We give you the scuttlebutt on academic journals—aiding you in selecting the right journal for publication—in reviews that are sometimes snarky, sometimes lengthy, always helpful. Written by Princeton University graduate students and Wendy Laura Belcher.
For those interested in publishing very formal articles that directly take up narrative theory and narratology and who are ready to subordinate their politics and themes to that theory. It is for acolytes of narrative theory in its traditional sense. Articles tend to focus on small segments of narrative theory, fleshing out the corners of the theory. Articles like to show how “narrative” matters broadly, informing texts far outside of the humanities–in medicine, law, and business. Other theories become mere themes in its articles (e.g., postcolonialism, race, gender are topics only). It has many collaboratively authored essays.
Narrative makes no bones about its commitment to narrative: it is the official journal of the International Society for the Study of Narrative. Narrative is also sometimes an organ of the Society: publishing, for example, that the Society has granted Gerald Prince the Wayne C. Booth Lifetime Achievement Award — and publishing in that case additional critical accounts of Prince’s work. James Phelan, editor of Narrative since 1992, has also edited Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates.
The tight focus of the journal allows for sustained theoretical debate that does not lose itself in topics. The Jan 2015 issue, for example, features a debate on “fictionality,” Phelan and his co-authors offering “Ten Theses about Fictionality” Paul Dawson collegially rebutting them with “Ten Theses against Fictionality,” and Phelan et. all once again responding with “Fictionality As Rhetoric: A Response to Paul Dawson.” Moreover, Phelan et all publish a further defense of their position in Jan 2017. And so Narrative continues to circle around a discrete set of problems. (Additionally: the Phelan theses are indicative of the not infrequent inclusion of collaboratively authored essays.)
The editorial hand is always clear: article abstracts are written by the editorial staff. Abstracts are of a particular ilk. For instance, the arguments of the essays rarely come through in the abstract (the editors do not presume to rehearse the author’s argument?). Rather, the abstracts highlight the extent of analysis; rarely fail to name the theoretical orientation and approach of the essay; and always clearly demarcate the “theoretical” from the “topical” concerns of the essay— this makes clear the emphasis of Narrative by readily subordinating topic to narrative theory. “Postcolonialism,” for example, in the treatment of these abstracts becomes a topic and not a theoretical apparatus (rather refreshing, really— or rather stuffy, if you prefer — at any rate the editors are duly circumspect of newer theoretical constructs).
Narrative and its contributors variously promote and are involved with centers for study of narrative and fictionality (e.g. the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Narrative at St. Thomas University). Their interest in these centers revolves around their efforts to formalize the study of narrative across the disciplines in a research university context— that is, “narrative” or “fictive discourse,” they work to demonstrate, is operative in juridical proceedings, the presentation of medical research and various other spheres in which capital is more readily invested (than in traditional departments of literature).
Reviewed by AI
Edited by James Phelan, The Ohio State University (since 1992)
Associate Editors: Barbara Perkins, University of Toledo, and George Perkins, Eastern Michigan Univeristy
Frequency: Triannually (January, May, October)