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

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

6 Issues per year

CiteScore 2016: 0.32

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.240
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.819

Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca: Classe A

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Volume 2007, Issue 165


Action between plot and discourse

Thor Grünbaum
Published Online: 2007-07-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/SEM.2007.045


In this article, I argue that the representation of simple, bodily action has the function of endowing the narrative sequence with a visualizing power. It makes the narrated scenes or situations ready for visualization by the reader or listener. By virtue of this visualizing power or disposition, these narrated actions disrupt the theoretical divisions, on the one hand, between the narrated story and the narrating discourse, and on the other hand, between plot-narratology and discourse-narratology. As narrated actions, they seem to belong to the domain of plot-narratology, but insofar as they serve an important visualizing function, these narrated actions have a communicative function and, as such, they can be said to belong to the domain of discourse-narratology. In the first part of the article, I argue that a certain type of plot-narratology, due to its retrospective epistemology and abstract definition of action, is unable to conceive of this visualizing function. In the second part, I argue that discourse-narratology fares no better since the visualizing function is independent of voice and focalization. In the final part, I sketch a possible account of the visualizing function of simple actions in narratives.

Keywords: action; narratology; plot; discourse; reader-experience; visualization

About the article

Thor Grünbaum

His research interests are philosophy of action, narratology, and aesthetics. His publications include ‘Fortælling og indlevelse — En teori om synligheden i det litterære værk’ (2003); ‘Roman Ingarden's theory of schematized profiles: A dynamic version’ (2005); and ‘What do weather watchers see? Perceptual intentionality and agency’ (forthcoming).

Published Online: 2007-07-31

Published in Print: 2007-06-19

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2007, Issue 165, Pages 295–314, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/SEM.2007.045.

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