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A2 Communication & Culture Key Concept


In addition to the key concepts of the AS course, A2 adds the following: • Ideology • Mode of address • Discourse • Narrative • Technology.

Narrative Narrative refers to the way in which meanings are structured as stories. These stories may or may not be true: narrative certainly isn’t confined to the world of fiction. To avoid confusion, narrative also needs to be distinguished from narration. Narration is the “telling of the tale”; an activity carried out by the narrator (this can relate to mode of address, a key concept we’ll look at next week). Humans are said to be unique from other species because we have a vast language and a tendency to narrativize. Certainly, narrative is at the core of any culture, simply because cultures must be able to reproduce themselves, in print, conversation, rhyme, music, fashion or in art etc. or they will die out. A culture’s narratives could be seen as a way it encodes itself in order to be passed on from one generation to another. List and explain how the narrative of your life will or can potentially be passed on in the future. 1. a photo on display at home or elsewhere, or in a publication perhaps. What story does it tell? Give two different examples


2. What do you talk about, highlight or exaggerate in an on-line presence, e.g. on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter (do you Tweet in a certain style, or on a specific subject?)

3. have you had a conversation today, what did you reveal about yourself?

what narratives can be ascribed to this picture? This will be varied (open) depending on‌ Do you know who he is? What is the setting, does thesetting aid communication or present a barrier? – what does he brown (wood?) signify? Where could it be? What stereotypes are understood to exist about race? What we know happened next (historical perspective) Where is this sign likely to be?

Is it ambiguous or literal in its preferred reading or dominant decoding?

If it was seen in a news broadcast what possible narratives could be ascribed to it?

compare and contrast

Study the images, what is being represented? Consider historical context, production context, social context, fashion, tribes, identity

Some theory on narrative. A Structuralist viewpoint. Some argue that narratives, stories, have a common and shared structure. What did these people think? Aristotle said……. When? ___________________________ Propp – found….

But he was looking particularly at what?

_________________________ Todorov – see PowerPoint and Fill in the boxes What happens here…………………….…………and here?

There are said to be 5 stages in a narrative what are they?

1 2 3 4 5 _________________________ Lèvi-Strauss thought? All narratives (stories) are concerned with ? or the potential for ________________________ is present in the presentation of ‌..

______ -


In media tests, novels, news stories, documentaries, feature films, magazines, interviews etc we are thought to appropriate these associations and expectations. Try to apply a theory or two to the following‌ An open narrative is?

A closed narrative is?

A single-strand narrative is?

A multi-strand narrative is?

A linear narrative is?

A non-linear narrative is?

Closed and Open Narratives One common point of agreement is narratives are ‘complete’ or finished when ‘closed’ – i.e. there is RESOLUTION, this means issues, are resolved, conflicts are resolved & loose ends are tied up (for the most part – some minor enigmas may remain) Closure = IDEOLOGY narratives – are said to close down the complexities of life. Or narratives simplify the complicated, we condense life into start, middle and end ‘episodes’. “ I went into town and bought a lovely new coat!” Start – is the journey – the visit to the shop What happens? (middle) I bought something, a coat, Then at the end– and it was lovely offers closure on what happened at the (climax) end of story and emotionally for the protagonist (you in this case) – “Lovely” offers closure and resolution. We also simplify narratives by recounting them in CHRONOLOGICAL or LINEAR order –form the start – to the end. Film directors often make narratives more complex or interesting by chopping into the structure and rearranging events, sometimes what happens after is seen before or we ‘flashback’ to the past. Can you deconstruct a personal narrative from this week? Such as your journey to college. In chronological order 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Would it be confusing to rearrange the order of events?

Narrative – huh! What is it good for? Absolutely everything… Real life can be confusing and complicated – particularly for teenagers – but for adults alike! We are said to enjoy narrative and return to the same or similar stories again and again for a number of reasons. Consider why TeleTubbies repeated the first half in the second half of each episode, or why as a child you became very familiar with certain nursery rhymes. Narrative closes down the complexities of life….. 1. Humans are unique for their ability to tell stories (and in sooo many ways) it is what separates us form other mammals and animals, the ability to say what has happened, and what might happens is unique. Comfort in repetition 2. We like the familiar – repetition is comforting to us. Remember being a kid being read bedtime stories? Probably not. But we all enjoyed the tale of the pig who went to market – we knew it concluded with a “tickly under there!” Knowing this built excitement through expectation. By offering us closure - that we lack in real life. 3. We find comfort in the familiar – the closure offered by narratives in the media is often expected, and reassuring. We wait to the end of the film – for closure. Life is a open text. We may not know why soinso dumped us at the prom, or why dad left home when I was 6 orr why you failed a particular GCSE, or what will happen after college, or when you are in your 50s etc. Life is open, and complex, narrative is simplified into a coherent structure and commonly closed in the way it answers questions and offers resolution. Narratives deliver the ideological assumptions about how life should be. 4. Another use or pleasure of narrative is that it commonly conforms to our values and ideology of what is right and what is wrong. In real life it is not so black and white. For example, in crime shows, like CSI, NCIS, The Wire, etc criminals are caught and their punishment is befitting the crime. In real life not all crime is resolved in this way, consider the open narrative of Madeline McCann. If that was a TV how within 45 mins a villain would be identified, caught, killed or imprisoned. This is how life SHOULD be, this is how fictional narratives, TV drama, film etc often deliver on our ideological assumptions bout how life should be. Can you cite any examples of real life stories that are open and a similar fictional narrative?

Narrative Key Concept  

Intro to A2 Communication and Culture Key Concepts - Narrative

Narrative Key Concept  

Intro to A2 Communication and Culture Key Concepts - Narrative