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A Poetics of Plot for the Twenty-First Century

Theorizing Unruly Narratives

Brian Richardson

218 pp. 6 x 9
Pub Date: October, 2019

Subjects: Narrative Studies
Literary Studies, American
Literary Studies, British & Irish

Series: Theory and Interpretation of Narrative

order Hardcover $69.95   ISBN 978-0-8142-1412-1
order Paperback $34.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5554-4
Order PDF ebook$29.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-7734-8

“Brian Richardson’s ever-expanding knowledge of world historical literature—ancient and contemporary, arcane and canonical—allows him, seemingly without effort, to put things in a fresh light—a rare pleasure in academic prose.” —H. Porter Abbott

Story, in the largest sense of the term, is arguably the single most important aspect of narrative. But with the proliferation of antimimetic writing, traditional narrative theory has been inadequate for conceptualizing and theorizing a vast body of innovative narratives. In A Poetics of Plot for the Twenty-First Century: Theorizing Unruly Narratives, Brian Richardson proposes a new, expansive model for understanding story and plot, including beginnings, endings, temporality, and unusual narrative progressions.  While he focuses on late modernist, postmodern, and contemporary narratives, the study also includes many earlier works, spanning from Aristophanes and Shakespeare through James Joyce and Virginia Woolf to Salman Rushdie and Angela Carter. 

By exploring fundamental questions about narrative, Richardson provides a detailed, nuanced, and comprehensive theory that includes neglected categories of storytelling and significantly enhances our treatment of traditional areas of analysis. Ultimately, this book promises to transform and expand the study of story and plot.  

Brian Richardson is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland, College Park, and author of Unnatural Narrative: Theory, History, and Practice (OSU Press, 2015).



Introduction    Mimetic and Antimimetic Narrative Dynamics
Chapter 1        Narrative, the Nonnarrative, and the Unnarratable
Chapter 2        Modeling Narrative Beginnings
Chapter 3        Narrative Middles I: Plot, Probability, and Tellability
Chapter 4        Narrative Middles II: Non Plot-Based Narrative Progressions
Chapter 5        The Varieties of Narrative Time
Chapter 6        Adventures of the Book: Fabricating Fabula and Syuzhet
Chapter 7        Narrative Endings: Fixed, Unfixed, Illusory, and Unnatural
Conclusion      Narrative Theory and the Poetics of Story and Plot

Works Cited

Related Titles:

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Unnatural Narrative

Theory, History, and Practic

Brian Richardson

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Narrative Theory:
Core Concepts and Critical Debates

David Herman, James Phelan, Peter J. Rabinowitz, Brian Richardson, and Robyn Warhol

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A Poetics of Unnatural Narrative

Edited by Jan Alber, Henrik Skov Nielsen, and Brian Richardson