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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Inventions of the Text Seminar Series

Inventions of the Text complements our Research Seminar series. Inventions is organised by a team of postgraduate researchers, and combines papers by academics from Durham and beyond with presentations by PhD students. Seminars run roughly every couple of weeks during term time, with around eight or nine events a year. After each seminar, attendees are welcome to socialise with the speaker(s) over dinner. They are generally for University staff and students, although sometimes open to the public.

Forthcoming Inventions of the Text Seminars

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

Past Inventions of the Text Seminars