The Narrative Characteristics of Images

British Journal of Aesthetics 63 (1):1-23 (2023)
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Abstract

While much has been written about verbal narratives, we still lack a clear account of what makes images narrative. I argue that there are narrative characteristics of images and show this with examples of single images. The argument proceeds in three steps. First, I propose that from a semantic perspective, the following two characteristics are necessary for an image to be narrative: a representation of an event and a representation of time. Second, I argue that there are paradigmatic characteristics, such as at least two events, bridging connections, and unifying subjects between these events, characters with intentions, and the representation of goal-directed actions. Third, I show that it is possible to differentiate between narrative and non-narrative images while also accounting for the idea that narrativity is a matter of degree. While I do not provide a full definition of narrative images, my account constitutes a necessary first step in this direction.

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References found in this work

Narrative explanation.J. David Velleman - 2003 - Philosophical Review 112 (1):1-25.
Beyond Resemblance.Gabriel Greenberg - 2013 - Philosophical Review 122 (2):215-287.
Under a description.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1979 - Noûs 13 (2):219-233.

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