This Issue


  • Editors / Herausgeber


From images and audiovisual and electronic media to the World Wide Web – narration these days comes in a wide variety of forms. The intensive use of the new media in many different contexts crosses, overlays and intertwines with the reception of traditional literary media, which still constitute an intensive aspect of our lives. This shift in cultural practice has manifold consequences for narrative research. The present issue of DIEGESIS aims to give an impression of their impact.

This immediately brings a body of creative work to the fore that has long led a marginal life in academia: narratives that do not – or do not exclusively – use language, and are not, as such, beholden solely to the cultural techniques of reading and writing. Other types of technique and gesture define this behavioral context, and the difference becomes visible above all at those points where various media meet and interact. The genesis of complexity in and through intermedial relations characterizes this new corpus and opens up new vistas of narratological research.

Modern marketing exploits the potentialities of media-crossing to a striking degree, publishing successful material in forms as varied as novel, film, computer game, comic or YouTube parody. This raises a twofold question: what is the common narrative substrate of these variants, and what, in terms of narrative procedure, is specific to each medium? In the present issue Matthias Brütsch’s critical comparison of transmedial narrative techniques takes the first of these perspectives. The second is followed by Sebastian Armbrust in his examination of complexity in well-known TV series such as House and The Wire, as well as by Markus Kuhn, who analyzes the specific narrative function of the hand-held camera in feature films and fictional Internet clips.

That media differences are relevant to the understanding of texts has long been accepted in narrative research, and has changed the way established categories are used. Thus the concept of intertextuality has been broadened to include an interest in inter-medial relationships, media change, and transcription – a line of investigation pursued by Matthew Bolton in his comparison of Ian McEwan’s Atonement with its film version. Matei Chihaia reconstructs an allied shift in the concept of ‘media immersion’, charting its passage from the allegorical literary models of Horacio Quiroga, Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar to contexts of narrative theory and empirical psychology.

While in this way an increasingly habitual media competence evolves upward through the various disciplines, extending at each step the field of narratological interest and research, the narratological perspective itself enriches the approach to media with its own type of questioning. This is evident in all the articles of the present issue that set out to provide a rigorously argued scientific foundation adequate to the diversity of contemporary media. The question put by Klaus Speidel in the title of his contribution – “Can a single picture tell a story?” – may in this sense be taken as representative of many others.

A single issue of DIEGESIS can naturally only offer a cross-section of the media domains in which narration plays a role. However, that neither journalism nor computer games get more than a mention in these pages is due to the fact that they will be at the center of the two following issues. If you would like to be informed about our Calls for Papers and plans for future issues, please take out a subscription to our Newsletter. We look forward keenly to your future input and at the same time call your attention to the reviews in the present issue, which provide a fresh outlook on up-to-the-minute narratological research.