Narrative Complexity

This upcoming book Complex Television: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Narrative – A proposal for a multiplatform book by Jason Mittell, provides some insights into my own recent use of storytelling modes and the idea of complex narratives. From complexity in context:

This book’s main argument is that over the past two decades, a new model of storytelling has emerged as an alternative to the conventional episodic and serial forms that have typified most American television since its inception, a mode that I call narrative complexity.

In trying to understand the storytelling practices of contemporary American television, we might consider narrative complexity as a distinct narrational mode, as suggested by David Bordwell’s analysis of film narrative. For Bordwell, a “narrational mode is a historically distinct set of norms of narrational construction and comprehension,” one that crosses genres, specific creators, and artistic movements to forge a coherent category of practices.[1] Bordwell outlines specific cinematic modes such as classical Hollywood, art cinema, and historical materialism, all of which encompass distinct storytelling strategies while still referencing one another and building on the foundations of other modes.

Reference 1. David Bordwell, Narration in the Fiction Film (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), 155.

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