Lesson 9 - narrative

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  • AS Media Studies;Narrative Theory

    Once upon a time

  • Story? Narrative? Plot?What is narrative?While the term narrative certainly is not used as commonly as story, most people know that it refers, in some way. We encounter narratives on a daily basis.

  • Where do we see/hear stories on a day to day basis?TV ProgrammesNovels or short storiesFilmsAdvertisementsNewspapers or on TV and radioVia the internetThrough talk, gossip and chat.

  • Once upon a timeMany of us experience our first story at a very young age, possibly beginning with the immortal phrase of countless fairy tales, Once upon a timeWhat does this phrase really mean to us?Once = Once invites us into the narrative world which is set in the past; indeed, most narratives are recounted in the past tense.upon a time = Situates us in a world we know is different to our own, in a time that is not now.

  • Once upon a timeWrite down quickly what story you expect to happen after the line below.It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

  • Film posters and OpeningsOpenings are intended to grab and hold the attention of the receiver of the text. People will lose interest if it doesnt capture the attention immediately.The extract is from George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-four. The sentence is made intriguing because the clocks strike thirteen. This immediately sets up a puzzle or an ENIGMA CODE as Barthes would call it.We would probably expect a science fiction style narrative (the novel was written in 1949 and is an alarming vision of a time and place where the world has different rules.)

  • Enigma Codes

  • Action CodesBarthes also suggests that action codes exist this term applies to any action that suggestion further narrative action. For example, a cowboy draws his gun on an enemy and we wonder what the resolution of this will be.

  • Action codes

  • Levi-Strauss and binary oppositions.Claude Levi-Strauss, a French theorist (not the jeans!) gave media studies a number of influential theories that help us to understand how meaning is established quickly in openings.Binary Oppositions create meaning through establishing what something is not. We understand the world through a system of power weighted oppositions.

  • Binary OppositionsMan vsWomanWhitevsBlackYoungvsOldHerovsVillainWestvsEastGoodvsBad

  • Binary OppositionBinary oppositions can help establish who the good and the bad characters are in very quickly.The idea that we cannot conceive the concept of good without the presence of bad with which to compare it to and therefore define it against.Binary oppositions are obviously present in narratives because fundamentally a narrative must be based on a conflict of forces, opposition between usually a hero and villain.

  • Narrative Tzvetan Todorov

  • Vladimir ProppS seven spheres of action:

    Hero: Individual(s) who's quest is to restore the equilibrium.

    Villain: Individual(s) who's task is to disrupt the equilibrium.

    Donor: Individual(s) who gives the hero(s) something, advice, information or an object.

    Helper: Individual(s) who aids the hero(s) with their set task.

    Princess (Prince): Individual(s) which need help, protecting and saving.

    Dispatcher: Individual(s) who send the hero(s) on their quest.

    False Hero: Individual(s) who set out to undermine the hero's quest by pretending to aid them. Often unmasked at the end of the film

  • Multi-strand NarrativeA multi-strand narrative structure means there are several narratives running at the same time. This is very common in television and radio soaps and ongoing drama series, such as Holby City, and The Bill.

  • Narrative Structure - EndingsNarrative structure is the way the story or plot unfolds. Is the story an open or closed structure. A closed structure means the story ends satisfactorily as in most films - this is known as closure, with the girl getting the boy or the hero saving the planet.An open ending means there is no final conclusion to the story - a television has no final ending, it just has minor endings ( a character gets killed). It is left open for the story to continue.