While many of the most influential models in narrative theory emerged out of the study of literary narrative, it has from the start been motivated by what James Phelan calls an “expansionist impulse” to direct its gaze to across media (Phelan 206). Such expansion is never without its tensions, of course. Given the profound differences between cinematic narrative and literary narrative, for example, one could have imagined narrative theory beating a hasty retreat. After all, as Metz reminds us, film is not a language system; it has no easy equivalent to punctuation or the sentence. And yet the history of the encounter between film studies and narrative theory has on the whole proved remarkably productive despite these differences, and the exchange of ideas has by no means been a one-way street. Indeed, we can see how conversations across media have helped bring new precision to concepts in narrative theory: interventions in the muddied concept of point-of-view were certainly informed by conversations along the borders between narrative theory and film theory, and Genette’s concept of focalization and Chatman’s proposed refinements of slant and filter (Chatman 144) draw in part upon the mechanics and theory of narrative film.

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