Interdisciplinary Center for Narratology

Northern Narratology Network

3*N (short for Northern Narratology Network) is a joint initiative by narratologists based at the University of Southern Denmark & Aarhus University, the University of Hamburg and the University of Kiel. Our current main thematic focus is on "Concepts, Constructs and Rhetorics of Factuality in Narrative Representations".

Our aim is to investigate so-called "factual" modes of narrative representation against the backdrop of a constructivist notion of "factuality". The underlying hypothesis is that the factual is not an a priori, but a social and communicative construct – in other words, that our agreement on what counts as a "fact" and a truthful representation thereof is contingent on shared communicative and representational conventions. Just like fiction, factual representation is a communicative device and mode that depends on a particular rhetoric.

One of the functional specifics of this particular rhetoric is that it aims to 'normalize' what would otherwise become transparent to senders and receivers as a communicative construct. Simply put, this 'normalization' hides the fact that the construct is a construct – and the result is what might be termed (with allusion to Roland Barthes) the "factuality effect" of naive realism. This effect is a transmedial phenomenon: being 'factual' is a property that can be ascribed to text based as well as to image based discourses, and it is even ascribed to the display of emotions. Every medium and every communicative dimension of human expression and interaction has its specific and historically bound 'rhetoric of factuality' to support the factuality effect – but narrative representation is, we believe, the discourse context in which we can best analyse in vito how concepts, constructs and rhetorics of factuality interact and build on one another.