Concepts of Narrative

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Title: Concepts of Narrative
Author: Rimmon-Kenan, Slomith
Editor: Hyvärinen, Matti; Korhonen, Anu; Mykkänen, Juri
Belongs to series: COLLeGIUM: Studies Across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Volume 1: The Travelling Concept of Narrative
ISSN: 1796 -2986
ISBN: 952-10-3019-4
Abstract: Transposed to media like film, drama, opera, music, and the visual arts, “narrative” is no longer characterized by either temporality or an act of telling, both required by earlier narratological theories. Transposed to other disciplines, “narrative” is often a substitute for “assumption”, “hypothesis”, a disguised ideological stance, a cognitive scheme, and even life itself. The potential for broadening the concept lay dormant in narratology, both in the double use of “narrative” for the medium-free fabula and for the medium-bound sjuzet, and in changing interpretations of “event”. Some advantages of the broad use of “narrative” are an evocation of commonalities among media and disciplines, an invitation to re-think the term within the originating discipline, a constructivist challenge to positivistic and foundational views, an emphasis on a plurality of competing “truths”, and an empowerment of minority voices. Conversely, disadvantages of the broad use are an illusion of sameness whenever the term is used and the obliteration of specificity. In a Wittgensteinian spirit, the essay agrees that concepts of narrative are mutually related by “family resemblance”, but wishes to probe the resemblances further. It thus postulates two necessary features: double temporality and a transmitting (or mediating) agency, and an additional cluster of variable optional characteristics. When the necessary features are not dominant, the configuration may have “narrative elements” but is not “a narrative”.
Date: 2006
Rights: © 2006 author and volume editors

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