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21 Mise en cadre – a Neglected Counterpart to mise en abyme: A Frame-theoretical and Intermedial Complement to Classical Narratology [2010]

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[In recent decades ‘classical’, i. e. structuralist narratology has given way to various ‘post-classical’ attempts to update narratology. Using the example of mise en cadre as a complement to the well-known, originally narratological concept mise en abyme, the present essay aims to show that ‘neo-classical’ narratology deserves a prominent place among these various attempts. After a short review of the main variants of current post-classical narratology and a positioning of the present essay within this context, intermedial and frame-theoretical approaches are discussed as a basis for the analysis of mise en cadre. This is followed by a detailed explanation of mise en cadre as a ’top-down’ construction of similarity within a text or artefact; illustrations include J. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and M. Shelley’s Frankenstein. As a complement to mise en cadre, mise en reflet (or mise en série), i. e. the construction of similarities on the same level as in E.A. Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, is introduced as an additional counterpart to mise en abyme, before the methodological question of how to become aware of initial mises en cadre is discussed, various forms of mise en cadre (initial and terminal) are mentioned and the relevance of this device beyond narratives is demonstrated with an example from the visual arts: C.D. Friedrich’s Tetschen Altar. The concluding section addresses the question as to why yet another neologism should be introduced in the study of literature and other media and why post-classical narratology is a valuable continuation of the project of classical narratology.] 



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