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18 Framings of Narrative in Literature and the Pictorial Arts [2014]

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Chapter Summary

[The fact that we humans are story-telling animals and that stories can be realized by more media than the classic case of verbal narration are by now established ideas that no longer require further belabouring in research. However, what has not yet been researched sufficiently is the following question: owing to what clues are we actually encouraged to apply a narrative frame in the reception of a given artefact or work, be it of a verbal, visual or acoustic nature? The present contribution purports to find answers to this question with reference to literary and pictorial narratives. Its premise is the frame-theoretical idea that narrative is a major cognitive frame whose application is elicited by certain clues, keys or ‘framings’, typically and preferably at the outset of the reception process. Obviously, in verbal texts, these framings are different (and can be restricted to initial discursive formulae) from clues offered by visual representations, which seem to rely much more on content elements (in particular on representations eliciting certain scripts that are easily narrativized). The essay enquires into the media-specific triggers of narrativity which operate at the beginning of respective reception processes and elicit narrative readings. Examples from the pictorial arts and literature include paintings by Jan Steen, William Hogarth’s dyptich “Before and After” and the beginning of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as well as texts by E.A. Poe, Samuel Coleridge and Gabriel Josipovici. The comparative, transmedial perspective chosen in the contribution offers fresh insights into the importance of media for narrativization from a cognitive angle.] 



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