GUEST LECTURE, 18.10.2016 at 10.15-11.45, Main building A3


Nielsen takes his point of departure in the recent paradigm shift in the wake of Walsh 2007 (cp. also Nielsen, Phelan and Walsh (2015), Zetterberg Gjerlevsen (2016), Walsh (2016), and Phelan (2011) where fictionality as communicational strategy is extricated from fiction as a genre denominator. This allows for an examination of fictionality outside fiction. He looks at contemporary politics in forms ranging from clearly ideological and political fake news to election videos by right wing parties and to media coverage of the current election campaign in America.

Henrik Skov Nielsen is Professor at The Department of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University. He heads “Narrative Research Lab”, http://www.nordisk.au.dk/forskningscentre/nrl and ”Centre for Fictionality Studies”, http://fictionality.au.dk/ He is currently visiting professor at Tampere University, Finland. Main areas of expertise include first person narratives, unnatural narratives and fictionality.

September 29th to 30th, 2016: Symposium “The Ideological Force of Narrative”

Symposium “The Ideological Force of Narrative” with invited speakers Jan Alber and Dorothee Birke, including a worskhop for PhD and MA students.

Thursday lectures are open for all, welcome!

GUEST LECTURE, 26.8. at 12-14, B 3107

Dr. Richard Walsh (University of York): Sense and Wonder: Complexity and the Limits of Narrative Understanding

My talk considers certain cognitive constraints upon the possibility of understanding complexity, as a preliminary attempt to negotiate with those constraints. I examine what it is to bring complex systemic processes into a meaningful relation with our cognitive capacities – which is to say, into relation with narrative; our narrative understanding of systemic behaviour latches onto the system’s emergent behaviour, at the cost of a disregard for how this emergent behaviour is actually being produced. This limit on understanding nonetheless implies the possibility of an inhabitable cognitive borderland, if we view our cognitive engagement with complexity as an “edge of sense” phenomenon. I pursue this idea by considering the (rather surprising) attempts to define emergence in terms of surprise, and put the notion of surprise in narrative context by invoking Alfred Hitchcock’s well-known distinction between surprise and suspense. Doing so provides a way to clarify the affective dimension of the observer’s experience of emergence, and locates it in a certain double relation to knowledge in narrative. This double perspective clarifies the respect in which things may appear to make sense even while we are unable to make sense of them; an affective experience I equate with wonder. Wonder is, among other things, a religious feeling conforming to the double perspective structure I have proposed; the order of things, whilst eluding us, submits to omniscient cognition. I situate omniscience in relation to its literary analogue, omniscient narration, and contrast it with the position of the character narrator, in the middest – drawing upon Don DeLillo’s White Noise as example. DeLillo’s novel provides a suggestive link to The Cloud of Unknowing and a mystical tradition of understanding as a feeling, and even a relinquishing of knowledge. I end by considering whether such mystical ideas can help clarify the wonder I have associated with emergence in complex systems.


In Finnish only: Tutkimuskeskus Narraren keskustelutilaisuus, Pinni B4116 12-14


Kokemus, odotus ja kerronnallisuus

Elämän narratiivisuuden merkitystä analyyttisen nykyfilosofian valossa tarkastelee akatemiatutkija Antti Kauppinen. Keskustelijoina myös filosofian professori Arto Laitinen, sosiologian professori Matti Hyvärinen sekä englannin kielen ja kirjallisuuden yliopistonlehtori Jarkko Toikkanen.

Open lecture by LTL Guest Professor Henrik Skov Nielsen, Paavo Koli auditorium 14-16


Edgar Allan Poe and René Descartes imagining madness

In the paper I read three short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, two of which are canonical; “The Black Cat”, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, and “The Oval Portrait”. I contextualize the narratives in relation to unnatural narratology, to fictionality and to the meditations of Descartes. More than anything the paper is concerned with close readings. If listeners have a chance to acquaint themselves with one or more of the stories that is great but anyone will be able to follow.

Narrare: Centre for Interdisciplinary Narrative Studies presents: Kertomuksentutkimus 2015

Oct 22 2015

Seminar (in Finnish) on the state of the art in Narrative Studies.

The seminar day also sees the unveiling of two new publications:

Narrative Theory, Literature, and New Media. Narrative Minds and Virtual Worlds, eds. Mari Hatavara, Matti Hyvärinen, Maria Mäkelä & Frans Mäyrä, Routledge 2015. http://www.tandf.net/books/details/9781138854147/

Hajoava perhe, eds. Matti Hyvärinen, Eriikka Oinonen & Tiina Saari, Vastapaino 2015. http://vastapaino.fi/kirjat/hajoava-perhe/

June 4-6, 2015: International conference Ethics of Storytelling: Historical Imagination in Contemporary Literature, Media and Visual Arts

May 20, 2015 Terminology workshop on ”Narrative Identity”

May 19, 2015 Memory and metaphor: How do we make sense of the past?

Guest Professor Jens Brockmeier (The American University of Paris)

Fictionality as documentation strategy: The Act of Killing and The Ambassador

May 5, 2015

Henrik Skov Nielsen (Aarhus University; Guest Professor at the School of Language, Translation, and Literary Studies, UTA)