‘I felt like I’d stepped out of a different reality’: possible worlds theory, metalepsis and digital fiction

BELL, Alice (2016). ‘I felt like I’d stepped out of a different reality’: possible worlds theory, metalepsis and digital fiction. In: GAVINS, Joanna and LAHEY, Ernestine, (eds.) World Building: Discourse in the Mind. Advances in stylistics . Bloomsbury, 15-32.

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This chapter offers a possible worlds theory (e.g. Ryan 1991, Bell 2010) approach to metalepsis and, through its application to digital fiction in particular, shows how possible worlds theory can offer as a transmedial approach (Ryan 2005) to this ontologically transgressive fictional device (cf. Bell and Alber 2012). In narrative theory, a metalepsis refers to a point in a text when an entity appears to move between narrative levels such as when a character talks to the narrator of the text s/he is in or when an author becomes a character in the novel s/he is writing (Genette 1980, Fludernik 2003). This chapter argues that conceptualising metalepses as transgressions between worlds as opposed to the more abstract concept of diegetic levels more accurately accounts for what readers are asked to imagine happens when they encounter a metalepsis. It then shows how Possible Worlds Theory - and the concepts of counterparthood and transworld identity in particular - provides a systematic and replicable means of conceptualising and analyzing metalepsis. By combining the Possible-Worlds approach with the stylistic and multimodal analyses of Campbell and Alston's (2010) digital fiction Nightingale's Playground the chapter show how metalepses occur, not just through verbal language as is common in print texts, but also through non-textual elements such as sound, images and interactive interface elements. Further, it shows that digital fiction allows metalepses to take place across the actual-fictional world boundary so as to insert the reader within the fiction in a way that is simply not possible in print. The chapter concludes that possible worlds theory is able to model metalepses more accurately than other theories of narrative that do not have an ontological focus and also that the approach can facilitate both a transmedial and media-specific analysis of metalepses.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: The collaborative research on metalepis and unnatural narrative, with Dr. Jan Alber, that informs this chapter was originally funded by the British Academy (Small Research Grant Ref: SG100637).
Uncontrolled Keywords: possible worlds theory, interactional metalepsis,digital fiction, electronic literature, immersion, interactive narrative, transmedial narratology, media-specific analysis
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Humanities Research Centre
Page Range: 15-32
Depositing User: Alice Bell
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2017 13:58
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 06:46
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11765

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