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A2 Narrative Research
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A2 Narrative Research

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Theoretical Research

Theoretical Research

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  • 1. Narrative in the media industry is the way events in stories are puttogether to be presented to an audience. Narrative is about theconstruction of the story for example, the way it has been puttogether, not the story itself. A use of narrative is a voice overduring a theatre showing or film.Wikipedia – “A narrative is a constructive format (as a work ofspeech, writing, song, film, television, video games, photography or theatre) thatdescribes a sequence of non-fictional or fictional events. The word derives from theLatin verb narrare, "to tell", and is related to the adjective gnarus, "knowing" or"skilled.”What is Narrative?
  • 2. Tzvetan Todorov is a Franco-Bulgarian philosopher. He has lived in France since 1963 with his wifeNancy Huston and their two children, writing books and essays about literary theory, thoughthistory and culture theory. Russian theorist Todorov, suggests that all narratives follow a three partstructure. They begin with equilibrium, where everything is balanced, progress as something comesalong to disrupt that equilibrium, and finally reach a resolution, when equilibrium is restored.Equilibrium – the ‘status quo’ where things are as they should be  Disequilibrium – the status quois disrupted by an event  Equilibrium – is restored at the end of the story by the actions of thehero. This simple formula can be applied to virtually all narratives - it is a more formal way ofthinking about the beginning, middle and end, and it takes into account Aristotles theory that alldrama is conflict ie there is a disequilibrium at the heart of every narrative. However, when brokendown further we begin to fins five stages; 1- A state of equilibrium (all is as is should be). 2 – Adisruption of that order by an event. 3 – A recognition that the disorder has occurred. 4 – Anattempt to repair the damage of the disruption. 5 – A return or restoration of a NEW equilibrium.What Narrative theorists can youfind?
  • 3. What Narrative theorists can youfind?Another theorist, Vladimir Propp was a Soviet formalistscholar who analised the basic plot components of Russianfolk tales to identify their simplest irreducible narrativeelements. Who came up with the theory that there are only acertain number of characters, who crop up in mostnarratives. It is easy to spot the hero and villain in mostcases, but here are some others: Protagonist (or Hero) -Leads the narrative, is usually looking for something (aquest) or trying to solve something (a mystery). Does nothave to be male, Antagonist (or Villain) - Gets in theprotagonists way, Heroine - Is usually some sort of prize orreward for the hero. If your hero is male, your heroine wouldbe female, Father - An authority figure who offers a reward tothe hero for completing their quest. That reward might be aprince or a princess or a cool new job, Helper - Helps the hero- often acts as a sidekick, Donor - Gives the hero something - aclue, a talisman, a special power - which helps them completetheir quest, Mentor - Teaches and guides the hero. Thesecharacters and the typical things that they do can be seenacross a wide range of narratives. We expect them to bethere, and to behave in a certain way.
  • 4. What Narrative theorists can youfind?Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist andethnologist, and has been called, along with James GeorgeFrazer, the "father of modern anthropology”. 20th centurytheorist Claude Levi-Strauss suggested that all narrativeshad to be driven forward by conflict that was cause by aseries of opposing forces. He called this the theory ofBinary Opposition, and it is used to describe how eachmain force in a narrative has its equal and opposite.Analysing a narrative means identifying these opposingforces:light/dark, good/evil, noise/silence, youth/age, right/wrong, poverty/wealth, strength/weakness, inside/outsideand understanding how the conflict between them willdrive the narrative on until, finally, some sort of balanceor resolution is achieved.
  • 5. What Narrative theorists can youfind?Roland Barthes believes that there are 5 action codes that enable an audience to make sense of anarrative. Hermeneutic (narrative turning points) – we know where the story will go next.Proairetic (basic narrative-points) – e.g detective interviews suspect or femme fatale seduceshero. Cultural (prior social knowledge) – e.g our attitudes to gender or racial stereotypes. Semic(medium- related codes) – intertextuality. Symbolic (themes) – iconography or a theme such as‘image versus reality’Victor Shklovsky he attempted to distinguish between the plot, which he defined as the eventswe actually ‘see’ in the narrative; and the story, which contains all the information or eventsaffecting the characters both on and off screen. He gave them typically difficult names: Fabula =the story i.e whole world of the story before, during and after what we see. Syuzhet = only theevents that we see or hear within the field of vision.David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson In their book ‘Film Art’ (1997) Borwell and Thompsongive three different time zones for film narratives: STORY – ‘the set of all the events in thenarratives, both the ones explicitly presented and those the viewer infers, compose the story’PLOT – ‘the term plot is used to describe everything visibly and audibly present in the film beforeus’ SCREEN TIME – ‘the time taken to broadcast the film’ Diefesis is therefore the Greek for the‘narrative world’ of the plot during the screen time.
  • 6. What Narrative theorists can youfind?Gill Branston and Roy Stafford happen to very usefully apply the relevance of Fabula/Syuzhettheory to the crime genre: we should feel at the end of a good detective story or thriller that wehave been pleasurably puzzled, so that the ‘solution’, our piecing together of the story and in itsproper order out of the evidence offered by the plot, will come as a pleasure. We should not feelthat the plot has cheated; that parts of the story have suddenly been revealed which we couldn’tpossibly have guessed at. The butler cannot, at the last minute, suddenly be revealed to havebeen a poisons expert.Freytag Freytag created the theory of ‘Freytag’s Pyramid’ and believes that all narrative wereformed in this way…ClimaxExposition DenouementFalling ActionRising ActionMain story, somethingbig happens!Problems begin to beresolved and everythingstarts to return back tonormal.Everything is backto normal.Everything that happens up untilthe main middle part, unfoldingthe plot meeting othercharacters.The beginning, sets thelocation and introducesthe characters.
  • 7. What Narrative theorists link tothe Horror genre?Tzvetan Todorov’s theory relates to the Horror genre because his theory of a 3part structure often tends to occur during Horror movies. His formula of a“Equilibrium  Disequilibrium  Equilibrium” follows the same conventionsof what would be viewed in a Horror movie.Vladamir Propp’s theory links to the Horror genre because his theory of therealways being only a certain number of characters who crop up in mostnarratives links into the common Horror genre characters. For example, Ahero and Villain, a Heroin.Claude Lévi-Strauss’ theory links to the Horror genre because his theory ofBinary Opposition which analyses opposing forces relates to horror as there isalways good and evil, sometimes a hero but always a villain or a group ofvillains, strengths and weaknesses.