Culture, Agency, and Realism: Three Roles Things Play in Fictional Narratives

Author:Weisheng Tang Time:2019-07-09 Click:

There has been an obvious “turn” to things or nonhumans in contemporary narrative studies, that is, a turn to “things” that have been largely neglected in the past, including animals, plants, minerals, ecosystem, landscapes, places, etc. Basically, things can play three roles in fictional narratives: things that, as cultural signifiers, reflect (or influence) human culture, things that, as actors, affect human beings and motivate the narrative progression rather than serve as mere backgrounds, and things that, as realities, manifest their ontological materiality by transcending linguistic and cultural representations. These roles of things can work independently or in combination in fictional narratives, depending upon the writer’s rhetorical use of them.

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