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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Volume 2007, Issue 165


Diagramming narrative

Marie-Laure Ryan
Published Online: 2007-07-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/SEM.2007.030


The use of diagrams as a tool of narrative analysis is a fundamentally semiotic project whose origins can be traced back to the emphasis placed by the structuralist movement on the synchronic systems that underlie signification. Defining diagrams as a spatial presentation of information which conveys meanings that could not be expressed in the linear form of a text, a list, or a formal coding system, this paper focuses on attempts to represent individual narrative plots, as opposed to diagrams that model a universal narrative structure or discourse phenomena. Through the analysis of diagrams relating to three aspects of plot — time, space, and mind — this paper argues that graphic representations are not merely a tool for representing narratological knowledge, but an important way to produce this knowledge. At their very best, they can be the seed of a new theory.

About the article

Marie-Laure Ryan

Her research interests include narratology and digital texts. Her publications include Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory (1991); Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Narrative and Electronic Media (2001); Narrative Across Media: The Languages of Storytellling (ed., 2004); and Avatars of Story (2006).

Published Online: 2007-07-31

Published in Print: 2007-06-19

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2007, Issue 165, Pages 11–40, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/SEM.2007.030.

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