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Symbolic Representations of the Post-apartheid University

Christine Winberg


Narratology is the study of the ways in which narrative organises perception

and experience. Narratologists understand narrative as a

‘meta-code, a human universal’ (White 1987), which is instrumental

in enabling the re-organisation of time, space, character and event in

the construction of meaning in texts. Narratologists draw on different

epistemological traditions, and develop different approaches and

practices. These approaches can be roughly categorised as belonging

to textual, inter-textual, and extra-textual traditions. The textual

approach is exemplified by the work of Vladimir Propp (1928/1968),

Claude Levi-Strauss (1958/1963), Roland Barthes (1966/1977),

Algirdas Greimas (1966/1983), Paul Ricoeur (1985), and Tzvetan

Todorov (1990). Narratologists in this structuralist tradition categorize

and taxonomize narrative form. Propp identified 31 ‘narratemes’

(the smallest narrative units, equivalent to morphemes at the sentence

level), which occur in all narratives in unvarying sequence; Greimas

developed a typology of narrative ‘actants’; and Ricoeur investigated

connections between time and narrative to typify ‘configurational

activities’ in narrative plots and sequences. These, and other, textual

approaches to narrative, show how texts selectively draw on narrative

resources (emplotment, ways of representing character, hermeneutic

and proairetic codes) in the construction of narrative meaning.

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