It is an inevitable medial condition of language that texts are essentially linear. Language presents a sequence of words, thus forming an ordered syntactical structure, just as narrative texts would ... read more
It is an inevitable medial condition of language that texts are essentially linear. Language presents a sequence of words, thus forming an ordered syntactical structure, just as narrative texts would be supposed to somehow represent an ordered sequence of events. But as texts always model the world and our perception of the world, this ordered linearity also entails a particular kind of structuring the world as well as a conditioning of our subjectivity as perceiving/reading subjects.
To try and break the sequence in the form of non-linear narratives is therefore a major challenge not just to our habits of reading, but to the way we make sense of reality in general as well as to our conception of how language works.
Non-linearity in narrative texts can be achieved and looked at on different levels: It can refer to the temporal order of events and how they are represented in a text. It can also refer to the spatial ordering of the text and its discourse, e.g. the non-sequential order of chapters. Or it can even be achieved on the level of syntax and language itself, breaking up and interweaving sentences. This class will attempt to differentiate and describe these forms according to the pragmasemtiotic levels of the literary text. But moreover, will it look at the different functions and aesthetic, philosophical and ideological repercussions of these challenges to our semiotic order(ing) of the world. The focus shall be on novels and short fiction by Samuel Beckett, B. S. Johnson, Christine Brooke-Rose, and Gabriel Josipovici.