Book Cover

A New Anatomy of Storyworlds

What Is, What If, As If

Marie-Laure Ryan

248 pp. 6 x 9
6 illustrations
3 tables
Date: August, 2022

Subjects: Narrative Studies
Literary Theory

Series: Theory and Interpretation of Narrative

order Hardcover $89.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1508-1
Order PDF ebook$49.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-8226-7

A New Anatomy of Storyworlds is a lucid, rich, and engaging study of fundamental narratological concepts, as well as controversial narratological elements. Ryan’s impressive work will appeal to scholars and enthusiasts beyond traditional narratology.” —Gerald J. Prince, author of Narratology: The Form and Functioning of Narrative

The question of how narratives actually do the work of world-building transcends disciplines: from cosmology to philosophy, digital culture, popular culture, and literary theory. In A New Anatomy of Storyworlds, Marie-Laure Ryan investigates the narratological importance of the concept of world in its various manifestations. She uses a wide array of works—from Sokal’s hoax to Maus, from Saussure to Barthes, from Kafka to virtual reality—to interrogate key narratological concepts. By revisiting and redefining concepts such as narrator, plot, character, fictionality, mimesis, and diegesis, Ryan reexamines the major controversies that have enlivened narratology: Does narrative necessarily involve a narrator? Is the notion of implied author useful? Do texts that challenge our experience of the real world require a different narratology? Is the distinction between fictional and factual narratives gradual or binary? Ultimately, Ryan grounds narratology in the concept of world to propose an alternative to the rhetorical, feminist, unnatural, and cognitive approaches that currently dominate the field, thus broadening the frame through which we view story and world-building.

Marie-Laure Ryan is an independent scholar based in Colorado. She is the author of Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media and coauthor, with Kenneth Foote and Maoz Azaryahu, of Narrating Space/Spatializing Narrative.



List of Illustrations

Introduction    Grounding Narratology in the Concept of World

Chapter 1        Truth: Discourse Types and Theories of Truth

Chapter 2        Fiction: The Possible Worlds Approach to Fiction and Its Rival Theories

Chapter 3        Narrator: Decomposing a Theoretical Primitive

Chapter 4        Characters: Textual, Philosophical, and “World” Approaches to Character Ontology

Chapter 5        Plot: Cheap Plot Tricks, Plot Holes, and Narrative Design

Chapter 6        Mimesis and Diegesis: Complementing Each Other

Chapter 7        Parallel Worlds: Physics, Narrative, and the Multiverse

Chapter 8        Impossible Worlds: Dealing with Logical Contradiction

Chapter 9        Virtual Worlds: Narrative and VR Technology

Chapter 10      Transmedia Worlds: Industry Buzzword or New Narrative Experience?



Related Titles:

Book Cover

Narrating Space / Spatializing Narrative

Where Narrative Theory and Geography Meet

Marie-Laure Ryan, Kenneth Foote, and Maoz Azaryahu

Book Cover

Somebody Telling Somebody Else

A Rhetorical Poetics of Narrative

James Phelan

Book Cover

Narrative Theory

Core Concepts and Critical Debates

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