ENGL104 Lecture Notes - Carolyn Ellis, Quintilian, Multiperspectivity

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16 Oct 2011

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Narrative Criticism
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
graphic novels
comic strips
video games
photography (or art) exhibitions
music videos
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
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