Fictional Dialogue: Speech and Conversation in the Modern and Postmodern Novel

By Bronwen Thomas | Go to book overview

5
Framing

Introduction: Framing and Dialogue

In naturally occurring speech, participants may use prosodic and paralinguistic features such as changes in pitch, intonation, rhythm, and gestures to indicate where they are moving from one level of discourse to another—for example, when they are quoting someone else’s words. The participants’ stance toward the reported speech is often evident in the particular forms that this alignment takes, and it may be reinforced by more explicit and overt framing in the form of evaluative phrases. In prose fiction, typographical devices such as quotation marks, italics, paragraphing, and indentation serve to frame the speech of fictional characters, sometimes substituting for the prosodic and paralinguistic markers and betraying the narrator’s attitude toward the speaker or what he or she is saying.

With regard to fictional dialogue, framing can refer both to the “gear shifting” (Page 1988) that takes place between diegetic levels within a narrative and to the ways in which participants in conversation communicate to one another the parameters and sets of expectations they take to be shaping and giving meaning to their contributions. The term framing is also used in cognitive psychology to refer to a “store of situational and contextual knowledge” (Jahn 2005a, 69) in the form of scripts or schemata that facilitate the processing and communication of certain conventionalized or stereotypical activities, situations, or experiences. In all three senses, the activity of framing may be perceived as delimiting, even restrictive, or as an ongoing process that is subject to negotiation, disruption, and revision. Particularly with regard to postmodern fiction, it has been argued that narratives often require that readers constantly reevaluate the various kinds of frame that appear to give shape or meaning to the action (Grishakova 2009). However, I will argue that the problematizing or disruption of frames may be more commonly a feature of novels in which dialogue is foregrounded, because there is an ever-present demand

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Fictional Dialogue: Speech and Conversation in the Modern and Postmodern Novel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Theory 13
  • 1 - Debates about Realism 15
  • 2 - The “Idea of Dialogue” 36
  • Part II - Narrative Cornerstones 55
  • 3 - Speech, Character, and Intention 57
  • 4 - Dialogue in Action 74
  • 5 - Framing 95
  • Part III - Genre and Medium 111
  • 6 - Dialogue and Genre 113
  • 7 - The Alibi of Interaction Dialogue and New Technologies 129
  • 8 - Stuck in a Loop? Dialogue in Hypertext Fiction 152
  • Conclusion 170
  • Appendix - Last Orders- An Analysis of a Chapter from Graham Swift’s Novel 175
  • Notes 183
  • Bibliography 187
  • Index 201
  • In the Frontiers of Narrative Series 213
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