Introduction to narrative

Narrative in its most basic sense involves the telling of a story. In this unit, we will introduce ourselves to some of the additional characteristics that distinguish narrative from other forms of speech and writing beyond this preliminary definition. We will also see why narrative plays such an important role in human life in general and literature in particular.

The short film that follows illustrates how every one of us constructs narratives on a regular basis in order to give shape and meaning to our lives and to understand ourselves, other people and the world around us. In so doing it also explains why the ability to analyse narratives and see how they are put together is such a valuable critical tool in life and cultural studies alike.

This film makes a number of bold claims about narrative. We will now explore some of these claims a little further by working through each of the following topics in turn:

  1. What is narrative?
  2. The importance of narrative and narratology
  3. The power of narrative and the pleasures of interpretation

Once you have completed this introduction to narrative unit, you may either return to the front page of this narrative module or proceed directly to the next unit: Elements of narrative.