The Body and Kinetic Space

  • Daniel Punday


No aspect of narrative appears, at first blush, to have a more direct connection to the human body than space. The concept of setting itself implies an interest—somewhat uncharacteristic for narratology, as we have seen—in the physical location of characters. Indeed, it may be setting’s intimate connection to physical placement and the human body that has led narratology to pay it relatively little attention. Abstract textual models of “spatial form” have garnered their share of attention from narrative theorists. Likewise, especially in discussions of film narratologists have discussed setting as a component of narrative “discourse”—as a way of shaping our experience of presented events and characters.1 Very few critics, however, have discussed the role of setting within the construction of plot, action, and character—at the level of narrative “elements,” to use the common distinction. We are far more likely to find commentary on setting in an introductory-level student handbook or writing guide than we are to uncover analysis from narratologists. An anthology like The Norton Introduction to Literature (1995) suggests that setting functions either to provide a background atmosphere that helps us to understand the characters, or by symbolizing a way of life or value system.2 Rudimentary as these remarks are, they are the few examples that we have of attempts to characterize setting as a narrative element.


Social Space Virtual Space Physical Access Spatial Access Virtual Body 
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4 The Body and Kinetic Space

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© Daniel Punday 2003

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  • Daniel Punday

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