Narrative representation and fictionality in performative media

TitleNarrative representation and fictionality in performative media
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsHorstmann, J
JournalFrontiers of Narrative Studies
Paginations5 - s23
Date Published2018///
ISBN Number2509-4882
Keywordsfictionality, mediation, narrative representation, performative media, transmedial narratology

The transmedial discussion in this article shows that the terms narrative mediation and representation should be carefully distinguished from fiction or fictionality. The constitutive use of ‘real’ (or factual) artifacts in performative media (i. e. media which present embodied events, such as theater or film) provides a good example for the necessity of this distinction. Frequently these artifacts serve the purpose of a fictional discourse and certain definitions of fictionality (cf. Walton 1990) can be said to be fulfilled. However, a real-world artifact can by no means become itself fictive, but is rather used to represent a fictive entity. By focusing on representation and mediation instead, it becomes possible to compare theater with other performative media in terms of narrative representation: even though it is sense-physiologically unmediated, the functions of narrative mediation (i. e. selecting, ordering, presenting, commenting; cf. e. g. Chatman 1990) apply. The article establishes a dynamic system of representation that can be used for the analysis of all kinds of multichannel narrative media and thus rests the ongoing scholarly discussions of transmedial narrative representation on a much sounder theoretical basis. It distinguishes representation clearly from fictionality, and highlights the significance of theater in this discussion.


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ENN is the European Narratology Network, an association of individual narratologists and narratological institutions. ENN aims to foster the study of narrative representation in literature, film, digital media, etc. across all European languages and cultures.