English 761: Introduction to Graduate
Study in Narrative and Narrative Theory
Tu-Th 11:30 - 1:18
Journalism Building 0291
Office: 409 Denney (office hours T-Th 2:15 - 3:15, 5:30 - 6:00, and by
Phone: 292-6123; e-mail: herman.145[at]osu.edu
Web address for this syllabus:
As accounts of what happened to particular people in particular
circumstances and with specific consequences, stories have come to be
viewed as a basic human strategy for coming to terms with time,
process, and change—a strategy that contrasts with, but is in no way
inferior to, "scientific" modes of explanation that characterize
phenomena as instances of general covering laws. Across a variety of
media--from literature, comics, and film to face-to-face interaction and digital environments--narratives can
to create fictional worlds that either emulate or depart radically from
the world of everyday experience; to engage with questions of identity
and explore how institutions, situations, and events play a shaping
role in people's lives; to account for one's own or others' reasons for
to come to terms with the (ongoing) legacy of the past.
This course is a graduate-level introduction to the
strategies that theorists of narrative have developed for studying
these and other aspects of stories and storytelling. At the beginning
of the course, we will focus on the history of recent developments in
the field, core features of narrative, and key concepts proposed by
narrative analysts. We will use, initially, a couple of short
illustrative narratives to anchor our discussion of these developments,
features, and concepts; but
as we proceed we will shift to longer, more complex texts, putting
ideas from narrative theory
into dialogue with three fictional narratives associated with
and postmodernism, respectively. At around the mid-point of the
quarter, we will then "reboot" and sample some of the approaches being used currently by
practitioners in the field. After a consideration of issues in
transmedial narratology, or the study of narrative across media, we
will center our discussions on Art Spiegelman's graphic memoir Maus, using this text to explore
issues of medium-specificity, the fiction/nonfiction distinction, the
links between narrative and identity, and questions surrounding the
nexus of narrative and (ethical and other) norms.
Texts available for purchase at SBX
and other local bookstores
Abbott, H. Porter. The Cambridge
Introduction to Narrative, 2nd edition (Cambridge UP); ISBN
Herman, David, Manfred Jahn, and Marie-Laure Ryan. Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory
(Routledge), abbreviated as RENT in the course schedule below; ISBN
Davis, Rebecca Harding. Life in the
Iron Mills, 2nd edition (Feminist Press); ISBN 0935312390
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs Dalloway
(Harvest Books); ISBN 0156628708
Spark, Muriel. The Prime of Miss
Brodie (Harper Perennial); ISBN 0061711292
Spiegelman, Art. Maus I and II
(Pantheon); ISBN 0394747232 and 0679729771
Texts available on the internet or via electronic reserve
A number of texts are either available on the web or have been
placed on e-reserve at the library and can be accessed via the Carmen
site for our course. The e-reserve items are marked "[ER]" in our
course schedule below; please click here
for a full list of and complete bibliographic citations for these items.
RELEVANT FOR THE COURSE
Texts placed on print reserve at the Science and Engineering Library (SEL)
Chatman, Seymour. Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure
in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1978.
Genette, Gérard. Narrative
Discourse. Trans. Jane E. Lewin.
Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1980.
-----. Narrative Discourse Revisited.
Herman, David. Basic Elements of
Narrative. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
-----., ed. The Cambridge
Companion to Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007.
Herman, Luc, and Bart Vervaeck. Handbook
Analysis. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2005.
Phelan, James, and Peter J. Rabinowitz, eds. A Companion to Narrative
Theory. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.
Prince, Gerald. A Dictionary of
Narratology. 2nd edition. Lincoln: U of
Nebraska P, 2003.
Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith. Narrative
Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2002.
Ryan, Marie-Laure, ed. Narrative
across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Lincoln: U of
Nebraska P, 2004.
Hühn, Peter, John Pier, Wolf
Schmid, and Jörg Schönert, eds. The Living Handbook of Narratology.
Manfred Jahn, Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of
Bibliographical Wiki: http://pnbibliography.wikispaces.com/
There are 6 basic requirements for this course, spelled out in more
detail below: (1) participating regularly in class discussions; (2)
questions on the Carmen site for our course; (3) submitting several
short response papers;
(4) drafting and revising an abstract for a
colloquium-style talk that you'll give at the end of the quarter, in
connection with your final project for the course; (5) presenting an
oral version of your final project at the colloquium; and (6)
submitting a written version of the final project.
1. Active class participation:
Regular participation is crucial for the success of this course.
Indeed, I view the course as an opportunity for a team of scholars to
investigate, in a kind of workshop environment, major issues in the
study of narrative and narrative theory. Sustained
participation by everyone in the class is thus not only intrinsic to
the course's design but also one of its central goals.
2. Posting (and reading!) discussion
Carmen: To enhance group participation and facilitate
scholarly exchange, each student will, for two different class
meetings, post 2 well-thought-out and carefully articulated questions
on the Carmen site for our course. Click here
for a schedule for the Carmen posts. N.B. Your questions should be posted at least 24 hours
before the class meets; and by the same token before coming to class
you should give some thought to the questions that others have posted
your questions, you should put one or more of our
assigned readings in narrative theory into dialogue with one of our
illustrative narratives, exploring aspects of the text that the
theoretical approach can help illuminate as well as aspects that it
is less able to account for. In other words, your discussion questions
explore the possibilities and limitations of a particular contribution
to narrative theory, using our example texts to flesh out those
potentials and problems.
3. Three short position papers:
(500- to 750-word) position papers on three different days of
choice. The papers are due at the beginning of the class period during
which we discuss the material on which your paper focuses. Also, your
position papers should not overlap with your discussion questions; in
other words, your papers should center on different readings than the
ones you address in your discussion questions.
In composing your position papers, you should again
put one or more of our assigned readings in narrative theory into
dialogue with one of our illustrative narratives, exploring aspects of
the text that the theoretical approach can help illuminate as well as
aspects that it is less able to account for. In other words, like your
Carmen posts, your response paper should explore the possibilities and
limitations of a particular contribution to narrative theory, using one
of our example texts to flesh out those potentials and problems.
Please keep these papers within the allotted
word-limit, and save them in case you should decide to use one (or
more) of them as the basis for your final project for the class.
4. An abstract (250-500 words):
This abstract corresponds to the oral and
written versions of your final project for the course, per items 5 and
6 below. Following the general conventions for abstracts for
presentations and articles, your abstract should (a) state and
describe the research problem (in this case, the aspect of
narrative/narrative theory) that you are addressing via a particular
case study; (b) situate that
problem in the context of previous scholarship devoted to the issue you
intend to explore; and (c) indicate how your own approach to this
problem will advance or enrich or refine prior scholarship in this
include a title and a tentative bibliography.
drafts of abstracts are due Tuesday, November 9; we'll then work
revise your abstract until, by the end of the process, you'll have an
abstract ready to submit to a scholarly conference. Note that the
deadline for abstracts falls before our discussion of Spiegelman's Maus, so if
you do want to work on Spiegelman's text you'll need to plan
For examples of abstracts written by OSU
graduate students for colloquia
held in previous courses, follow these pointers:
5. A 12-minute conference presentation:
This presentation will be delivered at the 2010 OSU Graduate Colloquium
on Narrative and Narrative Theory (all submissions
guaranteed acceptance). The colloquium will be held in two "waves," on
the last day of class (Thursday, December 2) and on the following
day--Friday, December 3--from 1:00 - 4:30 p.m. in Denney Hall, Room
245. If you choose to
read from a script for your presentation,
please note that 12 minutes corresponds to about 6-7 double-spaced
of written text. You do not need to hand in any written material that
you use for your
6. A well-organized, persuasively
argued, and stylistically
polished final paper with a target length of 15-20 pages, or about
5,000 - 7,000 words: This paper
corresponds to items 4 and 5 and, as previously indicated, it can
build on your short response papers (item 3)--or possibly even you
Carmen posts (item 2). Hard copies of your
final papers should be placed in my faculty mailbox in Denney 421 by
Tuesday, December 7, at 5:00 p.m.
BASIS FOR FINAL GRADES
In-class participation and
Short response papers = 25%
Drafting and revision of abstract = 15%
Oral presentation at colloquium + final project = 35%
Please make sure that cellphones, blackberries, etc. are turned off
you enter the classroom.
Anyone who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of
a disability should contact me privately to discuss your specific
needs. Anyone with such needs should also be aware of the Office
for Disability Services in room 150 Pomerene Hall (614-292-3307; TDD 292-0901) which
provides services for students with documented disabilities.
The following is tentative course schedule. Depending on the actual
pace at which we proceed during the quarter, we may have to make
adjustments to the syllabus as we go.
of Narrative and Key Concepts in Narrative Theory: Robert
Last Duchess" (1842) and Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek
Th 23 Introduction to the class; read Abbott, chapters 1-3;
Herman, excerpt from Introduction to Narratologies (pages 1-14) [ER]; Herman,
Herman, McHale, and Phelan,
excerpt from Introduction to Teaching
T 28 Abbott,
"Narratology" [ER]; entries
Turn in the Humanities," "Narrativity"
Th 30 Continued discussion of items assigned for 9/23 and 9/28;
also read Herman, chapter 1
of Basic Elements of Narrative (http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/30/14051415/1405141530-2.pdf),
RENT: "Actant," "Audience," "Character," "Focalization," "Minimal
Narrative," "Narration," "Narrator,"
T 5 Continued discussion of items assigned for
9/30; also read Bruner, "The Narrative Construction of
Reality" [ER], plus the following entries in RENT: "Gender Studies,"
"Genre Theory in Narrative Studies," "Narrative Dynamics," "Narrative
Structure," "Space in Narrative," "Temporal Ordering," and "Time and
Populating (Realist/Naturalist) Narrative Worlds: Life
Th 7 Abbott, chapters 10 and 12; Herman, chapter 5 from Basic Elements of Narrative [ER]; entries on "Possible-Worlds Theory,"
"Realist Novel," and "Realemes" in RENT
T 12 Barthes, "The
Reality Effect" (available by scrolling down toward the end of this
"Time and Space" [ER]; Jannidis, article on "Character"
Living Handbook of Narratology
Th 14 No class: Festival of
T 19 Continued discussion of items assigned for 10/7 and 10/12
(and earlier readings) vis-à-vis Davis; also read excerpts
from Herman contributions to Practicing
Conversation [ER]; Luc Herman
Fiction and Narrative Worldmaking:
Th 21 Manfred Jahn, "Focalization" [ER]; Melba Cuddy-Keane,
"Narratological Approaches [to Virginia Woolf]" [ER]; entries on
"Modernist Narrative" and "Psychological Novel" in RENT
T 26 Woolf, "Modern Fiction" [ER]; Herman "1880-1945: Re-minding Modernism";
also, discussion of earlier readings vis-à-vis Woolf
Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Th 28 Continue discussion of Mrs.
Dalloway as necessary; also
read Lyotard, excerpt from The
Postmodern Condition (18-41) [ER]; entries on "Historiographic
Metafiction," "Metalepsis," "Postmodernist
Rewrites," and "Reflexivity" in RENT
T 2 Hutcheon,
chapter 8 of A Poetics of
Postmodernism [ER]; McHale, "Chinese Box Worlds" [ER]; Nicol,
"Postmodern Fiction" [ER]; also, discussion of earlier readings
the Discussion: An Overview
of Some Contemporary Approaches to Narrative Theory
Th 4 Continue
discussion of The Prime Miss Jean
Brodie as necessary;
also read the following "approaches" entries in RENT: "Cultural Studies
Approaches," "Feminist Narratology," "Poststructuralist Approaches,"
"Psychological Approaches," "Rhetorical Approaches"; also read Herman,
article on "Cognitive
Narratology" in The
Living Handbook of Narratology; Alber, Iversen, Nielsen and Richardson,
“Unnatural Narratives, Unnatural Narratology" [ER]
T 9 Continue discussion of approaches; also read Abbott, chapter
9; Herman, "Toward a Transmedial Narratology" [ER]; Ochs and Capps, "A
Dimensional Approach to Narrative" [ER]; "Media and Narrative" in RENT;
the transcript of and background about "UFO or the Devil," available at
Th 11 No class: Veterans' Day Holiday
I and II
T 16 Ewert, "Reading Visual Narrative" [ER]; McCloud,
chapter 3 of Understanding Comics
[ER]; Gardner and Herman, excerpt from Introduction to special issue on
Narratives and Narrative Theory" [ER]; Herman, "Narrative Worldmaking
in Graphic Life Writing" [ER]; "Comics and Graphic Novel" in RENT
Th 18 Abbott, chapters
11, 13, and 14; "Fiction, Theories of" in RENT; Lejeune, "The Autobiographical Pact" [ER]
T 23 Cohn, "Signposts
of Fictionality" [ER]; Doležel, "Fictional and Historical Narrative"
[ER]; Ritivoi, "Explaining People" [ER]; "Identity and Narrative" in
Th 25 No class: Thanksgiving Holiday
T 30 Harré and van Langenhove, "The
Dynamics of Social Episodes" and "Introducing Positioning Theory" [ER];
MacIntyre, excerpt from After Virtue
[ER]; Taylor, excerpt from Sources of the Self [ER]
Th 2 First wave of colloquium
F 3 Second wave of
colloquium presentations (1:00 -
4:30, in Denney 245)
Final projects due in my
faculty mailbox in Denney 421 by Tuesday, December 7, at 5:00 p.m.