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Narratology is the study of narrative and
narrative structure Narrative structure is a literary elementA literary element, or narrative element, or element of literature is an essential characteristic of all works of written and spoken narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of rela ...
and the ways that these affect human perception. It is an anglicisation of French ''narratologie'', coined by
Tzvetan Todorov Tzvetan Todorov (; ; bg, Цветан Тодоров; 1 March 1939 – 7 February 2017) was a Bulgarian- French historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survi ...
(''Grammaire du Décaméron'', 1969). Its theoretical lineage is traceable to
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental quest ...

Aristotle
(''
Poetics Poetics is the theory of literary forms and literary discourse Discourse is a generalization of the notion of a conversation Conversation is interactive communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the ...
'') but modern narratology is agreed to have begun with the
Russian Formalists Russian formalism was a school of literary criticism in Russia from the 1910s to the 1930s. It includes the work of a number of highly influential Russian and Soviet scholars such as Viktor Shklovsky, Yuri Tynianov, Vladimir Propp, Boris Eichenbaum ...
, particularly
Vladimir Propp Vladimir Yakovlevich Propp (russian: Владимир Яковлевич Пропп; – 22 August 1970) was a Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in North ...
(''Morphology of the Folktale'', 1928), and
Mikhail Bakhtin Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin ( ; rus, Михаи́л Миха́йлович Бахти́н, , mʲɪxɐˈil mʲɪˈxajləvʲɪdʑ bɐxˈtʲin; – 7 March 1975) was a Russian philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The ...
's theories of
heteroglossia The term ''heteroglossia'' describes the coexistence of distinct varieties within a single "language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign langu ...
,
dialogism Dialogic refers to the use of conversation or shared dialogue to explore the meaning of something. (This is as opposed to monologic which refers to one entity with all the information simply giving it to others without exploration and clarification ...
, and the
chronotope In literary theory and philosophy of language, the chronotope is how configurations of time and space are represented in language and discourse. The term was taken up by Russian literary scholar Bakhtin, M.M. Bakhtin who used it as a central element ...
first presented in ''The Dialogic Imagination'' (1975).


History

The origins of narratology lend to it a strong association with the structuralist quest for a formal system of useful description applicable to any narrative content, by analogy with the grammars used as a basis for
parsing Parsing, syntax analysis, or syntactic analysis is the process of analyzing a string String or strings may refer to: *String (structure), a long flexible structure made from threads twisted together, which is used to tie, bind, or hang other obj ...

parsing
sentences ''The Four Books of Sentences'' (''Libri Quattuor Sententiarum'') is a book of theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an Discipline (academia), aca ...
in some forms of
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo ...

linguistics
. This procedure does not however typify all work described as narratological today;
Percy Lubbock Percy Lubbock, Order of the British Empire, CBE (4 June 1879 – 1 August 1965) was an English man of letters, known as an essayist, critic and biographer. His controversial book ''The Craft of Fiction'' was influential in the 1920s and after. Lif ...
's work in
point of view Point of view or Points of View may refer to: Concept and technique * Point of view (philosophy), an attitude how one sees or thinks of something * Point of view (literature) or narrative mode, the perspective of the narrative voice; the pronoun ...
(''The Craft of Fiction'', 1921) offers a case in point. In 1966 a special issue of the journal ''Communications'' proved highly influential, becoming considered a program for research into the field and even a
manifesto A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus or promotes a ...

manifesto
. It included articles by
Roland Barthes Roland Gérard Barthes (; ; 12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980) was a French literary theorist Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an a ...

Roland Barthes
, Claude Brémond,
Gérard Genette Gérard Genette (7 June 1930 – 11 May 2018) was a French literary theorist Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially ...
,
Algirdas Julien Greimas Algirdas Julien Greimas (; born ''Algirdas Julius Greimas''; 9 March 1917 – 27 February 1992), was a Lithuanian literary scientist who wrote most of his body of work in French while living in France. Greimas is known among other things for th ...
,
Tzvetan Todorov Tzvetan Todorov (; ; bg, Цветан Тодоров; 1 March 1939 – 7 February 2017) was a Bulgarian- French historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survi ...
and others, which in turn often referred to the works of
Vladimir Propp Vladimir Yakovlevich Propp (russian: Владимир Яковлевич Пропп; – 22 August 1970) was a Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in North ...
Herman, David and Jahn, Manfred and Ryan, Marie-Laure (2005
''Routledge encyclopedia of narrative theory''
pp.574–5
Bamberg, Michael G. W. (1998
''Oral Versions of Personal Experience: Three Decades of Narrative Analysis. A Special Issue of the Journal of Narrative and Life History''
p.40
(1895–1970).
Jonathan Culler Jonathan Culler (born 1944) is an American literary critic. He is Class of 1916 Professor of English studies, English and Comparative Literature at Cornell University. His published works are in the fields of structuralism, literary theory and l ...
(2001) describes narratology as comprising many strands
implicitly united in the recognition that narrative theory requires a distinction between "story," a sequence of actions or events conceived as independent of their manifestation in discourse, and "discourse," the discursive presentation or narration of events.'
The
Russian Formalists Russian formalism was a school of literary criticism in Russia from the 1910s to the 1930s. It includes the work of a number of highly influential Russian and Soviet scholars such as Viktor Shklovsky, Yuri Tynianov, Vladimir Propp, Boris Eichenbaum ...
first proposed such a distinction, employing the couplet
fabula and syuzhet Fabula ( rus, фабула, p=ˈfabʊlə) and syuzhet ( rus, сюжет, p=sʲʊˈʐɛt, a=Ru-сюжет.ogg) are terms originating in Russian formalism and employed in narratology that describe narrative A narrative, story or tale is any accou ...
. A subsequent succession of alternate pairings has preserved the essential binomial impulse, e.g. ''histoire''/''discours'', ''histoire''/''récit'', ''story''/''plot''. The Structuralist assumption that one can investigate fabula and syuzhet separately gave birth to two quite different traditions: thematic (Propp, Bremond, Greimas, Dundes, et al.) and modal (Genette, Prince, et al.) narratology. The former is mainly limited to a semiotic formalization of the sequences of the actions told, while the latter examines the manner of their telling, stressing voice, point of view, the transformation of the chronological order, rhythm, and frequency. Many authors (Sternberg, 1993, Ricoeur, 1984, and Baroni, 2007) have insisted that thematic and modal narratology should not be looked at separately, especially when dealing with the function and interest of narrative sequence and plot.


Applications

Designating work as narratological is to some extent dependent more on the academic discipline in which it takes place than any theoretical position advanced. The approach is applicable to any narrative, and in its classic studies, vis-a-vis Propp, non-literary narratives were commonly taken up. Still, the term "narratology" is most typically applied to literary theory and
literary criticism Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced by literary theory, which is the philosophical analysis, philosophical discussion of literature ...
, as well as
film theory Film theory is a set of scholarly approaches within the academic An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary education, secondary or tertiary education, tertiary higher education, h ...
and (to a lesser extent)
film criticism Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applyin ...
. Atypical applications of narratological methodologies would include
sociolinguistic Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, ...
studies of oral storytelling (
William Labov William Labov ( ; born December 4, 1927) is an United States, American linguist, widely regarded as the founder of the discipline of variationist sociolinguistics. He has been described as "an enormously original and influential figure who has c ...
) and in
conversation analysis Conversation analysis (CA) is an approach to the study of social interaction In social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biolo ...
or
discourse analysis Discourse analysis (DA), or discourse studies, is an approach to the analysis of written, vocal, or sign language use, or any significant semiotic Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the study of sign processes (semiosis), which are any ...
that deal with narratives arising in the course of spontaneous verbal interaction. It also includes the study of videogames,
graphic novels A graphic novel is a book made up of comics a medium Medium may refer to: Science and technology Aviation *Medium bomber, a class of war plane *Tecma Medium, a French hang glider design Communication * Media (communication), t ...
, the infinite canvas, and narrative sculptures linked to
topology In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities ...

topology
and
graph theory In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no gen ...
. However, constituent analysis of a type where
narremeNarreme is the basic unit of narrative structure Narrative structure is a literary element generally described as the structural framework that underlies the order and manner in which a narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a se ...
s are considered to be the basic units of narrative structure could fall within the areas of
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo ...

linguistics
,
semiotics Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the study of sign processes (semiosis Semiosis (, ), or sign process, is any form of activity Activity may refer to: * Action (philosophy), in general * Human activity: human behavior, in sociology ...

semiotics
, or literary theory.


Narratology in new media

Digital-media theorist and professor Janet Murray theorized a shift in storytelling and narrative structure in the twentieth century as a result of scientific advancement in her 1998 book '' Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace''. Murray argues that narrative structures such as the multi-narrative more accurately reflected "post-Einstein physics" and the new perceptions of time, process, and change, than the traditional linear narrative. The unique properties of computers are better-suited for expressing these "limitless, intersecting" stories or "cyberdramas." These cyberdramas differ from traditional forms of storytelling in that they invite the reader into the narrative experience through interactivity i.e.
hypertext fictionHypertext fiction is a genre of electronic literature Electronic literature or digital literature is a genre of literature encompassing works created exclusively on and for digital devices, such as computers, tablets, and mobile phones A mo ...
and Web soap ''The Spot.'' Murray also controversially declared that
video games#REDIRECT Video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, or motion sensing device ...
– particularly
role-playing games A role-playing game (sometimes spelled roleplaying game; abbreviated RPG) is a game in which players assume the roles of character Character(s) may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Character'' (novel), a 1936 Dutch ...
and life-simulators like ''
The Sims ''The Sims'' is a series of life simulation video games developed by Maxis Maxis is an American video game developer and a Division (business), division of Electronic Arts (EA). The studio was founded in 1987 by Will Wright (game designer), ...
'', contain narrative structures or invite the users to create them. She supported this idea in her article "Game Story to Cyberdrama" in which she argued that stories and games share two important structures: contest and puzzles.


Electronic literature and cybertext

Development and exclusive consumption of digital devices and interactivity are key characteristics of
electronic literature Electronic literature or digital literature is a genre of literature encompassing works created exclusively on and for digital devices, such as computers A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequen ...
. This has resulted in varying narrative structures of these interactive media.
Nonlinear narrative Nonlinear narrative, disjointed narrative or disrupted narrative is a narrative technique, sometimes used in literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically c ...
s serve as the base of many
interactive fiction Interactive fiction, often abbreviated IF, is software Software is a collection of instructions Instruction or instructions may refer to: Computing * Instruction, one operation of a processor within a computer architecture instruction set * ...
s. Sometimes used interchangeably with hypertext fiction, the reader or player plays a significant role in the creation of a unique narrative developed by the choices they make within the story-world. Stuart Moulthrop's ''
Victory Garden Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit, and herb In general use, herbs are plants with savory or aromatic properties that are used for flavoring and garnishing food, for medicinal purposes, ...
'' is one of the first and most studied examples of hypertext fiction, featuring 1,000 lexias and 2,800 hyperlinks. In his book ''Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature,''
Espen Aarseth Espen J. Aarseth (born 1965 in Bergen, Norway) is a figure in the fields of video game studies and electronic literature. Aarseth completed his doctorate at the University of Bergen. He co-founded the Department of Humanistic Informaticshttps://web. ...
conceived the concept of cybertext, a subcategory of
ergodic literature Ergodic literature is a term coined by Espen J. Aarseth in his book ''Cybertext—Perspectives on Ergodic Literature.'' The term is derived from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, ...
, to explain how the medium and mechanical organization of the text affects the reader's experience:
...when you read from a cybertext, you are constantly reminded of inaccessible strategies and paths not taken, voices not heard. Each decision will make some parts of the text more, and others less, accessible, and you may never know the exact results of your choices; that is, exactly what you missed.
The narrative structure or game-worlds of these cybertexts are compared to a
labyrinth In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A be ...

labyrinth
that invites the player, a term Aarseth deems more appropriate than the reader, to play, explore and discover paths within these texts. Two kinds of labyrinths that are referenced by Aarseth are the unicursal labyrinth which holds one single, winding path that leads to a hidden center, and the multicursal labyrinth, synonymous with a maze, which is branching and complex with the path and direction chosen by the player. These concepts help to distinguish between ergodic (unicursal) and nonergodic literature (multicursal). Some works such as
Vladimir Nabokov Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (russian: link=no, Влади́мир Влади́мирович Набо́ков ; 2 July 1977), also known by the pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym ...
's ''
Pale Fire ''Pale Fire'' is a 1962 novel by Vladimir Nabokov Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (russian: link=no, Влади́мир Влади́мирович Набо́ков ; 2 July 1977), also known by the pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom d ...
'' have proven to potentially be both depending on the path the reader takes.


Theorists of Narratology

Art critic and philosopher,
Arthur Danto Arthur Coleman Danto (January 1, 1924 – October 25, 2013) was an American art critic An art critic is a person who is specialized in analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities ...
, refers to the narrative as describing two separate events. Narrative is also linked to language. The way a story can be manipulated by a character, or in the display of medium contributes to how a story is seen by the world.Rimmon-Kenan, S. (1989). How the Model Neglects the Medium: Linguistics, Language, and the Crisis of Narratology. The Journal of Narrative Technique, 19(1), 157-166. Retrieved September 25, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/30225242 Narratology, as defined by Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, is a branch of narrative theory. The concept of narratology was developed mainly in France during the sixties and seventies. Theorists have argued for a long time about the form and context of narratology. American psychologist Robert Sternburg argued that narratology is "structuralism at variance with the idea of structure”. This basis goes with the French-American belief that narratology is a logical perversion, meaning that it followed a course that at the time did not seem logical.Darby, D. (2001). Form and Context: An Essay in the History of Narratology. Poetics Today 22(4), 829-852. https://www.muse.jhu.edu/article/27881. Another theorist Peter Brooks sees narrative as being designed and having intent which is what shapes the structure of a story.Felluga, Dino. "Modules on Brooks: On Plotting." Introductory Guide to Critical Theory. Date of last update, which you can find on the home page. Purdue U. Date you accessed the site. . Narrative theorist
Roland Barthes Roland Gérard Barthes (; ; 12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980) was a French literary theorist Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an a ...

Roland Barthes
argues that all narratives have similar structures and in every sentence, there are multiple meanings. Barthes sees literature as "writerly text" which does not need a typical plot that has a beginning, middle, and end. Instead, written work "has multiple entrances and exits." Theorist Greimas agrees with other theorists by acknowledging that there is a structure in narrative and set out to find the deep structure of narrativity. However, in his findings, Greimas says that narratology can be used to describe phenomena outside of the written word and linguistics as a whole. He establishes a connection between the physical form of something and the language used to describe that something which breaks the structural code that many other theorists base their research on.


See also

*
Digital storytellingDigital storytelling is a short form of digital media production that allows everyday people to share aspects of their story. The media used may include the digital equivalent of film techniques , stills, audio only, or any of the other forms of non ...
* Dramatica Theory of Story Structure (software) * Focalisation *
Narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document A document is a written Writing is a medium of human communication Comm ...

Narrative
* Narrative criticism *
Narrative structure Narrative structure is a literary elementA literary element, or narrative element, or element of literature is an essential characteristic of all works of written and spoken narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of rel ...
*
Narreme Narreme is the basic unit of narrative structure Narrative structure is a literary elementA literary element, or narrative element, or element of literature is an essential characteristic of all works of written and spoken narrative A narrative ...
as the basic unit of structural narratology *
Post-structuralism Post-structuralism is a term for philosophical and literary forms of theory that both build upon and reject ideas established by structuralism, the intellectual project that preceded it. Though post-structuralists all present different critiques ...
*
Storytelling Storytelling describes the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation Improvisation is the activity of making or doing something not planned beforehand, using whatever can be found. Improvisation in the ...

Storytelling
*
Suspense Suspense is a state of mental uncertainty Uncertainty refers to Epistemology, epistemic situations involving imperfect or unknown information. It applies to predictions of future events, to physical measurements that are already made, or to ...


Notes


References

* Phelan, James, and Peter J. Rabinowitz. A Companion to Narrative Theory. Malden: Blackwell, 2005. * Phelan, James, and Peter J. Rabinowitz. Understanding Narrative. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1994. * Phelan, James, David Herman, and Brian McHale, eds. Teaching Narrative Theory. New York: MLA Publications, 2010. * Phelan, James, ed. Reading Narrative: Form, Ethics, Ideology. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1989. * Phelan, James. Experiencing Fiction: Judgments, Progressions, and the Rhetorical Theory of Narrative. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2007. * Phelan, James. Living To Tell About It: A Rhetoric and Ethics of Character Narration. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005. * Phelan, James. Narrative as Rhetoric: Technique, Audiences, Ethics, Ideology. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1996. * Phelan, James. Reading People, Reading Plots: Character, Progression, and the Interpretation of Narrative. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.


External links


"Musical Narratology"
by William Echard, review of ''A Theory of Musical Semiotics'' by
Eero Tarasti Eero Aarne Pekka Tarasti (born 27 September 1948 in Helsinki Helsinki ( or ; ; sv, Helsingfors, ; la, Helsingia) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction ...
, foreword by
Thomas A. Sebeok Thomas Albert Sebeok ( hu, Sebők Tamás, ; 1920–2001) was a Hungarian-born American polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo universalis, "universal human") is an individual whose knowledge spans a ...
.
Five Analyses of the Narrative "I First Got Paid"


(A Bibliography of Literary Theory, Criticism and Philology)

by Manfred Jahn




The Living Handbook of Narratology


by Henry McDonald {{Authority control Choreography Drama Film theory Literature Storytelling