[-empyre-] Narrativity and Reading Regimes

sdv at krokodile.co.uk sdv at krokodile.co.uk
Fri Jun 11 17:56:17 EST 2010


How do you feel about Genette's work not just the structuralist material 
on narratology? which clearly extends the analysis of narrative into 
areas differently than you are referencing but perhaps more 
interestingly there is the material in titles, which is in a sense 
descended from the abstract analysis of narrative but which presents a 
history of titles, intertitles and subtitles. Which is critical to the 
analysis of text in the internet...


On 11/06/2010 02:39, Emmett Stinson wrote:
> I would be very skeptical of any attempts to define a book in terms of 
> narrative. There are obvious difficulties such as the fact that many, 
> if not most, currently extant books aren't narrative, and other kinds 
> of writing that are clearly not books (short stories, newspaper 
> articles), would seem to be elevated to 'book' status. My larger 
> concern, however, is that 'narrative' itself is not actually a very 
> useful category. To use a classic lit. crit. example, Auerbach's 
> 'Odysseus' Scar' (the opening chapter of Mimesis) delineates the 
> radical difference between two narrative forms (the Odyssey and the 
> Old Testament). Les Miserables and Le Chanson du Roland are both 
> narrative, but the differences between their narrative deployment are 
> far more significant than the fact that they both employ narrative. 
> There are, of course, linguistic theories available (e.g. Labov), but 
> I'm not sure how useful they'd be here.
> In discussing reading regimes in relation to the internet it is 
> typical to oppose 'immersive' reading (i.e., reading novels and 
> scholarly monographs) against 'hypertextual scanning' (i.e. internet 
> reading). It's worth noting however that the internet is not sui 
> generis in this regard. The inverted pyramid structure of newspaper 
> articles is designed for 'hypertextual scanning', as are dictionaries, 
> cookbooks, how-to manuals etc. Immersive reading practices were 
> historically the domain of the well-off (those who have a great deal 
> of free time), and it may not be reasonable, in societies with 
> universal literacy, to expect immersive reading to be the standard. 
> Moreover, I remain highly skeptical of claims that the internet will 
> destroy immersive reading; we've heard these claims before in attacks 
> on television, and, before that, the novel itself. Richard Lanham's 
> The Economics of Attention is interesting on these issues.
> As a literary critic, I highly value immersive reading and desire it 
> to continue. I suspect, however, that the enemy here is not the 
> internet, but rather the neo-liberal economic rationalism that results 
> in ever-increasing work hours, and diminishes the free time required 
> for people to engage in sustained reading practices.
> -- 
> Emmett Stinson
> Lecturer, Publishing and Communications
> School of Culture and Communication
> The University of Melbourne
> Parkville, Victoria, Australia 3010
> Ph: 613-8344-3017
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