exploring the concepts of narrative…

Narrative. A word that we all know and use, but one that has myriad meanings and connections, depending on its application. For instance, you could say that a fictional book contains a narrative as the story is structured and is being told from a particular point of view. But an autobiography has a different type of narrative, despite still being a story. What about the narratives that run through the computer games that we play, or even the internal narratives that can be our thoughts? How do narratives change according to our global locations and how is a wide concept such as narrative applied to design, architecture and the arts?


These were but a few of the discussions that were presented last week at the first Sussex Symposium on Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Concepts of Narrative, which was hosted by the department of Informatics in the apt location of the Creativity Zone.

The internal symposium attracted a huge range of researchers and attendees from within the University, with speakers from six different departments. We are pleased to report that the School of Engineering and Informatics had four different speakers who each spoke about their own applications of the concept of narrative.

Kate Howland from Informatics spoke about the stories and narrative that run through game design – including how stories can be made relevant to the game player and how varied game play can be created, Paul Brown from Informatics spoke about the visual constructs of narrative and programming that run though his digital artworks, host Simon McGregor, also from Informatics challenged our viewpoints of what a narrative is – including thinking about what can be called a ‘fact’ or a ‘fiction’ and lastly Claire Potter from Engineering and Design spoke about the role of narrative in creating deep and meaningful design and architecture, including different types of narrative such as historical, vernacular and ethical.

The day also featured speakers from the departments of Global Studies, Philosophy and Psychology, plus a keynote address from Richard Walsh – the Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Narrative Studies at the University of York.

With such a variety of departments involved, the day has started to spark lots of cross collaboration plans between the attendees – for instance, how the psychology of narrative can link with game and product design…

Watch this space for plans of how these new connections, and the stories will develop.

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