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Peter Barry

Telling stories This chapter is about narratology, which is the study of narrative structures. Narratology is a branch of structuralism, but it has achieved a certain independence from its parent, and this justifies it being given a chapter of its own. Also, because it takes much of its character and some of its terminology from linguistic theory, it seems logically to belong immediately after the chapter on stylistics. And because narratology is about stories, I will begin with one of my own. Some years ago I was in a restaurant called ‘Berties’. The menu

in Beginning theory (fourth edition)
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Author: Susana Onega

This is a full-length study of Jeanette Winterson's work as a whole, containing in-depth analyses of her eight novels and cross-references to her minor fictional and non-fictional works. It establishes the formal, thematic and ideological characteristics of the novels, and situates the writer within the general panorama of contemporary British fiction. Earlier critics usually approached Winterson exclusively either as a key lesbian novelist, or as a heavily experimental and ‘arty’ writer, whose works are unnecessarily difficult and meaningless. By contrast, this book provides a comprehensive, ‘vertical’ analysis of the novels. It combines the study of formal issues – such as narrative structure, point of view, perspective and the handling of narrative and story time – with the thematic analysis of character types, recurrent topoi, intertextual and generic allusions, etc., focused from various analytical perspectives: narratology, lesbian and feminist theory (especially Cixous and Kristeva), Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, Jungian archetypal criticism, Tarot, Hermetic and Kabalistic symbolism, myth criticism, Newtonian and Post-Newtonian Physics, etc. Novels that read superficially, or appear simple and realistic, are revealed as complex linguistic artifacts with a convoluted structure and clogged with intertextual echoes of earlier writers and works. The conclusions show the inseparability of form and meaning (for example, the fact that all the novels have a spiralling structure reflects the depiction of self as fluid and of the world as a multiverse) and place Winterson within the trend of postmodernist British writers with a visionary outlook on art, such as Maureen Duffy, Marina Warner or Peter Ackroyd.

An introduction to literary and cultural theory
Series: Beginnings
Author: Peter Barry

Theory often eclipses the text, just as the moon's shadow obscures the sun in an eclipse, so that the text loses its own voice and begins to voice theory. This book provides summaries or descriptions of a number of important theoretical essays. It commences with an account of the 'liberal humanism' against which all newer critical approaches to literature, broadly speaking, define themselves. The book suggests a useful form of intensive reading, which breaks down the reading of a difficult chapter or article into five stages, as designated by the letters 'SQRRR': Survey, Question, Read, Recall, and Review. It explains the rise of English studies by indicating what higher education was like in England until the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The book talks about the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Derrida. It lists some differences and distinctions between structuralism and post-structuralism under the four headings: origins, tone and style, attitude to language, and project. Providing a clear example of deconstructive practice, the book then describes three stages of the deconstructive process: the verbal, the textual, and the linguistic. It includes information on some important characteristics of literary modernism practiced by various writers, psychoanalytic criticism, feminist criticism and queer theory. The book presents an example of Marxist criticism, and discusses the overlap between cultural materialism and new historicism, specific differences between conventional close reading and stylistics and insights on narratology. It covers the story of literary theory through ten key events.

Eva von Contzen

Legendary can be usefully approached from the perspective of narrative theory, the central concern of which is the analysis of narrative as motivated structures. Although narratology has been firmly established as an influential field within literary studies at least since the 1960s, medieval studies have generally been reluctant, to say the least, to engage with the theories and methods developed by narratologists. There are good reasons why: in its early days, so-called classical narratology was an exclusively structuralist endeavour that focused on one genre in

in The Scottish Legendary
Alexander Spencer

pointed out: ‘so natural is the impulse to narrate, so inevitable is the form of narrative for any report of the ways things really happen, that narrativity could appear problematic only in a culture in which it was absent’ (White 1987: 1). Yet despite the continuing rise of discourse analytical approaches the concept of narrative is still viewed with some suspicion in large parts of political science and IR, as there is continued scepticism about how insights from literary studies and narratology are supposed to help answer important questions of (international

in Romantic narratives in international politics
Damian Walford Davies

love for him and she is poisoned by his wife, the notorious Frances Howard, Lady Essex. This Lady Essex is indistinguishable in her villainy from another Lady Essex encountered in the novel. The multiplying cast of depthless, exchangeable characters, combined with an infinitely extensible series of actants generated from a set that is incestuously closed by its finite number of names is no accident. The difficulty – and irrelevance – of knowing which Lady Essex this is reduces these ‘real’ historical characters to virtuality, as the text becomes more a narratology

in Counterfactual Romanticism
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Bruce Woodcock

Here on the outposts of the American Empire … ( Bliss , 9) C AREY ’s first published novel capitalised on the success of his stories to exhilarating effect. Its anarchic narratology puzzled many reviewers, 1 but as Carey’s œuvre grows, its mix of satiric realism, fable, fantasy and manic cartoon quality seem entirely characteristic. After War Crimes was awarded the New South Wales Premier Award in 1980, Bliss received the same prize in 1982, as well as the Miles Franklin and the National Book Council

in Peter Carey
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Frame, form, and narratorial persona
Caitlin Flynn

and narratology. Across this chapter, two key aspects have been central to discussion: firstly, the genre and language of the poem were established as an essential marker of Dunbar’s process of prying apart conventions in order to recreate new forms. And secondly, the narrator’s role in framing and editorialising the speeches came under scrutiny. Regarding the first point, the demandes d’amour do not adhere to the typical expectations of the verse form as it is found in French or in other Scottish demandes

in The narrative grotesque in medieval Scottish poetry
Pirates, rebels and mercenaries

This book is a story about the importance of stories in International Relations. It brings insights from Literary Studies and Narratology into IR and political science by developing a new discourse analytical method of narrative analysis. Focusing on the three narrative elements of setting, characterization and emplotment, the book argues that narratives are of fundamental importance for human cognition and identity construction. Narratives help us understand the social and political world in which we live. The book emphasizes the idea of intertextual narratability which holds that for narratives to become dominant they have to link themselves to previously existing stories. Empirically the book looks at narratives about pirates, rebels and private military and security companies (PMSCs). The book illustrates in the case of pirates and rebels that the romantic images embedded in cultural narratives influence our understanding of modern piracy in places like Somalia or rebels in Libya. Dominant romantic narratives marginalize other, less flattering, stories about these actors, in which they are constituted as terrorists and made responsible for human rights violations. In contrast, in the case of PMSCs in Iraq the absence of such romantic cultural narratives makes it difficult for such actors to successfully narrate themselves as romantic heroes to the public.

Paul Wake

This chapter focuses on the last Marlow novel, Chance. Through a consideration of the implications of a narratology that has its basis in the double negation of literary language, it argues that rather than rendering literature meaningless, Blanchot's doubling of death generates the possibility of locating meaning in the narrating act itself. Accordingly, the discussion sees a shift of emphasis away from death as impossibility towards a reading of Chance in terms of truth and gender that engages with a number of critical readings that both challenge and exemplify this emphasis on narrative structure over, and as, the content of story.

in Conrad’s Marlow