License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (CC BY 3.0)
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DOI: 10.4230/OASIcs.CMN.2013.228
URN: urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-41365
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Simon-Shoshan, Moshe

Narrativity and Textuality in the Study of Stories

p228-simon-shoshan.pdf (0.3 MB)


This paper seeks to investigate some of the defining elements of
narrative. The underlying assumption of my discussion is that the
terms "narrative" and "story" do not refer to clearly defined,
self-enclosed genres. Rather, they are part of a spectrum which
embraces all forms of texts. Similarly, narratives and stories are not
independent discourses but rather are an integral part of virtually
all forms of discourse, be it day-to-day conversation or more
specialized discourses. In order to analyze the relationship between
narratives and other modes of discourse, we introduce the concept of
narrativity. Narrativity refers to a collection of textual attributes.
All texts exist along a continuum of greater or lesser narrativity,
depending on the number and prominence of the narrative attributes
they contain. When we refer to a text as a story, we mean that it
contains a critical mass of narrativity. Most theorists of narrative
have defined narrativity purely in terms of "dynamism" - that is, the
extent to which a text portrays transition and change. To this I have
added the quality of "specificity". Specificity refers to the extent
to which a text focuses on a particular time or place, a unique event,
or individual people and objects. Many if not most texts contain a
certain degree of narrativity. We established, however, that in order
to be considered a story the text must present a sequence of at least
two interrelated events that occurred once and only once in the past.
In other words, a story must have a certain degree of dynamism in that
it portrays the transition from at least one event to another. It must
also have specificity at least to the degree that the text narrates
events that happened at a fixed time in the past. This theoretical
framework allows us to chart the relationship between different types
of texts within a single discourse. It also gives us a vocabulary for
discussing different parts of more complex narratives which often
contain elements of varying narrativity. The paper then goes on to
discuss the concept of narrative structure, arguing that narrative
structure is not an inherent attribute of narrative texts but a
framework that the reader imposes on the text in order to make it
intelligible in terms of other narratives. The structure which the
reader abstracts from a given narrative will be heavily dependent on
the context of the narrative with in a wider discourse.

BibTeX - Entry

  author =	{Moshe Simon-Shoshan},
  title =	{{Narrativity and Textuality in the Study of Stories}},
  booktitle =	{2013 Workshop on Computational Models of Narrative},
  pages =	{228--237},
  series =	{OpenAccess Series in Informatics (OASIcs)},
  ISBN =	{978-3-939897-57-6},
  ISSN =	{2190-6807},
  year =	{2013},
  volume =	{32},
  editor =	{Mark A. Finlayson and Bernhard Fisseni and Benedikt L{\"o}we and Jan Christoph Meister},
  publisher =	{Schloss Dagstuhl--Leibniz-Zentrum fuer Informatik},
  address =	{Dagstuhl, Germany},
  URL =		{},
  URN =		{urn:nbn:de:0030-drops-41365},
  doi =		{10.4230/OASIcs.CMN.2013.228},
  annote =	{Keywords: Narrative theory, definition of narrative, narrative structure, anecdotes}

Keywords: Narrative theory, definition of narrative, narrative structure, anecdotes
Collection: 2013 Workshop on Computational Models of Narrative
Issue Date: 2013
Date of publication: 02.08.2013

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