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Gathering Together to Smash the State: An Analysis of Rhetorical Artifacts from the 2002 North American Anarchist Gathering
Unformatted Document Text:  Gathering 15 Narrative Criticism According to Fisher (1984) narrative acts as a paradigm by which all human beings learn about their world and interact with their world. As symbol using and symbol making creatures human beings live in a world that acts as narrative because that is how they communicate and construct the world around them. The idea of human beings as storytellers indicates the generic form of all symbol composition; it holds that symbols are created and communicated ultimately as stories meant to give order to human experience and to induce others to dwell in them to establish ways of living in common, in communities in which there is sanction for the story that constitutes one’s life. (Fisher, 1984, p. 6). We are what Fisher describes as homo narrans, and we create narratives for the sole purpose of giving order to our lives. Fisher would contend that without narratives we could not function in the world or create any sense of order. Thus, our narratives are designed to impose a desired order. This is important because it is inevitable that narratives should come into conflict. It is the rhetors’ hope that the audience of the narrative will adopt their organized reality over that of another. The acceptance of a narrative by an audience means that they will abandon many of their individual desires in favor of goals of a collective as it has been defined through the rhetors’ narratives (McGee, 1999). Through the examination of the plot of a text, narrative rhetorical criticism serves a constitutive function or a function of “ideological rhetorical force” (Chatman, 1990, p. 198). The primary idea behind this constitutive function is for the narrative to relate itself toward a culture’s social world in terms of values, traditions, beliefs, institutions, and language. The storyteller will situate the narrative in terms of a culture’s social world in terms of a continuum.

Authors: Atkinson, Joshua.
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Gathering 15
Narrative Criticism
According to Fisher (1984) narrative acts as a paradigm by which all human beings learn
about their world and interact with their world. As symbol using and symbol making creatures
human beings live in a world that acts as narrative because that is how they communicate and
construct the world around them.
The idea of human beings as storytellers indicates the generic form of all symbol
composition; it holds that symbols are created and communicated ultimately as stories
meant to give order to human experience and to induce others to dwell in them to
establish ways of living in common, in communities in which there is sanction for the
story that constitutes one’s life. (Fisher, 1984, p. 6).
We are what Fisher describes as homo narrans, and we create narratives for the sole
purpose of giving order to our lives. Fisher would contend that without narratives we could not
function in the world or create any sense of order. Thus, our narratives are designed to impose a
desired order. This is important because it is inevitable that narratives should come into conflict.
It is the rhetors’ hope that the audience of the narrative will adopt their organized reality over
that of another. The acceptance of a narrative by an audience means that they will abandon
many of their individual desires in favor of goals of a collective as it has been defined through
the rhetors’ narratives (McGee, 1999).
Through the examination of the plot of a text, narrative rhetorical criticism serves a
constitutive function or a function of “ideological rhetorical force” (Chatman, 1990, p. 198). The
primary idea behind this constitutive function is for the narrative to relate itself toward a
culture’s social world in terms of values, traditions, beliefs, institutions, and language. The
storyteller will situate the narrative in terms of a culture’s social world in terms of a continuum.


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