2021/22 Semester 1
Honours Year -- English Language: EL4221

Lecture   ||   Textbook   ||   Essay   ||   IVLE   ||   Project

Course Lecturer: Associate Professor Ismail S. Talib. E-mail: ellibst@nus.edu.sg.
Course Web page: http://courses.nus.edu.sg/course/ellibst/narr-str.html

(Page is in the process of being modified)


Advice to Prospective Students
Description of Module and Its Aims
Prospects for Further Research
Practical Work & Continuous Assessment Marks
Session Format
Topics to be Covered
       Main Text
       Basic Texts

EL1101E (or an equivalent module). EL or EN students should have taken a minimum of 28 MCs. Students are expected to have reasonable knowledge of linguistics, and an appreciation of narrative in its various forms. General knowledge of literature and film is helpful, but formal qualifications in these fields are not essential.

A maximum of 40 students. EL and EN Honours students who intend to do this module are advised to indicate their preference before the bidding process begins.

To EL students: This module is also taken by EN students, as one of the modules to meet their Honours EN requirements. The module has thus been redesigned to make it less technical, so that EN students will be able to follow most of the sessions. Some literary and cinematic materials have also been introduced to make the module relevant to them. Please take note of these modifications before you enrol for this module.
To EN students: Although the module has been redesigned to accommodate EN students, it is still designated as an EL module. EL1101E (or equivalent) is a prerequisite, and some knowledge of linguistics is thus expected. Linguistics however, is not a mere academic requirement, as it has been an important discipline in the development of narratology in the twentieth century, and continues to be important today. Some basic ideas or concepts in linguistics will thus help to contextualise some aspects or features of narrative as they are understood today.

This module aims to give students a general overview of some of the main ideas of narrative. In spite of the wide multi-disciplinary interest in narrative, the focus is on how some of the concepts of narrative can be applied to texts of various types. The concepts and theories discussed, and their application in practical analysis, will also be viewed in the light of developments in linguistics, discourse analysis, semiotics, literary theory and film studies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Students who want to do research or further their studies on the elements of narrative in literature, or on aspects of narrative in written, spoken and visual discourses, or in a combination of these discourses, may find this module useful as a general introduction. There is growing interest in narrative in various fields, so students intending to do further degrees in other fields may use some of the ideas they have learned from this course.

Written and multimedia texts will be presented or played during each session. Students are expected to pay attention to them, as questions would be asked on them. You can expect the following items and division of marks for this module's continuous assessment (the details and the percentages may be adjusted during the semester):
   Essay   30%      
   Group project and report   30%      
   Quizzes & other class inputs   25%
   Participation (electronic media)   15%      
     Total CA Marks  100%      
Please note that this is a 100% CA module, with no final examination. Your assessment will thus not be concentrated in one main examination at the end, but will be well spread out throughout the semester.


Please note: this module is a lecture module over Zoom. There will be one three-hour session per week. All the sessions are interactive. You are expected to participate in each session. Your participation will be assessed . Other than more open-ended class participation questions, there will be questions in the form of surveys and quizzes (25%). Before enrolling for this module, please note that this is a class-based module. Not only are there interactional activities in the class, but you are also expected to be involved in them in order to maximise your marks. Absenteeism and non-punctuality will have a negative effect on your marks.


The topics to be covered are given below. Students should not treat the topics below as sacrosanct, and they are in fact strongly encouraged to explore areas (as long as they have a connection to narrative) not indicated below: for ideas on what you can do, you can take a look at the two e-magazines whose links are given at the end of this document. For further details on the topics, consult the programme.

1. Definitions of Narrative
2. Beginnings and Ends of Narrative
3. Setting
4. Character
5. Event
6. Plot
7. The Narrator
8. Schema & Genres
9. Narrative Production
10. Symbol
11. Morality: Narrative and Ethics

READINGS Narrative studies are a rapidly expanding inter-disciplinary field, with at least four major academic journals devoted to it: The Journal of Narrative Technique, The Journal of Narrative and Life History, Narrative Inquiry and Narrative, all of which are available in the library. You may also find articles in journal Image and Narrative of interest, especially in the analysis of cinematic and other narratives that are dependent on visual elements. The following list gives you only the following:
o The main text, which can be found on the Web and gives you brief notes on the lectures
o The basic texts, which are useful for the first seven lectures
Other readings, especially those that are accessible on the Web, are indicated by the links found in the module programme.

Main Text

Ismail S Talib

Narrative Theory (web book)

Basic Texts
Bal, Mieke

Narratology. 2nd Edition.Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1997. (PN212 Bal)

Chatman, Seymour Story and Discourse. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1978. (NX650 Nar.C)

Genette, Gerard

Narrative Discourse. Trans. by Jane E. Lewin. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1980. (PQ2631 P968*Ge)
Leitch, Thomas What Stories Are. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1986. (PN212 Lei)
Hühn, Peter et al. (eds) The Living Handbook of Narratology (web book)
Martin, Wallace Recent Theories of Narrative. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1986. (PN212 Mar)
Prince, Gerald A Dictionary of Narratology. Rev. Edition. Lincoln, Nebraska, U of Nebraska P, 2003. (P302.7 Pri 2003)
Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith Narrative Fiction. 2nd Edition London: Routledge, 2002. (PN212 Rim 2002)
Toolan, Michael Narrative: A Critical Linguistic Introduction. 2nd Edition. London: Routledge, 2001. (P302.7 Too 2001)

Here are some subject-specific e-zines that I curate for tablets and smartphones (iOS and Android) which you may want to refer to when looking for ideas in your research for the assignments on narrative (if you are on a tablet or smartphone, click on one the links to go to the site): Business & Narrative, http://flip.it/FFlw6; Video Game Narrative, http://flip.it/Fm4Zs; Politics & Narrative, http://flip.it/V4MXo; Southeast Asian Literature, http://flip.it/lS3i4; Film Directing, http://flip.it/ptanc; and The Cinematographer, http://flip.it/eJez6

Last revised: 15 June 2021