Beyond narrative coherence

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The introduction suggests a paradigmatic turn in narrative studies as regards the coherence thesis. The classical, Aristotelian, notion has been widely shared among scholars who otherwise often disagree, often drastically, from folklore and linguistics to philosophy, psychology and narrativist theory of history. Once and again, the key function of narrative is seen to be the creation of coherence. Recently, this conception has faced increasing criticism both from the ranks of narratology and in particular, from scholars who study “naturally occurring”, oral narratives. The normative mission to find and value coherence marginalizes many narrative phenomena, omits non-fitting narrators, encourages scholars to read narratives obsessively from the perspective of coherence, and poses ethically questionable pressures upon narrators who have experienced severe political or other trauma.


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