Storyworlds Across Media: Toward a Media-Conscious Narratology
Marie-Laure Ryan and Jan-Noel Thon, eds.

Table of contents

Popular culture has accustomed us to narratives that refuse to leave the stage, that come back over and over again for another round of applause and for another pot of gold. Think of the many installments of the novel-based franchises The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire, the movie-based franchises Star Wars and Indiana Jones, the comics-based franchises of Batman and Spiderman or the video game-based franchise of Tomb Raiders. Each of the sequels, prequels, adaptations, transpositions or modifications that make up the body of these franchises spins a story that provides instant immersion, because the recipient is spared the cognitive effort of building a world and its inhabitants from a largely blank state. The world is already in place when the recipient takes its first steps in it, once again.

Following the established custom of the sequel, this book builds upon another book Ryan edited in 2004, Narrative across Media. We decided to call the present book Storyworld across Media instead of Narrative across Media II in order to reflect the new directions that the study of the multiple medial incarnations of narrative has taken in the meantime. The replacement of “narrative” with “storyworld” acknowledges the emergences of the concept of world, not just in narratology, but on the broader cultural scene. Nowadays we not only have multimodal representations of storyworlds that combine various types of signs and ‘virtual’ online worlds that wait to be filled with stories by their player-citizens but also serial storyworlds that span multiple installments and transmedialstoryworlds that deploy themselves simultaneously across multiple media platforms, resulting in a media landscape in which storyworlds are constantly expanded, revised, and even parodied by their creators and their fans alike. Another difference between the present volume and the original Narrative across Media is the scope of the term “across.” In Narrative across Media it referred to the comparison of the expressive power of different media with respect to the cognitive construct constitutive of narrativity, for stories and their worlds are crucially shaped by the affordances and limitations of the media in which they are realized; in the present volume, “across” is taken in both this comparative sense, and in an additional sense that refers to the expansion of transmedialstoryworlds across the conventionally distinct media sketched above.