Narrative Culture


Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring

Project Narrative: A Brief Story of Origin and Evolution
This essay tells the story of Project Narrative, one of the most important nodes in the network of the international narrative theory community, from its beginnings to the present day. The essay also briefly situates the work of project narrative faculty...
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Reliable, Unreliable, and Defi Cient Narration: A Rhetorical Account
This essay brings together in one short space the rhetorical view of reliable, unreliable, and deficient character narration in both fiction and nonfiction that I began to develop in Living to Tell about It (2005) and have elaborated in my most recent...
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Transmedial Narratives in the Age of Mixed Media
What's in a medium? These days, the answer is close at hand for any student of narrative media worth their salt: affordances. Each medium, we are told, has unique affordances, properties baked into the medium itself that allows stories to be told in...
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Epic, Serial, Episode: The Sopranos and the Return Voyage of Television
My aim in this essay is to extend an argument, published a few years ago, that called for a continuing investigation of what we might call the deep history of seriality. In that earlier piece, I claimed that serial storytelling, and especially serial...
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The Afterlife of Stories: Proverb and the Relationship between Form and Stance
Allegory is in the realm of thought what ruins are in the realm of things.-Walter Benjamin, TrauerspielThe ruin is not what it once was. Its presence marks an absence that is indexical of another, more fully formed, world, and of whatever meanings and...
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But We Are Living in a Material (and Virtual) World: How Tiny-House Blogs Are Transforming the Bildungsroman
Almost anyone who consumes popular or mass media on a regular basis has encountered the "tiny house": a dwelling of about 400 square feet or less, often built on a trailer, serving either as vacation house or as a primary residence. Since about 2010,...
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Vol. 3, No. 2, Fall

Killing Fear by Killing Time: Stoker's Dracula as an Epochal Conflict Narrative
The old centuries had, and have, powers of their own which mere "modernity" cannot kill.-Jonathan Harker's DiaryNo other novel has been sedimented in the modern narrative memory in so many different variations as Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) (Browning...
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Imperial Marvels: Race and the Colonial Imagination in the Fairy Tales of Madame d'Aulnoy
Holding together the marvelous and the quotidian, the contes de fées of the hrst French fairy tale vogue (1690-1715) facilitate a deep engagement with cultural politics. Lewis Seifert's (Fairy Tales, Sexuality) persuasive reading of these contes as simultaneously...
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Editors' Preface
What can a scholarly journal print? What should a scholarly journal print? We have debated among ourselves whether we should or should not include-against our policy thus far-an editorial preface. We adhere to a rigorous peer review, and articles that...
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Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring

Embroidered Palestine: A Stitched Narrative
IntroductionIn studying folk creativity, unexpected day-to-day encounters sometime point the way to new research projects, while the emotions relating to such discoveries can become indispensable as analytical resources. Such was the case when during...
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A Telling Place: Narrative and the Construction of Locality in a Bengali Village
Religious language encompasses a broader gamut of speech beyond the philosophical terminology of the philosopher and theologian. The data I present below are aspects of "plain speech" or "ordinary language" (Power; Raschke) concerning a particular deity's...
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Narrative Maps, Collective Memory, and Identities: Through an Ethnographic Example from the Southeast Aegean 1
Geography and the cognitive sciences provide much reference to the effect that maps are, in addition to tools for orienting oneself in space, special cognitive tools with which man stores and memorizes information. At the same time, as it has been demonstrated...
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Medium and Narrative Change: The Effects of Multiple Media on the "Glasgow Girls" Story and Their Real-Life Campaign
Transmediality, introduced by Jenkins, is a relatively recent concept in narrative and media studies. It focuses on narratives and the impact of multiple media on their telling. Jenkins (Jenkins, "Searching for the Origami Unicorn") observes this as...
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Ecotypes: Theory of the Lived and Narrated Experience
An Innovative/Subversive ConceptAmong the theoretical concepts that have emerged as fruitful crossroads of folklore studies and neighboring disciplines, one of the most versatile and productive may be the concept of ecotype, although created in the twentieth...
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Vol. 2, No. 2, Fall

Tales That Travel-A Brief Introduction
This issue of Narrative Culture assembles a selection of papers that were originally presented at the interdisciplinary conference "Tales That Travel: Storytelling in Eurasia, 10th-16th Centuries," held at New York University Abu Dhabi February 24 and...
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Marco Polo in Manuscript: The Travels of the Devisement Du Monde
Marco Polo's account of his journeys in Eurasia and the Indian Ocean is both a travel tale and a tale that traveled. Composed in 1298, Polo's account survives in 135 manuscripts produced before 1530 throughout Europe, and copied in over ten languages.1...
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Beautiful Men and Deceitful Women: The One Hundred and One Nights and World Literature
Tales of Beautiful Men and Deceitful Women in Ariosto and European FolkloreIn Canto 28 of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, Jocundo, having been summoned to meet the powerful king Astolpho, rides out of Rome but quickly returns to recover a precious item from...
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Stories beyond the Text: Contextualizing Narratives and "The Jolly Beggar"
This paper looks at the interplay between song and story in the ballad tradition, as exemplifijied by a present-day Scottish Traveller family. Through looking at how "contextualizing narratives" interweave with the songs-fijilling gaps in plot, anchoring...
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Traveling Companions: Narrative Diffusion of Floire et Blancheflor in Medieval Miscellany, 1325-1400
All models are wrong, but some are useful.-George BoxThere are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.-Mark TwainIntroductionIdentifying how a narrative travels from one place and time to another, and hence from one culture or community...
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Tales from the Crypt: On Some Uncharted Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor
IntroductionThe Seven Voyages of Sindbad, also known as Sindbad the Seaman and Sindbad the Landsman are among the most well known tales of the Arabian Nights. The tales were not part of the famed Galland Manuscript dating from the middle of the fijifteenth...
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Crónica De Flores Y Blancaflor: Romance, Conversion, and Internal Orientalism
A Mediterranean FictionThe story of Floire et Blancheflor circulated widely in medieval western Europe. It is one of a group of "orientalizing" medieval romances, based on Byzantine models, that deal with the confrontation of Western Latin Christendom...
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Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring

Fairy-Tale Economics: Scarcity, Risk, Choice 1
Economists tell stories about how people behave. The setup is always the same: an actor is confronted with a choice and must make a decision. Should he (it's usually a he) take a quick, assured return or wait for a less certain but larger payofff? Should...
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Narrative Cultures, Situated Story Webs, and the Politics of Relation
As Thomas King afffirmed in his 2003 Massey Lectures, "the truth about stories is that that's all we are" (2). This is why I am genuinely excited about this new journal, Narrative Culture, and find myself responding somewhat foolheartedly to its editors'...
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Disruptive Voices: The Minor Characters of Musical Narrative
Arthur Phillips's 2009 novel, The Song Is You, begins with the following passage:Billie counted offf the tune and started the pre-refrain verse, with only the piano accompanying . . . and the soldier hoped that Holiday, having sensed that he was diffferent...
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Consuming Subjects: Making Sense of Post-World War II Westerns 1
IntroductionThe American Western, a popular film genre from the earliest days of cinema well into the 1960s, has been linked to the story of America more insistently than any other genre. Set in the American West, that most mythic of spaces, conventional...
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Voicelessness and the Limits of Agency in Early Modern Finnish Narratives on Magic and the Supernatural
Introduction: Self, Narrative, and VoicelessnessGiven that narrative research has shown narration to be an innate trait of the human species (Abbott; see also Barthes; Nussbaum 230), the concept of narrative culture encompasses a vast domain. Here I...
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Discursive Shifts in Legends from Demonization to Fictionalization
Introduction: Legends in ContextThe relationship between vernacular genres and their discursive, social, and historical context is one of the major problems of folkloristic scholarship. In order to understand generic expressivity we need to look into...
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Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall

"Another Fine Mess": The Condition of Storytelling in the Digital Age1
Storytelling is by its very nature a messy business. Over the past decade or so it has got a whole lot messier.In his book After Method: Mess in Social Science Research (2004), John Law calls upon his fellow sociologists to abandon their loyalty to the...
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Against Untranslatability
Repeating," says Gertrude Stein, "is the whole of living and by repeating comes understanding" (Stein 221). Had she ever been presented with a book containing twenty tellings? Her magnum opus, The Making of Americans, which portrays the whole of a family's...
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Postmodern Storytelling in Traditional Popular Genres: Gore Verbinski's Movies as Reflections on Narrative Patterns
Hollywood in general and Disney in particular are experts in storytelling. Who else would know better how to use narrative patterns and strategies? This is nothing new. But times have changed, and some traditional popular genres have run out of fashion....
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"We Are What We Are Supposed to Be": The Brothers Grimm as Fictional Representations
n 1985, in a catalog of contemporary art inspired by the Brothers Grimm and their tales, W. P. Fahrenberg presented the unpublished manuscript of a deceased Grimm scholar identified only by the initial L. In that rare piece of research, L. makes an astounding...
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The Narrative Prayers (Kahani) of the African Khoja1
Khoja, Shia, kahani, woodcutter, Ismaili, IthnaAsheriThe Khoja are an Indic Muslim caste whose origins lie in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Punjab and Kashmir. Over the following centuries a section of the community began a migration down the Indus...
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Making Sense of the Nights: Intertextual Connections and Narrative Techniques in the Thousand and One Nights1
Many of the more than five hundred tales included in the different manuscripts, editions, and translations of the Thousand and One Nights are jewels of traditional storytelling from the Arab world. Both the general audience and scholars of the Nights,...
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Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring

Introduction: Narrative Culture: A Concept and Its Scope
Narrating is a fundamental cultural practice acquired in the process of enculturation. Telling stories and listening to, reading, recognizing, and witnessing stories is a communicative essential that shapes and accompa- nies human connection in every...
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The Constant Muse: Copyright and Creative Agency
In 1873, an ailing Hans Christian Andersen traveled to Switzerland, where he sought treatment at a spa in Glion, high above Lake Geneva, drinking daily doses of whey-a cure that brought affluent people from all over Europe to Swiss resorts. The whey...
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Le Piège d'Issoudun: Motherhood in Crisis1
J'ai vécu des moments très noirs avec mes propres enfants, non à cause d'eux mais de moi, que j'ai vécu des moments très, très, très difficiles, très épuisants d'être rendu à un bout de dire-de me dire à moi-même-y a quelqu'un qui pourra m'enlever des...
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Narratives of Nation or of Progress? Genealogies of European Folklore Studies
Folkloristics, like all disciplines, has its story to tell. Avant la lettre, in Herder's conceptualization, folklore narrated a national tale that (in its francophobia) looked forward to a world without grand narratives. To William Thoms, who coined...
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Narrative Cultures in the Mirror
This new journal, Narrative Culture, widens the scope of narrative studies to embrace traditional narratives across media and in various forms of cultural expression. Following this trend, I use the plural form "narrative cultures" to address narrative...
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Narrating Creative Process
"See, Vishwakarma and his sons worked together on creating the universe," said Nakulbhai, a smile bright on his face as he started in on one of the many stories he tells about the Hindu god of artisans and his descendants. "After this, Vishwakarma was...
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