I’m excited to announce that my new paper, “Narrative Conjunction’s Junction Function” is now out in the Journal of Pragmatics! This is the first major theoretical paper I’ve had in a long time, and it goes into extensive detail about several aspects of my theory of how narrative image sequences are comprehended, Visual Narrative Grammar.
The main topic of this paper is “conjunction” which is when multiple panels are grouped together and play the same role in a sequence. I argue that this narrative pattern is mapped to meaning in several different ways. In addition to these arguments, the paper provides a fairly extensive treatment of the basics of my narrative theory along with the underlying logic it is guided by (i.e., diagnostic tests).
While simple visual narratives may depict characters engaged in events across sequential images, additional complexity appears when modulating the framing of that information within an image or film shot. For example, when two images each show a character at the same narrative state, a viewer infers that they belong to a broader spatial environment. This paper argues that these framings involve a type of “conjunction,” whereby a constituent conjoins images sharing a common narrative role in a sequence. Situated within the parallel architecture of Visual Narrative Grammar, which posits a division between narrative structure and semantics, this narrative conjunction schema interfaces with semantics in a variety of ways. Conjunction can thus map to the inference of a spatial environment or an individual character, the repetition or parts of actions, or disparate elements of semantic associative networks. Altogether, this approach provides a theoretical architecture that allows for numerous levels of abstraction and complexity across several phenomena in visual narratives.
Cohn, Neil. 2015. “Narrative conjunction’s junction function: The interface of narrative grammar and semantics in sequential images.” Journal of Pragmatics 88:105-132. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2015.09.001.