Narrativity and Fiction in Pictures

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


In this paper, I shall present and discuss some possible criteria of narrativity with regard to their applicability to pictorial objects. More specifically, I will argue that pictorial works may express or imply fictional narrative structures. First, as I would like to argue, the concepts of fiction and narrativity could and should more thoroughly be investigated with regard to other media, such as pictorial ones, and second, pictorial representations may very well be considered as forms of fiction, although they might have a narrative structure or content only to a limited extent (or perhaps none at all).
Throughout the history of art, artists have unquestionably been engaged in rendering (parts or aspects of) fictional worlds, fictional entities or states of affairs, and the like – that is, pictorial fictions. In a broad sense, then, fiction can also be used as referring to the representation of imaginary characters, events, places in any conceivable media, such as pictures, quite apart from any outspoken narrative structuring. Indeed, as I would claim, the relationship between fiction and (verbal) narratives is logically contingent: not every fiction is verbal, nor do even verbal fictions have to be narrative (e.g. images as well as verbal descriptions of, say, Apollo or the Garden of Eden). And not all narratives, such as historical ones, do have to be fictional.
Recent research within cognitive psychology and narratology will be taken into account, and some concrete pictorial examples with fictional aspects will be discussed.


External organisations
  • External Organization - Unknown
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • types, world views, pictures, narratology, fiction, tokens, cognitive psychology
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReflections on Narrative: Interdisciplinary Storytelling
EditorsLisa Stansbie, Ana Maria Borlescu
PublisherInter-Disciplinary Press
ISBN (Print)978-1-84888-245-4
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes