Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling

Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling

Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling

Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling

Synopsis

Narratology has been conceived from its earliest days as a project that transcends disciplines and media. The essays gathered here address the question of how narrative migrates, mutates, and creates meaning as it is expressed across various media.

Dividing the inquiry into five areas: face-to-face narrative, still pictures, moving pictures, music, and digital media, Narrative across Media investigates how the intrinsic properties of the supporting medium shape the form of narrative and affect the narrative experience. Unlike other interdisciplinary approaches to narrative studies, all of which have tended to concentrate on narrative across language-supported fields, this unique collection provides a much-needed analysis of how narrative operates when expressed through visual, gestural, electronic, and musical means. In doing so, the collection redefines the act of storytelling. Although the fields of media and narrative studies have been invigorated by a variety of theoretical approaches, this volume seeks to avoid a dominant theoretical bias by providing instead a collection of concrete studies that inspire a direct look at texts rather than relying on a particular theory of interpretation. A contribution to both narrative and media studies, Narrative across Media is the first attempt to bridge the two disciplines.

Excerpt

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Narratology, the formal study of narrative, has been conceived from its earliest days as a project that transcends disciplines and media. In 1964 Claude Bremond wrote: “[Story] is independent of the techniques that bear it along. It may be transposed from one to another medium without losing its essential properties: the subject of a story may serve as argument for a ballet, that of a novel can be transposed to stage or screen, one can recount in words a film to someone who has not seen it. These are words we read, images we see, gestures we decipher, but through them, it is a story that we follow; and it could be the same story.” This statement has remained in theoretical hibernation for over forty years—occasionally contested by opponents of the form and content dichotomy, which it seems to imply, occasionally invoked as inspiration for concrete comparative studies, but never developed into a full-scale transmedial narrative theory. Nearly forty years later, in a period of swelling interest in both comparative media studies and narrative (the latter demonstrated by the so-called narrative turn in the humanities), the question of how the intrinsic properties of the medium shape the form of narrative and affect the narrative experience can no longer be ignored. The study of narrative across media is not the same project as the interdisciplinary study of narrative: whereas one project directs us to the importance of narrative in mostly languagebased practices, the other focuses on the embodiment, that is to say, the particular semiotic substance and the technological mode of transmission of narrative. Its categories are language, image, sound, gesture, and, further, spoken language, writing, cinema, radio, television, and computers rather than law, medicine, science, literature, and history.

Even when they seek to make themselves invisible, media are not hollow conduits for the transmission of messages but material supports of information whose materiality, precisely, “matters” for the type of meanings . . .

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