Handbook of Narratology
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Handbook of Narratology

Peter Hühn, Jan Christoph Meister, John Pier, Wolf Schmid, Peter Hühn, Jan Christoph Meister, John Pier, Wolf Schmid

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eBook - ePub

Handbook of Narratology

Peter Hühn, Jan Christoph Meister, John Pier, Wolf Schmid, Peter Hühn, Jan Christoph Meister, John Pier, Wolf Schmid

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De Gruyter

Handbook of Narratology

2nd edition, fully revised and expanded

Edited by
Peter Hühn · Jan Christoph Meister
John Pier · Wolf Schmid

Volume 1

De Gruyter
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Over the last few decades, the field of narrative studies has been vastly expanded by a wide spectrum of innovations in the philologies and other disciplines including linguistics, history, theology, art history, psychology, media studies, medicine, law, education and more, and it has also seen a growing number of attempts to survey, order, and summarize the results of such studies in collections of essays, encyclopedias, companions, dictionaries, etc.
Against this background, the present Handbook of Narratology, now published in a considerably expanded second edition, offers a new type of systematic and comprehensive in-depth overview of recent and older research, taking account of the role played by the various disciplinary and national traditions in narrative studies. The 67 entries present international research devoted to the key terms, categories, and concepts of narratology in the form of full-length original articles structured in a parallel manner: each entry starts with a concise definition (1) followed by a more detailed explication of the term in question (2) and then proceeds, in its main part, to provide a differentiated description and critical discussion of the various approaches, positions, and controversies in their historical development (3), concluding with topics for further research (4) and a select bibliography (5). Where relevant, all entries are cross-referenced. They vary in length in accordance with the complexity of the respective concepts.
The entries devoted to the central categories and dimensions of narratology testify to the advanced state of narratological theory and to a high level of terminological and analytical precision. Such is not yet the case of topics dealt with in entries applying narratological concepts to disciplines and fields of study beyond literature. The authors of these articles thus seek to stake out the current state of nascent narrative research in these fields in a heuristic and explorative way, pointing to relevant features and issues rather than attempting to resolve basic questions. Nevertheless, these entries are of a particular interest and value, for they demonstrate the pervasiveness of narration in human culture and point to the fruitfulness of narratology for the description and analysis of narration in its prolific forms.
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The Handbook of Narratology was first published by Walter de Gruyter in 2009 and was subsequently made available as an open-access Living Handbook of Narratology on the Internet. The original 32 articles of the first edition have been updated and 35 new articles have been added, first in the online version and now in the second print edition.
This handbook grew out of the work of the Narratology Research Group at Hamburg University (2001−2007) and the Interdisciplinary Center for Narratology (founded in 2007).
We wish to thank Wilhelm Schernus for his expert subediting of the individual articles.

Hamburg and Paris
July 2014
Peter Hühn
Jan Christoph Meister
John Pier
Wolf Schmid


Jörg Schönert

1 Definition

The author (real or empirical) can be defined in a narrow sense as the intellectual creator of a text written for communicative purposes. In written texts in particular, the real author is distinguished from the mediating instances internal to the text (cf. 2.1; Schmid → Implied Author, Schmid → Implied Reader; further Alber & Fludernik → Mediacy and Narrative Mediation). Beyond linguistically created works, the term author is also used for works in other media such as music and the visual arts as well as for comics, photography, film, radio and television programs, and computer games.
A broader understanding of the term author is used in the following contexts, among others: as conveyor of action in a socio-cultural context (cf. 2.3); in the sense of specific cultural-historically relevant conceptions of authorship; as a unifying instance in the interrelation of works (œuvre); as a reference for classification in terms of epoch and canon; and as an important point of reference for the meanings ascribed to works through which the recipient can determine the author’s intention and/or author-related contexts relevant to understanding a work (cf. 2.2).

2 Explication

During the 20th century, a broad spectrum of how the author is understood was developed in scholarly circles: for framing concrete contexts (e.g. “producer of cultural goods”); for abstract author functions (e.g. causa efficiens); for concepts of the author relevant for understanding such as the implied author (Schmid → Implied Author). Unlike the dominant tendencies in the intensive discussions conducted since 1990 on the status and understanding of the author, this analysis will focus on the author’s narratological relevance.

2.1 Communicative Instances in Narrative Representations

As in other domains, it holds for narratological analysis that the real author is held responsible for the communicative intention and form of a narratively organized work (on the roles of the author in literary communication, see Okopień-Sławińska [1971] 1975; Fieguth 1975). In the case of narrative fictions, it has proved useful to assume that mediacy is transferred to text-internal instances (“voice”) including the narrator (Margolin → Narrator) to various degrees of explicitness and, possibly, characters (Jannidis → Character) in the storyworld. To these there correspond addressee instances such as the narratee (Schmid → Narratee; further Prince → Reader) or figured addressees, respectively. The arrangements of autofiction (within literary autobiography, e.g.) constitute a special case.

2.2 Authorship and Reception of the Work

Authorship is to be seen as a status attributed to a work with culturally differing author constructs bound up with authorial self-reflection and self-presentation in a spectrum ranging from self-assurance to skepticism as to the validity and scope of claims to authorship. In the sphere of (fictional) literature, constructs such as the author as vates, poeta doctus, creative genius or “writer” can be found. Independent of such typologizing expressions, particular author constructs also hold good for the reception of works in specific periods (e.g. the image of Milton during the Romantic period). These types of construction can refer to the totality of an author’s work (cf. œuvre author or career author—Booth 1977: 11) or to representative individual works.
Since the 18th century, there has been a culturally significant need to fall back on the author for interpretative processes and value judgments of an artistic work based on the creative act, authenticity, individuality, originality, unity of the work and its depth of meaning. From this perspective, the definition of “authoralism” in Benedetti’s sense ([1999] 2995: 8–12) is based on the experience that in the modern era it is “impossible for a work of art to exist except as a product of an author” (10)—as “being authored” (74–78). A culturally (and legally) important result of this is that the authenticity of a work is attested with reference to the real author as its originator, which is significant, for instance, in the editing of texts (cf. Bohnenkamp 2002).
An author-related reception focuses on the intention, attributed to the author, to convey a particular understanding of his work. In this sense, the work can also be seen as an expression of the author’s personality (including his feelings, opinions, knowledge and values). In particular, differing conceptions of author and authorship determine, alongside the concerns of historiographic, classificatory and editorial practices, ascription of meaning to literary texts within scholarly (cf. Spoerhase 2007) and non-scholarly circles as a result of biographical reference to the author, e.g., or with reference to the author’s intention, reconstructed in a largely hermeneutic manner. In practical criticism, inclusion of the author as a category for textual interpretation is accepted (cf. Jannidis et al., eds. 1999: 22–24), this approach often being adopted in the “author-critical” problematics of literary theory and methodology (Jannidis 2000: 8; Winko 2002).
An alternative concept is marked by the term “author function”: the author as an individual person is held to be external to his work—as is maintained by Foucault, for example—so that in the reception of the work, he can be ignored as a reference point for the ascription of meaning. In a way that varies historically and culturally, the author is integrated into (discursively ordered) functional contexts, such as proprietary or legal concerns, or into classifications of cultural communication. The resulting author functions are thus not to be related to concrete individuals, but rather assigned, for example, to discourses or to intertextual constellations.

2.3 Author as a Social Role

Creatorship gives rise to certain consequences in a social context such as legal implications regarding a claim to intellectual property (copyright) or the author’s legal responsibility for the effects of his work. These and other aspects (e.g. origin, education, patronage, market and media dependency, author-publisher relationships, royalties and honors, author groups and interest groups) are the concerns of the social history of the author, broken down into subsections such as the history of producers and distributors (cf. Jäger 1992; Haynes 2005; Parr 2008).

2.3.1 Collaborative as well as Anonymous, Pseudonymous and Fictitious Authorship

Author collectives (with at least two partners) can be found in various combinations of media (cf. Detering ed. 2002: 258–309; for belles lettres, cf. Plachta ed. 2001, for artistic collaborations, cf. Bacharach & Tollefsen 2010). During Antiquity and in the Middle Ages, e.g., texts were produced, over and above those created by an author through transcriptions, additions, commentaries and compilations which were attributable to more than one author. Since the late 18th century, popular prose fiction has often been written by anonymous or pseudonymous groups of authors and highbrow literature by authors in cooperation, usually declared. New possibilities have arisen thanks to electronically stored, collectively produced hypertexts published on CD-ROM and/or online (cf. Landow ed. 1994; Simanowski 2001; Ryan 2006; Hartling 2009). Collective authorship specific to the medium is the rule in musical theater, cinema (cf. Kamp 1996) and television.
Numerous historical and cultural variants can be found for anonymous, pseudonymous and fictitious authorship (cf. Schaff 2002); until well into the 20th century, these practices were often resorted to in literary publications by women authors.

3 History of the Concept and its Study

The following (European) overview focuses on the author as the creator of literary texts, and in particular of narrative fiction.
Since Antiquity, terminological ambiguity in the concept of author and competing concepts of author and authorship have been apparent (cf. Burke ed. 1995; Jannidis et al., eds. 1999: 4–11), as witnessed, e.g., in the variously defined conceptions of the heteronomy and autonomy of the author. The underlying tendency from Antiquity to the modern era can be described as a shift from an instrumental-performative understanding of authorship to personalization characterized by creative individuality (cf. Wetzel 2000: 480).
Author as a neutral term alongside scriptor/writer first began to dominate after the end of the 18th century in the context of an economic and legal situation specific to the period and as a neutralizing claim set up to counter the emphatic understanding of “poet.” The word “author” has developed into an umbrella term and now denotes all forms of creatorship for a work in the context of public communication.

3.1 Antiquity

Author in the literal sense is of Roman origin (auctor), and has no Greek equivalent. However, Plato had already devised for poetic productivity the concept of a speech guided by “enthusiasm” (literally “possessed by God”), to which the later model of the poet pleading for (divine) inspiration as well as the poeta vates can be assigned. Alongside the dominant idea of the production of poetic works by means of inspiration, a further author model was formulated in the poietes (“maker”; Lat. poeta...

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Citation styles for Handbook of Narratology
APA 6 Citation
[author missing]. (2014). Handbook of Narratology (2nd ed.). De Gruyter. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/607618/handbook-of-narratology-pdf (Original work published 2014)
Chicago Citation
[author missing]. (2014) 2014. Handbook of Narratology. 2nd ed. De Gruyter. https://www.perlego.com/book/607618/handbook-of-narratology-pdf.
Harvard Citation
[author missing] (2014) Handbook of Narratology. 2nd edn. De Gruyter. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/607618/handbook-of-narratology-pdf (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
[author missing]. Handbook of Narratology. 2nd ed. De Gruyter, 2014. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.