Telling stories: postmodernism and the invalidation of traditional narrative

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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Incorporated, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 499 pages
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Michael Roemer's groundbreaking work argues that every story, be it ancient myth or documentary film, is completed before we read or watch it. He explores why a society like ours - predicated on free will - is addicted to tales that neither we, nor the heroes, can control. Roemer argues that, contrary to both formalist and postmodern aesthetic theories, traditional stories do not create order out of chaos but challenge our order with chaos, undermining the structures we have built to protect ourselves. He finds that stories are both radical and conservative, invalidating our freedom while centering on heroes or heroines who are obliged to act alone; their adventures remove them from the sheltering community. Moreover, their attempt to escape the plot is mandated by the plot itself. Predicated on contradiction, ambiguity, and uncertainty, stories affirm what they deny - just as society both affirms and denies our existence as individuals.

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The Preclusive Form of Narrative
Stories Connect Us
Fictive Figures Must Think They Are Free

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About the author (1995)

Michael Roemer is Professor of Film and American Studies at Yale University. He was born in Germany, educated at Bunce Court School in England, and graduated "magna cum laude" from Harvard. His first film, "A Touch of the Times, " was the first feature produced at an American college. "Nothing But a Man, " a double Prize winner at the Venice Film Festival, was selected by the Library of Congress as a distinguished American film. "The Plot Against Harry, " shown at the Cannes and New York Film Festivals in 1990, was distributed theatrically in the U.S. and Europe. "Vengeance is Mine" and "Pilgrim, Farewell" were invited to the Venice and Berlin Festivals and were widely seen on television, as was Roemer's prize-winning documentary, "Dying." He is also the author of "Telling Stories, " two previous volumes of screenplays, and numerous essays.

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