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Disputable Core Concepts of Narrative Theory

Göran Rossholm and Christer Johansson

The present volume is a contribution to the theory of narrative by scholars from various disciplines, mainly scholars from Comparative Literature but also contributors from Philosophy, Psychology and the languages. The essays focus on central terms and concepts in narrative theory over the last forty years. Established narratological concepts, such as narrative, narrator, story, fiction, character, narrative (un)reliability and point of view, but also relational concepts motivated by the expansion of narratology, such as narrative and non-verbal media, narrative and personal identity and narrative and literary genre, are themes dealt with.
In addition to presenting a critical examination of the core concepts of narrative theory, the volume is a demonstration of the vigour of contemporary Nordic narrative theory. The authors work at universities in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway and Sweden, and they all belong to the Nordic Network of Narrative Studies.

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Introduction 7

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7GÖRAN ROSSHOLM, CHRISTER JOHANSSON Introduction The present volume is a contribution to the theory of narrative by scholars from various disciplines, focusing on central terms and con- cepts in narrative theory over the last forty years. Established narrato- logical concepts, such as “narrative”, “narrator”, “story”, “fiction”, “character” and “point of view”, but also relational concepts moti- vated by the expansion of narratology, such as “narrative and non- verbal media”, “narrative and personal identity” and “narrative and literary genre”, are themes dealt with. The double characterisation “core concepts” and “disputable concepts” shall be seen against the background of the following brief sketch of the field and the history of our discipline. The term “narratology” was coined by Tzvetan Todorov in 1969, and the French classical structuralists Roland Barthes, Algirdas Greimas, Claude Bremond, Gérard Genette and Todorov all published seminal works on narrative theory in the following decade. But narratology dates further back: Barthes’ “Introduction à l’analyse des récits” (Com- munications 8) and Greimas’ Sémantique structural appeared already in 1966, and their works have a well-known prehistory in Russian for- malism and in the semiology of Ferdinand de Saussure and Louis Hjelmslev – for a survey of early narratology, see Herman (2005). The French structuralists dominated the scene of narrative theory during the 70s, but after 1980 – the year when the English translation of Genette’s highly influential book, Narrative Discourse, appeared – the focus moved from story narratology, the study of the structure of the story, to discourse narratology, the study...

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