Narrative theories for genre exam by suchenfz

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									Theories of Narrative    Vladimir PROPP (1895-1970)
                           The Morphology of the Fairy Tale, 1928

  Propp examined hundreds of fairy tales in the generic
  form ‘the folk wondertale’.

  He identified:
  •8 character roles (or ‘spheres of
  action’)
  •31 functions which move the
  story along - examples include
  the punishment of the villain
  (usually at the end of the story);
  the ban of an action (eg. If
  Sleeping Beauty touches a
  spinning wheel, she will die)
Theories of Narrative          Vladimir PROPP (1895-1970)
                                 The Morphology of the Fairy Tale, 1928
  Propp’s 8 character roles or ‘spheres of action’
  •The villain
  •The hero - a seeker character motivated by an initial lack
  •The donor, who provides an object with some magic property
  •The helper, who aids the hero
  •The princess, a reward for the hero and object of the
            villain’s schemes
  •Her father, who validates the hero
  •The dispatcher, who sends the hero on his way
  •The false hero




  adapted from (Branston and Stafford, 1996)
Theories of Narrative     Vladimir PROPP (1895-1970)
                            The Morphology of the Fairy Tale, 1928

  Propp’s theory is a form of structuralism, which is a
  view that all media is inevitably in the form of certain
  fixed structures.
  These structures are often
  culturally derived and form
  expectations in the mind of an
  audience from within that same
  culture eg fairy tales always have
  happy endings or the princess
  always marries the handsome
  prince.
Theories of Narrative     Vladimir PROPP (1895-1970)
                           The Morphology of the Fairy Tale, 1928

  Propp’s theory can be applied to generic structures in
  Western culture, such as popular film genres.

  Thus genre structures form
  expectations in the mind of an
  audience that certain rules apply
  to the narrative. However, cultural
  change can force structures to
  change eg a hero can now be a
  woman
Theories of Narrative          Vladimir PROPP (1895-1970)
                                 The Morphology of the Fairy Tale, 1928

  Attempt to identify as many of Propp’s 8 ‘spheres of
  action’ from the films we have studied as you can -
•The villain
•The hero - a seeker character motivated by an initial lack
•The donor, who provides an object with some magic
         property
•The helper, who aids the hero
•The princess, a reward for the hero and object of the
          villain’s schemes
•Her father, who validates the hero
•The dispatcher, who sends the hero on
         his way
•The false hero
Theories of Narrative     Tzvetan TODOROV
                            Bulgarian structuralist 1960s

  Todorov developed the theory of
        disrupted equilibrium

  He identified that stories follow a
  typical pattern of:
  •Equilbrium
  •Disequilibrium
  •Equilibrium

  This applies equally well to film
  texts
Theories of Narrative     Tzvetan TODOROV
                            Bulgarian structuralist 1960s

  Equilbrium - the ‘status quo’ where
  things are as they should be

  Disequilibrium - the status quo is
  disrupted by an event

  Equilibrium - is restored at the end of
  the story by the actions of the hero
Theories of Narrative         Tzvetan TODOROV
                                Bulgarian structuralist 1960s

  What is the equilbrium at the beginning of a
  crime genre or horror genre film?

  What sort of event disrupts the equilibrium
  to cause disequilibrium in a crime or horror
  film? (Give two examples of actual events
  from films we have studied)

  How and when is equilibrium restored in
        a) a crime film?
        b) a horror film?
Theories of Narrative          Tzvetan TODOROV
                                 Bulgarian structuralist 1960s

  There can be several moments in the
  plot where resolution of equilibrium takes
  place, for example when pieces of the
  detective’s puzzle fall into place.

  An example from The Black Dahlia is where
  Bucky Bleikert fits the puzzling words of the
  pathologist to precise attributes of the ‘Stag-
  film’ set - the injury caused by the crown, the
  river to wash away the blood.
Theories of Narrative         Tzvetan TODOROV
                                Bulgarian structuralist 1960s

  Todorov later developed this into a 5
  stage pattern:
  1. a state of equilibrium at the outset.
  2. a disruption of the equilibrium by some
     action.

  3. a recognition that there has been a
     disruption.
  4. an attempt to repair the disruption.
  5. a reinstatement of the of the equilibrium.
Theories of Narrative              Roland BARTHES
                                     French theorist
  Barthes believes the there are 5 action codes that
  enable an audience to make sense of a narrative.
  •hermeneutic (narrative turning-points)
    we know where the story will go next
  •proairetic (basic narrative actions)
    eg detective interviews suspect or femme fatale seduces hero
            (see Propp’s 31 functions)
  •cultural (prior social knowledge)
   eg our attitudes to gender or racial stereotypes
  •semic (medium-related codes)
    intertextuality
  •symbolic (themes)
    iconography or a theme such as ‘image versus reality’
           (Curtis Hanson)
Theories of Narrative         Claude LEVI-STRAUSS
                                French structuralist, 1970s

  Claude Levi-Strauss is most noted for his
  theory of Binary Oppositions.
In order to find those oppositions, Levi-Strauss was
less interested in

syntagmatic relations i.e.how events line up in the
narrative structure to develop the plot,

than paradigmatic relations i.e. those events and
features that belong to the theme of the piece,
especially within genre based texts.
  Theories of Narrative     Claude LEVI-STRAUSS
                              French structuralist

     Levi-Strauss used the ‘Western’ film genre to
     develop his theory of Binary Oppositions.


Homesteaders                Native Americans

Christian                   Pagan

Domsetic                    Savage

Weak                        Strong

Garden                      Wilderness

Inside society              Outside society
Theories of Narrative    Claude LEVI-STRAUSS
                          French structuralist




What binary oppositions can you think of
from the crime or horror genres?
Theories of Narrative    Claude LEVI-STRAUSS
                          French structuralist

  Levi-Strauss used the ‘Western’ film genre to
  develop his theory of Binary Oppositions.

detective                  villain

princess                   femme fatale?

criminal                   ‘straight’

weak                       strong

safe streets               ‘mean streets’

sane                       mad

poor           ?           rich
Theories of Narrative           DIEGESIS


   The theory of diegesis applies to narrative
   events, just as it did to sounds.
Diegetic narrative events take place before the
audience, within the field of vision.

Non-diegetic narrative events take place off-screen -
before the movie started, between scenes,
simultaneously but in another room.

Diegesis is the Greek for the ‘narrative world’

However, to understand this term, we need
to know the difference between the
plot, the story and screen time.
Theories of Narrative     Victor SHKLOVSKY
                            Russian theorist 1920s


 Shklovsky attempted to distinguish between
 the plot, which he defined as the events we
 actually ‘see’ in the narrative; and the story,
 which contains all the information or events
 affecting the characters both on and off
 screen.
Theories of Narrative        Victor SHKLOVSKY
                               Russian theorist 1920s


  He gave them typically difficult names:
fabula = the story i.e. the whole world of the story
before during and after what we see or hear

syuzhet = only the events that we see or hear
within the field of vision
 Theories of Narrative David BORDWELL and KristinTHOMPSON
                                    American Film Studies theorists 1990s

   In their book ‘Film Art (1997), Bordwell and
   Thompson give three different time zones for film
   narratives:
story ‘the set of all the events in the narrative, both the
ones explicitly presented and those the viewer infers,
compose the story’

plot ‘the term plot is used to describe everything
visibly and audibly present in the film before us’.

screen time ‘the time taken to broadcast the film’

Diegesis is therefore the Greek for the ‘narrative world’
of the plot during the screen time.
 Theories of Narrative Gill BRANSTON and Roy STAFFORD
                                   British Media writers 1990s

   Branston and Stafford happen to very usefully
   apply the relevance of fabula/syuzhet theory to
   the crime genre:
We should feel at the end of a good detective story or
thriller that we have been pleasurably puzzled, so that
the ‘solution’, our piecing together of the story in its
proper order out of the evidence offered by the plot,
will come as a pleasure. We should not feel that the
plot has cheated; that parts of the story have
suddenly been revealed which we couldn’t
possibly have guessed at. The butler
cannot, at the last minute, suddenly be
revealed to have been a poisons expert.
Theories of Genre

      Advanced intertextuality

Intertextuality is a key component in understanding
how genre texts succeed by being at once both

                      Similar
and
                     Different
Theories of Genre                      John FISKE
                             American Professor of Communication Arts, 2000s

  Fiske develops Barthes’ semic code:
 A representation of a car chase only makes sense
 in relation to all the others we have seen - after all,
 we are unlikely to have experienced one in reality,
 and if we did, we would, according to this model,
 make sense of it by turning it into another text,
 which we would also understand intertextually, in
 terms of what we have seen so often on our
 screens. There is then a cultural knowledge of the
 concept 'car chase' that any one text is a
 prospectus for, and that is used by the
 viewer to decode it, and by the producer
 to encode it. (Fiske 1987, 115)
Theories of Genre   Roland BARTHES
                     French semiotic theorist

                                           A scene from the
                                           Hollywood film ‘The
                                           Day After Tomorrow’
Theories of Genre   Roland BARTHES
                     French semiotic theorist

                           A ‘real’ image of
                           people fleeing the
                           dust cloud in the
                           aftermath of ‘9/11’
Theories of Genre         Jacques DERRIDA
                           French philosopher

  Jacques Derrida proposed that

'a text cannot belong to no genre, it cannot
be without... a genre. Every text
participates in one or several genres,
there is no genreless text'
(Derrida 1981, 61).
 Theories of Genre                Jacques DERRIDA
                                     French philosopher



                         Derrida’s point helps to explain
                         why commentators on
                         September 11th could only
                         understand what they were
                         seeing as ‘like a movie’. This is
                         perhaps what Fiske means by
                         saying ‘we make sense of it by
                         turning it into another text.’




Compare this to what Fiske says about never
having experienced a car chase. If we
encounter a real-life genre experience the
decoding system in our brains becomes
confused.
Theories of Genre             Claude LEVI-STRAUSS
                                 French structuralist, 1970s

  Levi-Strauss developed the concept of bricolage

 Levi-Strauss saw any text as constructed out of
 socially recognisable ‘debris’ from other texts.

 He saw that writers construct texts from other texts
 by a process of:
                 Addition
                 Deletion
                 Substitution
                 Transposition
 Theories of Genre                    Gerard GENETTE
                                       French structuralist, 1990s
   Genette developed the term transtextuality and
   developed five sub-groups, but only 4 apply to film:

   •intertextuality quotation, plagiarism, allusion
   •architextuality designation of the text as part of a genre
   by the writer or by the audience
   •metatextuality explicit or implicit critical
   commentary of one text on another text
   •hypotextuality the relation between a text and a
   preceeding hypotext - a text or genre on which
   it is based but which it transforms, modifies,
   elaborates or extends (including parody,
   spoof, sequel, translation)

Which of our viewed films give examples
of each type?
http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/intgenre/intgenre1.html

								
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