Unnatural Narration beyond Postmodernist Alterities

Huber, Irmtraud (March 2014). Unnatural Narration beyond Postmodernist Alterities (Unpublished). In: International Conference on Narrative. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.. 27. -29.03.2014.

Postmodernism has frequently employed unnatural narration with the aim to disturb and subvert conventionalized reading practices. Postmodernist discourses thus widely associate the unnatural with alterity, marginality and the suppressed. In this paper, I caution against such a perspective, which threatens to unduly limit our understanding of the broad variety of relations between natural and unnatural narrative on the one hand, and of the multiple possible functions of unnatural narratives on the other. Taking my cue from the use of unnatural narration in a number of recent novels, like Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves (2000), Michael Chabon’s Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000), or Yann Martel’s Life of Pi (2001), I will argue that a postmodernist approach which foregrounds ontological and epistemological questions and emphasizes alterity and subversion remains blind to some of the pragmatic implications that are the main concern of the unnatural narratives under consideration. This not only begs the question whether and in how far such a shift from ontological and epistemological towards pragmatic concerns constitutes a move beyond postmodernism, but also calls for a reconsideration of some of our widely established theories and assumptions about unnatural narratives.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures

UniBE Contributor:

Huber, Irmtraud


800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 820 English & Old English literatures
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages




Irmtraud Huber

Date Deposited:

05 Sep 2014 08:54

Last Modified:

05 Sep 2014 08:54



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