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kaleigh19's picture

(Non-)Narrativity

I've been thinking a lot about the concept that we raised at the end of Tuesday's class about the tendency to turn a narrative story into a non-narrative one.  I think some of it has to do with the earlier conversation that we had about the question of authority in scientific texts - cevans (I'm sorry, I don't know your first name!) is absolutely right in pointing out that Mayr presents evolution as a non-narrative; that is, although he tells the story of evolution, he does so in a way that he's grounding his authority in the absolute veracity of the story.  To tell the theory of evolution as a story would imply an open-endedness, thereby suggesting that we don't know how the story ends, where the crack in the loop might take us.  And this kind of uncertainty would necessarily compromise Mayr's status as an, if not the, authority on the subject.  And I think that we do look to a voice like Mayr's, or a religious leader or professor for that matter, for the closure and security of authority.

Which brings me to my next thought: if we can turn scientific narratives into non-narratives, taking the story of evolution as "truth" or a "given," can we not do the same thing to literature? For example, when we read Romeo and Juliet, virtually everyone knew (whether or not we did so courtesy of Baz Luhrman or Wishbone) that the "star-crossed lovers" would die at the end.  Granted, this may be a bad example given that the chorus informs us of the death of the lovers in the prologue, but I believe that the point still holds.  When we read literature, especially canonical literature, we generally know where the story is going.  And even if we don't know "how it ends," we're almost inevitably confronted with authoritative critiques and interpretations of the text - for example, who can read Othello without being informed that it's all about jealousy? I guess I'm trying to raise the question as to whether or not all literature inevitably becomes non-narrative, either once we know how the story ends (there's that element of static!) or how we're supposed to think about it.  

Katie Baratz

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