektive in der narrativen Konstitution. J. J. van Baak (ed). Signs of Friendship. To Honour A. G. F. van Holk, Slavist, Linguist, Semiotician. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 52352. Schmid, Wolf (2005). Elemente der Narratologie. Berlin: de Gruyter. Schmid, Wolf (2007). La constitution narrative: les vnmentslhistoirele rcitla prsentation du rcit. J. Pier (ed.). Thorie du rcit. Lapport de la recherche allemande. Villeneuve dAscq: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 153 88. Schmid, Wolf (2009). Fabel und Sujet. W. Schmid (ed). Slavische Erzhltheorie. Russische und tschechische Anstze. Berlin: de Gruyter, 145. klovskij, Viktor (Shklovsky, Victor) ([1925] 1991). Theory of Prose. Elmwood Park: Dalkey Archive P. Sternberg, Meir (1978). Expositional Modes and Temporal Ordering in Fiction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Stierle, Karlheinz ([1971] 1973). Geschehen, Geschichte, Text der Geschichte. R. Koselleck & W. D. Stempel (eds). GeschichteEreignis und Erzhlung. Mnchen: 247

Fink, 53034. Todorov, Tzvetan ([1966] 1980). The Categories of Literary Narrative. Papers on Language and Literature 16, 336. Todorov, Tzvetan (1969). Grammaire du Dcamron. The Hague: Mouton. Tomaevskij, Boris ([1925] 1965). Teorija literatury. Potika. Moskva: Gos. Izd. English trans. of the chapter Thematics from the 1928 ed.: L. T. Lemon & M. J. Reis (eds). Russian Formalist Criticism. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 6195. Volek, Emil (1977). Die Begriffe Fabel und Sujet in der modernen Literaturwissenschaft. Poetica 9, 14166. White, Hayden (1973). Metahistory. The Historical Imagination in the Nineteenth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. White, Hayden (1978). Tropics of Discourse. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP.


Keen, Suzanne: "Narrative Empathy". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Narrative Empathy
Last modified: 14 January 2012 Suzanne Keen

1 Definition Narrative empathy is the sharing of feeling and perspective-taking induced by reading, viewing, hearing, or imagining narratives of anothers situation and condition. Narrative empathy plays a role in the aesthetics of production when authors experience it (Taylor et al. 20022003: 361, 37677), in mental simulation during reading, in the aesthetics of reception when readers experience it, and in the narrative poetics of texts when formal strategies invite it. Narrative empathy overarches narratological categories, involving actants, narrative situation, matters of pace and duration, and storyworld features such as settings. 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. (Character identification may invite narrative empathy; alternatively, spontaneous empathy with a fictional character may precede identification; Keen 2007: 169.) Empathetic effects of narrative have been theorized by literary critics, philosophers, and psychologists, and they have been evaluated by means of experiments in discourse processing, empirical approaches to narrative impact, and through introspection.

2 Explication Nonfictional narrative genres may involve narrative empathy, but most of the published commentary and theorizing on narrative empathy centers on fictional narratives ( Fictional vs. Factual Narration), especially novels and film fiction ( Narration in Film), and to a lesser degree, drama. Brechts disdain for the evocation of audience empathy in favor of estrangement effects has had a lasting legacy, depressing the theorizing of reception in performance studies. Individual dramatists, directors, and actors may nonetheless draw on empathy in the form of motor mimicry; some spectators experience the transactions of feeling 249

states involved in empathy, including real-world motor mimicry and emotional contagion (Zillman 1995). Individual readers testify to greater or lesser intensities of emotional fusion with nonfictional subjects of autobiography, memoir, and history, contrasted with fictional characters. 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. The remainder of this entry focuses on narrative fiction, since empathy is most often discussed in relation to the impact of fictional worlds on readers. Narrative empathy differs from two related but distinct phenomena: sympathy and the empathetic aversion that psychologists label personal distress. Sympathy refers to an emotion felt for a target that relates to but does not match the targets feeling. (I feel for you rather than I feel with you.) Sometimes called empathetic concern, sympathy may or may not follow on an experience of narrative empathy. While in readers narrative empathy shared feeling enables a living reader to catch the emotions and sensations of a representation (in other-directed attention), personal distress caused by unpleasant discordant empathetic sharing results in an aversive reaction (self-directed focus) (Eisenberg 2005). Extreme personal distress in response to narrative usually interrupts and sometimes terminates the narrative transaction: the distressed responder puts the book down, leaves the theater, or turns off the transmission. The psychologists who study narrative empathy in laboratory settings have identified key features of narrative fictional texts, including high levels of imagery inviting mental simulation and immersion, 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). The phenomenology of transportation is taken to be a fact of readers immersion; Miall explicitly links empathy with immersion (Miall 2009: 24044). Mar & Oatley argue that imagined settings and characters evoked by ction literature likely engage the same areas of the brain as those used during the performance of parallel actions and perceptions (Mar & Oatley 2008: 180), an argument that has received experimental support from research in cognitive neuroscience on mirror neurons. Since narrative empathy involves sharing feelings as well as sensations of immersion, it is reasonable to inquire into the status of emotions involved in fiction. The evocation of real emotions by fictional narratives, a topic of controversy in philosophy (Yanal 1999), raises the question of the status of fictional emotions as opposed to the drivers of narrativity ( Narrativity): curiosity, suspense, and surprise (Sternberg 1992: 529). 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). This definition of esthetic emotion allows for a range of feelings, not limited to aesthetic pleasure in form and catharsis. As Yanal later writes, Whether we are purged, pleasured, or made flexible from emotions matters little. [] Some emoters may aim at catharsis in seeking out fiction, some at affective flexibility, others at pleasurable stimulation. Any of these counts as an end that renders emotion coherent (1999: 30). The paradox of fiction questions whether genuine emotion can be felt in response to a fictitious character or event (Dadlez 1997; Hjort & Laver 1997). Readers do often become emotionally involved or immersed in fictional worlds, even when they are aware of the illusion of fictionality (Yanal 1999: 11) ( Illusion (Aesthetic)). Some modes of fiction, such as postmodern novels, employ devices such as metalepsis ( Metalepsis) deliberately to disrupt readers immersion, but belief in an aesthetic illusion, or realistic representation, is not required for empathy to occur. 250

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. In a follow-up study, Gerrig & Rapp (2004) suggest that real readers must make an active effort to disbelieve the reality of fictive narratives, in contradistinction from Coleridges willing suspension of disbelief. Narrative empathy evidences Gerrigs contention despite the paradox of fictional emotions, for narrative empathy transacts feelings through narrative representations. Readers and viewers can block feeling responses to fiction by reminding themselves of its unreality, but it takes an effort, according to Gerrig & Rapp. Narrative empathy can be situated in both authors and readers. Authors empathy ( Author) bears on fictional worldmaking and character creation. It may influence writers choices about narrative techniques, evincing a desire to evoke an empathetic response in the narrative audience, even though exercise of these choices does not necessarily imply didactic intentions or a bid for an altruistic response in the real world. That fiction-writers as a group exhibit fantasy empathy (as measured by Daviss Interpersonal Reactivity Index [Davis 1980]) and test higher for empathy than the general population has been demonstrated by Taylor (Taylor et al. 20022003). At the creative end of the narrative transaction, authors empathy is likely a core element of the narrative imagination, though much remains to be discovered about narrative artists personalities and practices. Authors empathy does not directly correspond to readers empathy ( Reader), arising from, receiving, or co-creating narratives. That is, while authors show signs of engaging in fantasy empathy (Davis 1980: 10, 85) when in the process of creating fictional worlds, readers of the resultant narrative may respond with fantasy empathy for their own reasons, not necessarily matching authors strategic narrative empathizing (Keen 2008: 47879). As empirical research in discourse processing reveals, individual readers respond variously to narrative texts, depending on their identities, situations, experiences, and temperaments (Keen 2011c). Because empathy is a feeling experienced by real people, narrative empathy arises in the process of narrative dynamics, or the movement from beginning to end of the discourse (Richardson 2002: 1). Character identification of readers with fictional characters, within and across boundaries of group identification, may influence their experiences of narrative empathy, though it may also precede subsequent character identification (Keen 2007: 169). Some of the techniques thought to evoke empathetic responses have been described in narratological terms (e.g., free indirect speech, narrative situations, etc.; Keen 2007: 929), though caution should be taken not to oversimplify predictions about the effects of particular narrative techniques, which are protean (cf. Sternberg 1982). The empathetic dispositions that readers bring to the text have an impact on the efficacy of particular techniques. For instance, empathetic individuals tend to better grasp the causal relations between narrated events in fiction (Bourg 1996) than those testing low in empathy. Specific narrative techniques of fiction and film narrative have been associated with empathetic effects (Keen 2006: 216). These techniques include manipulations of narrative situation to channel perspective or person of the narration and representation of fictional characters consciousness (Schneider 2001), point of view (Andringa et al. 2001) ( Perspective - Point of View; Focalization), and paratexts of fictionality (Keen 2007: 889). Other elements thought to be involved in readers empathy include vivid use of settings and traversing of boundaries (Friedman 1998), metalepsis, serial repetition of narratives set in a stable storyworld (Warhol 2003), lengthiness (Nussbaum 1990), encouraging immersion or 251

transportation of readers (Nell 1988), generic conventions (Jameson 1981), metanarrative interjections (Fludernik 2003; Nnning 2001, 2004) ( Metanarration and Metafiction), and devices such as foregrounding (Miall 1989), disorder, or defamiliarization that slow reading pace (Zillman 1991). Most of the existing empirical research on empathetic effects in narration concerns film (Tan 1996; Zillman 1991) although a number of researchers are investigating potentially empathy-inducing techniques using short fiction. Novels and stage drama are least studied empirically (though often theorized about), their length and performance conditions being, respectively, at odds with the current modes of empirical verification.

3 History of the Concept and its Study Empathy has often been conflated with its subset, narrative empathy. After a brief discussion on empathy, this account focuses on narrative empathy. For a history of the idea under the term empathy (the English translation of Einfhlung, or feeling into), emerging out of late 19th-century German psychological aesthetics, see Wisp (1987).The projected feeling of empathy involves responses not only to sentient beings, but also to inanimate objects and landscape features. It separates aspects of motor mimicry, emotional contagion, and fusion of feelings from the older term sympathy, feeling for or compassion. The literary implications of sympathy have been contested throughout the centuries (Keen 2007: 3764). In contemporary philosophy and psychology (Batson 2011), as well as in popular usage, the definitions of empathy and sympathy remain entangled. Narrative empathy is often thematized in texts through direct representation of mind-reading empaths (Star Treks Deanna Troi [Roddenberry 1987-1994], Octavia Butlers Lauren Olamina [1993]) or discussion of successes or failures of empathy on the part of fictional characters (e.g., the contrast between Ender and Valentine in Orson Scott Cards Enders Game [1985]). Most usage of the term empathy in relation to narrative occurs in 20thcentury works of literary criticism (e.g., Hogan 2001), especially in reference to Victorian, postcolonial, ethnic, and woman-authored fiction. Commentators on narrative ethics have often linked fictional representation of empathy (or failures of empathy) with empathy experienced by real readers. The situation of an individual reader with respect to authors strategic empathizing depends in part on aspects of identity and narration ( Identity and Narration). When readers attitudes alter, or when they receive tacit or explicit encouragement to undertake altruistic action on behalf of represented others for whom they feel narrative empathy, the impact can be considered an aspect of ethics in narrative discourse. Nussbaum (1990) argues that narrative empathy resulting from novel reading forms good world citizens. Further, it has been suggested by philosophers and developmental psychologists that experiences of narrative empathy contribute to readers moral development (Hoffman 2000). Some commentators assume that the empathy-altruism hypothesis regarding real-life human empathy and pro-social behavior (Batson et al. 2009) applies to narrative empathy, especially as it helps readers overcome bias (Harrison 2008, 2011). Keen criticizes accounts of narrative empathy that insist on moral efficacy as an outcome of reading, arguing that narrative empathy does not often lead to documented altruistic action (Keen 2007: 145). 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

of moral heroism (Hogan 2010: 267). However, Keen does not introduce the standard, deriving it rather from the discussions of Nussbaum, Hoffman, and others. Even so, empathy may be strategically employed in narrative for purposes of ideological manipulation. The Machiavellian use of empathy is well documented in real life as well as in fictions such as Enders Game. A contribution to rhetorical narratology, Keens 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, as well as theorizing readers responses (Keen 2006). Rhetorical narratology takes an interest in effects on readers, especially with regards to persuasion. While no narrative text consistently inspires empathy in all its readers, who vary in dispositional empathy (Keen 2007: 89) and in their official and unofficial positions with respect to the text (Goffman 1956), study of the responses of readers belonging to different audiences reveals narrative empathy in action. A subset of narrative empathy, readers empathy leads to differentiation in terms of belonging (Keen 2011a). Bounded strategic empathy addresses members of in-groups. Ambassadorial strategic empathy addresses members of more temporally, spatially, or culturally remote audiences. 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). Narrative empathy designates an affective element of the operations investigated by cognitive narratology ( Cognitive Narratology). A subset of narrative empathy, readers empathy leads to differentiation of readers in terms of their belonging to in-groups addressed directly by authors hoping to evoke empathy. 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. 2010). Research into narrative empathy in cognitive science has investigated the role of emotions, including empathy, in narrative processing (Mar & Oatley et al. 2011). Narrative empathy has also been studied in relation to experientiality (Fludernik 1996), immersion (Ryan 2001), mental imaging, and altruism (Johnson 2011).

4 Topics for Further Investigation Keen (2007: 16971) lists twenty-seven hypotheses about narrative empathy that could be further theorized and, in some cases, tested empirically in collaboration with psychologists, social neuroscientists, and experts in discourse processing. Comparison of narrative empathy elicited by drama, film, and non-fiction could supplement existing research on narrative empathy and prose fiction. If a long-term study could be undertaken, 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. In any case, further research into narrative empathy will be best served by cross-disciplinary conversation and interdisciplinary collaboration.


5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Andringa, Els et al. (2001). Point of View and Viewer Empathy in Film. W. van Peer & S. Chatman (eds). New Perspectives on Narrative Perspective. Albany, NY: SUNY P, 8399. Batson, C. Daniel (2011). These Things Called Empathy: Eight Related but Distinct Phenomena. J. Decety & William Ickes (eds). The Social Neuroscience of Empathy. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 315. Batson, C. Daniel, Nadia Ahmad & David A. Lishner (2009). Empathy and Altruism. C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (eds). Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 41726. Bourg, Tammy (1996). The Role of Emotion, Empathy, and Text Structure in Childrens and Adults Narrative Text Comprehension. R. Kreuz & M. S. MacNealy (eds). Empirical Approaches to Literature and Aesthetics. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 241 60. Butler, Octavia (1993). Parable of the Sower. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows. Card, Orson Scott (1985). Enders Game. NY: Tor Books. Dadlez, E. M. (1997). Whats Hecuba to Him? Fictional Events and Actual Emotions. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP. Davis, Mark H. (1980). A Multidimensional Approach to Individual Differences in Empathy. JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology 10, 85. Dewey, John (1985). Art as Experience. The Later Works. Vol. 10. J. A. Boydston (ed). Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP. Eisenberg, Nancy (2005). The Development of Empathy-Related Responding. G. Carlo & C. P. Edwards (eds). Moral Motivation through the Life Span. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 73117. Fludernik, Monika (1996). Towards a Natural Narratology. London: Routledge. Fludernik, Monika (2003). Metanarrative and Metafictional Commentary: From Metadiscusivity to Metanarration and Metafiction. Poetica 35, 139. Friedman, Susan Stanford (1998). Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter. Princeton: Princeton UP. Gerrig, Richard J. (1993). Experiencing Narrative Worlds: On the Psychological Activities of Reading. New Haven, CT: Yale UP. Gerrig, Richard J. & David N. Rapp (2004).Psychological Processes Underlying Literary Impact. Poetics Today 25, 26581. Goffman, Erving (1956). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Edinburgh: U of Edinburgh P. Harrison, Mary-Catherine (2008). The Paradox of Fiction and the Ethics of Empathy: Reconceiving Dickenss Realism. Narrative 16, 25678. Harrison, Mary-Catherine (2011). How Narrative Relationships Overcome Empathic Bias: Elizabeth Gaskells Empathy Across Social Difference. Poetics Today 32, 255 88. Hjort, Mette & Sue Laver (eds) (1997). Emotion and the Arts. Oxford: Oxford UP. Hoffman, Martin (2000). Empathy and Moral Development: Implications for Caring 254

and Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Hogan, Patrick Colm (2001). The Epilogue of Suffering: Heroism, Empathy, Ethics. SubStance 30, 11943. Hogan, Patrick Colm (2010). What Literature Teaches us About Emotion. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Jameson, Fredric (1981). The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP. Johnson, Dan (2011). Transportation into a Story Increases Empathy, Prosocial Behavior, and Perceptual Bias Toward Fearful Expressions. Personality and Individual Differences 52: 15055. Keen, Suzanne (2006). A Theory of Narrative Empathy. Narrative 14, 20936. Keen, Suzanne (2007). Empathy and the Novel. Oxford: Oxford UP. Keen, Suzanne (2008). Strategic Empathizing: Techniques of Bounded, Ambassadorial, and Broadcast Strategic Empathy. Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift fr Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 82, 47793. Keen, Suzanne (2011a). Empathetic Hardy: Bounded, Ambassadorial, and Broadcast Strategies of Narrative Empathy. Poetics Today 32, 34989. Keen, Suzanne (2011b). Introduction: Narrative and the Emotions. Special Issue, Narrative and the Emotions. Poetics Today 32, 153. Keen, Suzanne (2011c). Readers Temperament and Fictional Character. New Literary History 42, 295314. Mar, Raymond A. & Keith Oatley (2008). The Function of Fiction is the Abstraction and Simulation of Social Experience. Perspectives on Psychological Science 3, 173 92. Mar, Raymond A. & Keith Oatley et al. (2011). Emotion and narrative fiction: Interactive influences before, during, and after reading. Cognition & Emotion 25, 81833. Mazzocco, Philip & Melanie Green et al. (2010). This story is not for everyone: Transportability and narrative persuasion. Social Psychology and Personality Science 1, 3668. Miall, David S. (1989). Beyond the Schema Given: Affective Comprehension of Literary Narratives. Cognition and Emotion 3, 5578. Miall, David S. (2006). Literary Reading: Empirical and Theoretical Studies. New York: Peter Lang. Miall, David S. (2009). Neuroaesthetics of Literary Reading. M. Skov & O. Vartanian (eds). Neuroaesthetics. Amityville, NY: Baywood Publishing, 23347. Nell, Victor (1988). Lost in a Book: The Psychology of Reading for Pleasure. New Haven: Yale UP. Nnning, Ansgar (2001). Mimesis des Erzhlens: Prolegomena zu einer Wirkungssthetik, Typologie und Funktionsgeschichte des Akts des Erzhlens und der Metanarration. J. Helbig (ed). Erzhlen und Erzhltheorie im 20. Jahrhundert: Narratologische Studien aus Anlass des 65. Geburtstags von Wilhelm Fger. Heidelberg: Winter, 1347. Nnning, Ansgar (2004). On Metanarrative: Towards a Definition, a Typology and an Outline of the Functions of Metanarrative Commentary. J. Pier (ed). The Dynamics of Narrative Form. Studies in Anglo-American Narratology. Berlin: de Gruyter, 11 57. Nussbaum, Martha C. (1990). Loves Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and 255

Literature. Oxford: Oxford UP. Richardson, Brian (2002). General Introduction. B. Richardson (ed). Narrative Dynamics: Essays on Time, Plot, Closure, and Frames. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1 7. Roddenberry, Gene (19871994). Troi, Deanna. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Accessed 20 December 2011. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2001). Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Schneider, Ralf (2001). Toward a Cognitive Theory of Literary Character: The Dynamics of Mental-Model Construction. Style 35, 60742. Sternberg, Meir (1982). Proteus in Quotation-Land: Mimesis and the Forms of Reported Discourse, Poetics Today 3, 10756. Sternberg, Meir (1992). Telling in Time (II): Chronology, Teleology, Narrativity. Poetics Today 13, 463541. Tan, Ed S. (1996). Emotion and the Structure of Narrative Film: Film as an Emotion Machine. Hilldale, NJ: Erlbaum. Taylor, Marjorie et al. (20022003). The illusion of independent agency: Do adult fiction writers experience their characters as having minds of their own? Imagination, Cognition & Personality 22, 36180. Warhol, Robyn (2003). Having a Good Cry: Effeminate Feelings and Pop-Culture Forms. Columbus: Ohio State UP. Wisp, Lauren (1987). History of the Concept of Empathy. N. Eisenberg & J. Strayer (eds). Empathy and its Development. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge UP, 1737. Yanal, Robert J. (1999). The Paradoxes of Emotion and Fiction. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 911. Zillman, Dolf (1991). Empathy: Affect from Bearing Witness to the Emotions of Others. D. Zillman & J. B. Bryant (eds). Responding to the Screen: Reception and Reaction Processes. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 13567. Zillman, Dolf (1995). Mechanisms of Emotional Involvement with Drama. Poetics 23, 3351.

5.2 Further Reading Breger, Claudia & Fritz Breithaupt (eds) (2010). Empathie und Erzhlung. Freiburg: Rombach. Breithaupt, Fritz (2009). Kulturen der Empathie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Coplan, Amy & Peter Goldie (eds) (2011). Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford UP. Decety, Jean & William Ickes (eds) (2011). The Social Neuroscience of Empathy. Cambridge, MA: MIT P. Oatley, Keith (1994). A Taxonomy of the Emotions of Literary Response and a Theory of Identification in Fictional Narrative. Poetics 23, 5374.


Coste, Didier & Pier, John: "Narrative Levels". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

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, and more specifically the vertical relations between narrating instances. Thus, 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 narratorcharacters story occurs; the level at which the primary narrators discourse occurs; the level of the narrative act situated outside the spatiotemporal coordinates of the primary narrators discourse. In a broader sense, however, narrative levels also include horizontal relations between narrating instances situated at the same diegetic level, as when a story is told by several narrators. The notion of narrative levels serves to describe the spatiotemporal relations between the various narrating acts occurring in a narrative, and can thus be thought of more accurately as narration levels or narrating levels.

2 Explication According to Genette, who first proposed the term, narrative level is one of the three categories forming the narrating situation, the other two being time of the narrating and person (1972: chap. 5). Narrative levels, arranged bottom upwards, are extradiegetic (narrative act external to any diegesis), intradiegetic or diegetic (events presented in the primary narrative), and metadiegetic (narrative embedded within the intradiegetic level). 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). As every narrative is taken charge of by a narrative act, 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

producing this narrative is placed []. The narrating instance of a first narrative [rcit premier] is therefore extradiegetic by definition, as the narrating instance of a second (metadiegetic) narrative [rcit second] is diegetic by definition, etc. (Genette ([1972] 1980: 22829). Bal (1977: 35) and Rimmon-Kenan ([1983] 2002: 923) invert this order, placing the diegetic level in a subordinate position in relation to the extradiegetic level. Discussions of narrative level frequently overlook the fact that it is not an isolated category but that, forming part of the narrating situation, it correlates with a second type of diegetic relation, a relation of person: hence a narrator ( Narrator) is either heterodiegetic (absent from the narrated world), homodiegetic (present in the narrated world) or autodiegetic (identical with the protagonist). Together, level and person form the narrators status, broken down into a four-part typology of the narrator (Genette [1972] 1980: 248; see 3.1.1 below. On the notion of diegesis, cf. Pier 1986). Formulated in terms of enunciation, narrative level in effect opposes who speaks? and who acts?, thus opening the way to a more precise description and analysis of change of level through the identification of textual markers. Genette ([1972] 1980: 23234) distinguishes three types of relations binding metadiegetic narrative to primary narrative: (a) explanatory, when there is a link of direct causality between the events of the diegesis and those of the metadiegesis; (b) thematic, by way of contrast or analogy between levels, as in an exemplum or in mise en abyme, with a possible effect of the metadiegesis on the diegetic situation; (c) narrational, when the act of (secondary) narrating merges with the present situation, diminishing the prominence of the metadiegetic content (Rimmon-Kenan [1983] 2002: 93, names the latter relation actional). With reference to Barth (1981), 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; (b) predictive; (c) purely thematic; (d) persuasive; (e) distractive; (f) obstructive (Genette [1983] 1988: 924). And finally, by pushing the narrative act as a means of transition between levels yet further, as when the author or the reader enters the domain of the characters, or vice versa, the boundaries between levels are violated, resulting in metalepsis ( Metalepsis).

3 History of the Concept and its Study Analogously to focalization ( Focalization), 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. Narrative level, however, is both conceptually more global than either of these practices and more restricted. On the one hand, every narrative, embedded or not, 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 situating it in a web of narrating instances. On the other hand, narrative levels come into play only with a shift of voice, which is not always taken into account by the traditional notions (e.g. the dream sequences introduced into Nervals Aurlie do not represent changes of level since there is no change of narrator). At the same time, narrative levels provide a set of principles that makes it possible to describe both frame stories and embedded stories. Technically, a process of embedding occurs in both types, but whereas frame stories, usually short, serve to bracket the main story (e.g. the expository pages to Marlows narrative in Heart of Darkness), embedded stories, of limited duration, remain 258

subordinate to the primary narrative (e.g. the novella The Curious Impertinent in Don Quixote). If the tale is conceptualized as subsidiary to the primary story frame, a relationship of embedding obtains; if the primary story level serves as a mere introduction to the narrative proper, it will be perceived as a framing device (Fludernik 1996: 343; see 3.2 below).

3.1 Embedding In a sense that bears on narrative levels only in part, embedding designates one of the three ways in which sequences can be combined syntactically into more complex forms: linking; embedding; alternation (Bremond 1973; Todorov 1966, 1971). Formally, embedding is defined by syntactic subordination, even though it does not necessarily involve a change of narrating instance (a digression can be related by the primary narrator).

3.1.1 Level and Enunciation By reformulating narrative embedding in terms of the enunciative threshold in the transitions between levels, Genette opened up a debate with far-reaching implications as to the nature of the relations between levels, a debate centered, at least initially, on the prefix meta-. If understood analogously to metalanguage, metanarrative (mtarcit or rcit mtadigtique) would correspond to the embedding narrativea primary narrative on or about the secondlevel narrative. But in fact metanarrative (or better: metadiegetic narrative) corresponds to the events related within diegetic narrative. Genette insisted that just as the narrating instance of the primary narrative is extradiegetic, so that of a metadiegetic (second-level) narrative is diegetic ([1972] 1980: 229). In order to resolve the potential terminological ambiguity, 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 Genettes); (b) from a functionalist perspective, the quoted discourse is a metanarrative commentary on the quoting discourse (metalinguistic textual devices, etc.); (c) an abusive extension of meta- to cover commentary of any kind (Bal 1981: 536; on metanarrative commentary, see Nnning 2004). As for embedding proper, this occurs when there is insertion (attributive discourse provides a link between two discourses), subordination (which excludes juxtaposition), and homogeneity (e.g. one sequence inserted into another)a set of relations that comes under the prefix hypo-. On this basis, it is proposed that metanarrative and metadiegetic be replaced, respectively, by hyponarrative and hypodiegetica level below rather than in the diegetic level (Bal 1977: 35; 1981: 4353; cf. Fludernik 1996: 342; Rimmon-Kenan [1983] 2002: 926). It must be noted, however, that this revision inverts the order of narrative levels in Genettes presentation, creating a relation of hierarchical subordination with the extradiegetic level situated at the top, and that it does so at the expense of the intended relation of inclusion between primary and embedded narrative. The terminological refinement thus comes at a price, since it prefigures a hierarchical top-down ordering of narrating instances that may not pertain to all narratives, and also because it severs the significant link between metanarrative and metalepsis (Genette [1983] 1988: 912); it further conflicts with the specific use of hypo- in the study of hypertextual relations where a hypotext (e.g. The Odyssey) is prior to a hypertext (e.g. Ulysses) (Genette 1982). Interestingly, Bal later abandoned her neologisms and radically altered the notion of narrative level itself. Her 259

comments on levels of narrative, based on grammatical subordination of the actors text by the narrators text, are devoted to various forms of speech representation ( Speech Representation), while embedding, which she explains as text interference between actors text and narrators text, 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: 4360). As a result, the threshold marking the transition between diegeses disappears, and with it the vectors of embedding/embedded and narrating instance constitutive of narrative level. Narrative levels, then, cover the enunciative situation of narrative in general as well as various forms of embedded narrative. A multifaceted concept, embedding can be found in various disciplines including linguistics, logic, psychology, communication, computer science, etc. With reference to the criteria of punctuation and continuum, boundary, and logical levels that characterize the concept in these fields, Fredy (1989) identified the more extreme forms of embedding found in artistic representation: (a) intact and multiplying boundary (e.g. mise en abyme, which in principle is open to infinite recursion); (b) intact but reified boundary (escape from the undecidable and oscillating boundary built into Eschers Drawing Hands is possible only through access to an otherwise inviolate metalevel); (c) transgressed boundary (metalepsis). In the field of conversation analysis ( Conversational Narration - Oral Narration), by contrast, embedding, which is more closely bound up with context, is referred to as embeddedness. 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, prayer, etc.) and social activity (frequency and length of turn-taking, degree of thematic and rhetorical integration into the general conversation) (Ochs & Capps 2001: 3640; on the performativity ( Performativity) of oral narration as situated communication, see Young 1987: chap. 4). In possible worlds narrative theory, on the other hand, embedded narratives are a variety of alternate possible worlds that exist as beliefs, intents, etc. in the form of retrospective interpretations of the past or projections about the future in relation to the actual world, and thus contribute to the intelligibility of the fabula (Ryan 1986). The possible worlds approach does in fact open the way to a logically consistent model of narrative embedding. Distinguishing between discourse as an illocutionary category and story as an ontological category, Ryan (1991: chap. 9) adopts a cross-classification of three dichotomies: +/- illocutionary; +/- ontological; +/- actual crossing. On this basis, a system of four types of narrative boundaries, organized into a concentric structure, is then elaborated: (1) no boundary, as a given speaker describes a same level of reality; (2a) actually crossed illocutionary boundary, as when the first and second speakers are different but refer to the same reality (e.g. dialogue quoted in direct speech); (2b) virtually crossed illocutionary boundary (e.g. characters narrative presented by the narrators discourse in indirect speech); (3a) actually crossed ontological boundary with no change of speaker (change in levels of reality in Alice in Wonderland reported by the primary narrator); (3b) virtually crossed ontological boundary by the same speaker (dream anchored in reality but described from the outside); (4a) actually crossed ontological boundary with change of speaker (a story within a story, as in the Arabian Nights); (4b) virtually crossed ontological boundary with change of speaker (primary narrator projects an imaginary story by a second-level narrator). One advantage of this model of narrative levels (and by implication, Genettes, 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. The system of narrative boundaries or frames, which 260

is classificatory and static, is completed with the notion of stacks, a metaphor borrowed from computer science (cf. Hofstadter 1980: 12731) in order to account for the dynamic and sequential ordering of levels in texts. In a canonical narrative, the building and unbuilding of the stack follows a rigid protocol which restricts the range of legal operations. This protocol requires that levels be kept distinct, that they be pushed or popped on the top of the stack exclusively; that pushing and popping be properly signaled; and that every boundary be crossed twice, once during the building and once during the unbuilding. At the end of the text, the only level left on the stack should be the ground level. This protocol is respected by all standard narrative texts, but not by all texts of literary fiction. Far from being constrained by the conditions of narrativity, the fictional text may subvert the mechanisms of the stack, thus openly taking an antinarrative stance (Ryan 1991: 187). The author goes on to discuss various subversions of the canonical narrative (the endlessly expanding stack, strange loops, contamination of levels, etc.; see also McHale 1987: chap. 8), 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, and that non-canonical narratives are deviant in relation to standard narratives. However, the logical consistency of Ryans model notwithstanding, it might be wondered if is not precisely boundary crossings, irregular as well as legal ( Event and Eventfulness), that contribute to a texts narrativity ( Narrativity). In contrast to Ryans modeling of boundary crossings, derived from the story/discourse dichotomy, Schmid (2005: 7299) considers narrative levels, together with presence/nonpresence of the narrator in the diegesis, a basic element in the elaboration of a typology of narrators. Rejecting traditional typologies, which generally combine first- and third-person narration with internal vs. external perspective, Schmid adopts Genettes criteria, although with a revision of his terminology. First, diegesis designates the level of the narrated world, and exegesis the level of the narrating. Second, the diegetic narrator belongs to both levels, and the non-diegetic narrator only to the exegesis. The elimination of personal pronouns and the disappearance of the prefixes homo-/auto- and hetero- serve to underscore a differentiation which is current in German narrative theory and implicit in Genettes system, namely erzhlendes Ich/erzhltes Ich, or narrating I/narrated I (cf. sujet de lnonciation/de lnonc; subject of the enunciation/the enunciated in French linguistics). These emendations make possible a terminologically and conceptually clarified typology of narrators: primary non-diegetic (=extra- heterodiegetic); primary diegetic (=extra- homodiegetic); secondary non-diegetic (=intra- heterodiegetic); secondary diegetic (=intra- homodiegetic); tertiary non-diegetic (=meta- heterodiegetic); tertiary diegetic (=meta- homodiegetic) (Schmid 2005: 87; cf. Genette [1972] 1980: 248). It must be remembered, however, that Genettes terminology is additionally intended to account for the narrating instance, i.e. 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. From a poststructuralist perspective, the notion of narrative levels is symptomatic of a boxing of narrative, a structure of supervision, and purity of composition. According to Gibson (1996: 215): It is crucial to the Genettian concept of levels that there be no seepage or osmosis across the threshold. The substance composing each stratum must be unadulterated. There must be no hint of ambivalence or paradox in the definition of a given stratum, no irrational features that might trouble its terms. Equally, there must be no anomalies in any of the strata, nothing mixed or hybrid. However, Gibsons critique of 261

narratological geometrics (which can also be leveled against Ryan and Schmid) remains silent on such limit cases as mise en abyme, metalepsis, and pseudo-diegetic narrative, overlooking the fact that levels exist by virtue of their thresholds and are perpetually exposed to transgressive crossings, just as it fails to mention Genettes study of transtextual relations (1982, 1987). Nor does the critique take into account the potential descriptive utility, widely acknowledged by theoreticians of differing orientations, of narrative levels, embedding, frames, stacks, etc., despite the inevitably metaphorical nature of whatever terminology is employed. In presenting his notion of narrative laterality (inspired from Serres, Deleuze, Derrida), Gibson himself makes ample use of the very terminology and concepts he denounces in order to describe the collapse of hierarchies (cf. Garca Landa 1998: 304).

3.1.2 Embedding as a Communicational Function To be sure, formalist/structuralist models of narrative levels, which set out to reformulate the traditional notions of embedding and framing in terms of a general theory of narrative, may not be so rigid and constraining as supposed. As the transgressive and subversive passages between levels noted above make clear, the relations between levels surpass those of subordination and hierarchy. Genette suggests as much when, in redefining these relations, he adopts a functional perspective ([1983] 1988: 924; cf. 2 above), stating however that the province of narratology is not that of interpretation (87) and thus stopping short of taking full stock of this position. In fact, he implicitly shifts to a speech act approach to narrative levels, but without putting it in those terms: as shown by Shryock (1993: 68), 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, while the persuasive, distractive, and obstructive functions can be qualified as such only by their perlocutionary effects, 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). In this light, narrative levels are so many ways of appealing to active participation by the addressee, and not a mere stratagem of presentation or conventionality, 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. Chatman 1978: 151; Mediacy and Narrative Mediation). One consequence of formulating narrative levels in functional terms is the reordering of the notion of levels itself. Following a critique of Bals revisions of Genette, 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, and vertical embedding when there is a change of level and of speaker and/or of narratee. These forms can be likened, respectively, to Ryans type 2a, 2b and 4a, 4b boundary crossings. An additional case is the alternate universes created in a characters mind, as in a dream (cf. Ryans type 3b), which Nelles explains not as a change of level but of the spatiotemporal coordinates of the story, 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). With reference to McHales (1987) epistemological vs. ontological fictions, he renames horizontal and vertical embedding verbal and modal, respectively. 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

hermeneutic, proairetic, and formal codes, adapted from Barthes analysis of Sarrasine. Another functional approach to narrative levels has been elaborated by Coste. Rooted in a communicative theory of narrative, this approach emphasizes the role of the narrator not as homo- vs. heterodiegetic, 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; on the notion of narrateme and the structure of narrative meaning, see chap. 2). Essential here is the functional separation between subjects of enunciation and subjects of the enunciated, splitting the subject as narrating instance between present storyteller and past (or future) character (cf. Schmid above). Subjects of enunciation, always exterior to the enunciated, are thus determined according to their relations with: (a) enunciated utterances; (b) other subjects of enunciation; and (c) addressees, intentional or not (167). On these premises, Coste sets forth two types of narrative embedding: hypotactic, resulting from grammatical subordination and materialized in the form of delegated narration; paratactic (juxtaposition, coordination), forming a system of parallel narrators at the same level and related to dialogism ( Dialogism) in which narratives are combined either by sequential relay, concurrent/conflictive versions, or narrational crossfire (16773). The same distinction is made by Garca Landa (1998: 302), who has also drawn attention to the link between paratactically embedded literary narratives and face-to-face communication. In this type of narration, addressee roles are more varied than those typically found in written texts: as in conversational narratives, paratactically organized stories and novels may not be restricted to intended addressees (narratee, implied reader), but also fall on the ears of mere auditors or even those of overhearers or eavesdroppers, including narratologists (Garca Landa 2004; cf. Goffman 1981). To the extent that both types are enunciative, they can be likened to Nelless horizontal or verbal embedding and to Ryans illocutionary boundary crossings and, respectively, to her types 2b and 2a. Where Costes system differs from these models is in the notion of overall narrator, 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), although it must be mentioned that Ryan (2001), in a different spirit and independently of her work on narrative boundaries, has argued in favor of breaking the narrator down into the creative (self-expressive), transmissive (performative), and testimonial (assertive) narratorial functions constitutive of narratorhood. Of central interest in Costes model are the interdependent, organic relations between the two types of embedding, captured by the image of the narrational tree: while the roots grow deeper and the trunk higher (hypotactic or vertical embedding), the branches spread out laterally (paratactic or lateral embedding).

3.2 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 notnor is it intended todistinguish between the relative importance, quantitative or otherwise, 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. The deployment of narrative levels and the modalities of transitions between them are extremely variable, both historically and generically (the Decameron, the picaresque novel, the epistolary novel, postmodern fiction, etc.; for a brief historical survey of frame tales, see Kanzog 1966; for embedding in various genres, see 263

Duyfhuizen 1992). As already discussed, 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), the vectorization of illocutionary and ontological boundaries (Ryan), the combination of narrating I / narrated I with level in a typology of the narrator (Schmid), and the separation of levels into horizontal and vertical embedding (Nelles, Coste). 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, the two poles of which are the frame tale and mise en abyme. The simplest definition of the frame taleone story encloses another like a frame (Kanzog [1966] 1977: 321)is ambiguous because it fails to distinguish between the framing and the framed, 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. When examined from the perspective of narrative levels, frame tales must be qualified as a particular type of intradiegetic narrative with regard to the narrative in which they are contained (cf. Ryans type 4a border crossing) and are thus, however brief they might be, subject to the criteria of narrativity in their own right (cf. Wolf 2006: 181). In addition to change of voice and level and to the potential for multiple levels of embedding, narratives that employ the framing techniqueand 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, within a given second-level narrative, additional embedded narratives (as in The Three Ladies of Baghdad). 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), incomplete (introductory only or terminal only, possibly producing metaleptic effects), or interpolated (appearing intermittently) (adapted from Wolf 2006: 18588). Overall, the frame tale, together with its second-level narrative, relies heavily on compositional means. Most notably, it offers the possibility of linking together an otherwise disparate group of stories and of establishing thematic relations among them, and it thus contributes to textual coherence ( Coherence). Semiotically, this corresponds to the syntactic dimension of semiosis. Another feature of the frame tale, particularly in its written form, is that it replicates the communicative situation of oral storytelling, 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; Nnning 2004: 17; Williams 1998; 110, 113; Wolf 2006: 18889). The communicative specificities of the framing technique thus come within the scope of pragmatics. And finally, the traditional function of the frame tale (carried over, inter alia, 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, thanks to the impartial report by the primary narrator. This does not necessarily mean, however, that the primary narrator vouches for the veracity of the related facts: a potentially rhetorical move (as in the case of an unreliable narrator), authentification by the primary narrator consists in principle in affirming that the second-level narrator related such-and-such, not in asserting what s/he related (cf. Duyfhuizen 1992: 134; Williams 1998: 114; Wolf 2006: 192). This aspect of the framing technique can be assimilated to the semantic dimension of semiosis, although it also merges with pragmatic considerations. 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

contained. Iconic in the semiotic sense (cf. Bal 1978) and producing disruptive but potentially significant effects on the progression of the primary narrative, the device exists in three basic forms (Dllenbach 1977): (a) mise en abyme of the utterance (e.g. portions of the romance The Mad Trist that parallel certain incidents in Poes The Fall of the House of Usher); (b) mise en abyme of the enunciation, or highlighting of the process of narrative communication (e.g. the exemplum, whose aim is to instill in the reader a moral awareness); (c) mise en abyme of the code or text (e.g. Abishs Alphabetical Africa, where chapter 1 employs only words beginning with letter a, chapter 2 only words beginning with the letters a and b, etc. up to chapter 26, the second half of the novel reversing this order). These varieties of the device also come respectively within the scope of semantics, pragmatics, and syntactics, although in the case of mise en abyme, unlike in the framing technique, these dimensions are modeled iconically into the primary narrative.

4 Topics for Further Investigation It is not by coincidence that Genettes study of paratextthe undecided zone between the interior and the exterior of the text occupied by prefaces, epigraphs, notes, interviews, etc. which constitutes a space of transaction between author and readeris titled Seuils (thresholds), the very term employed to describe the transitions between narrative levels. One broad area of inquiry for additional study is the interaction of narrative levels with speakerhearer relations from a sociolinguistic perspective, beginning with frame analysis (Goffman 1974, 1981; Ochs & Capps 2001; Young 1987). Another need, within the scope of cognitive narratology ( Cognitive Narratology), is to gain further insight into the WHAT, WHERE, and WHEN that can be provided by narrative levels in the construction of storyworlds as focused on by research in text worlds (Werth 1999), deictic shifts (Duchan et al. eds. 1995), and contextual frames (Emmott 1997).

5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Bal, Mieke (1977). Narratologie (Essais sur la signification narrative dans quatre romans modernes). Paris: Klincksieck. Bal, Mieke (1978). Mise en abyme et iconicit. Littrature 29, 11628. Bal, Mieke (1981). Notes on Narrative Embedding. Poetics Today 2.2, 4159. Bal, Mieke ([1985] 1997). Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. Toronto: U of Toronto P. Barth, John (1981). Tales within Tales within Tales. Antaeus 43, 4563. Bremond, Claude (1973). Logique du rcit. Paris: Seuil. Chatman, Seymour (1978). Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and 265

Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Coste, Didier (1989). Narrative as Communication. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Dllenbach, Lucien ([1977] 1989). The Mirror in the Text. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Duchan, Judith F., et al. eds. (1995). Deixis in Narrative: A Cognitive Science Perspective. Hillsdale: Erlbaum. Duyfhuizen, Bernard (1992). Narratives of Transmission. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson UP. Emmott, Catherine ([1997] 1999). Narrative Comprehension: A Discourse Perspective. Oxford: Oxford UP. Fludernik, Monika (1996). Towards a Natural Narratology. London: Routledge. Fredy, Viveca (1989). A Structural Model of Phenomena with Embedding in Literature and Other Arts. Poetics Today 10, 74569. Garca Landa, Jos ngel (1998). Accin, relato, discorso. Estructura de la ficcin narrativa. Salamanca: Ediciones Universidad Salamanca. Garca Landa, Jos ngel (2004) Overhearing Narrative. J. Pier (ed). The Dynamics of Narrative Form: Studies in Anglo-American Narratology. Berlin: de Gruyter, 191 214. Genette, Grard ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Genette, Grard ([1982] 1997). Palimpsests. Literature in the Second Degree. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Genette, Grard ([1983] 1988). Narrative Discourse Revisited. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Genette, Grard ([1987] 1997). Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Gibson, Andrew (1996). Towards a Postmodern Theory of Narrative. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP. Goffman, Erving (1974). Frame Analysis: An Essay in the Organization of Experience. New York: Harper & Row. Goffman, Erving (1981). Forms of Talk. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. Hofstadter, Douglas (1980). Gdel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid. New York: Vintage. Kanzog, Klaus ([1966] 1977). Rahmenerzhlung. W. Kohlschmidt & W. Moln (eds). Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturgeschichte. Berlin: de Gruyter, vol. 3, 321 43. McHale, Brian (1987). Postmodernist Fiction. London: Routledge. Nelles, William (1997). Frameworks: Narrative Levels and Embedded Narrative. New York: Lang. Nnning, Ansgar (2004). On Metanarrative: Towards a Definition, a Typology and an Outline of the Functions of Metanarrative Commentary. J. Pier (ed). The Dynamics of Narrative Form: Studies in Anglo-American Narratology. Berlin: de Gruyter, 11 57. Ochs, Elinor & Lisa Capps (2001). Living Narrative: Creating Lives in Everyday Stories. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Pier, John ([1986] 2010). Diegesis. Th. A. Sebeok & M. Danesi (eds). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Semiotics. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton, 21719. Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith ([1983] 2002). Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. London: Routledge. Ryan, Marie-Laure (1986). Embedded Narratives and Tellability. Style 20, 31940. 266

Ryan, Marie-Laure (1991). Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2001). The Narratorial Functions: Breaking Down a Theoretical Primitive. Narrative 9, 14652. Schmid, Wolf (2005). Elemente der Narratologie. Berlin: de Gruyter. Shryock, Richard (1993). Tales of Storytelling: Embedded Narration in Modern French Fiction. New York: Lang. Todorov, Tzvetan (1966). Les catgories du rcit littraire. Communications No. 8, 12551. Todorov, Tzvetan ([1971] 1977). The Poetics of Prose. Oxford: Blackwell. Werth, Paul (1999). Text Worlds: Representing Conceptual Space in Discourse. London: Longman. Williams, Jeffrey (1998). Theory and the Novel: Narrative Reflexivity in the British Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Wolf, Werner (2006). Framing Borders in Frame Stories. W. W. & W. Bernhart (eds). Framing Borders in Literature and Media. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 179206. Young, Katharine Galloway (1987). Taleworlds and Storyrealms: The Phenomenology of Narrative. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff.

5.2 Further Reading Meyer-Minnemann, Klaus & Sabine Schlickers (2010). La mise en abyme en narratologie. J. Pier & F. Berthelot (eds). Narratologies contemporaines. Paris: Editions des Archives Contemporaines, 91108. Norrick, Neil (2000). Conversational Narrative. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Seager, Dennis L. (1991). Stories within Stories: An Ecosystemic Theory of Metadiegetic Narration. New York: Lang.


Abbott, H. Porter: "Narrativity". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Last modified: 13 August 2011 H. Porter Abbott

1 Definition Though it has become a contested term, 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, the one applied generally to the concept of narrative, the other applied comparatively to particular narratives. As such, it can be aligned with any number of modal pairings: e.g. the lyricism of the lyric/a lyric; the descriptiveness of description/a description. Depending on the context, these two uses of the term narrativity can serve their purposes effectively. But increasingly over the last three decades, the term has filled a growing and sometimes conflicting diversity of conceptual roles. In the process, other terms have, in varying ways, been drawn into the task of understanding narrativity, including narrativeness (used colloquially above), narrativehood, narratibility, tellability, eventfulness, emplotment, and narrative itself. To define narrativity fully, then, requires a survey not only of its different conceptual uses, but also of the supporting roles these other terms have been sometimes called on to play.

2 Explication This lively contestation has accompanied narrativitys rise as a central term, and in some cases the central term (Sternberg, Sturgess, Fludernik, Audet), in postclassical narratology. 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. As such, it has helped open up the study of narrative to an array of approachesphenomenological, discursive, cognitive, historical, cultural, evolutionarythat have transformed the field.


The terms 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. As what one might call an adjectival noun, narrativity suggests connotatively a felt quality, something that may not be entirely definable or may be subject to gradations. Ryans distinction between being a narrative and possessing narrativity (2005c: 347, 2006a: 101) brings out the difference: where a narrative is a semiotic object, narrativity consists in being able to inspire a narrative response (2005c: 347). 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. To adapt Ryans language, 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). In short, if narrative itself is a fuzzy concept (Ryan 2006b, 2007; Jannidis 2003), narrativity is a term more closely attuned to its fuzziness (Herman 2002). This practical advantage of the term has also abetted the development of a transgeneric and transmedial narratology (Wolf 2002; Ryan 2005c, 2006a; Narration in Poetry and Drama; 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. It has even facilitated consideration of narrativity in media that lack expectations of eventfulness (lyric poetry), sequentiality (painting), or even hetero-referentiality (referring to events outside the medial domain) that are the staple of narrative. Most controversial among the latter has been instrumental music, considered by many a purely self-referential artistic medium. Among those sketching a possible narratology of music (Kramer 1991; Newcomb 1987; McClary 1997; Wolf 2002, 2004; Grabcz 2009), 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. Not surprisingly, 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. 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, and in this way reserves narrativity as a scalar predicate by which something is deemed more or less prototypically storylike (Herman 2002: 901). As Herman suggests, 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 Doleel (1979, 1983, 1998), Pavel (1986), Ryan (1991), and others. Nevertheless, narrativity has not been used exclusively in an intensional sense. In his most recent reconsideration of this knotty terminological problem, Prince (2008) has sought to expand the concept of narrativity to include both extensional and intensional aspects. For the firstthe entities that constitute narrativehe has retained the term narrativehood; for the secondthe qualities or traits of narrativehe has applied the term narrativeness. In Princes view, both are scalar concepts in that they are subject to degrees, the first quantitative, the second qualitative (see also Hhn 2008: 143). 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. In both, its flexibility as a scalar phenomenon plays a role. At the broadest level of abstraction, then, the discussion of narrativity can be organized under four headings: (a) as inherent or extensional; (b) as scalar or intensional; (c) as variable 269

according to narrative type; (d) as a mode among modes.

3 History of the Concept and its Study

3.1 Prehistory of Narrativity As noted above, 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. The most influential precursor concept is the property of mediation, 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 other performed (The Republic, Bk 3). As Schmid (2003: 178) notes, mediation was a central focus of classical narratology well before narratology got its name, notably in Stanzels major work of the 1950s and 1960s, later reinvigorated in A Theory of Narrative ([1979] 1984), but lacking the word narrativity. Another classical precursor concept is Aristotles idea of muthos, the configuration of incidence in the story (Greimas & Ricur 1989: 551), which anticipates the concept of emplotment, a central term for Ricur and others in the discourse on narrativity. In the development of classical narratology, the Russian formalist idea of the dominant has also been critical. Usually attributed to Tynjanov (1927) and influentially developed by Jakobson, the dominant is the focusing component of a work of art: it rules, determines, and transforms the remaining components and as such guarantees the integrity of the structure (Jakobson [1935] 1971: 105). The dominant has been taken up by Sternberg and others as a categorical determinant, a perceived modal predominance, distinguishing any particular narrative from other modal kinds (see 3.5 below).

3.2 Narrativity as Inherent or Extensional Though narrativity has leant itself predominantly to usage that is intensional, subjective, and variable according to context, audience, and other factors, there have been several powerful conceptions of the term as inherent, determinative, and co-extensive with any particular narrative.

3.2.1 Immanence Greimas is the major exception to the general structuralist neglect of narrativity. His conception of the term is also notable for its breadth of application, referring to a structuring force that generates not simply all narratives but all discourse: le principe organisateur de tout discours (Greimas & Courts 1979: 249). With regard to narrative in particular, Greimas 270

distinguishes between an apparent and an immanent level of narration, with narrativity located in the latter. As such, narrativity is situated and organized prior to its manifestation. A common semiotic level is thus distinct from the linguistic level and is logically prior to it, whatever the language chosen for the manifestation (Greimas [1969] 1977: 23). It is also important to note that, for Greimas, narrativity is a disorganizing as well as an organizing force in that it disrupts old orders even as it generates new ones. It is the irruption of the discontinuous into the settled discourse of a life, a story, an individual, a culture, disarticulating the existing discourse into discrete states between which it sets transformations ([1983] 1987: 104). To bear this in mind is to see the deep commonality of modes (descriptive, argumentative, narrative) often left segmented in analytical terminology. In an analysis of Maupassants A Piece of String, 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). However static they may appear to be, descriptive segments are imbued with the same undergirding narrativity that organizes the segments of action.

3.2.2 Emplotment For Ricur, a key manifestation of narrativity is emplotment, the articulation of which involves broadening, radicalizing, [and] enriching the Aristotelean idea of plot with the Augustinian understanding of time ([1985] 1988: 4). This allows him on the one hand to develop a complex reassessment of the temporal difference between fictional and historical narrative, while on the other to bring out their deep commonality. To accomplish this, Ricur, like Greimas, posits a deep level of narrativity; but unlike Greimas, he sees it as a preunderstanding of our historical mindednessan intelligibility of the historicality that characterizes us (Greimas & Ricur 1989: 552)and it lies at the heart of his critique of Greimass a-temporal model of fictional narrative (Ricur 1980). In addition, and further differentiating his usage from that of Greimas, Ricur saw the operation of emplotment as a dialectical process, a dynamic interaction between this first-order intelligence and the surface level where narrative is structurally manifest in the text (Greimas & Ricur 1989: 55152). Emplotment, then, is an evolving, processual feed-back loop between the informing level of narrativity and the particularity of its manifestation. Like Ricur, White (1973, 1978, 1981) does not limit narrativity to the designated modes of fiction. But where Ricurs theory of emplotment not only bonds but distinguishes fictional and nonfictional narrativity ( Fictional vs. Factual Narration), White has tended over the course of his writings to stress the commonality of their narrativity. More than this, narrativity is for White a panglobal fact of culture, without which there is no conveying knowledge as meaning. 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). For this reason, history, by definition, cannot exist without narrativity. In its absence, there is a mere succession of events (annals) or, at best, events organized by some other means than plot (chronicles). It is emplotment that brings events to life, endowing them with cultural meaning, since [t]he significance of narrative is not latent in the data of experience, or of imagination, but fabricated in the process of subjecting that data to the elemental rhetoric of the narrative form itself (Walsh 2003: 111). The final irony, then, is that narrativity is the unacknowledged necessity of what we take for 271

truth, for to attain the status of truth, a representation of the real requires, at a minimum, the character of narrativity (White 1981: 6).

3.2.3 A Logic of Narrativity For Sturgess, too, narrativity is inherent in narrative. It is an enabling force that is present at every point in the narrative (Sturgess 1992: 28). He also echoes Greimas when he writes of narrativitys power over nonnarrative segments like descriptive passages. It governs not only the chronology of a novels story, but equally every interruption of that chronology, and every variation in the mode of representation of that story (22). At the same time, he situates himself in opposition to Greimass 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). Drawing on Bremonds (1973) critique of Greimas, 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: 14041). Cohen also proposes a logic of narrativity, but one that simply requires that the languages of literary and filmic fiction render their signs consecutively. The result, however, is also a coextensively inherent narrativity that the reader or viewer is led to apprehend: an unfolding structure, the diegetic whole, that is never fully present in any one group yet always implied in each group (1979: 92). Like Sturgess, and unlike Ricur and White, Cohen restricts narrativity to works of conscious art. But Sturgesss concept differs from all three in two fundamental ways. First, for Sturgess, the logic of narrativity requires no sequential structuring principle, but simply the ability to arouse a sense of its own wholeness as narrative (1992: 28). Second, narrativity only crystallizes when the reader is persuaded that what is being read is a narrative. It is in this sense a reflexive concept. An advantage of both Sturgesss and Cohens logics is the way they can accommodate postmodern and other extreme forms of weakened or obscured storyline that are often considered anti-narrative, since every narrative will possess its own form of narrativity (Sturgess: ibid.). In Cohens words, even the randomness common to [] surrealist experiments points to the fundamental and seemingly inevitable narrativity of cinematic and literary language (1979: 92). A disadvantage of this approach to narrativity is the threat of circularity, which weakens both its analytical leverage and its ability to distinguish narrative competence from narrative incompetence.

3.3 As Scalar or Intensional Some scholars start out with an extensional definition of narrativity, equating it with a set of defining conditions, 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). 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.). Indeed, as Schmid (2003: 30) notes, it is hard to remain objective or to do away with 272

an interpretive stance when discussing the scalar narrativity of texts. This double usage of narrativity is the problem Prince (2008) set out to resolve when he divided narrativity into narrativehood and narrativeness. As he demonstrates, the scalar nature of narrativity is not only complicated by the variable combinability of these two subcategories but by other factors as well. With similar ambition, Ryan has spelled out a tentative formulation of [nine] nested conditions that might be used in describing narrative as a fuzzy set, recognizable in any particular work according to the number and importance of the conditions present (Ryan 2006b: 194). Many scholars have, nonetheless, centered their theorizing on a single manifestation of narrativity, while explicitly or implicitly acknowledging the complexity of narrative response that makes narrativity both a scalar and a fuzzy concept. This in turn means that there can be no pure segregation of their work under one caption or another.

3.3.1 Sequentiality In the 1970s, when Sternberg developed his theory of three overarching master forces of narrativecuriosity, suspense, and surprise (1978)he did not use the word narrativity. In more recent years, however, the term narrativity has become increasingly important for him as the play of suspense/curiosity/surprise between represented and communicative time, while a narrative is a text in which such play dominates. Narrativity, then, is a scalar property which can be stronger or weaker. But when it is dominant in any text, its functional character is to act as a regulating principle (1992: 529). At this point, the theory transits to a concept of inherency. Thus strong narrativity [] not merely represents an action but interanimates the three generic forces that play between narrated and narrational time (2001: 119). All the elements are orchestrated according to the unbreakable lawlikeness of the narrative process itself (2003: 328), so that, for example, whatever your sympathies regarding the characters in a story, they must arise from the generic trio, and impinge on everything else in the reading, given the exigencies of intersequence (ibid.). Almost all arguments identifying narrativity with sequentiality start from the idea that there is more to it than simply one thing after the other. In this they follow antecedent theorizing ranging from Aristotles view of the well-made tragedy to Tomaevskijs (1925) definition of fabula and Forsters (1927) definition of plot, all of which stress the importance of causal connection. Since then, much theorizing about narrative has featured a sense of causal agency as a necessary condition of narrativity (Richardson 1997: 106; White 1981; Bal 1985; Bordwell 1985; Rabinowitz 1987; Kafalenos 2006). 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, evolving, process of causal inference set in motion by heuristic reading and semiotic reading (134). More recently, understanding of sequentiality has been enlarged by the importation of schema theory from cognitive psychology (Bordwell 1985; Fludernik 1996; Herman 2002; Hhn 2008; Schemata). Especially important has been the concept of cognitive scripts in analyzing what happens at the script/story interface (Herman 2002). Scripts are stereotypical sequences warehoused in the brain that together contribute to Bruners (1991) canonicity or the expectations on which Sternbergs sequence of curiosity/suspense/surprise depends. They participate in varying degrees of narrativity, depending on the extent to which they are breached with the unexpected. (For further commentary on narrativity and schema theory, see 273

3.2.4 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). For example, [t]he same text can present full narrativity in sense 1, but low narrativity in sense 2, when it tells a wellformed story but the progress of the action is slowed down by descriptions, general comments, and digressions (2007: 34 n.25). Kermode (1983) takes this bi-level approach a step further. In narratives of any complexity, he argues, the sequentiality of the storys narrativity is always at war with the nonnarrativity of the discourse. Narrativity on this view is a kind of psycho-cultural propriety that lies in the comforting connexity of the fabula, accepted simply as such. In this way, Kermodes account of the reassurance of story chimes with Whites idea of narrativity as a conduit of ideological doxa. But for Kermode, what disturbs the orthodoxy freighted in the narrativity of the fabula is the sujet or the rendering of the story. It is the sujet that prevents us, if we are intent on not underreading, from resting in the storys reassuring sequential narrativity, for it abounds in mutinous nonnarrative elements that contend with the texts narrativity, crying out to be accommodated by interpretation even as they frustrate it (137).

3.3.2 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 (Hhn 2008: 146). 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. Its narrativity, then, depends on its non-triviality, which in turn is a factor of its eventfulness. For Schmid this depends on five key variable features: relevance, unpredictability, persistence, irreversibility, and non-iterativity. Hhn (2008) supplements Schmids concept by drawing on schema theory and Lotmans concept of the semantic field. Combining these two areas of research gives Hhns 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. 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 [vnementialit], [] where the tension between a before and an after seems to generate a virtuality, that of a story to come ([2006] 2007: 34). Audet builds on Lotmans idea of a hierarchy of events, proposing three levels or types of event: the inworld event (concrete action), the discursive event, and the operal event (connected to the performing of the work itself) (33), each of which in its emergence raises narrativity through its aura of events to come. However far one wishes to go down this road with Audet, he, like Cohen, Sturgess, and as we will see Fludernik, has found a way to accommodate those postmodern experimental texts that often frustrate narratologists wedded to a narrativecentered theory.


3.3.3 Tellability Originally introduced by Labov (1972), tellability ( Tellability) (or narratibility; cf. Prince 2008) is what makes a story worth telling. It allows a positive answer to the question Whats the point? and has often been hard to disentangle from narrativity (Ryan 2005b: 589). Specifically, tellability is the variable potential of a story as yet unnarrativized, while narrativity is the variable success of its narrativizing. In Hermans precise wording: Situations and events can be more or less tellable; the ways in which they are told can [] display different degrees of narrativity. Thus, whereas both predicates are scalar, tellability attaches to configurations of facts and narrativity to sequences representing those configurations of facts (2002: 100). Nonetheless, the border between the two concepts has often been blurred. In scalar conceptions of narrativity, tellability often ranks high on the list of qualities that participate in a texts narrativity. Bruner (1991) asserts that without tellability there can be no narrativity. Tellability is also essential to Fluderniks experience-based concept of narrativity. Conceived as the narrators emerging sense of the importance (point) of the events narrated, tellability, for Fludernik, is the third of three narrational operations reviewing past events, reproducing them, and evaluating themthat, when conjoined, constitute narrativity (2003: 245). For Hhn (2008), eventfulness is the prior concept on which tellability depends. In passing, he makes the useful distinction between narratives with sufficient eventfulness to be tellable and what he terms process narratives, found in the sciences, historiography, lawsuits, and even in recipes and instruction manuals, which are a more descriptive and neutrally informative way of tracing and communicating developments, processes, and changes (145 n.30). Elaborating further, Hhn argues that tellability is absent from the narrativity of the uneventful, plotless narration of type I events, but is the key distinction of the eventful, emplotted narration of type II events (see Event and Eventfulness).

3.3.4 Narrative Competence and Experientiality The increasing concern for reader/audience response in postclassical narratology has led to a focus on narrative competence, 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. In English, Scholes argued, the word narrativity implies a more sentient character than we generally allow an artifact. For this reason and some others, 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. 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). Echoing Iser (1972) and Sternberg (1978), Scholess concept of narrativity engages in fictional world-making by filling in gaps, both passive or automatic and active or interpretive, guided always by the semiotics of fictional and filmic language (Scholes 1982: 61). Once aroused, the primary effort of our narrativity is to construct a satisfying order of events. 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.). Anticipating McHales (2001) view of weak narrativity, Scholes argued that this 275

exercise of our gift of narrativity is essential even in those postmodern and experimental novels and films that seek to disrupt it, since without this cognitive and semiotic equipment the effects of their disruption would go unexperienced (64). Leitch also adopted a constructivist narrativity, but with an account of the capabilities required that is interestingly different from Scholess: At its simplest level, narrativity entails three skills: the ability to defer ones desire for gratification; [] the ability to supply connections among the material a story presents; and the ability to perceive discursive events as significantly related to the point of a given story or sequence (Leitch 1986: 34). For Leitch (similarly to Scholes), it is up to any particular narrative to cultivate an appropriate degree of narrativity, which may vary widely from one story to the next (35). However, 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). This would leave out of account the power of narrativity to read a narrative where none is intendedto project, for example, from natural events the signs of a maker intent on communicating a prophetic story. Life resumes, Scholes writes, when narrativity ceases (ibid.). 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. To read a text by means of the trope of narration is to read out of it a narrator and its voice, and a narratee and its ear (Nelles 1997: 116). Narrativity is at work, in other words, when a reader frames, or reframes, a text as narrative, an operation that can be applied even to texts commonly designated as something else (a lyric poem, an argument, a piece of music). Once such a text is imbued with narrativity, the tools of narrative analysis can be applied (120). From here it is a short step to narrativity as a universal feature of creative perception, that power that White theorizes as at once seeing and making history where there is nonethe power to narrativize the real. The infusion of cognitive research has invigorated research on narrative competence. Notable in this regard is the work of Fludernik, for whom narrativity is quite explicitly not a quality inhering in a text, but rather an attribute imposed on the text by the reader who interprets the text as narrative, thus narrativizing the text (2003: 244). Fludernik derives the essential quality of narrativity from what she calls human experientiality, building on pre-cognitive work by Hamburger (1957) and Cohn (1978) that had keyed narrative to its unique capability of portraying consciousness. Fludernik enlarges this focus with insight gained from Labovian discourse analysis and schema theory, expanding it to encompass a great range of expressive acts, starting with the conversation of everyday life ( Conversational Narration/Oral Narration). Thus when readers encounter texts formally described as narratives, they draw on an immense accumulation of frames and scripts that arise from the experience of life itself. In this way, Fludernik displaces the centrality traditionally conferred on the formal properties of story, plot, and narrator in definitions of narrative, while (like Cohen, Sturgess, and Audet in their different ways) expanding the range of full narrative legitimacy to experimental fiction in which these properties are barely perceptible. At the same time, by locating narrativity as a natural process not dependent on the experience of literature, Fludernik broadens what Culler (1975: 13460) called naturalizationthe process by which a reader gains or seeks to gain cognitive control over texts. She also narrows this process to a specifically narrative operation, replacing Cullers term naturalization with narrativization, by which the reader draws on a compendium of experiential, not strictly 276

literary, schemata marshaled under the macro-frame of narrativity. It is this that allows a re-cognization of a text as narrative (Fludernik 1996: 313). Only to the degree that a text resists narrativization does it discourage perceptions of narrativity. Yet even such unnatural cases, if repeated often enough, can become part of a readers natural experience and thus susceptible to narrativization. Herman, in his turn, builds on the natural narratology of Fludernik, Labov, and others, drawing, as they did, on cognitive theory and discourse analysis. For Herman, too, narrativity can be found in the larger terrain of human experience, and indeed much of his work intermixes a focus on narrativity as it occurs in conversation, ranging across a spectrum from the banal to the unfathomable. 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. Both too many and too few script-activating cues diminish narrativity (Herman 2002: 91). But Herman also critiques Fluderniks reliance on experientiality as the determinate factor in gauging a texts degree of narrativity. To do so, he argues, places too much weight on a participant role whose degree of salience derives from a larger, preference-based system of roles (2002: 169, 2009: passim). Phelan (2005, 2007), from his quite differently oriented rhetorical understanding of narrativity, also advocates maintaining a focus on both sides of the reader/text transaction. For him, narrativity is a complex, double-layered phenomenon involving both a progression of events and a progression of reader response. Each is characterized by a dynamics of instability, the one driving the tale, the other driving the response to it (Phelan 2007: 7). The tension of characters acting and reacting in an unstable situation is accompanied by a tension in the tellingunstable relations among authors, narrators, and audiences, 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.). Put differently, 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). As a scalar concept, [v]ery strong narrativity depends on the works commitment to both sets of variables (textual and readerly). Weak narrativity arises from the works lack of interest in one or both sets of variables (Phelan 2007: 215; see also Ryan 2007; Prince 2008).

3.3.5 Fictionality Keen draws attention to a slippage whereby fictionality has been included as an index of narrativity (2003: 121). This controversial association of narrativity and fictionality can be traced back to Hamburger (1957). However, as noted above, White (1973, 1978, 1981), has encouraged not just a slippage but a conflation of narrativity, fictionality, and history. 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). Consciously or not, White ironizes a distinction that Woolf expressed when she wrote, Let it be fact, one feels, or let it be fiction. The imagination will not serve under two masters simultaneously (Woolf [1927] 1994: 473; see also Ryan 1991; Doleel 1998: 128; Cohn 1999: chap. 7). Seeking to moderate both Whites 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, 277

Walsh points out that [r]eference actually occurs in fiction, and the use of language in fiction is shown to be continuous with its use elsewhere (2003: 111). Readers, he contends, are always concerned to bring fictional worlds into relation with the larger context of their own experience and understanding (114).

3.4 As Variable according to Narrative Type, Genre, 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). Variant narrativities, in other words, accompany generic variations among the totality of narrative genres. In her influential essay, The Modes of Narrativity, 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), complex narrativity (having interconnected narrative threads as in the triple-decker 19th-century novel), figural narrativity (abstract universals, concepts, or collectivities freighted on characters and events as in certain lyrical and philosophical works), instrumental narrativity (illustrative support in sermons and treatises), 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). Ryan (1992, 2004, 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, retelling, evoking, and interpretingthat we can acknowledge the narrative power of media without a language track (2005a: 292). Hhn ( 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). Hhns distinction yields a fixed concept of narrativity for plotless or process narration built from type I events, but yields a scalar concept of narrativity for plotted narration in which type II events play an integral role. Fludernik, resisting the efforts of some to extend full narrativity to historical writing, categorizes it instead as restricted narrativity, narrative that has not quite come into its own (1996: 26). Finally, where Ryan (1992) uses the term anti-narrativity, McHale settles on the term weak narrativity to describe the way in which Hejinian, Ashbery, and other avantgarde narrative poets interpolate, break up, or suspend narrative lines in their work. In such works, narrativity is not abolished; rather, we intuit that we are in the presence of narrativity. But at the same time that our sense of narrative is being solicited, it is also being frustrated (McHale 2001: 164).

3.5 As a Mode among Modes Chatmans widely referenced distinction between narrative text-types and non-narrative text-types (argument, exposition, description) draws on the idea of a type-determinative 278

overriding presence of one property or another (1990: 21). Though he does not use the term narrativity, 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. Phelan sets narrativity in contrast to two other modes: lyricality, in which the dominant is an emotion, a perception, an attitude, a belief or some form of meditation; and portraiture, in which the dominant is the revelation of character. All three can to some extent be present in a text of any length, but a text is hybridized when two or more are present in strength, with one or the other dominating (Phelan 2007: 224). What is meant by hybrid and by the terms, dominate and dominant is itself a question on which there is room for debate. Sternberg, for example, argues for the importance of properly [naming] the text after its dominant since, once narrativity dominates, it draws the nonnarrative elements under its control in a way that is absolute. This includes language, existents, thematics, point of view, etc. as well as descriptive phrases and equivalence patterns. Under sufficient narrative pressure, the descriptive turns kinetic (Sternberg 2001: 11920). This would appear, however, to exclude the possibility of hybrids for, given the dominant, everything assimilates and conduces to its narrativity, as inversely with narrative elements in descriptive writing (121). For Schmid (2003: 212), the situation can be more fluid, such that there are hybrid texts in which the functionality of descriptive and narrative elements can vie for dominance. A key element in reading such texts, then, is how the reader chooses to interpret them. In sum, the growing attention to the term narrativity has kept pace with the increasing range and richness of narratological debate. Whether or not this term will eventually displace the centrality of the term narrative, what Prince wrote a decade ago still holds true: further study of narrativity constitutes perhaps the most significant task of narratology today (1999: 43).

4 Topics for Further Investigation (a) The widely endorsed idea promoted by Bruner, Sacks, 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. But the issue is more complex than either position (Battersby 2006), and narrativity may play a key role in resolving it. (b) Related to this is the need for more work on narrativity as a part of what Brooks calls our cognitive toolkit (2005: 415; Herman 2002, 2009). (c) The narrativity of dreams is a limit case on which much depends in the definition of narrativity. On the one hand, there is flat rejection (Prince 2000: 16); on the other, support (Metz 1974; Walsh 2010). (d) Work is needed on narrativity in digital media, 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. (e) A highly consequential and disputed area for research is the role narrativity plays in law, its ethics and its practice (Brooks & Gewirtz 1996; Brooks 2005; Abbott [2002] 2008: 17592; Sternberg 2008). (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.


5 Bibliography

5.1 Works Cited Aarseth, Espen (1997). Cybertext: Perspectives of Ergodic Literature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Abbott, H. Porter ([2002] 2008). The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Audet, Ren ([2006] 2007). Narrativity: Away from Story, Close to Eventness. R.A. et al. (eds). Narrativity: How Visual Arts, Cinema and Literature are Telling the World Today. Paris: Dis Voir, 735. Bal, Mieke ([1985] 1997). Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. Toronto: U of Toronto P. Battersby, James I. (2006). Narrativity, Self, and Self Representation. Narrative 14, 2744. Bordwell, David (1985). Narration in the Fiction Film. Madison: U of Wisconsin P. Bremond, Claude (1973). Logique du rcit. Paris: Seuil. Brooks, Peter (2005). Narrative in and of the Law. J. Phelan & P. Rabinowitz (eds). A Companion to Narrative Theory. Malden: Blackwell, 41526. Brooks, Peter & Paul Gewirtz (1996). Laws Stories: Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law. New Haven: Yale UP. Bruner, Jerome (1991). The Narrative Construction of Reality. Critical Inquiry 18, 121. Chatman, Seymour (1990). Coming to Terms: The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Cohen, Keith (1979). Film and Fiction. New Haven: Yale UP. Cohn, Dorrit (1978). Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction. Princeton: Princeton UP. Cohn, Dorrit (1999). The Distinction of Fiction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Culler, Jonathan (1975). Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism, Linguistics, and the Study of Literature. Ithaca: Cornell UP. Doleel, Lubomr (1979). Extensional and Intensional Narrative Worlds. Poetics 8, 193211. Doleel, Lubomr (1983). Proper Names, Definite Descriptions, and the Intensional Structure of Kafkas The Trial. Poetics 12, 51126. Doleel, Lubomr (1998). Heterocosmica: Fiction and Possible Worlds. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Fludernik, Monika (1996). Towards a Natural Narratology. London: Routledge. Fludernik, Monika (2003). Natural Narratology and Cognitive Parameters. D. Herman (ed). Narrative Theory and the Cognitive Sciences. Stanford: CSLI Publications, 24367. Forster, Edward M. ([1927] 1962). Aspects of the Novel. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Grabcz, Mrta (2009). Musique, Narrativit, Signification. Paris: L'Harmattan. 280

Greimas, Algirdas Julien ([1969] 1977). Elements of a Narrative Grammar. Diacritics 7, 2340. Greimas, Algirdas Julien ([1973] 1989). Description and Narrativity: The Piece of String. New Literary History 20, 61526. Greimas, Algirdas Julien ([1983] 1987). A Problem of Narrative Semiotics: Objects of Value. A. J. G. On Meaning: Selected Writings in Semiotic Theory. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Greimas, Algirdas Julien & Joseph Courts (1979). Smiotique: dictionnaire raisonn de la thorie du langage. Paris: Hachette. Greimas, Algirdas Julien & Paul Ricur (1989). On Narrativity. New Literary History 20, 55162. Hamburger, Kte ([1957] 1993). The Logic of Literature. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Herman, David (2002). Story Logic: Problems and Possibilities of Narrative. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Herman, David (2009). Basic Elements of Narrative. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell. Hhn, Peter (2008). Functions and Forms of Eventfulness in Narrative Fiction. J. Pier & J. . Garca Landa (eds). Theorizing Narrativity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 14163. Iser, Wolfgang ([1972] 1974). The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Jakobson, Roman ([1935] 1971). The Dominant. L. Matejka & K. Pomorska (eds). Readings in Russian Poetics: Formalist and Structuralist Views. Cambridge: MIT P, 105110. Jannidis, Fotis (2003). Narratology and Narrative. T. Kindt & H.-H. Mller (eds). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Berlin: de Gruyter, 3554. Kafalenos, Emma (2006). Narrative Causalities. Columbus: Ohio State UP. Keen, Suzanne (2003). Narrative Form. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Kermode, Frank (1983). The Art of Telling: Essays on Fiction. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Kramer, Lawrence (1991). Musical Narratology: A Theoretical Outline. Indiana Theory Review 12, 14162. Labov, William (1972). Language in the Inner City. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P. Leitch, Thomas M. (1986). What Stories Are: Narrative Theory and Interpretation. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP. McClary, Susan (1997). The Impromptu that Trod on a Loaf: or How Music Tells Stories. Narrative 5, 2035. McHale, Brian (2001). Weak Narrativity: The Case of Avant-Garde Narrative Poetry. Narrative 9, 16167. Metz, Christian ([1974] 1982). The Imaginary Signifier: Psychoanalysis and the Cinema. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Nelles, William (1997). Frameworks: Narrative Levels and Embedded Narrative. New York: Peter Lang. Newcomb, Anthony (1987). Schuman and Late-Eighteenth-Century Narrative Strategies. Nineteenth-Century Music 11, 16475. Pavel, Thomas G. (1986). Fictional Worlds. Cambridge: Harvard UP. Phelan, James (2005). Narrative Judgements and the Rhetorical Theory of Narrative: Ian McEwans Atonement. J. Phelan & P. Rabinowitz (eds). A Companion to 281

Narrative Theory. Malden: Blackwell, 32236. Phelan, James (2007). Experiencing Fiction: Judgments, Progressions, and the Rhetorical Theory of Narrative. Columbus: Ohio State UP. Pier, John (2008). After this, therefore because of this. J. Pier & J. . Garca Landa (eds). Theorizing Narrativity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 10940. Prince, Gerald ([1987] 2003). A Dictionary of Narratology. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Prince, Gerald (1999). Revisiting Narrativity. W. Grnzweig & A. Solbach (eds). Grenzberschreitungen: Narratologie im Kontext / Transcending Boundaries: Narratology in Context. Tbingen: Gunter Narr, 4351. Prince, Gerald (2000). Forty-One Questions on the Nature of Narrative. Style 34, 31717. Prince, Gerlad (2008). Narrativehood, Narrativity, Narratability. J. Pier & J. . Garca Landa (eds). Theorizing Narrativity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1927. Rabinowitz, Peter J. (1987). Before Reading: Narrative Conventions and the Politics of Interpretation. Ithaca: U of Cornell P. Richardson, Brian (1997). Unlikely Stories: Causality and the Nature of Modern Narrative. Newark: U of Delaware P. Ricur, Paul ([1980] 1981). Narrative Time. W. J. T. Mitchell (ed). On Narrative. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Ricur, Paul ([1985] 1988). Time and Narration. Vol. 3. Chicago: U of Chicago P. Ryan, Marie-Laure (1991). Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory. Bloomington: Indiana UP. Ryan, Marie-Laure (1992). The Modes of Narrativity and Their Visual Metaphors. Style 26, 36887. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2004). Introduction. M.-L. R. (ed). Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 140. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2005a). Media and Narrative. D. Herman et al. (eds). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 28892. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2005b). Tellability. D. Herman et al. (eds). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 58991. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2005c). On the Theoretical Foundations of Transmedial Narratology. J. Ch. Meister (ed). Narratology beyond Literary Criticism: Mediality, Disciplinarity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 123. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2006a). Avatars of Story: Narrative Modes in Old and New Media. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Ryan, Marie-Laure (2006b). Semantics, Pragmatics, and Narrativity: A Response to David Rudrum. Narrative 14, 18896. Ryan, Marie-Laure 2007). Toward a Definition of Narrative. D. Herman (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2235. Sacks, Oliver (1985). The Man Who Mistook His Hat for a Wife and Other Clinical Tales. New York: Summit Books. Schmid, Wolf (2003). Narrativity and Eventfulness. T. Kindt & H.-H. Mller (eds). What Is Narratology? Questions and Answers Regarding the Status of a Theory. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1734. Scholes, Robert (1982). Semiotics and Interpretation. New Haven: Yale UP. Stanzel, Franz K. ([1979] 1984). A Theory of Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Sternberg, Meir (1978). Expositional Modes and Temporal Ordering in Fiction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. 282

Sternberg, Meir (1992). Telling in Time (II): Chronology, Teleology, Narrativity. Poetics Today 13, 463541. Sternberg, Meir (2001). How Narrativity Makes a Difference. Narrative 9, 11522. Sternberg, Meir (2003). Universals of Narrative and their Cognitivist Fortunes (I). Poetics Today 24, 297395. Sternberg, Meir (2008). If-Plots: Narrativity and the Law-Code. J. Pier & J. . Garca Landa (eds). Theorizing Narrativity. Berlin: de Gruyter, 29107. Strawson, Galen (2004). Against Narrativity. Ratio n.s 17, 42852. Sturgess, Philip J. M. (1992). Narrativity: Theory and Practice. Oxford UP. Tomaevskij, Boris (Tomashevsky) ([1925] 1965). Thematics. L. T. Lemon & M. J. Reis (eds). Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 61 95. Tynjanov, Jurij ([1927] 1971). On Literary Evolution. L. Matejka & K. Pomorska (eds). Readings in Russian Poetics: Formalist and Structuralist Views. Cambridge: MIT P, 6678. Walsh, Richard (2003). Fictionality and Mimesis: Between Narrativity and Fictional Worlds. Narrative 11, 11021. Walsh, Richard (2010). Dreaming and Narrative Theory. F. L. Aldama (ed). Toward a Cognitive Theory of Narrative Acts. Austin: U of Texas P, 141157. White, Hayden (1973). Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in NineteenthCentury Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. White, Hayden (1978). Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. White, Hayden (1981). The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality. W. J. T. Mitchell (ed). On Narrative. U of Chicago P, 124. Wolf, Werner (2002). Das Problem der Narrativitt in Literatur, bildender Kunst und Musik: Ein Beitrag zu einer intermedialen Erzhltheorie. V. Nnning & A. Nnning (eds). Erzhltheorie transgenerisch, intermedial, interdisziplinr. Trier: WVT, 23 104. Wolf, Werner (2004). Cross that BorderClose that Gap: Towards an Intermedial Narratology. EJES: European Journal for English Studies 8, 81103. Woolf, Virginia ([1927] 1994). The new Biography. A. McNeillie (ed). The Essays of Virginia Woolf. London: Hogarth, vol. 4, 47380.

5.2 Further Reading Baroni, Raphal (2007). La Tension narrative. Suspense, curiosit et surprise. Paris: Seuil. Brs, Jacques (1994). La narrativit. Louvain: Suculot. Fleischman, Suzanne (1990). Tense and Narrativity: From Medieval Performance to Modern Fiction. Austin: U of Texas P. Gaudreault, Andr (1988). Du littraire au filmique: systme du rcit. Paris: Mridien Klincksieck. Kearns, Michael (1999). Rhetorical Narratology. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P. Kellner, Hans (1987). Narrativity in History: Poststructuralism and Since. History 283

and Theory 26, 129. Kellner, Hans (1990). As Real as It Gets Ricur and Narrativity. Philosophy Today 34, 22942. Meister, Jan Christoph (2007). Narrativit, vnement et objectivation de la temporalit. J. Pier (ed). Thorie du rcit: lapport de la recherche allemande. Villeneuve dAsq: Septentrion, 189207. Odin, Roger (2000). De la fiction. Bruxelles: De Boeck. Prince, Gerald (1996). Remarks on Narrativity. C. Wahlin (ed). Perspectives on Narratology: Papers from the Stockholm Symposium on Narratology. Frankfurt a.M.: Lang, 95106. Singer, Alan (1983). The Methods of Form: Narrativity and Social Consciousness. SubStance 41, 6477. Tiffeneau, Dorian, ed. (1980). La narrativit. Paris: CNRS. Wolf, Werner (2003). Narrative and Narrativity: A Narratological Reconceptualization and its Applicability to the Visual Arts. Word and Image 19, 18097.


Meister, Jan Christoph: "Narratology". 12 Mar 2012. Hhn, Peter et al. (eds.): the living handbbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.

Last modified: 26 August 2011 Jan Christoph Meister

1 Definition Narratology is a humanities discipline dedicated to the study of the logic, principles, and practices of narrative representation. Dominated by structuralist approaches at its beginning, narratology has developed into a variety of theories, concepts, and analytic procedures. Its concepts and models are widely used as heuristic tools, 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, media, contexts, and communicative practices

2 Explication As a human science, narratology is historically defined and reflects ongoing changes in research agendas and methodologies in the humanities. At the same time, the persistence of narratological inquiry for more than four decades, despite its increasing centrifugal tendencies (Barry 1990), testifies to its cohesion as a system of scientific practices. During its initial or classical phase, from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, narratologists were particularly interested in identifying and defining narrative universals. This tendency is still echoed in a concise 1993 definition of narratology as the set of general statements on narrative genres, on the systematics of narrating (telling a story) and on the structure of plot (Ryan & von Alphen 1993: 110). However, a decade later, narratology was alternatively described as (a) a theory (Prince 2003: 1), (b) a method (Kindt & Mller 2003: 211), or (c) a discipline (Fludernik & Margolin 2004: 149). The third option seems most adequate: the concept of discipline subsumes theory and 285

method, acknowledging narratologys dual nature as both a theoretical and an applicationoriented academic approach to narrative. Narratology is no longer a single theory, but rather comprises a group of related theories (cf. Herman ed. 1999). 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). However, contemporary postclassical narratology cannot be reduced to a text theory, either. Over the past twenty years, 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, while research into narrative universals has been extended to cover narratives cognitive and epistemological functions. Against this background, 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 b