Sunday, November 6, 2016

Research Notes for an article on narrative (3)

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Note: I am doing research on the use (misuse?) of the mot du jour "narrative," in the past most associated with literature but now frequently proposed by inside-the-beltway international affairs "strategists" and military experts as a mental tool to be used in the ideological combat against foreign forces hostile to the United States.

More notes on this research topic at: (1) (2).

Research sparked in part by the following event:

Join BBG CEO at CSIS for a discussion on global media and public engagement [JB--don't forget to wear your wedding ring:)]
October 24, 2016

The Center for Strategic & International Studies cordially invites you to "Global Media in Foreign Policy & Public Engagement."

BBG CEO John Lansing will join CSIS's Project on Prosperity for a conversation on how journalism and media can steer opinion and policy around the world. CSIS and BBG will discuss forming narratives that can alter public opinion. Some countries increasingly use messaging as a soft-power tool to promote a particular viewpoint, while external actors like civil society advance alternative policy agendas. As part of this event, we expect to cover the closing civil society and public diplomacy space in Russia.

Monday, October 31, 2016
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Center for Strategic & International Studies
1st Floor Conference Center
1616 Rhode Island Avenue, NW,
Washington, D,C. 20036


John Lansing
CEO and Director
Broadcasting Board of Governors

Shannon Green
Director and Senior Fellow
CSIS Human Rights Initiativ

Jeffrey Mankoff
Deputy Director and Senior Fellow
CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program

Definition of narrative in English:



1A spoken or written account of connected events; a story.
‘a gripping narrative’

More example sentences

‘Part of this admirably straightforward narrative was written, but not published, as a study for the commission.’

‘An event occurs, and it slowly becomes encrusted with narratives about what happened.’

‘The film's narrative tries to uncover just exactly what his role was.’

‘Such grand narratives frequently obscure the sequence of events they are struggling to explain.’

‘His prose narratives, too, were bestsellers till the 18th century.’

‘Consequently, readers seeking a more traditional chronological narrative of political events might need to look elsewhere.’

‘Many narratives have also been written in more conventional language and forms by Aboriginal authors.’

‘So in other words, they're using the biblical gospel narratives in a symbolic way in these novels.’

‘A five-minute coda tries to wrap up, while leaving nearly all the narrative threads hanging.’

‘We are even more dependent on Rose's selectivity with the pool of first-person narratives.’

‘However, the author's first-person narrative evaporates when the action happens over the horizon.’

‘Similarly, he acknowledges that the slave narratives were always survivors' stories.’

‘A realist third-person narrative, its critical irony comes through in the novel's ambiguous, multivalent ending.’

‘There are, then, three narrative strands.’

‘Their narratives were accounts of how a democratic state had been achieved.’

‘They opt instead for narratives that tell half of the story and narratives that tell an untrue story.’

‘He contends that the mass media help to spread the narratives of history and everyday life which bind people together as a nation.’

‘These were Maori narratives written and read from the position of living in a European country.’

‘They also provide a compelling personal narrative of his life.’

‘Mixing legend and history, he provides a coherent narrative based upon traditional materials.’

1.1[mass noun]The narrated part of a literary work, as distinct from dialogue.
‘the dialogue and the narrative suffer from awkward syntax’

More example sentences
1.2[mass noun]The practice or art of telling stories.
‘traditions of oral narrative’

More example sentences
1.3A representation of a particular situation or process in such a way as to reflect or conform to an overarching set of aims or values.

‘the coalition's carefully constructed narrative about its sensitivity to recession victims’
More example sentences

1.1[mass noun]The narrated part of a literary work, as distinct from dialogue.

‘the dialogue and the narrative suffer from awkward syntax’

More example sentences

‘Though carefully documented, the book primarily weaves strong narratives filled with lively anecdotes.’

‘It is into this chronological narrative that he interlards verbatim dialogue, transcriptions and notations of the songs.’

‘The book is a compilation of Biblical narrative, rabbinic legends, prayers, homilies and songs.’

‘The story CDs, which are on sale over the internet for £9.99, are made up of narrative, rhymes and songs.’

‘Altogether there are thirty-three narratives and twenty-two opinion statements.’

‘These various narratives are weaved in with combat footage and historical analysis.’

‘It spools out and out of my mouth, narrative, dialogue and commentary.’

‘She's very good at dialogue, and the high ratio of talk to narrative is one reason why her stuff is so readable.’

‘These struggles were only the beginning, as similar feelings about dialogue and narrative nagged the back of my mind.’

‘I was brought in to, essentially, write some voice-over dialogue and narrative for it, to buttress the story.’

‘So, the film is all about the triumph of spectacle over narrative, but sometimes you need just a little bit of narrative to make things worth while.’

1.2[mass noun]The practice or art of telling stories.

‘traditions of oral narrative’

More example sentences

‘Nonfiction narrative is to my mind a higher art because the writer has far more demands put on them by the known facts.’

‘That being said, I'm all for a good story, but narrative and story are two different things.’

‘I have lately been thinking about the lasting effects of modernism and science on religious narrative.’

‘Just as every story needs a preface, a truly erudite narrative simply cannot do without an introduction.’

‘Here is a man who understands the cinematic image, not just as vacuous glamour but as narrative and poetry.’

‘The plot of history may not always be as credible as fictional narrative, but it can be just as fascinating.’

‘They have yet to find a way of really telling a good story rather than just using narrative as a vehicle to get them from one visual gag to another.’

‘When I refer to narrative, I'm talking about story telling and delivery of a story.’

‘It has lots of different strands of narrative which come together in a complete story.’

‘The short story cycle looks back to oral traditions of narrative while embodying signs of modernity.’

‘She says none of the five bite-sized operas is trying to break from traditional narrative.’

‘His chief area of expertise, and the subject he taught when the School became a teaching department, was oral narrative.’

‘It does this by creating an atmosphere that is closer to poetry than to traditional prose narrative.’

‘He does not dress them up with narrative; there is no story, just a jangle of exposed nerve endings.’

‘Perhaps my own tendency to sit with narrative rather than poetry leads me in this direction.’

‘You can define narrative to make it the story or to make it the whole, and you can emphasise different aspects.’

‘In the realm of mythic narrative, the same stories keep getting reincarnated.’

‘It didn't just object to certain kinds of story, but to narrative in general as a promoter of illusion.’

‘These pieces depend on narrative for their lives, animated by the stories we tell about them.’

‘But it is the interest in fictional narrative that comes through most strongly.’

1.3A representation of a particular situation or process in such a way as to reflect or conform to an overarching set of aims or values.

‘the coalition's carefully constructed narrative about its sensitivity to recession victims’

More example sentences

‘The history of the country as a whole "does not fit easily into a standard narrative of democracy" - assuming that there is anything like a "standard narrative of democracy".’

‘It will also depend on the way we conceptualize him and where he fits into our own global narrative.’

‘Constructing an expansive environmental narrative enabled activists to find new ways to seek, and sometimes achieve, long-standing political goals.’

‘This is a simple story that fits nicely into the overall narrative the President has been using already.’

‘American triumph at the end of World War II could reaffirm the master narrative of American conquest.’

‘He was a politician who fatally lacked a grasp of the importance of having a narrative to inspire supporters and enthuse the electorate.’

‘Journalists may love to break news, but they hate to contradict the narratives that crystallize around particular politicians or policies.’

‘American constitutional history was dominated by a whiggish narrative in which progressive forces consistently supportive of civil rights and civil liberties triumphed over the dark forces of reaction.’

‘We have seen this before - the so-called Liberal media framing the narrative to fit Republicans.’

‘Can it really be right to have children when they'll grow up in a world dominated by narratives of social and environmental catastrophe?’

‘The "narrative" that the President was under-achieving "would largely go away", he thought, particularly when health care reform passed.’

‘The point is that with new governments, what we've come to regard as their narrative generally tends to become evident after the event.’

‘The Louisiana chief executive is impossible to dismiss out of hand because he fits into several narratives that make him appealing to conservatives and to independent voters.’

‘The party hopes the raft of policy announcements this week will show that their leader is developing a coherent and imaginative "narrative" that will define his general election campaign.’

‘Official American history diminishes or erases completely these bodies in its ideal narratives of progress.’

‘The bigger picture, however, is of a prime minister and a government that want to be more self-confident but are frustrated at the failure of their 'narrative' to find a more receptive audience.’

‘Especially in this country, we have allowed the development of a narrative in the media which privileges suspicion of domestic politicians over the understanding of global movements.’

‘Labour needs to find a new narrative. And the Conservatives must stick to their story.’

‘Such expectations may have been unrealistic, but it was part of an overall narrative about the Liberal Democrat path to government which depended not only on Liberal Democrat progress, but also Conservative decline.’

‘Historians and politicians skillfully crafted the narrative of an active middle class who (in retrospect) had heroically waged the revolutionary struggle.’


In the form of or concerned with narration.

‘a narrative poem’

‘narrative technique’

More example sentences

‘In essence, it is hard to grasp a true narrative thread in this book.’

‘A review, like a novel, has a narrative arc to it.’

‘The first 11 chapters of Genesis are generally taken as narrative history by young earth creationists.’

‘First, it is too general to be of any use in distinguishing one narrative genre from another.’

‘She is so incidental in her one narrative appearance that she is scarcely noticed.’

‘The middle stretch of poems do have slightly more narrative content or something.’

‘I would have probably continued reading this for the narrative techniques.’

‘Perhaps more surprising than its efficiency as propaganda is the film's excellence as narrative cinema.’

‘Human curiosity seems the obvious answer, and eavesdropping creates that narrative lack which provokes curiosity.’

‘So it would be okay to inject more narrative drive into the story.’

‘As resistant as this is to the imposition of narrative coherence, a feminist ethos is unmistakable.’

‘And I am very happy that you like my characterization, and narrative style.’

‘Much narrative theory explores different ways of conceiving these variables.’

‘But somehow we've lost the narrative thread that ties it all together.’

‘His range has expanded into tackling corners of history and mythology through long narrative stanzas and monologues.’

‘You can view the whole thing as performance art with hints of narrative structure.’

‘But that would have been owed to his two great narrative poems, rather than his plays.’

‘A few more narrative tracks would have maybe filled in this information nicely.’

‘The real narrative subtext here is the restoration of family and the recuperation of a nation and its history.’


Late Middle English (as an adjective): from French narratif, -ive, from late Latin narrativus telling a story, from the verb narrare (see narrate).


Use over time for: narrative

JB: Note growth in the usage of the term ...


Also found in: ThesaurusLegalAcronymsEncyclopediaWikipedia.


1. narrated account; a story.
2. The art, technique, or process of narrating: the highest form of narrative.
a. presentation of real-world events that connects them in a storylike way:"There has been less of a coherent, connected media narrative and more of akind of episodic focus on events, controversies and gaffes" (Mark Jurkowitz).
b. An explanation or interpretation of events in accordance with a particulartheory, ideology, or point of view: the competing narratives of capitalism andMarxism.
1. Consisting of or characterized by the telling of a story: narrative poetry.
2. Of or relating to narration: narrative skill.

nar′ra·tive·ly adv.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


  • narratage - The technique of having one character in the role of storyteller or the act ofinserting bits of explanation into a narrative.
  • narrative - First an adjective meaning "telling the facts of a story," from Latin narrare, whichis also the base of narrate.
  • saga - Old Norse for "narrative."
  • diegesis - The narrative or plot.
Farlex Trivia Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Noun1.narrative - a message that tells the particulars of an act or occurrence or course of eventsnarrative - a message that tells the particulars of an act oroccurrence or course of events; presented in writing or drama orcinema or as a radio or television program; "his narrative wasinteresting"; "Disney's stories entertain adults as well as children"
tearjerker - an excessively sentimental narrative
subject mattercontentmessagesubstance - what a communication that isabout something is about
tall tale - an improbable (unusual or incredible or fanciful) story
folk talefolktale - a tale circulated by word of mouth among the common folk
sob storysob stuff - a sentimental story (or drama) of personal distress;designed to arouse sympathy
fairy storyfairy talefairytale - a story about fairies; told to amuse children
nursery rhyme - a tale in rhymed verse for children
Adj.1.narrative - consisting of or characterized by the telling of a storynarrative - consisting of or characterized by the telling of astory; "narrative poetry"
communicatorycommunicative - able or tending tocommunicate; "was a communicative person and quickly toldall she knew"- W.M.Thackeray
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun storyreporthistorydetailaccountstatementtalechroniclerecital He beganhis narrative with the day of the murder.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


recounting of past events:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved. 


A. ADJ → narrativo
B. N (= act) → narración f; (= story) → narración frelato m
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


to tell (a story). He narrated the events of the afternoon.narrarcontar
narˈration noun narrative (ˈnarətivnoun
a story. an exciting narrative.narrativanarraciónrelato
narˈrator noun
1. a person who tells a story. narrador
2. a person who tells you what is happening or explains something in a film. narrador
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.

Definition and Examples of Literary Terms

Narrative Definition

Narrative is a report of related events presented to the listeners or readers in words arranged in a logical sequence.

A story is taken as a synonym of narrative. A narrative or story is told by a narrator who may be a direct part of that experience and he or she often shares the experience as a first-person narrator. Sometimes he or she may only observe the events as a third-person narrator and gives his or her verdict.

History of Narration or Storytelling

Storytelling is an essential part of human nature. Man is the only creature that tells stories. Man has been telling stories and listening to them since the time he learnt to speak. The storytelling began with oral traditions and in forms of myths, legends, fables, anecdotes, ballads etc. These were told and retold and were passed down from generation to generation and they show the knowledge and wisdom of early people. The basic theme of the above mentioned forms of stories were fears of natural forces, deeds of heroes, gods and goddesses, and they might be told to learn a lesson from an experience. Biblical stories have the primary purpose of teaching spirituality. Most biblical stories were performed in churches to convey spiritual messages to the masses.

Narrative Examples in Everyday Life

The modern narratives have a broader function. After a close study of famous examples of Modern narrative, one would realize that such narratives do not merely entertain but serve as ways to communicate writers’ moral, cultural and political perspectives. Moreover, narratives have contributed to achieving educational objectives in our everyday life. Different forms of media are enabling people to express and record their real life stories and to share their knowledge and their cultural values across the world. In addition, many documentaries on television adopt a narrative technique to communicate information in an interesting way.

Examples of Narratives in Literature

Example #1
“Animal Farm” by George Orwell is a modern narrative example that aim at extending a writer’s political views. It is a form of narrative known as a political satire. It uses animals on a farm to describe the overthrow of the last of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II and the Communist Revolution of Russia before WW II. The actions of the animals on the farm are used to expose the greed and corruption of the Revolution. It also describes how powerful people can change the ideology of a society.

Example #2
Poetry written in the style of a narrative is known as narrative verse. “Faerie Queen” by Edmund Spenser is an example of such poetry. It narrates the adventures of “The Red-Cross Knight” to help “Lady Una” rescue her parents from the evil “Dagon”. On a symbolic level it narrates the mission of the Holiness is to help the Truth, fight Evil, and thus regain its rightful place in human hearts.

Example #3
Charlotte Macleod’s “The Withdrawing Room” is an example of a thriller or suspense narrative. Augustus Quiffen, a lodger at Sarah’s Brownstone home, is killed by falling under the train. It seems to be an accident until “Mary Smith” tells “Sarah” that it is a murder but she is not sure of the identity of the murderer. “Sarah” and “Max Bittersohn” investigate the matter and find that the killer has planned the death beforehand.

Example #4
“Don Quixote” by Cervantes is a parody of Romance narratives that dealt with the adventures of a valiant knight. Unlike serious Romances, in “Don Quixote” the narrative takes a comical turn. . We laugh at how the Quixote was bestowed a knighthood in his battle with the giants [windmills]. We enjoy how the knight helps the Christian king against the army of a Moorish monarch [herd of sheep]. These and the rest of the incidents of the novel are written in the style of Spanish romances of the 16th century to mock the idealism of knights in the contemporary romances.

Function of Narrative
Storytelling and listening to stories are part of human instincts. Therefore, writers employ narrative techniques in their works to attract readership. The readers are not only entertained but also learn some underlying message from the narratives.

Moreover, a narrative is set in specific cultural contexts. Readers can get a deep insight of that culture and develop an understanding toward it. Thus, narratives can act as a binding force in uniting humanity.

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