Contingency, Narrative, Fiction: Vogler, Brenkman, Poe


In light of Volger’s attention to chance and Brenkman’s attention to polyvocalization, and following Brenkman’s lead in treating Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat” as an exemplary text, I argue that what prevents the logical use of fictional narrative as a model for actual behavior is not a discrepancy but rather a similarity between the two signifying fields: the common unavailability of a rubric by which to identify agency amid contingency. Moreover, I argue that this interpretive limitation not only sustains readers’ engagement with narrative fiction but also suggests the ethical function of such—paradoxically involuntary—engagement.

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