Narrative Theory in the Czech Republic

A) Department of Theory at the Institute of Czech Literature, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague

Research activity in the Department of Theory at the Institute of Czech Literature (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague) is carried out both in the form of individual projects by members of the Department and within the framework of collective tasks, extending and complementing Institute-wide research projects. Systematic study of narrative belongs to the Department’s most significant undertakings over the long term.

One of the Department’s main research projects is A Dictionary of Structuralist Literary Theory and Criticism (2013–16), under the direction of Ondřej Sládek. The aim of this project is to create the first-ever historical and comparative terminological dictionary to encompass structuralism in all its substantial dimensions and forms it has acquired within literary theory and criticism during the 20th century. The objective is to present and explicate basic theoretical and methodological concepts, paradigms, key terms, main trends and schools of structuralist literary theory and criticism, both from the perspective of their historical development and as reflected in current practice. Structuralism represents one of the most influential theoretical and methodological approaches in the social sciences and humanities, and it is therefore necessary to take account of developments in a number of allied fields (linguistics, aesthetics, semiotics, anthropology, etc.). In their research, the authors draw on the methodological legacy of the Prague School and also on other structuralist traditions.

Another project undertaken by the Department of Theory is the Poetics of Description: A Survey of its Representational Scope in Intermedia Perspective (2012–14), whose principal investigators are Alice Jedličková and Stanislava Fedrová. This project is an interdisciplinary survey of description in literature and the other arts. Literary description is examined as a parameter of the historical poetics of fiction, a projection of the architexture of the period concerned (a set of principles manifested in artifacts and techniques employed in the various arts), as well as an aspect of its episteme. Poetological explication focuses on theorization of description and revisiting its traditional classifications in poetics and stylistics, on defining the relation between description and narration and on typologization of descriptive forms. The intermedia approach examines media transpositions of descriptive schemes while cognitive explication demonstrates to what extent the reception of description is influenced by reading competencies, knowledge of other forms of artistic representation and observation schemes. Analyses investigate description as a way of evoking material reality and as a component of story structure and carrier of cultural models.

B) The Brno Narratological Circle (Brněnský naratologický kroužek)

The Brno Narratological Circle (established in 2011 in Brno) is an independent association representing various disciplines whose aim is to support, develop and popularize research on the study of narrative and fiction. The Circle is headed by a Board which oversees its activities and general direction. The Honorary Chairman of the Circle is Prof. Lubomír Doležel, and the Chairman is Radomír D. Kokeš. Other members of the Board are Bohumil Fořt, Aleš Merenus, František A. Podhajskýand Ondřej Sládek. The Board’s assistant is Vojtěch Velísek.
Since its founding, the Circle has organized nearly twenty public lectures (giving a lecture is a prerequisite of admission to the Circle) delivered both by leading Czech scholars and younger scholars with an interest in literary studies, narratology, semiotics, film studies, theater studies, aesthetics and philosophy. From the thematic point of view, the lectures are divided into three main areas:
1)    logical aspects of the theory of fiction and fictionality in general;
2)    boundaries of narrative and narration;
3)    narrative theory in a historiographic perspective.
The Circle has its own website – http://brnenskykrouzek.wordpress.com
(the older version: brnenskykrouzek.blogspot.com) – as well as an profile on Facebook.com.

For the autumn of 2014, the Circle is planning to hold a thematic conference on the life and work of the major Czech writer Jaroslav Hašek, author of the world-famous novel The Good Soldier Svejk: And His Fortunes in the World War.

The current collective research project of the Brno Circle is concerned with the relationship between narration and drama/theater within the broader perspective of the relationship between narration and film. Articles from this project were recently published in a special thematic part of the journal Theatralia Vol. 17, No. 1 (2014), available on line at:
http://www.phil.muni.cz/journals/index.php/theatralia/pages/view/current

Articles:

Radomír D. Kokeš a Aleš Merenus: “Rozprava namísto úvodu: Drama, divadlo a film v perspektivě teorie vyprávění” [Dialogue Instead of Introduction: Drama, Theater and Film from the Perspective of Narrative Theory], 267−71.

Roy Sommer: “Vyprávění v dramatu” [Narration in Drama], 272−78.

Ondřej Sládek: “Od strukturalismu k nové naratologii” [From Structuralism to New Narratology], 279−85.

Tomáš Kačer: “Proměna funkce posla v dramatu” [Transformation of the Messenger Function in Drama], 286−300.

Aleš Merenus: “Jak vypráví drama aneb O generativním a inscenačním vypravěči, zcizovaném vyprávění, voice-overu a dalších vyprávěcích strategiích dramatu” [How Drama Narrates or On Generic Narrator, Narrator on the Stage, Verfremdung, Voice-over and Other Narrative Strategies in Drama], 301−14.

Jan Šotkovský:  “Dva druhy strategií – dva druhy napětí” [Two Types of Narrative Strategy – Two Types of  Suspense], 315−29.

Radomír D. Kokeš: “Poznámky k poetice filmu v českých zemích (1911−1915): Formální tendence, filmová produkce a zubní extrakce” [Notes on the Poetics of Cinema in the Czech Lands (1911−1915): Formal Tendencies, Film Production, and Tooth Extraction ], 330−52.

Ondřej Sládek
Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague

About us

ENN is the European Narratology Network, an association of individual narratologists and narratological institutions. ENN aims to foster the study of narrative representation in literature, film, digital media, etc. across all European languages and cultures.

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