Here we go 'Round In circles’: The definition of Circular Narrative as a new narrative typology

Katz, Stephanie E. (2023). Here we go 'Round In circles’: The definition of Circular Narrative as a new narrative typology. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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In this thesis, I offer a new and specific definition of circular narrative. My research reveals it as a narrative form that distorts temporality and causality in such a way that at its ending the narrative circles back to its starting point. This provides the reader with an entirely different perspective on how events fit together. I identify the narrative conventions that shape circular narrative as an in media res beginning, structural coincidences, and a denouement that provides new context when it revisits the beginning. I also show how circular narrative is a structural umbrella for multiple subsets, particularly in relation to twenty-first century science fiction and fantasy novels, television series, and films. I describe and define these subsets as the simple time-loop, the infinite loop, the spiralling circular narrative, and concentric circular narratives. I examine these structures across standalone works and multi-volume/multi-episodic narratives as well as multimedia works, thereby revealing the variety of cross-disciplinary applications that circular narrative has in literature and film. The active role of the reader and viewer is also shown to be an integral part of understanding and recognising circular narrative typology: this role involves searching for plot connections, identifying moments of anagnorisis where structural coincidences pull narrative threads together, and reflecting upon the text after reading/viewing through teleological retrospect. I thus approach circular narrative from a structural narratology standpoint and a reader/viewer response standpoint, to show how this form is a product of textual construction and reader recognition. Finally, I suggest ways in which the study of circular narrative opens up the analysis of other genres and other forms of visual narrative such as the graphic novel or the video game.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures


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