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Call for Papers: Ambiguity and Narratology

Avatar of Philipp Weiss Philipp Weiss - 25. Februar 2020 - Call for papers

Interdisciplinary and Diachronic Workshop
Research Training Group 1808: Ambiguity – Production and Perception
Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, November 5-7, 2020

Ambiguity and Narratology

The Research Training Group 1808: Ambiguity – Production and Perception is organising a workshop on the topic of Ambiguity and Narratology which aims at bringing together narratologists of all philologies and different periods of time from antiquity to the present day. The three-day workshop will focus on ambiguity phenomena that are part of the narrative structure of literary texts and can thus be described with the help of narratological frameworks and models. As acts of narration are determined by common organisational principles, the objective of this approach is to show that ambiguity plays a key role in narration and can serve as a useful analytical tool.

Based on the assumption that literary texts can be conceived as a communicative process between sender and hearer, ambiguity is an integral part of the communicative act of narration. It is still under discussion whether these ambiguity phenomena are taken as ‘vices’ (Grice, Chomsky) or ‘virtues’ (Jakobson, Piantadosi). Yet, they can be modelled in a matrix of production and perception that regards ambiguity either as strategic (PS+/RS+) or non-strategic (PS-/RS-). This framework contributes to answer the question how exactly ambiguity phenomena play a role in both producing and perceiving texts and how they affect the interpretation by the reader.

Our starting point: Narratology in general is more concerned with the question How is narrated? instead of asking What is narrated? and thus investigates narrative structures such as time, space, narration, perspective or characters.

Our questions: How does ambiguity relate to each of these structural categories? Which categories are more prone to ambiguity than others? How does speaker-hearer interaction work in narrative texts in which ambiguity phenomena feature prominently?

We welcome papers that address one of these questions in a 20-minute talk. Each talk will be followed by 20 minutes of discussion. To submit a proposal, please send an abstract of max. 300 words to by May 15, 2020. A separate attachment may contain your personal details (name and surname, university / affiliation). The organisers will review all submissions anonymously and inform the submitters of their decision by the mid of June 2020. The workshop will be held in English.

Organisers: Simon Grund, Robert Kirstein, Julian Wagner

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