Gwenifyre (gwenifyre) wrote in narrativetheory,

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Narrative as a field

One of the things I'm finding difficult in my study of narrative theory is defining the discipline itself.

To me, narrative is an emergent field that really combines linguistics, literary theory, and rhetoric. But it seems that these disciplines don't necessarily want to communicate with one another.

I'm working out of rhetoric right now. That is, when it's all said and done, my official concentration for my degree will be "rhetoric and composition." But I really see narrative as the field I want to pursue. I'm frustrated because I don't see programs actually in narrative.

And I'm even more frustrated because, while I see many connections, some of those in rhetoric seem to take a completely different view of narrative from what I've been looking at. I am doing a presentation for my rhetorical criticism class on "narrative analysis." Well, I took "narrative analysis" as a class last year. Now it seems that nothing I learned in there fits in here despite that professors attempt to make the course "interdisciplinary." (This reminds me of Stanley Fish's essay "Interdisciplinary is so very hard to do") When I mentioned Phelan's book "Narrative as Rhetoric" to my rhetoric professor, she mentioned that Phelan was really a literary theorist and that I should look for some sources by rhetoricians.

This frustration reinforces to me the idea that narrative needs to take a place as a field in and of itself. But in doing so, I hope that it will equally pull in literature, rhetoric, and linguistics. Based on what I've been hearing from my professors, rhetoric doesn't seem to be represented in the same way with in the narrative field. That is to say, there are those who consider themselves to be working in narrative, and taking rhetorical approaches, but they don't seem to be connecting with the people who are working out of rhetoric. This is interesting, and frustrating.

I feel this community is a good start at pulling together people from different backgrounds to talk about narrative. There is something about narrative that begs the creation of a new field and that begged the creation of a new community here. In the interests of coming together, I'm curious... what backgrounds do you come from? Are you linguists? Literary theorists? Rhetoricians? Something else? How do you define narrative and narrative studies? And how does it all add up?
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