Narrative Building Blocks: Digital Resources for Linguistic and Literary Investigation


About the Cluster

The study of narrative structure (and the imposition of narrative structuring) has been a fundamental question across a wide swath of humanisitic studies — Propp’s folkloric taxonomy, Labov and Waletzky’s analysis of oral narratives, Chatman’s studies of cinematic story making, Lyotardian metanarrativity, the narrative turns in medicine and social sciences. All of these illustrate the universality of narrative devices in organizing thought across a vast epistemological terrain. Nevertheless, what constitutes narrative structure — what it is that makes something a narrative and not some other mode (in Barthes’ terms) — remains unclear. Does narration require a narrator? Aristotelian unity? Is narrative the “default” mode, as theoretical linguists and champions of the narrative turn have espoused independently?

The purpose of this proposed cluster is to make some headway toward answering these questions. We are an interdisciplinary group from Applied Linguistics, Computer Science, Literature, and Linguistics, and we are interdisciplinary because we believe that making progress on this question requires a coordinated campaign from several positions within the epistemological expanse. We aim to do this both in the abstract, by sharing with each other our disciplinary notions of narrative, and in the concrete, by collaboratively building a pilot crosslinguistic digital corpus of narrative text, annotated with the categories that our communities find of central importance. The coming together of such a diverse federation for the purposes of building a shared textual resource is, to our knowledge, a unique enterprise.

UC Santa Cruz Faculty Participants

Pranav Anand (Linguistics)
Bryan Donaldson (Applied Linguistics)
Susan Gillman (Literature)
John Jordan (Literature)
Maziar Toosarvandani (Linguistics)
Marilyn Walker (Computer Science)
Eve Zyzik (Applied Linguistics)

UC Santa Cruz Graduate Student Participants

Rebekkah Dilts (Literature)
Lara Galas (Literature)
Jared Harvey (Literature)
Hitomi Hirayama (Linguistics)
Kelsey Kraus (Linguistics)
Ben Mericli (Linguistics)
Elahe Rahimtoroghi (Computer Science)
Stephen Richter (Literature)
Tom Roberts (Linguistics)
Alex Ullman (Literature)
José Villaran (Literature)