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By Dr. Iram Rizvi
Narrative theory
 Narrative is somebody telling somebody else, on some
occasion, and for some purposes, that something
happened to someone or something.
 Narratives organize the meaning for current experaince.
 They act as active agents in shaping collective meanings
with others.
 Actively piece together concepts, characters, values and
motives, themes, plots to create coherent frames for
interpreting and speaking about lived experience (Ricoeur,
1984).
 Act as agent in shaping collective meanings with others.
 It enables us to grasp temporarily the events in a given
situation.
 Narratives develop a link while we live in absolute
now, our conceptions about lived past and its
relationship to our unlived future.
 Narratives enable us to continuously experience and
then interpreting the experience.
 Narrative sense making is not just about attending
what is told, but also about considering what lies in
the fragments of the world.
Significance of narratives:
 Narrative extends beyond structure or sequencing of
moments in time and into the realm of values or
ethics.
 According to Ricoeur (1990); his configurational
meaning of narratives, narratives combine events
together to eliminate key points, moral values and
general plots.
 Characters, motives, actions and outcomes are
assigned relational significance to order and explain
both, the how and why of experience.
Application of Narrative theory
 Narrative theory has been studied in such fields as:
 Rhetoric, literary theory, philosophy, history (see for
example: White, 1980), psychology, political
communication, journalism, studies of
folklore, persuasion theory, and media studies
 In communication, scholars have studied narrative’s
role in politics and their use in news media.
Theorists of Narrative Theory
 Vladimir Propp, was a Russian critic and literary
theorist
 He analysed over 100 Russian fairytales in the 1920s &
proposed that it was possible to classify the
characters and their actions into clearly defined roles
and functions.
 The model is useful, however as it highlights the
similarities between seemingly quite different stories.
 Tzvetan Todorov a Bulgarian literary theorist
 He suggested most narratives start with a state of
equilibrium in which life is ‘normal’ and protagonists
happy.
 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.
 This model can easily be applied to a wide range of
films.
.
Roland Barthes, French
semiologist
 He suggested that narrative works with five different
codes which activate the reader to make sense of it.
 Barthes’ Codes are:
 Action – a narrative device by which a resolution is
produced through action, e.g. a shoot-out.
 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.
 Symbolic – (connotation)
 Semic – (denotation)
 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.
Claude Levi-Strauss
 Social Anthropologist.
 Studied myths of tribal cultures.
 Examined how stories unconsciously reflect the
values, beliefs and myths of a culture.
 These are usually expressed in the form of binary
oppositions .
 His research has been adapted by media theorists to
reveal underlying themes and symbolic oppositions in
media texts.
Walter Fisher
 The "stories" people tell are evaluated based on if they
relate to an "audience's" own personal values.
 Fisher explains how we as humans communicate by
taking complicated information and tranforming it
into narrative stories.
References
 Appel, M. & Richter, T. (2007). Persuasive effects of fictional narratives
increase over time. Media Psychology. 10, 113-134.
Aristotle. (2007). On rhetoric: a theory of civic discourse. (G.A.
Kennedy, Trans.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Burgchardt, C.R. (1995). Narrative criticism. In C.R. Burgchardt
(Ed.), Readings in Rhetorical Criticism (pp. 271-272). State College, PA:
Strata Publishing.
Fisher, W.R. (1984). Narration as a human communication paradigm:
the case of public moral argument. Communication Monographs. 51, 1-
22.
Fisher, W.R. (1985). The narrative paradigm: an
elaboration. Communication Monographs. 52, 347-367.
 Fisher, W.R. (1989). Clarifying the narrative paradigm. Communication
Monographs. 56, 55-58.
Gans, H. (1979). The organization of story selection. Story
suitability. Deciding what’s news. NY: Pantheon Books.
Green, M.C. & Brock, T.C. (2000). The role of transportation in the
persuasiveness of public narratives. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology. 79(5), 701-721.
Jahn, M. (2005). Narratology: a guide to the theory of narrative. English
Department, University of Cologne. Retrieved from http://www.uni-
koeln.de/~ame02/pppn.htm
Lewis, W.F. (1987). Telling America’s story: narrative form and the
Reagan presidency. Quarterly Journal of Speech. 73(3), 280-303.
Lule, J. (2001). Seven master myths in the news. The other world: Haiti
and international news values. Daily news, eternal stories. NY: Guilford.
Moyer-Gusé, E. (2008). Toward a theory of entertainment persuasion:
explaining the persuasive effects of entertainment-education
messages. Communication Theory. 18, 407-425.
 Narration. (n.d.) In Oxford English Dictionary online. Retrieved
from http://dictionary.oed.com
Narrative. (n.d.) In Oxford English Dictionary online. Retrieved
from http://dictionary.oed.com
Scott, R.L. (1984). Narrative theory and communication
research. Quarterly Journal of Speech. 70, 197-221.
Selby, G.S. (2008). Martin Luther King and the rhetoric of freedom: the
Exodus narrative in America’s struggle for civil rights. Waco, TX: Baylor
University Press.
Todorov, T. (1971). The 2 principles of narrative. Diacritics. 1(1), 37-44.
Todorov, T. (1980). The categories of literary narrative. Paper on
Language & Literature. 16(1), 3-36.
White, H. (1980). The value of narrativity in the representation of
reality. Critical Inquiry. 7(1), 5-27.
Thank You

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Narrative theory made easy By Dr. Iram Rizvi

  • 1. By Dr. Iram Rizvi
  • 2. Narrative theory  Narrative is somebody telling somebody else, on some occasion, and for some purposes, that something happened to someone or something.  Narratives organize the meaning for current experaince.  They act as active agents in shaping collective meanings with others.  Actively piece together concepts, characters, values and motives, themes, plots to create coherent frames for interpreting and speaking about lived experience (Ricoeur, 1984).  Act as agent in shaping collective meanings with others.
  • 3.  It enables us to grasp temporarily the events in a given situation.  Narratives develop a link while we live in absolute now, our conceptions about lived past and its relationship to our unlived future.  Narratives enable us to continuously experience and then interpreting the experience.  Narrative sense making is not just about attending what is told, but also about considering what lies in the fragments of the world.
  • 4. Significance of narratives:  Narrative extends beyond structure or sequencing of moments in time and into the realm of values or ethics.  According to Ricoeur (1990); his configurational meaning of narratives, narratives combine events together to eliminate key points, moral values and general plots.  Characters, motives, actions and outcomes are assigned relational significance to order and explain both, the how and why of experience.
  • 5. Application of Narrative theory  Narrative theory has been studied in such fields as:  Rhetoric, literary theory, philosophy, history (see for example: White, 1980), psychology, political communication, journalism, studies of folklore, persuasion theory, and media studies  In communication, scholars have studied narrative’s role in politics and their use in news media.
  • 6. Theorists of Narrative Theory  Vladimir Propp, was a Russian critic and literary theorist  He analysed over 100 Russian fairytales in the 1920s & proposed that it was possible to classify the characters and their actions into clearly defined roles and functions.  The model is useful, however as it highlights the similarities between seemingly quite different stories.
  • 7.  Tzvetan Todorov a Bulgarian literary theorist  He suggested most narratives start with a state of equilibrium in which life is ‘normal’ and protagonists happy.  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.  This model can easily be applied to a wide range of films.
  • 8. . Roland Barthes, French semiologist  He suggested that narrative works with five different codes which activate the reader to make sense of it.  Barthes’ Codes are:  Action – a narrative device by which a resolution is produced through action, e.g. a shoot-out.  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.
  • 9.  Symbolic – (connotation)  Semic – (denotation)  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.
  • 10. Claude Levi-Strauss  Social Anthropologist.  Studied myths of tribal cultures.  Examined how stories unconsciously reflect the values, beliefs and myths of a culture.  These are usually expressed in the form of binary oppositions .  His research has been adapted by media theorists to reveal underlying themes and symbolic oppositions in media texts.
  • 11. Walter Fisher  The "stories" people tell are evaluated based on if they relate to an "audience's" own personal values.  Fisher explains how we as humans communicate by taking complicated information and tranforming it into narrative stories.
  • 12. References  Appel, M. & Richter, T. (2007). Persuasive effects of fictional narratives increase over time. Media Psychology. 10, 113-134. Aristotle. (2007). On rhetoric: a theory of civic discourse. (G.A. Kennedy, Trans.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Burgchardt, C.R. (1995). Narrative criticism. In C.R. Burgchardt (Ed.), Readings in Rhetorical Criticism (pp. 271-272). State College, PA: Strata Publishing. Fisher, W.R. (1984). Narration as a human communication paradigm: the case of public moral argument. Communication Monographs. 51, 1- 22. Fisher, W.R. (1985). The narrative paradigm: an elaboration. Communication Monographs. 52, 347-367.
  • 13.  Fisher, W.R. (1989). Clarifying the narrative paradigm. Communication Monographs. 56, 55-58. Gans, H. (1979). The organization of story selection. Story suitability. Deciding what’s news. NY: Pantheon Books. Green, M.C. & Brock, T.C. (2000). The role of transportation in the persuasiveness of public narratives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 79(5), 701-721. Jahn, M. (2005). Narratology: a guide to the theory of narrative. English Department, University of Cologne. Retrieved from http://www.uni- koeln.de/~ame02/pppn.htm Lewis, W.F. (1987). Telling America’s story: narrative form and the Reagan presidency. Quarterly Journal of Speech. 73(3), 280-303. Lule, J. (2001). Seven master myths in the news. The other world: Haiti and international news values. Daily news, eternal stories. NY: Guilford. Moyer-Gusé, E. (2008). Toward a theory of entertainment persuasion: explaining the persuasive effects of entertainment-education messages. Communication Theory. 18, 407-425.
  • 14.  Narration. (n.d.) In Oxford English Dictionary online. Retrieved from http://dictionary.oed.com Narrative. (n.d.) In Oxford English Dictionary online. Retrieved from http://dictionary.oed.com Scott, R.L. (1984). Narrative theory and communication research. Quarterly Journal of Speech. 70, 197-221. Selby, G.S. (2008). Martin Luther King and the rhetoric of freedom: the Exodus narrative in America’s struggle for civil rights. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press. Todorov, T. (1971). The 2 principles of narrative. Diacritics. 1(1), 37-44. Todorov, T. (1980). The categories of literary narrative. Paper on Language & Literature. 16(1), 3-36. White, H. (1980). The value of narrativity in the representation of reality. Critical Inquiry. 7(1), 5-27.