Herman, David: "Recontextualizing character. Role-theoretic frameworks for narrative analysis." In: Semiotica 165 (2007), S. 191–204.
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|Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Herman2007
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Keywords: "Hulk", Narratology, Superhero, USA
In early narratological research, roles were construed as invariant semantic functions fulfilled by characters with variable surface features (e.g., both Claudius in Hamlet and Lex Luther in Superman instantiate the role of ‘villain’). Subsequent story analysts have drawn on a range of explanatory paradigms — including models of discourse processing, semantic and functionalist frameworks, and (socio)pragmatic theories — to develop richer accounts of roles and their bearing on narrative understanding. The present paper provides an overview of this research, arguing for the advantages of an integrative approach in which roles assume the profile of complex, multidimensional, inferential constructs. From this perspective, roles in narrative are constellations of structural, semantic, and other factors, any subset of which may be more or less salient, depending on the nature and distribution of the discourse cues used to trigger role-based inferences in narrative contexts. The multifacetedness of roles in stories and the resulting need to combine multiple role-theoretic perspectives are pertinent for emergent research initiatives concerned with ‘narrative intelligence’ (Davis 2005; Mateas and Senger 2003), among other approaches to narrative viewed as a cognitive and sociosemiotic resource.
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