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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Narrative Theory and Medieval Narrative

1st May 2019, 17:30 to 19:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Professor A.C. Spearing (University of Virginia)

An Inventions of the Text seminar

We are excited to be joined by A. C. Spearing, Professor emeritus of the University of Virginia, who will be giving a paper entitled 'Modern Narrative Theory and Medieval Narratives'. Places for this event may be limited, and we ask that you confirm your attendance at The seminar will be followed by drinks in The Victoria Inn and the option of dinner at Ristorante Capriccio.


Narrative theorists rarely read medieval narratives, and medievalists rarely read narrative theory. Professor Spearing will attempt to show from two examples how concepts and assumptions unconsciously adopted from the main stream of modern narrative theory (and especially the dogmas that every narrative must have a narrator and that storytelling is a form of communication) are at odds with medieval storytelling practices. The examples are King Horn and Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess. King Horn is a narratorless narrative, cinematic in technique, and incorporating several speeches by characters that illustrate a fundamental difference between storytelling and the reporting of experienced events. The Book of the Duchess is a first-person montage in which the storytelling I is not a pronoun standing for a fictional ‘narrator’ but a deictic that serves to create an effect of ‘I-ness’—proximality and experientiality.

Contact for more information about this event.

Related Links


Research in English At Durham (READ) blog showcasing the the literary research emerging from the Department of English Studies


We host a large number of conferences, lectures and seminars each year, many of them open to the public. Find out more on our Events page.


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