Episode 56: Narratology 2.0

So here’s another term I’ve been pushing recently in my academic writing. This one only has just one more hit on Google and I can’t even open up that one because of things so definitely no plagiarism here. Narratology 2.0 and/or post contemporary narratology is basically what I’m seeing happen in www.tvtropes.org If you are unfamiliar with the website then prepare for something awesome. Imagine every subcategory of narrative strategies being explained with examples from every different form of media. Also, you can look at specific works of literature and see how different strategies play out in it. Be warned, you can easily spend way too much time perusing the site and may end up archive binging way into the night.

What makes tvtropes so interesting is that it’s completely written, done, and edited by regular readers. It is a wiki in the normal sense but they are the first ones to say that they are “a buttload more informal than wikipedia.” There are a lot of people out there that still think that Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information but their policies of having citations for just about everything makes it better documented than a lot of books you see out there. The problem with pretty much every form of a wiki is that they are not as democratic or super inclusive than one can imagine. Wikis of all types usually fall under the standard 80/20 rule: 80% of content is done by 20% of users. Sometimes the percetages go even more crazily disproportionate.

Here’s how narratology 2.0 works within the realm of wikis. Basically, readers can demand a better quality of narrative cohesion and have better evidence to ask for accountability. A similar thing happened back in the old days but this was usually a limited number of overzelous fanssending letters to the television channel or publishing house that propbably weren’t take seriously. The 2.0 part is that diehard and casual fans come together to deliver something that is both collablorative and accessible by just about anyone online. You can judge the process of old shows and categorize how tropetastically they dealt with things. You can have almost real time updates as new episodes reveal new tropes and examples as a show is airing. But the real gem of tv tropes is being able to witness the trope classifications of works through the perspective of someone that was there during the original serial reading experience. These posts provide contexts that new readers can’t really know of because of the context at the time or because new versions have edited these original moments out. Perhaps one of the more interesting tropes/narrative strategies is the Orwellian Retcon, wherein the source material is completely changed (not as difficult as you might think with online texts like webcomics) and the previous version is now mostly unavailable. Check out the the site for more details here. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OrwellianRetcon

Perhaps the coolest thing about this is that authors know full well that readers are engaging in narratology 2.0. THis leads to the author using these wikis as an extension of the narrative and thus ancillary text to help keep track of things, both for him/herself and for new readers. Second, authors now have to up their game to keep track of everything since just about everything is being recorded one way or another aand too many breaks in narrative continuity might give off the wrong impression that one is lazy/untalented.And of course, you can always throw tropers some love by giving specific details/passages that only someone with an observant and critical eye can catch. Either way, the author now has the reader to take some responsibility to ensure quality of the narrative and help classify its elements. Much like cloud computing, you can get a lot more done when you have more people to do the job.


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