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Narrative Criticism Lecture and textbook notes covering an overview of narrative criticism, selecting an artefact, analysing the artefact (identifying the object of the narrative, the features of the narrative, and assessing the narrative), formulating th

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University of Waterloo
ENGL 104
Michael Hancock

Narrative Criticism February-08-11 11:39 AM  Narratives organise the stimuli of our experiences so that we can make sense of people, places, events and actions in our lives  Allows us to interpret reality; helps us decide what a particular reality is about and how various elements of experience are connected  Narrative constitutes a way of knowing about and a way of participating in the social world  Found in many artefacts: constitutes basic form of most short stories, novels, comics, films, plays, songs. Can also occur in dreams, conversations, interviews, speeches, visual artefacts  Narratives are how we tell stories  they can be used to carry messages  Examples (use these to understand that many, many things can be a narrative, so long as they contain a story):  short stories  novels  graphic novels  comic strips  films  songs  video games  photography (or art) exhibitions  webisode/series  music videos  anecdotes  all can encompass almost any sort of genre  Narratives distinguished from other forms by 4 characteristics o Comprised of at least two events; can be either active (expressing action) or stative (expressing state or condition) o Events are organised by time order, but is not necessarily chronological. Tells in some way how the events relate temporally to one another. Can involve flashbacks or flashforwards. o Must include causal or contributing relationship among events in a story. Defines nature of change by stipulating between earlier and later events in the story. Causal relationship: someone burns a letter and starts a forest fire. Contributing relationship: a student sends their application to school and is rejected. The difference is the application did not cause the rejection, but the burning letter caused the fire. o Must be about a unified subject.  Creates personal involvement in the narrated world, generates involvement through the narrated world being particular, sharable and persona; o The narrated world created in a story is particular. Specific and detailed descriptions and images activate a person's imagination and remind them of their own past experiences. Connect experiences to those of the narrator. o Involve audience by being sharable. The created world is a joint achievement between the narrator and the audience; both must recognise discursive form of the story and understand the meaning. Share experiences through form and content o Personal subjective evaluation occurs when the audience participates in a story. Audience shares moral evaluation of the narrated world  Narratives are different because both storyteller and audience have a personal involvement in the narrated world and the act of narrative  It's particular in that detailed descriptions and images activate listeners' personal imaginations and remind them of their own experiences  a narrated world is sharable, it requires involvement form storyteller and audience  personal, the audience places their own selves in the context of the story  it suggests familiarity, and friendliness  Brief History o Classical Greece and Rome o Aristotle and Quintilian wrote about Narrative o Walter R Fischer influential in developing understanding of the narrative paradigm. o Arthur Bochner and Carolyn Ellis theorised the use of narrative for studying interpersonal relationships suggesting that to have or be in a relationship is to have or be in a story Selecting an Artefact  anything with a narrative  make sure that it actually has a real narrative Analysing the Artefact  Identifying the object of the narrative o Identify the object of the narrative or the action the story appears designed to perform in the world o Best guess as to what situation or condition the story is addres
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