Coincidence and Counterfactuality: Plotting Time and Space by Hilary P. Dannenberg

By Hilary P. Dannenberg

In Coincidence and Counterfactuality, a groundbreaking research of plot, Hilary P. Dannenberg units out to reply to the perennial query of ways to inform an exceptional tale. whereas plot is one of the so much necessary facets of storytelling, it really is possibly the least studied element of narrative. utilizing plot thought to chart the improvement of narrative fiction from the Renaissance to the current, Dannenberg demonstrates how the radical has developed through the years and the way writers have built more and more advanced narrative innovations that faucet into key cognitive parameters regular to the reader from real-life experience.
Dannenberg proposes a brand new, multidimensional thought for studying time and house in narrative fiction, then makes use of this concept to track the historic evolution of narrative fiction by means of concentrating on accident and counterfactuality. those key plot strategies are built round pivotal moments while characters’ existence trajectories, or occasionally the trails of background, converge or diverge. The study’s wealthy historic and textual scope finds how narrative traditions and genres equivalent to romance and realism or technological know-how fiction and historiographic metafiction, instead of being separated by means of transparent obstacles are actually in a continuous strategy of interplay and cross-fertilization. In highlighting serious levels within the historic improvement of narrative fiction, the learn produces new readings of works via pinpointing the cutting edge function performed by way of specific authors during this evolutionary procedure. Dannenberg’s unique research of plot styles is interdisciplinary, incorporating learn from narrative idea, cognitive methods to literature, social psychology, attainable worlds conception, and feminist methods to narrative.

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Additional resources for Coincidence and Counterfactuality: Plotting Time and Space in Narrative Fiction

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Turner 1987, 141–43, my numbering) I will refer to these three types of causation as causal-progenerative, causalmanipulative, and causal-sufficient forms of explanation. Type 1, causation as progeneration, is a cognitive pattern used to comprehend a randomly initiated but causally linked sequence of events in time. ) By contrast, type 2, causation as action, involves the intentional manipulation of events by an agent. The following examples illustrate the historical transition away from a construction of events in which a providential god—implicitly located in a metaworld that is part of the narrative c o gn it i v e pl ot t i ng world—is deemed to be causally manipulating events toward more pluralistic forms of causal justification.

Counterfactual scenarios in semirealist texts such as science fiction still operate very closely on causal lines, even if the patterns of causation are generated by fantastic plots such as the fictional science of time travel. Thus, in texts like Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity (1955) and John Brunner’s Times without Number (1962), time travelers interfere with the causal-progenerative sequences of history, causally manipulating strategic events in order to create a counterfactual version of history.

Likewise, only through a belief in the narrative world can the process of narrative liberation and immersion take place. Seen this way, the reading experience is not so much a “willing suspension of disbelief” (Coleridge 1975, 169) as a willing construction of belief by the reader— the temporary refugee from the real world. A narrative world is thus a mental construction that provides a place of escape and liberty for the human mind to move to beyond the framework of its true ontological spatiotemporal boundaries.

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