Telling Stories: Postmodernism and the Invalidation of Traditional Narrative

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Rowman & Littlefield, 1995 - Philosophy - 499 pages
Michael Roemer's groundbreaking work argues that every story, be it ancient myth or documentary film, is completed before we read or watch it. He explores why a society like ours - predicated on free will - is addicted to tales that neither we, nor the heroes, can control. Roemer argues that, contrary to both formalist and postmodern aesthetic theories, traditional stories do not create order out of chaos but challenge our order with chaos, undermining the structures we have built to protect ourselves. He finds that stories are both radical and conservative, invalidating our freedom while centering on heroes or heroines who are obliged to act alone; their adventures remove them from the sheltering community. Moreover, their attempt to escape the plot is mandated by the plot itself. Predicated on contradiction, ambiguity, and uncertainty, stories affirm what they deny - just as society both affirms and denies our existence as individuals.
 

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Contents

The Preclusive Form of Narrative
3
Stories Connect Us
11
Fictive Figures Must Think They Are Free
19
Plot
39
Plot and Necessity
51
Plot and the Sacred
57
The Desacralization of Story
69
Story and Consciousness
91
Traditional Story Is On the Right
221
Invalidating the Privileged Realm
233
The Rejection of Empathy
241
The Invalidation of Experience
249
Storytellers New and Old
269
Popular Stories
271
Four Storytellers and the Enlightened Tradition
291
Henry James Postmodernist
319

Story As Paradox
107
Story Affirms What It Denies
129
Postmodernism and Traditional Narrative
155
We Have Always Been Positivists
157
We Dont and Do Believe in Stories
177
Postmodern Theory and Traditional Art
185
Deconstruction Liberates and Enables
195
Invalidating Traditional Aesthetics
203
And Now?
351
The Death of God
353
Postmodernism and the Death of Man
363
Envoy
373
Notes
387
Index
489
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

Michael Roemer is professor of film and American studies at Yale University.

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