Narrative Dynamism (ACLA '18)
Unities, wholes, patterns, ends, beginnings, organization, structure: these terms all belong to the structuralist tool kit with which we are familiar, yet we believe that this vocabulary is in dire need of reassessment. While the structural impetuses of narratology continue, dynamic theories of narrative such as those proffered by Roland Barthes, Ross Chambers and others, have become less prominent. In this seminar we will explore the following questions: What might a dynamic, systemic, and/or non-structuralist theory of narrative look like? What narratives (in any medium) exemplify a dynamic notion of narrative? What additional insights might we gain by working through a dynamic as opposed to a structuralist approach to narrative and narratives? We welcome essays that propose, explore, enact, and/or engage theories of narrative premised upon dynamic, non-structuralist, systems theory, or other approaches that might push our understanding of narrative away from narrative—and narrative theory’s—tendency to persistently reproduce the same story. How might a dynamic and/or systems approach offer as different ways of understanding narrative as nodal, contingent, associational, harmonic, modular, and dialogic/conversational? As dynamics proliferate throughout our contemporary media ecologies and shoot through the technologies that compose them—in literature, poetry, film, improvisational comedy, video games, television, free jazz, experimental cinema and drama, digital media, and even in science––this seminar poses the question: How can we theorize narrative beyond, beside, and apart from structure?
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