Date of Award

1988

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Mary Frances Hopkins

Abstract

This study outlines a new theory of time in first-person narrative fiction based on the concept "mediacy." By applying a phenomenological understanding of time to narrators of first-person fiction, the study draws a distinction between narration and narratization. Narration refers to the narrative act, the act of telling. This study contends that although a literary narrative may serve as record of past events, it is primarily a notation of the narrative act. The narrative act is a unified experience that exhibits a structure of beginning, middle, and end, which is notated in a literary text. A narratization, in contrast, refers to the extended temporal field in which the narrator orients himself/herself. Unlike narration, which is recorded in a literary text, narratization usually is only implied by the narration. During a narrative act, which is a basic action, the narrator orients himself/herself on the basis of some envisioned future that s/he hopes to achieve, partly through the act of telling. On the basis of that envisioned future, the narrator determines the actions s/he needs to take to achieve that future. The narrative act, then, is constructed in part on the basis of the futural dimension of the expansive temporal field, which is configured by the narrator in the act of telling. This study differs from traditional analyses of time in narrative in that it recognizes a futural orientation on the part of the narrator, or mediator, who is engaged in a narrative act, in addition to his/her orientations toward the past and the present. This study recognizes that the narrative act, of which literary narrative is a record, is a dialectic between past and future. The implications of this theory of time in narrative are explored in analyses of short stories by Cynthia Rich, Lee Smith, and Raymond Carver.

Pages

245

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