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Narratology denotes both the theory and the study of narrative and narrative structure and the ways that these affect our perception.[1] While in principle the word may refer to any systematic study of narrative, in practice its usage is rather more restricted. It is an anglicisation of French narratologie, coined by Tzvetan Todorov (Grammaire du Décaméron, 1969),[2]. Narratology is applied retrospectively as well to work predating its coinage. Its theoretical lineage is traceable to Aristotle (Poetics) but modern narratology is agreed to have begun with the Russian Formalists, particularly Vladimir Propp (Morphology of the Folktale, 1928).

Its origins lend to it a strong association with the structuralist quest for a formal system of useful description applicable to any narrative content, the analogy being to the grammars by reference to which sentences are parsed in some forms of linguistics). This procedure does not however typify all work described as narratological today; Percy Lubbock's work in point of view (The Craft of Fiction, 1921), is a case in point. Jonathan Culler (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.'[3] This was first proposed by the Russian Formalists, who employed the couplet fabula and sjuzet. A subsequent succession of alternate pairings has preserved the essential binomial impulse, e.g. histoire/discours, histoire/récit, story/plot. The Structuralist assumption that fabula and sujet could be investigated 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,transformation of the chronological order, rhythm and frequency. Many authors (Sternberg, 1993)[4], Ricoeur, date required, and Baroni, 2007)[5] 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.

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. Atypical applications of narratological methodologies would include sociolinguistic studies of oral storytelling (William Labov) and in conversation analysis or discourse analysis that deal with narratives arising in the course of spontaneous verbal interaction. However, constituent analysis of a type where narremes are considered to be the basic units of narrative structure could fall within the areas of linguistics, semiotics, or literary theory.[6]

Notes

  1. ^ General Introduction to Narratology
  2. ^ Gerald Prince, "Narratology," Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism, ed. Michael Groden and Martin Kreiswirth (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1994) 524.
  3. ^ Jonathan Culler, The Pursuit of Signs: Semiotics, Literature, Deconstruction, Routledge Classics ed. (London: Routledge, 2001) 189.
  4. ^ Meir Sternberg, Expositional Modes and Temporal Ordering in Fiction, (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1993).
  5. ^ Raphaël Baroni, La Tension narrative. Suspense, curiosité et surprise, (Paris: Seuil, 2007).
  6. ^ Henri Wittmann, "Théorie des narrèmes et algorithmes narratifs," Poetics 4.1 (1975): 19-28.

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Narratology is the study and theory of narratives.

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  • The hero [of a narrative] must be male, regardless of the gender of the text-image, because the obstacle, whatever its personification, is morphologically female....The hero, the mythical subject, is constructed as human being and as male; he is the active principle of culture, the establisher of distinction, the creator of differences. Female is what is not susceptible to transformation, to life or death; she (it) is an element of plot-space, a topos, a resistance, matrix and matter. And remember, the universe should always be considered a whole-sort-of-general-mish-mash.
    • Lauretis, Teresa de (1984). "Desire in Narrative", Alice Doesn't, p.118-119. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253203163.

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