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In Pursuit of Narrative Dynamics

Shang, Biwu

In Pursuit of Narrative Dynamics

A Study of James Phelan’s Rhetorical Theory of Narrative

Series: Europäische Hochschulschriften / European University Studies / Publications Universitaires Européennes - Volume 463

Year of Publication: 2011

Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2011. 258 pp.
ISBN 978-3-0343-0562-4 pb.  (Softcover)

Weight: 0.380 kg, 0.838 lbs

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Book synopsis

This book makes an intensive study of James Phelan’s rhetorical theory of narrative. Apart from illustrating six basic principles in doing rhetorical theory of narrative, the author examines six major issues which are central to Phelan’s rhetorical poetics, namely, focalization, character narration, unreliable narration, narrative progression, narrative judgments, and narrative ethics. For each narratological concept, the author minutely conducts a genealogical study to make the review work complete. The book not only compares Phelan’s rhetorical narratology with classical narratology but also with other strands of postclassical narratology. A detailed bibliography makes this book a compendium of narrative theory which is of relevance for scholars and students of all literary disciplines.


Contents: Beyond the Poetics of Plot: Phelan’s Theory of Narrative Progression – A New Light on the Old Concept: Phelan’s Theory of Character Narrator – The Rhetorical Approach Revisited and Updated: Phelan’s Theory of Unreliable Narration – «Narrator as Focalizer», and «Dual Focalization»: Phelan’s Theory of Focalization – The Activation of Multileveled Responses: Phelan’s Theory of Narrative Judgments – The Ethics of «the Told», the Ethics of «the Telling», and the Ethics of «the Reading»: Phelan’s Theory of Narrative Ethics.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

Biwu Shang is an associate professor of English at Zhejiang Gong Shang University, China. He works primarily in the areas of narrative theory, literary theory, and the art of Ian McEwan. His articles were published or are forthcoming in such international journals as Foreign Literature Studies, Journal of Literary Semantics, Language and Literature, and Semiotica.


European University Studies. Series 14: Anglo-Saxon Language and Literature. Vol. 463