A Theory of Narrative

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Overview

Narrative is a powerful element of human culture, storing and sharing the cherished parts of our personal memories and giving structure to our laws, entertainment, and history. We experience narrative in words, pictures, and film, yet regardless of how the tale is told, story remains independent from the media that makes it concrete. Narrative follows humans wherever they travel and adapts readily to new forms of communication. Constantly evolving and always up-to-date, narrative is a necessary strategy of human expression and a fundamental component of human identity.

In order to understand human interaction, award-winning scholar Rick Altman launches a close study of narrative's nature, its variation in different contexts, and the method through which it makes meaning. Altman's approach breaks away from traditional forms of analysis, identifying three basic strategies: single-focus, dual-focus, and multiple-focus. Unpacking an intentionally diverse selection of texts, Altman demonstrates how these strategies function in context and illustrates their theoretical and practical applications in terms of textual analysis, literary and film history, social organization, religion, and politics. He employs inventive terminology and precise analytical methods throughout his groundbreaking work, making this volume ideal for teaching literary and film theory and for exploring the anatomy of narrative on a more general level.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Media/Culture Reviews - Matt Campora

An elegant and pertinent theory.

Media/Culture Reviews
An elegant and pertinent theory.

— Matt Campora

Peter Garrett

This is a large, ambitious study that proposes an original, comprehensive theory of narrative. Rick Altman draws on examples ranging from the Bible to Hollywood films, from classical epic and pastoral to medieval heroic poetry, and from saints' lives to nineteenth- and twentieth-century French, British, and American novels, all analyzed within an impressively parsimonious scheme.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231144292
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 6/26/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Rick Altman is professor of cinema and comparative literature at the University of Iowa. Among his many titles on film is Columbia University Press's Silent Film Sound, which won the Limina Award for Best Cinema Studies book, the Theater Library Association Award, and was a finalist for the Kraszna-Krausz Book Award.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsNote1. What is Narrative?2. The Song...of Roland?3. Dual-Focus Narrative4. Hester's Speculation5. Single-Focus Narrative6. Pieter Bruegel, or the Space of Multiplicity7. Multiple-Focus Narrative8. Theoretical Conclusion9. Practical ConclusionReferences Index

Columbia University Press

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