CfP: „Narrative negativity“, Pamplona (31.10.2018)

Call for Papers für das Panel „Narrative negativity“ der International Conference on Narrative | University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain

Deadline Abstract: 31. Oktober 2018 | Datum der Veranstaltung: 06.-08. Juni 2019

Call for contributions
«Narrative negativity»
2019 International Conference on Narrative
June 6-8,
University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain

Since its very beginnings, classical narratology has established an analytical access to the study of narrative which has a broad range of ,positivistic’ implications, be it the deduction of generic compositional rules from a positively determined data base of narratives (V. Propp) or the definition of narrative via positive (or positively definable) qualities, such as “assurance” (G. Prince), “eventfulness” (W. Schmid) or “closure” (M.-L. Ryan). Although several authors – such as Roman Ingarden, Wolfgang Iser, Julia Kristeva and Maurice Blanchot – have several times defined the “radical negativity” as being the true “infrastructure of the literary texts” (Iser), negativity has been hitherto neglected by narratologists, probably due to the difficulty of identifying this phenomenon by means of established (classical or postclassical) methodologies.

Our panel proposes to shift the focus from positive narrative facts and definitions to what could provisionally be labelled the ,negative’ side of narrative phenomena – to narrative structures, dynamics, functions or effects whose very nature hardly allows for a positive conceptualisation, negates categorisation, contradicts the positive qualities which narratives are supposed to have or emphasises aspects which are not ,positively’ evident. We consider this panel to inscribe itself into an existing line of inquiry which manifests itself, for example, in Julia Kristeva distinction’s between ,geno’ and ,pheno’ text, Wolfgang Iser’s thesis about the ,radical negativity’ of a narrative, B. Richardson’s research on ,unnatural’ and ,antimimetic’ narratives, Prince’s distinction of ,the unnarratable’, ,the unnarrated’ and ,the disnarrated’ and Ryan’s conception of narrative ,virtuality’.

Topics which might be explored in the panel can include (but are not restricted to) the following four fields:

Epistemic negativity: Which narrative phenomena do resist attempts of ,positive’ theorisation? Which narrative structures and dynamics challenge the analytical-definitional paradigm? Poststructuralist approaches can provide a theoretical background of this field of inquiry.

Linguistic negativity: Narratologists underline regularly the difference between narrative contents or structures one the one hand and the interpretations of narrative on the other. Narrative meaning, however, does not respect this line of demarcation. Indeed, narrative texts put in motion complex semantic dynamics which cannot be directly deduced from the narrative text and its voices. We call for contribution which (a) reflect on the principled nature of this ,linguistic’ defectiveness of narrative meaning, (b) analyse concretely the techniques by which particular narratives achieve to tell us something without narrating it or (c) reflect on the consequences which such a ,linguistic’ narrative negativity has for narrative theory.

Literary negativity: One of the difficulties of narrative theory consists of separating narrative analysis from narrative evaluation. How can one define narrative qualities or a high degree of narrativeness without an evaluation of what is a “good”, a “literary”, a “boring” or a “bad” narrative? A normative-evaluative approach to narrative is, however, problematic to the extent to which narratives can intentionally challenge ,positive’ literary-narrative norms (e. g. principles of closure, meaningfulness or of literary innovation) and categories (e. g. generic distinctions; discrimination between high literature and its trivial counterpart). We invite scholars to reflect on the various forms which this ,literary’ negativity of narratives can take.

Radical negativity : Is it possible to question the role played by negativity in the text without resorting to the positive/negative opposition? Could we conceive a methodology centered on the search for the negativity of a narrative that can do without certain (post)classical distinctions such as mimetic-unmimetic, natural-unnatural?

Any contribution to negativity that does not fit into any of these four areas is also welcome. Please submit a 200 words abstract and some bio-bibliographical information including your institutional affiliation until October 31 to both of the organisers of the panel.

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