Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Narrative Theory


Published on

A brief outline of the 4 main narrative theorists; Propp, Todorov, Barthes and Levi-Strauss.

Published in: Education

Narrative Theory

  1. 1. Narrative Theory Media Studies AS
  2. 2. Narrative: the way in which a story is told in both fictional and non-fictional media texts.
  3. 3. Vladimir Propp <ul><li>Russian critic and literary theorist. </li></ul><ul><li>Analysed over 100 Russian fairytales in the 1920s. </li></ul><ul><li>He proposed that it was possible to classify the characters and their actions into clearly defined roles and functions. </li></ul><ul><li>Films such as Star Wars fit Propp’s model precisely, but a a significant number of more recent films such as Pulp Fiction do not. </li></ul><ul><li>The model is useful, however as it highlights the similarities between seemingly quite different stories. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Propp’s Character Roles <ul><li>The hero (seeks something) </li></ul><ul><li>The villain (opposes the hero) </li></ul><ul><li>The donor (helps the hero by providing a magic object) </li></ul><ul><li>The dispatcher (sends the hero on his way) </li></ul><ul><li>The false hero (falsely assuming the role of hero) </li></ul><ul><li>The helper (gives support to the hero) </li></ul><ul><li>The princess (the reward for the hero, but also needs protection from the villain) </li></ul><ul><li>Her father </li></ul>
  5. 5. Tzvetan Todorov <ul><li>Bulgarian literary theorist </li></ul><ul><li>Suggests most narratives start with a state of equilibrium in which life is ‘normal’ and protagonists happy. </li></ul><ul><li>This state of normality is disrupted by an outside force, which has to be fought against in order to return to a state of equilibrium. </li></ul><ul><li>This model can easily be applied to a wide range of films. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Equilibrium Disequilibrium New Equilibrium
  7. 7. Roland Barthes <ul><li>French semiologist. </li></ul><ul><li>Suggested that narrative works with five different codes which activate the reader to make sense of it. </li></ul><ul><li>(also used the terms denotation and connotation to analyse images) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Barthes’ Codes <ul><li>Action – a narrative device by which a resolution is produced through action, e.g. a shoot-out. </li></ul><ul><li>Enigma – a narrative device that teases the audience by presenting a puzzle or riddle to be solved. Works to delay the story’s ending pleasurably. </li></ul><ul><li>Symbolic – (connotation) </li></ul><ul><li>Semic – (denotation) </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural – a narrative device which the audience can recognise as being part of a culture e.g. a “made man” in a gangster film is part of the mafia culture. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Claude Levi-Strauss <ul><li>Social Anthropologist. </li></ul><ul><li>Studied myths of tribal cultures. </li></ul><ul><li>Examined how stories unconsciously reflect the values, beliefs and myths of a culture. </li></ul><ul><li>These are usually expressed in the form of binary oppositions . </li></ul><ul><li>His research has been adapted by media theorists to reveal underlying themes and symbolic oppositions in media texts. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Binary Oppositions <ul><li>A conflict between two qualities or terms. </li></ul><ul><li>For example 1970’s Western films: </li></ul><ul><li> Homesteaders Native Americans </li></ul><ul><li>christian pagan </li></ul><ul><li>domestic savage </li></ul><ul><li>weak strong </li></ul><ul><li>garden wilderness </li></ul><ul><li>inside society outside society </li></ul>
  11. 11. Task: <ul><li>Apply the key narrative theorists to the ending of ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’. </li></ul><ul><li>Propp Todorov </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes Levi-Strauss </li></ul>