Friday, July 1

Panel 3 Transmedial Concepts (Chair: Jens Eder)
10:00-10:45 Frank Zipfel (Mainz)
 

Abstract

Narratology is closely linked to theory of fiction, especially in the field of literary criticism. The close relationship between theories of the narrative and theories of fictionality stems from the fact that literary narratology has been and still is mostly concerned with narrative fiction. But the concept of fictionality is also used to discriminate works of art in other disciplines, especially in film studies where it draws a boundary between feature films and documentaries. There are obvious reasons why fictionality is used as a concept in literary criticism and in film studies: both literary fictions and feature film can be described by means of the fictional story they present, the fiction specific narrative strategies they use and the fictional world they thereby generate. However, fictionality has in less obvious ways been applied to other forms of art, e.g. theatre, opera, painting, photography and even music, and to phenomena based on digital technology like hypertexts, MUDs or computer games. The attribution of fictionality to some of these phenomena has raised controversial arguments about the concept of fictionality in aesthetics and media studies. In fact the transposition of concepts like fictional story, fictional world or fictional narration to some of these phenomena seems questionable in more than one way. Moreover, when fictionality is conceived as an institutional practice, as it nowadays mostly is in literary criticism, the question arises whether and how an institutional theory of fiction could also be elaborated for other kinds of art or media. The paper thus proposes to explore on what grounds different kinds of works arts or media phenomena can be linked to the concept of fictionality i.e. to investigate the problems and prospects raised by transmedial concepts of fictionality.

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10:45-11:30 J. Alexander Bareis (Lund)
 

Abstract
My contribution aims at the problematic and non-symmetrical relationship between fiction and narration. Transmedial narrative analyses often focus on works that are also part of the domain of fiction – at least according to some theorists of fiction such as Kendall Walton, Gregory Currie and Marie-Laure Ryan. At the same time, the generation of fictional truths differs greatly between different narrative media. This manifests itself most prominently in certain narratological categories which seem to appear in identical fashion in different media but which ultimately are slightly different and often media specifically altered. The most notable of these problematic categories is also the most basic one, namely the narrator. Even though there seem to be good reasons for the hypotheses that there can be something like “narratorless narration” even in literature (even though this claim is highly disputed), it is more often accepted that filmic narration lacks an equivalent to the narrator in literature. This difference between media has consequences for other categories as well, for example unreliable narration: Heterodiegetic, non-anthropomorphic narration seems to be an odd candidate for unreliable narration, according to scholars as Bruno Zerweck, since there is no agent who can be hold accountable for the unreliability of the story. In my paper I aim to discuss the role of the narrator as a mediating agency in different media. Special focus will lie on questions of fictionality, the generation of fictional truths, and unreliable narration in literary fiction and films.

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11:30-12:15 Jan-Noël Thon (Hamburg/Mainz)
 

Abstract

The paper discusses, from the perspective of transmedial narratology, narrative’s ability to represent subjectivity in a wide variety of conventionally distinct media. While I do not emphasize the quality of ‘experientiality’ as strongly as Monika Fludernik (1996), it still seems clear that one of narrative’s most salient prototypical features is its ability to convey how a given storyworld is experienced by the characters within it (see also Herman 2009). Accordingly, the ‘subjectivity’ of narrative representations has been one of the most productively discussed narratological problems for at least the last four decades (see, for example, the works of Mieke Bal, Edward Branigan, Jens Eder, Gérard Genette, Bruce Kawin, Wolf Schmid or George Wilson). While my paper will focus on the transmedial applicability of the distinction between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ forms of narrative representation, I will also discuss in some detail both the question of how these modes relate to more ‘traditional’ (and generally rather problematic) narratological concepts such as ‘point of view’, ‘perspective’ or ‘focalization’ and how the conventionally distinct media of the graphic novel, the feature film and the computer game use medium-specific ‘markers’ to cue readers, spectators or players into recognizing that and when a particular mode of subjective representation is employed.

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Panel 4 Visual Storytelling (Chair: Karl N. Renner)
14:00-14:45 Patrick C. Hogan (Connecticut)
 

Abstract

The differences between painting and verbal narrative appear so obvious and extensive that one may ask whether they should even be compared. What can be learned by bringing together such disparate phenomena? In fact, there are considerable continuities between verbal narrative and representational painting. Moreover, they are continuities that fit well with narratological concerns. But there are, of course, crucial differences as well. The similarities indicate the possibilities for extending discourse analysis to paintings. The differences suggest the possibilities for altering and developing discourse analysis through this extension.

Specifically, this talk considers the degree to which the notion of an implied author may be applied to painting. It takes as a starting point some enigmas in two paintings by Rabindranath Tagore. It goes on to argue that these enigmas are open to partial resolution by drawing on principles and ideas from a range of Tagore’s works. This suggests that, beyond the implied author or implied painter of a particular work, we are well advised to consider the implied author or painter across a series or canon of works—indeed, the implied creator, when the canon spans different types of work (such as literature and painting). This canonical implied creator does not substitute for the implied author of an individual work. However, it provides one important context for interpreting that implied author and that individual work. Moreover, it does not render the work unequivocal. Rather, like any other context, this one alters the profile of ambiguity of the work—the range of interpretations the work sustains and the different degrees to which it sustains them. Indeed, in some cases this context may even enhance rather than reduce ambiguity.

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14:45-15:30 Werner Wolf (Graz)
 

Abstract

The facts that we humans are story-telling animals and that stories can be realized by more media than the classic case of verbal narration are by now established ideas that do no longer require further belabouring in research. Yet what has not yet been researched sufficiently is the following question: owing to what clues are we actually encouraged to apply a narrative frame in the reception of a given artefact or work, be it of a verbal, visual or acoustic nature?

My contribution purports to find answers to this question with reference to literary and painterly narratives. Its premise is the frame-theoretical idea that narrativity is a major cognitive frame whose application is elicited by certain clues or ‘framings’, typically and preferably at the outset of the reception process. Obviously, in verbal texts, these framings are different (and can be restricted to initial discursive formulae) from clues offered by visual representations, which seem to rely much more on content elements (in particular on representations eliciting certain scripts that are easily narrativized). I propose to enquire into the media-specific triggers of narrativity which operate at the beginning of respective reception processes and elicit narrative readings. Examples will include, in the field of painting, Hogarth’s dyptich ‘Before and After’ and in the field of literature, the beginning of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The comparative, transmedial perspective chosen in my contribution may offer fresh insights into the importance of media for narrativization from a cognitive angle.

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15:30-16:15 Gyöngyvér Horváth (Budapest)
 

Abstract

The paper will deal with alterations that occur in biblical or historical narratives when they are transmitted from textual to visual medium. Retold stories do change. Even well known, canonical stories change. When the stories are subject to transmedial narration, they might suffer more serious alterations. Not only the structure of the tale is modified, including the initial events, causes or consequences, but this modification could also occur on the level of the characters.

As I argue, there is a tendency in Renaissance and Early Modern narrative painting that applies such modifications with clear political purposes. Here the changes are intentional and operate on multiple temporal or diegetic layers. Anachronistic features are applied that refer to the that time historical and political situation, or new, contemporary characters are depicted who intervene and radically change the original (written) story structure. Such alterations enabled painters, their patrons and spectators to make religious and historical narratives actual, efficient and present. With this narrative strategy well known stories could be reinterpreted and historicized. To describe these modified narratives set into play, a new term, narrative ramification will be introduced. In general, narrative ramification can be defined as a radical step taken by a character in the story to change the course of events. This intervention results in the ramification of the storyline, often there is a change in the ending of the tale, an altered conclusion.

The paper will theorize the phenomenon of narrative ramification and will draw attention to some pictorial ramifications in the context of the Italian Renaissance. Altarpieces or frescoes of such painters as Carlo Crivelli, Filippino Lippi or Raphael presenting modified stories were set into play by their powerful patrons on the political scene. Such ramifications prove that stories do not stay invariant across shifts of medium.

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Panel 5 Multimodal Storytelling (Chair: Ronnie Scott)
16:45-17:30 Jared Gardner (Ohio/Mainz)
 

Abstract

Graphic narrative—comic books, comic strips and the graphic novel—serve as a fascinating paradox in the age of new media convergence. On one hand, as I argue in a forthcoming book (Projections: Comics and the History of 21st-Century Storytelling), comics have in many ways been engaging in the kinds of storytelling that is becoming increasingly central to our new century: those working in the sequential comics form from its inception have been engaging for more than a century with experiments in the looping, elliptical, interactive, and multi-modal storytelling that increasingly defines new media narrative objects. This accounts, to an important degree, for the increasing visibility of the comics form in recent years, both inside and out of the academy. Nonetheless, comics among all narrative media have remained relatively resistant to easy translation to digital platforms for a variety of reasons worth pausing over. The hand-made nature of comics, the visibility of the labor of its making in the lines and erasures on the page, certainly contribute to this challenge, as does the fact that each and every comic is in many ways (to borrow a phrase from Hillary Chute) a “site-specific” installation—establishing its own environments and rules for reading within the various nesting structures that define its individual form (panel, sequence, page, etc). This paper focuses on a serious of experiments with creating narrative comics in and for digital platforms to consider how the comics form simultaneously points to the power and potential of new media storytelling even as it helps us map out important limits to the fantasy of new media convergence.

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17:30-18:15 Wolfgang Hallet (Giessen)
 

Abstract

Since the 1990s there is a constantly growing number of novels that consist not merely of verbal text, but also incorporate (or: imitate) a wide range of generic modes such as letters and film-scripts, websites and academic writing, and different types of symbolic representation such as photographs and graphic elements, maps and diagrams, (the reproduction of) handdrawn sketches and handwriting, and many other semiotic modes. The function of these different semiotic and generic forms is by no means merely illustrative; rather, they form an integral part of the novelistic narration and thus co-constitute a novel’s storyworld and meaning. This shift from exclusively verbal to multisemiotic and multigeneric narration constitutes a fundamental generic change and the rise of a new sub-genre, the multimodal novel. This paper will
• present exemplars of multimodal novels and multimodal narrative discourse in terms of the rise of a new genre;
• analyze ways of the multisemiotic and multimodal constitution of the novel’s storyworld as well as of the specific narrative functions of different semiotic modes in the novel;
• consider narratological and disciplinary reconceptualizations in light of the rise of this new genre.

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18:15-19:00 Jeff Thoss (Graz)
 

Abstract

This paper deals with what one might call an updated version of the notion of media rivalry for a media-saturated and media-savvy generation. If debates surrounding this issue were traditionally dominating by mimetic concerns, by the question which medium was better suited for representing reality, the rivalry I analyze is dominated by performative concerns, by the question which medium is better suited for representing, or rather simulating, another medium. Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic book series Scott Pilgrim (2004–2010) extensively remediates video games. It contains a storyworld that, although largely realistic, also contains items such as 1-ups. The plot, while superficially conforming to that a romantic comedy, is structured like a beat ‘em up or fighting game in that the hero must endure a series of boss battles in order to win his beloved’s heart. On the discourse level, too, the comic book fashions itself as a video game, for instance by featuring status bars and score displays. Edgar Wright’s 2010 screen adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs. the World takes great delight in transposing and emulating the comic’s manifold intermedial relations to video games in the medium of film. In fact, it shows little interest in the actual mediality of its source material while conversely enhancing the degree and visibility of elements borrowed from video games with its own medial resources. Two media, film and comic, thus enter into a contest that is not so much about who can tell the story better as it is about who can tell it more in the guise of a third medium, and, quite significantly, it is two old media that adopt the style of a new medium. I see this phenomenon as emblematic for what Bolter and Grusin have diagnosed as an age of hypermediacy and remediation, an age that proliferates narrative forms as they attempt to supplement one another.

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