A Theory of Narrative

Rick Altman

Columbia University Press

A Theory of Narrative

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Pub Date: July 2008

ISBN: 9780231144292

392 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $35.00£27.00

Pub Date: July 2008

ISBN: 9780231144285

392 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $105.00£81.00

Pub Date: July 2008

ISBN: 9780231513128

392 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£27.00

A Theory of Narrative

Rick Altman

Columbia University Press

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.
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. Peter Garrett, University of Illinois
An elegant and pertinent theory. Matt Campora, Media/Culture Reviews
Acknowledgments
Note
1. What is Narrative?
2. The Song...of Roland?
3. Dual-Focus Narrative
4. Hester's Speculation
5. Single-Focus Narrative
6. Pieter Bruegel, or the Space of Multiplicity
7. Multiple-Focus Narrative
8. Theoretical Conclusion
9. Practical Conclusion
References
Index

About 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.