Y13 Narrative Theory

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  • 8/3/2019 Y13 Narrative Theory


    Using Theory in YourPlanning

    Narrative Theory

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    Lesson Objectives

    To understand a range ofnarrative theories.

    To be able to apply narrativetheory to the analysis of a mediatext.

    To evaluate the usefulness ofnarrative theories.

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    Put these events in order

    Detective investigates

    Crime conceived

    Crime discovered Detective identifies criminals

    Crime committed

    Crime planned

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    The story is

    a) Crime conceived

    b) Crime planned

    c) Crime committed

    d) Crime discovered

    e) Detective investigates

    f) Detective identifies criminals

    Could the story events be arranged in a differentsequence to make the narrative more interesting?

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    The plot could be

    d) Crime discovered

    e) Detective investigates

    f) Detective identifies criminals

    a) Crime is conceived

    b) Crime is planned

    c) Crime is committed

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    Narrative Story vs. Narrative Plot

    all events

    referenced bothexplicitly in anarrative andinferred (including

    backstory as well asthose projectedbeyond the action)

    the events directly

    incorporated into theaction of the textand the order inwhich they are


    Narrative Story

    Narrative Plot

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    Definitions of Narrative

    Narrative is defined as a chain of events in a

    cause-effect relationship occurring in time(Bordwell & Thompson).

    Narrative is a way of organising spatial and

    temporal events into a cause-effect chain of

    events with a beginning, a middle, and endthat embodies a judgement about the nature ofevents (Branigan).

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    Narrative Theory

    Narrative theory analyses the way in which mediatexts communicate meaning about events.

    Narrative theory can be applied to range of

    different media including film, TV. Photographs,and magazines.

    Narrative analysis of internet based media is moreproblematic, though may still be relevant. For

    example, you could consider how someonesFacebook profile creates a narrative about theirlife.

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    Edward Branigan

    Branigan argues that narrative is a way of

    organising spatial and temporal data into acause-effect chain of events with a beginning,

    a middle and end that embodies a judgementabout the nature of events.

    What is Branigan saying? Can you think of anexample?

    Branigans key point is that the narrative will

    embody a judgement ideology and narrative.

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    Vladimir Propp

    Propp suggests that there are a limitednumber of character types that share afunction.

    When an audience reads a media text itdeploys its knowledge of these character typesin order to decode the meaning of the text.

    Can you relate any of the character types tothe characters in your coursework products?

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    Vladimir Propp

    The villain struggles against the hero.

    The dispatcher character who makes the lack known and sends thehero off.

    The (magical) helper helps the hero in the quest.

    The princess or prize the hero deserves her throughout the story but isunable to marry her because of an unfair evil, usually because of thevillain. the hero's journey is often ended when he marries the princess,thereby beating the villain.

    her father gives the task to the hero, identifies the false hero, marries

    the hero, often sought for during the narrative. Propp noted thatfunctionally, the princess and the father can not be clearly distinguished.

    The donor prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object.

    The hero or victim/seeker hero reacts to the donor, weds the princess.

    False hero takes credit for the heros actions or tries to marry the


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    Tzvetan Todorov

    Equilibrium disequilibrium resolution.

    How might this be used to analyse theideology of a media text?

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    Roland Barthes

    Barthes identifies 5 narrative codes which readersuse to decode texts.

    The narrative codes are: Hermeneutic code

    Proairetic code Semantic code

    Symbolic code

    Cultural code

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    Hermeneutic code

    Mysteries, the full truth held back fromthe readerSnares: deliberately avoiding the truthEquivocations: Partial or incomplete

    answersJamming: openly acknowledging that there

    is no answer to the problem.

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    Proairetic code

    Builds tension by referring to something else that isgoing to happen, getting the reader guessing.


    A person walks down the street.

    A tile falls off the roof of a building.

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    Semantic code

    Semantic code something that a signifier signifiesthat is one step beyond its basic meaning.

    Very similar to signified

    E.g. woman pulls up in a Ferrari. Semantic code for

    she is rich and likes fast cars.

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    Roland Barthes

    Cultural code refers to a body of knowledge, likescience or religion.

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    Claude Levi-Strauss

    Narratives are structured by pairs of binaryoppositions.

    How can this be used to analyse media texts?

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    Postmodern Narratives

    Some theorists suggest that postmodern narratives aredifferent from previous narrative structures.

    Characteristics of postmodern narratives include:

    Irony, playfulness, and black humour




    Extreme self-reflexivity

    Temporal distortion


    Linda Hutcheon argues that postmodern narratives can critiquecontemporary society by calling attention to the constructed natureof the society.

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    Review Theorists

    Theorist Key Words





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    Analyse this trailer with respect to

    the theorists

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    Postmodern approach - Pastiche

    Frederic Jameson argues that postmodern texts arecharacterised by pastiche.

    A pastiche is an imitation of another genre or text.

    Jameson argues that "Pastiche is...the imitation of a

    peculiar or unique, idiosyncratic style, the wearing of alinguistic mask, speech in a dead language.

    Linda Hutcheon disagrees with this view arguing thatpostmodern texts use pastiche in a knowing wayacknowledging the constructed nature of

    representation. Does the cliched nature of the video act as a critique

    of the values it promotes?

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    How useful is narrative theory?

    Consider how useful you think each of thefollowing perspectives is:


    Barthes Todorov


    Postmodern Theory