Narrative as rhetoric: technique, audiences, ethics, ideology


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Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Narrative as Rhetoric by James Phelan. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Narrative as Rhetoric , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Narrative as Rhetoric.

Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Oct 24, S marked it as to-read Shelves: narrative-philosophy , whatever-plot-is. Yvette Vole rated it liked it Nov 26, Sini rated it really liked it Oct 12, Raisu rated it really liked it Feb 26, Kate rated it liked it Sep 03, Torsa rated it really liked it Nov 03, Aydan rated it liked it May 04, Anni rated it liked it Sep 04, Katrine S. By distinguishing between fictionality and generic fictions, we become aware of how pervasive uses of fictionality—discourse about nonactual states such as thought experiments, what if scenarios, mini-parables, and so on—are within nonfictional discourse.

We can become similarly aware of the presence of nonfictional discourse actual places, historical personages, even truth claims about the nature of the world within generic fictions. The ultimate goal, worth pursuing even if impossible to reach, is a comprehensive rhetorical account of discourse. Its potential to show real world effects not just of narrative but of narrative theory is very exciting, and its realization of that potential would be extremely valuable not just for the field but for patients.

In other words, I think the best answer is that the future of narratology will be whatever the international narrative theory community makes it. But in the near term, I expect the trends I mentioned in answering question 4 to continue. This question is part-lament, part-invitation to reflect on the field and its relation to the structure of the academy in North America. Although narrative theory has productively expanded its scope beyond literary narrative, its most plausible location in the college and graduate school curriculum is still in literature departments.

And literature departments remain tied to the paradigm of literary history as the primary principle for organizing knowledge. No English Department would go without a specialist in modernism, but lots of them go without a narrative theorist. As the humanities struggle, it becomes harder for narrative theory to keep let alone expand its place in literature departments. As perhaps is already evident, this problem is far easier to diagnose than to solve, so I will just say that those of us in the academy in North America should be looking for solutions. In: Narrative 23, pp. Copenhagen, pp.

An active interview approach Holstein and Gubrium, was adopted to allow interviewees to talk about narrative journalism in their own words.

In this approach, the interview is seen as a two-way process of meaning construction in which both interviewer and interviewee play an active role. The interviewees were encouraged to talk freely about their conceptions of narrative journalism and their experiences with producing or teaching narrative journalism.

Questions were asked about their views on the potential, stylistic form, functions, and presupposed effects of journalistic narratives in comparison with more traditional forms of journalism. In addition, the interviewees were encouraged to reflect on the similarities and differences between narrative journalism and traditional journalism. In accordance with the active interviewing approach Holstein and Gubrium, , the interviewees were confronted with statements made in earlier interviews to provide them with the opportunity to compare their views with the views of others.

The interviewees were informed about the aims of the interview before the interview started. The interviews, which took approximately an hour, were recorded with permission of the interviewees and later transcribed literally. A framing analysis was conducted to examine the public expressions and interviews about narrative journalism. The analysis of the public expressions was guided by a close examination of language use, since metaphors, analogies, and figures of speech function as indicators of a frame Van Gorp, These linguistic expressions have in common that they require an interpretation of concept X here: narrative journalism in terms of concept Y, that is, they evoke concept Y and all its attributes as a frame within which to view and understand concept X.

With respect to the interview data, we first identified, in line with Deuze and Borger et al. In this stage, the transcripts were read integrally several times in order to isolate the parts in which interviewees discussed the genre of narrative journalism and related aspects. Relevant parts were labeled and grouped into topics in the software program Dedoose. Similar to our analysis of the public expressions, we subsequently analyzed how the various topics were framed by closely examining language use.

After identifying a given frame, we returned to the transcripts to validate the salience of that frame by searching for additional frame-indications and possible counter-indications. This process was repeated several times in order to arrive at an exhaustive set of relevant frames in which the genre of narrative journalism was discussed. First, an analysis of the educational text books revealed that narrative journalism is almost nowhere distinguished as a separate genre; most limit their discussion of journalistic genres to news reports, news articles, interviews, reportages, background articles, opinion articles, and book reviews Bekius, ; Donkers and Willems, , ; Gerards and Van Noppen, ; Kussendrager and Van Der Lugt, In one text book, the genre of the reportage is understood to be somewhat similar to that of the narrative.

This book describes the reportage as a genre at the interface of journalism and literature, in which literary techniques are used to evoke emotions Donkers et al. Those techniques include the use of details, scenic descriptions, dialogues, metaphors, and concrete words.


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Techniques which are central in most definitions of narrative journalism, such as character development and point-of-view writing, are not discussed. Tellingly, the authors of this text book discourage journalism students to practice the genre of the reportage if they lack stylistic qualities. By contrast, the Handbook Narrative Journalism focuses exclusively on the genre of narrative journalism.

In the following, we focus on this handbook and the website and magazine of the Initiative Narrative Journalism Netherlands , since these are the public expressions in which narrative journalism is explicitly addressed and where relevant frames were found. The analysis of these materials revealed that narrative journalism is discussed in three different frames. We will discuss each frame below:. First, narrative journalism is framed as a genre that moves readers.

This frame implies that narrative journalism discloses social reality more thoroughly than traditional journalism; it brings to the surface what remains hidden in traditional journalism. As such, narrative journalism also involves readers more actively. In addition, the Magazine writes,. Those articles and books in which journalists have been able to pour their research and insights in a narrative form, using literary techniques and all, not only prompt an immersive reading experience; they are also very effective.

They make an indelible impression.

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These literary techniques include the use of scenes, characters, action, plot, details, and perspective. The Handbook Narrative Journalism pp. Castor oil is used to produce grease and to keep food from rotting. Thus, the use of literary techniques such as perspective is framed not only as a means to engage the audience but also as a strategy to preserve journalism and to keep its motor running.


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  • This brings us to the second frame:. This need for narrative journalism is explicitly linked to the emergence of online media in the mids, which has caused a dramatic decrease in Dutch newspaper circulation. Similarly, the Handbook Narrative Journalism p. This frame implies that there is a new market for narrative journalism and that not writing and publishing narratives is not an option if newspapers want to survive in the digital age.

    In short, the analysis of public expressions shows that the genre of narrative journalism is being framed as 1 moving, 2 essential, and as 3 journalism of higher quality. The following section discusses how narrative journalism is framed in the interviews with journalists and lecturers in journalism programs. Results of the interview data revealed that narrative journalism is discussed in three distinctive frames which correspond to, as well as deepen, the frames found in the public expressions.

    An overview is shown in Table 2 below. First, narrative journalism is framed as a dangerous game. Second, professionalization of narrative journalism is framed as a paradigm shift in which the ideal of objectivity gets abandoned. The paradigm shift also involves the notions of fact and fiction. In this view, defining the boundaries of narrative journalism becomes highly problematic.

    Stylistic and aesthetical considerations may come to dominate over traditional norms of truthfulness and factuality, although narrative journalism is still to be distinguished from fiction:. So then I read a story representing the reality as it could have happened. But I know that, before you know it, you end up in the wrong camp. They decide what to read in the newspaper and if they choose to read news narratives, that decision implies agreement with the somewhat blurred line between fact and fiction.

    Third, narrative journalism is framed as a form of art. News narratives may not always excel in quality, but the narrative productions which do excel should be valued and treasured as true art and as showcases of what narrative journalism is capable of. This study shows that this new focus can be conceived of as a strategy to withstand the pressures journalism is facing in the competition with online news. In metajournalistic discourse on narrative journalism, the genre is conceptualized as an essential enterprise, using involving techniques to deliver an attractive and high quality product.

    These findings clearly show how this public field of discourse is used to establish narrative journalism as a meaningful and legitimate genre cf. Carlson, However, as became clear from the interviews, the supposed strengths of narrative journalism come with some risky downsides. The use of literary techniques is seen as a precarious affair; it attracts readers but it may also tempt journalists to alter the truth.

    This is dangerous in the sense that aesthetic considerations may come to dominate over traditional principles of objectivity and factuality, which may ultimately cause journalism to lose its credibility and authority. Note that in itself, this frame has all the characteristics of a folk tale. By framing narrative journalism as an obligatory task, using a magic trick that enchants the audience en route to the Holy Grail, meanwhile averting the dangerous abyss of subjective fiction underway, the journalist may feel reinforced in the battle against the abundance of new media.

    The framing of narrative journalism as a dangerous game is notable for several reasons. First, a game is a contest involving some sort of rivalry. Use of this frame, thus, signals an attempt to dissociate narrative journalism from other forms of journalism rather than an attempt to integrate the genre into mainstream journalism — which could be an alternative and recommendable strategy, if narrativization indeed does raise quality.

    Second, a game involves a set of rules. Interviewees, when using this game-frame, showed their awareness of the importance of the rule to stay away from fiction. However, the game-frame is in this view somewhat contradictory to the framing of narrative journalism as a paradigm shift: a paradigm shift frame acknowledges that rules concerning objectivity and factuality are either unclear — and therefore irrelevant — or that they should be adjusted to fit narrative journalism — instead of the other way around.

    Does this mean that narrative journalists are ready to depart from journalistic norms altogether? The traditional rule in journalism, rooted in the New Journalism movement of the late 19th century Broersma, , pertains to the objectivity norm according to which journalists should provide news in a factual and neutral manner without adding values, emotions, or comments to it Schudson, Interviewees in this study take an alternative stance by claiming that objectivity is no longer very relevant, or does even not exist, and that the objectivity rule does therefore not apply to the game of narrative journalism.

    In the case of Dutch narrative journalism, the objectivity norm is renegotiated in favor of less rigid norms of plausibility and credibility. Interviewees in our study not only contest the boundaries of narrative journalism but also question the relevance of these boundaries by emphasizing their flexibility and reflecting on their haziness. Interesting in this respect is the finding that for some of the interviewed lecturers, this flexibility even allows for the inclusion of fictional elements in journalistic writing, such as composite sources and fabricated quotes.

    Narrative as Rhetoric: Technique, Audiences, Ethics, Ideology

    Note that only lecturers consider narrative journalism as a genre in which the use of such fictional elements is legitimate, which might be explained by the presumption that lecturers have a more reflective view on the notions of fact and fiction compared to journalists. A complementary explanation could be that lecturers and professional journalists alike regard narrative journalism as a space to include fictional elements, but that in the context of this study, only lecturers felt free to express such views because they are not actively writing for newspapers.

    Future explorations of these two explanations could contribute to a clearer understanding of the limits and legitimacy of narrative journalism and examine how and why the boundary work in this area might differ across the various actors involved. The relevance of future research in this direction derives from the paradox that in narrative journalism, fiction — be it fictionalizing techniques or fictional elements — is used to serve non-fiction.

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    The framing of this practice as a dangerous game involves a renewed understanding of journalistic professionalism with implications for the role distribution between journalist and reader: the narrative journalist is a child playing with storytelling techniques, while the reader is an adult who is able to assess the playful conception of reality. Their value could be shifting toward the range of meanings and valuable experiences these stories bring about Costera Meijer, Journalism can only fulfill its democratic function if its products are consumed by the audience, and the audience has a need for understanding and sense, delivered by gripping stories Peelo, From this perspective, the narrative formats that are used so frequently in journalism contribute to democracy precisely because they attract readers: they stage news actors as prototypical characters whom readers can relate to Lule, and display storytelling techniques that draw readers close to the news events Peelo, This idea also corresponds to research indicating that Dutch journalism is and always has been functioning on narrative grounds Van Krieken and Sanders, a , b ; Dingemanse and De Graaf, Hence, there is no evident reason to assume that the current promotion of narrative journalism would endanger the interdependent relation between journalism and democracy.

    And the story of narrative journalism gives narrative journalists a sense of greater quality of life, as well. Her research interests include narrative discourse, journalism studies and cognitive text linguistics. Her research and teaching areas include cognitive text linguistics, stories and framing in health communication and journalistic narratives. The letter labels correspond to the labels assigned to the interviewees in the appendix.

    National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journalism London, England. Published online Sep Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Email: ln. Keywords: Factuality, framing, genre, narrative journalism, objectivity, storytelling. Introduction The professional interest in narrative journalism has expanded notably over the past years Ray, Research on narrative journalism There are various strands of research on narrative journalism. Narrative journalism in the Netherlands Several studies have shown that the use of storytelling techniques is by no means a recent invention in Dutch journalism.

    Study The study was divided into two parts. Public expressions A web and library search for journalism text books published between and was conducted. Table 1. Overview of materials.

    Narrative as rhetoric: technique, audiences, ethics, ideology Narrative as rhetoric: technique, audiences, ethics, ideology
    Narrative as rhetoric: technique, audiences, ethics, ideology Narrative as rhetoric: technique, audiences, ethics, ideology
    Narrative as rhetoric: technique, audiences, ethics, ideology Narrative as rhetoric: technique, audiences, ethics, ideology
    Narrative as rhetoric: technique, audiences, ethics, ideology Narrative as rhetoric: technique, audiences, ethics, ideology
    Narrative as rhetoric: technique, audiences, ethics, ideology Narrative as rhetoric: technique, audiences, ethics, ideology
    Narrative as rhetoric: technique, audiences, ethics, ideology Narrative as rhetoric: technique, audiences, ethics, ideology

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