If I am wrong, someone please correct me, but I’ve spent some time pondering soem things I haven’t found much mention of in the literature discussing narrative formation. I’ve taken to the term “narrative multitasking” as at least a preliminary step to defining narrative phenomena that seem endemic to modern expressive cultures:
- The ability to tell a story simultaneously across multiple media forms. This isn’t remarkable in itself, except that these simultaneous retellings often alter elements of the narrative to fit the expressive capabilities of the different modes used. Sometimes, this means simply emphasizing different aspects of the narrative, depending on whether the mode used is written, visual, or playable. The distinctions between films and novels have been given a lot of attention now that it’s quite common for movies to be adapted from books (and vice versa). Games have presented a different problem because the aesthetics, rhetoric, and semiotics of gaming have yet to be firmly established. Just to taste the potential complexities, read Consalvo and Dutton’s article from Gamestudies (2006), or Stephen Malliet’s article from the same issue.
- Narratives are now also responsible for accomodating expectations from their audience that are new and constantly shifting.
The easy contemporary example of this is the Harry Potter franchise. Read more…
This is my CEA 2008 Presentation concerning narrative in videogames. I was only permitted about 15 minutes, and I showed a clip from Call of Duty 3 over one section discussing World War II based first-person shooters. You can follow the link above for the Word document, or you can check out the cut/pasted version below.
Overall, the conference went well. I sat through several presentations concerning contemporary fiction, particularly Don DeLillo’s Falling Man and White Noise. I sometimes find it amazing that the latter novel (now 23 years old) still receives as much critical attention as it does, especially in the wake of 1998’s Underworld. But, I also attended some panel discussions about modern technology in the classroom, and was a wee bit disappointed. The presenters’ grand revelation was that students spend quite a bit of time using Facebook as a communication and networking application. Uh-huh… Read more…
I’ve set up a blog for my World Cultures 120 students at the University of Evansville, something akin to what my students at Kentucky Wesleyan College have been up to. But, WC120 is quite a bit different. For starters, it is not a straightforward Rhet/Comp course. It is part of UE’s writing curriculum, but it is more a cross between a writing course and a great books course. The fall semester includes writing about and reading a number of texts from the classical world: The Epic of Gilgamesh, Plato, The Qur’an, Genesis, and a number of other texts from multiple cultures around the world. The spring semester becomes much more Euro-centric, beginning with Martin Luther’s On Christian Liberty, emphasizing thought development from the Renaissance, and stretching through the early 20th century. I try to track their readings back to something they know from their own cultural experiences, or that they at least find relevant to them.
I’ve posted three entries on the blog, two of which ask for their responses. We’ve been reading Sor Juan Ines de la Cruz’s “Letter in Response to Sor Filotea”, a text widely considered to be a forceful 17th century advocacy of intellectual freedom and equality for women. To my suprise, despite the letter’s difficulty (our translation maintains some arcane grammatical and syntactical forms), they read the letter with enthusiasm and did their best to understand it. I tied Sor Juana’s argument into modern questions concerning gender equality, getting them to brainstorm and freewrite about gender differences and instances in which those differences manifest and in which we seem to transcend them. Thus, I had them research and write in response to the Equal Rights Amendment. If you peruse their responses, I think you’ll be impressed by some of their thinking. It remains rather general, but the ideas are there.
I’ve also posted John Donne’s “Holy Sonnet XIV” as just one example of religiously themed poetry from the 17th century. So far, their responses are quite good.
One key component to using this version of Web 2.0 is the sense of audience it can create. My students have so far completely changed their thinking and approach to writing — they feel as though they’re writing for an audience other than me. For WC120, I’ve set two sections up on the same blog; thus, they are sharing ideas across sections on the blog, enhancing their sense of audience.
For the coming fall semester, I’m scheduled to teach writing, an Introduction to Literature course, and I’ll probably teach World Cultures 110. I’m considering establishing blogs for each school (Kentucky Wesleyan College will set them up, anyway), and perhaps developing a short podcast to supplement in-class instruction. One of my favorite podcasts is Dave and Howard Shepherd’s The Word Nerds, devoted to “words, language, and why we say the things we do.” It would be a natural template on which to base such a podcast.
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