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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Narratives Studies: Interdisciplinary Applications"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Alessandra Grego
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 1:30-2:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above and one previous English literature class

This course focuses on the core function of narrative across disciplines. Understanding how narratives work is essential to communicate effectively on any subject, through any medium. We use stories to understand and interpret our world and our place in it. Students will be introduced to the critical principles, terminology, and applications of narrative studies as they were first developed in literary and cultural theory. From there, the course considers how narratives are used in selected fields, from film to business, from politics to artificial intelligence.
This is a reading and writing intensive course. Students in 300-level literature classes are required to produce 5-6,000 words of critical writing

Narrative is […] to be found wherever someone tells us about something,” in Monika Fludernik’s words. So, effectively, everywhere, at all times. Narrative is so fundamental a part of our interaction with the world that some consider it a constitutional human function, as fundamental as language. Through narratives we come to terms with reality- narrating our private lives and collective history, facts and fictions, we rebuild the past, forecast the future, engage with physical nature, and, generally, come to terms with existence.

But how do words, sounds, images get strung together into narratives? How does the process work? Narratology, the branch of criticism that studies the functions and elements of narrative has a long history, but becomes central to various disciplines with the so-called “Narrative-turn” of the 1980s.

Myths, parables, history, stories, plays, novels, movies, TV series, music videos, comics, computer games, advertisements, political campaigns, marketing strategies, legal literature- all these, and many more, are narratives. Indeed, human interaction takes place principally through narrative. As cognitive science is proving, we use narrative structures to understand the world, which means that readers, viewers, listeners and users of these narratives are already expert narratologists.

This course proposes to reflect on the pervasiveness of narrative and its relevance across the disciplines. 

This course introduces students to the theoretical concepts of narrative studies and provides students with the practical skills that will allow them to take narratives apart, understanding their basic structures. The ability to identify, name and use the elements of narrative, understanding how texts work in themselves and on their receivers, provides actual power in communication through any medium. This knowledge is a useful to students across the disciplines.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Postclassical NarratologyAlber, Jan and Monika FludernikOhio State University Press 2010ISBN-13: 978-0814251751  
An Introduction to NarratologyMonika FludernikRoutledge 2009ISBN-13: 978-0415450300 Please order at Almost Corner Bookshop

2 home papers 40%
excercises 30%
presentations 15°%
final exam 15%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.




Session Focus

Reading Assignment

Other Assignment


Introduction to the course:

What is narrative and can we do without it?

Meuter, Norbert. “Narration in Various Disciplines.” The Living Handbook of Narratology, http.//www.lhn.uni-hamburg.de/

Case Studies: "The End of the Fxxx World," by Jonathan Entwhistle based on the graphic novel by Charles Forsman

 Watch "The End of the Fxx World" on Netflix.


Story & Discourse /

Fabula & Sjuzhet

Fludernik, chap. 4

Barthes, Roland, and Lionel Duisit. “An Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative.” New Literary History, vol. 6, no. 2, 1975, pp. 237–272.




Space, Time and Causality

Fludernik, chap. 5.

Ryan, Marie-Laure. “Narration in various Media.” The Living Handbook of Narratology, http://www.lhn.uni-hamburg.de/

Ricoeur, Paul. Time and Narrative. 3 vols. Chicago: U of Chicago P. 1984-88. [extracts]


Study questions


Time of the World and Narrative Time:

Diegesis and Metalepsis

Gennette, Gerard. Figure III. (1977). [extracts]



Fictionality, Focalisation, Editing

Herman, chap. 5 "How to Build a Storyworld"

Calvino, Italo (trans.)William Weaver. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller. Vintage Clasics, 1998.


1st Exercise


Space and Time: Chronotopes

Bakhtin, Mikhail. “Form of Time and Chronotope in the Novel.” The Dialogic Immagination: Four Essays. Ed. Micahel Holquist. Austin: UTP, 1981.




Tellability: Possible worlds and Unnatural Narrative

Fludernik. Chap. 6

Ryan, Marie-Laure- “From Parallel Universes to Possible Worlds: Ontological Pluralism in Physics, Narratology, and Narrative.” Poetics Today. 2006, 27.4, 633–74.


Study questions


Discourse Analysis: Ideology and Power in Narrative


Extracts from Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish, 1977


2nd Exercise


Narrative in Film


Chatman, Seymour (1990). Coming to Terms. The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP. [extracts]

Grodal, Torben (2005). “Film Narrative.” D. Herman et al. (eds.). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. London: Routledge, 168–72.




Historiographic Narration:

Factual narratives

Fludernik, Monika. “Experience, Experientiality, and Historical Narrative. A View from Narratology.” Th. Breyer & D. Creutz (eds.). Erfahrung und Geschichte. Historische Sinnbildung im Pränarrativen. Berlin: de Gruyter. 2010.  40–72.


Study questions


Narrative in Law and Medicine

Baldwin, Clive. “Who needs fact when you’ve got narrative? The case of P, C &S

vs. United Kingdom.” International Journal for the Semiotics of Law. 18 (3-4) 2005: 217-241.

Herman, chap. 4;


3rd Exercise


Narrative in Science

Haraway, Donna. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies. Vol. 14, No. 3. (Autumn, 1988), pp. 575-599


Research proposal due


Narrative in Social Science


Herman, chap. 7.

Shenav, chap. 3.

Study questions


Narrativity of Computer Games: Cybertexts and Ergodic Literature

Neitzel, Britta. “Narrativity of Computer Games.” The Living Handbook of Narratology. 2014. http://www.lhn.uni-hamburg.de




Final Exam