The narrative art of modernist fiction: A corpus stylistic and cognitive narratological approach

Luo, Jian (2011). The narrative art of modernist fiction: A corpus stylistic and cognitive narratological approach. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis explores modernist narrative art embodied in modernist style of constructing narrative space. Within Chatman’s conceptual framework, narrative space can be divided into story-space (settings and characters) and discourse-space (focus of spatial attention). In a corpus-stylistic approach, the structuration of the story-space in The Mill on the Floss, The Good Soldier and To the Lighthouse is examined. The findings show that modernist tendency to deemphasise particularity of place shapes a narrative design of spatial detachment. In consequence, the establishment of settings in early modernist fiction is generally sketchy, but sometimes spatially informative. This is a mixed character. By contrast, settings in classic modernist fiction are symbolic of viewers’ psychological states, a clear manifestation of a modernist interest in characters’ interiority. To further trace the style change from early modernism to high modernism, a cross-disciplinary model for character analysis and a cross-axial model for the examination of discourse-space have been constructed. They help detect some similarities and dissimilarities between early and classic modernist styles of spatialisation. As a whole, this thesis has two features. First, it applies corpus stylistic methods to inform cognitive narratological interpretation. Second, it resorts to visualisation as an attempt at a multi-modal study of narrative space.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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