CfP: TELLING TIME(S). NARRATIVE PROCEDURES – COMPLEX CONFIGURATIONS. Second Wuppertal Postgraduate Forum on Narratology

An interdisciplinary conference at the University of Wuppertal’s Center for Narrative Research and Center for Graduate Studies

July 7–9, 2011

That time and narration form a vital symbiosis is an axiom of narrative theory invoked from Lessing to Paul Ricoeur and from Shklovsky to David Herman. Time is the characteristic of narrative, for the temporal perspective on events enables narrative to become narrative. Every narrative, whether (auto)biographical, literary or historiographic, whether as text, film or comic, unfolds in time and presents time. For Eberhard Lämmert the key to the well-turned narrative lies in the “various ways in which it distorts, interrupts, rearranges or even suspends the monotonous succession of story time”. The assumption of such an underlying succession informs the perspective on temporal phenomena that has dominated the narratological approach to time right up to our own day, determining not only the critical distinction between ‘discourse time’ and ‘story time’ (G. Müller), but also Gérard Genette’s questions about order, duration and frequency – issues that are writ large in recent analytical practice.

However, this approach leaves a number of questions unanswered. How does story time come about? Is it presupposed by the reader/viewer, is it prescribed (pre-inscribed) by mental models, is it somehow generated by the narration? Moreover, what is story time? Is it merely subjective awareness, is it that homogeneous dimension in which events take place, or is it an integral element of Bachtin’s ‘chronotopos’? These questions about the narrative procedures that generate time, and the time-configurations that result from these procedures, have up to now received no adequate answer from narrative theory. Moreover, especially when one looks beyond the classical corpus of narratology – the novels of the 19th and 20th centuries – to pre-modern narrative types, or to narratives in other media, the concept of time as an universal “monotonous succession” becomes increasingly suspect. Time becomes plural – becomes times.

If one, therefore, asks what it means to narrate (i.e. to tell) time, whether singular or plural, two aspects come to the fore. First the narrative procedures that present time – how does time come about?
Secondly the specific configurations of time that these procedures create – what is time? Of particular interest in this context are configurations which are characterized not by “monotonous succession” but by complexity and heterogeneity, where attention focuses on the breaks in time-configurations, on forms of their subjective perception against the background of an objective ‘world-time’ (Schütz/Luckmann), on Foucault’s ‘heterotopias’ with their ‘heterochronias’, and on the various Bakhtinian ‘chronotopoi’. Issues such as these can be approached comparatively, historically, discursively or in relation to the media. They yield insights, therefore, not simply for a narratology of time, but for all those disciplines interested in the contexts and functions of narrative and narration in history, media and discourse.

The conference is directed to doctoral students in literary, art and media sciences, as well as in philosophy, history and sociology. Papers are invited on any (but not exclusively) of the following aspects:

– narrative ways of creating time in literature, film, comics and art – configurations of time: ‘world-time’, ‘social time’, ‘subjective time’
(Schütz/Luckmann); linear and cyclical time; ‘mythical time’ (Cassirer) etc.
– past, present, future; ‘space of experience’ and ‘horizon of expectation’ (Koselleck) – breaks in the configuration of time – aspects of the space-time relation: ‘chronotopos’ (Bachtin), ‘heterochronia’ (Foucault) – production of presence and its aesthetic effects (Bohrer, Gumbrecht) – differences in the configuration of time in media, history and discourse – time as an analytic category of narratological research.

Uta Störmer-Caysa (University of Mainz) has kindly agreed to give the opening lecture.

Contributors’ papers should be restricted to 30 minutes, to be followed by a 15 minute discussion. Contributions are welcome in German or English. Travel and hotel costs can be reimbursed up to a maximum of 200 € for conference members who provide evidence that no other financial support was available.

Abstracts (c. 500 words) – deadline March 31, 2011 – should be mailed to the following addresses:
Antonius Weixler
Lukas Werner

University of Wuppertal
Center for Narrative Research
Gauss Str. 20
42119 Wuppertal / Germany

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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.