mass communication & media literacy 05
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Mass Communication & Media Literacy 05
Boy meets girlGirl meets boy ... Girl loses boy
Boy meets girl ... Loses girl ... Re-finds girl andfinds love etc.
Narrative refers to the organisation of textual elements into a pattern in terms of space, time and perspective. It is the narrative that encourages us to read specific parts of the text as ‘events’ which are ordered through time (temporal succession) and which we conceive as the cause of the other events (causation).
"Story is the irreducible substance of a story (A meets B, something happens, order returns), while narrative is the way the story is related (Once upon a time there was a princess...)" (Key Concepts in Communication - Fiske et al (1983))
Origins and Interest
Literary theoryPsychologyAnthropologyFilm studies
Roman JacobsonVladimir ProppGerard GenetteTzvetan Todorovhttp://www.tictocs.ac.u
Narrative as Structure: Propp Functions of characters
Villain, the donor, the dispatcher, the hero, the false hero, the princess, the King
A single character can fulfil more than one function (characters are more like character masks)
Narrative units descriptive of particular action
(31 units) The villain appears and (either villain tries to find the
children/jewels etc; or intended victim encounters the villain);
The villain gains information about the victim; The villain attempts to deceive the victim to take
possession of victim or victim's belongings (trickery; villain disguised, tries to win confidence of victim); The victim is fooled by the villain, unwittingly helps the
enemy; Villain causes harm/injury to family/tribe member (by
abduction, theft of magical agent, spoiling crops, plunders in other forms, causes a disappearance, expels someone, casts spell on someone, substitutes child etc, commits murder, imprisons/detains someone, threatens forced marriage, provides nightly torments);
Alternatively, a member of family lacks something or desires something (magical potion etc);
Misfortune or lack is made known, (hero is dispatched, hears call for help etc/ alternative is that victimised hero is sent away, freed from imprisonment);
Proppian Fairytale Generator
Eco uses Propp
M moves and gives task to Bond
The villain moves and appears to Bond
Woman moves and shows herself to Bond
Bond consumes woman: possesses her or begins her seduction
The villain captures BondBond conquers the villain
‘In Casino Royale there are already all the elements for the building of a machine that functions basically on a set of precise units governed by rigorous combinational rules.’Umberto Eco (1969) The Bond Affair
Cinematic Narrative Exploring the narrative structure of classic realist films
In media resDeigesisNon-deigetic
Stable world restored!
Chain of cause and effect (human action)
Disruption (usually cause by human action)
Plot and Story
Fabula (story) The fabula is a pattern
that film spectators create through assumptions and inferences: we do not see or hear the fabula on the screen or hear it in the soundtrack.
Syuzhet (plot) The syuzhet is the
actual arrangement and presentation of the fabula in the film. The syuzhet is a system because it arranges elements – the story events – according to specific principles.
We construct the story in our heads from information narrated to us through the plot
Narrative logic The syuzhet of a film is often far more complex than the fabula
that we construct as spectators.Time
The organisation of time by the syuzhet can be used to assist or block our fabula construction. Shouldn’t films have a beginning, middle and end? Yes, but not in that order. Pulp Fiction, Memento, Lost, The Matrix Groundhog Day
Space In order to construct our fabula we need a sense of the space in
which events ocurr.
Using the tools
Rhetorical + Semiotic + syuzhet/fabula help us understand how films are constructed and how we make meaning from them.
How does the syuzhet present story information? And why does it do so in the way it does?
Using the tools
What point-of-view (POV) are we presented with?
Who is telling the story or looking explicitly or implicitly?
What kind of position are we, as consumers of the text, being asked to take or being placed in?
Saving Private Ryan
Photography as Narrative
Photography as Narrative