Representations of happenings or events are generally considered as basic components of narrative. Narratives don’t simply “recount” happenings, however, but “give them shape, give them a point, argue their import, proclaim their results” (Brooks 2006, 13). Events are therefore best viewed as complex constructs (Nünning 2010) whose representations may be considered as a form of event modeling (Sommer 2023). Narratives establish and increase “eventfulness” (Hühn 2014) by describing occurrences as specific kinds of events, such as turning points, tipping points, or points of no return (Nünning 2012). Narratological analyses of events focus on (1) the ontological status and truth value of events as something experienced, observed, invented, imagined, or remembered, (2) the significance, relevance, unexpectedness, and unusualness of events, and (3) the ways in which narratives establish temporal, causal, or associative links between different events by means of “event sequencing” (Herman 2009). Like narrative framing, narrative event modeling involves processes of selection, evaluation, and interpretation. In addition, narrative representations of events establish relationships between events, create a sense of coherence, and link past, present, and future experiences in meaningful ways.
In migration debates, events are often at the core of controversial and, at times, toxic debates. For instance, there are disputes over responsibilities whenever humanitarian catastrophes occur in the Mediterranean. Recurring patterns of modeling such events include contradicting claims or counter-narratives: Frontex has been accused of carrying out dangerous maneuvers causing migrant boats to sink, while it insists their ships were in fact offering assistance. Narratives on migration further engage in event modeling by framing the arrival of refugees as a crisis, a security threat, or an opportunity. The narrative dynamics perspective established in OPPORTUNITIES focuses on the strategic goals, rhetorical uses, and political effects of representing events – and on narratives as steering devices which possess considerable manipulative power.
⇢ see also Counter-(master-)narrative dynamics, Narratives on migration, Narrative dynamics, Frames of migration
References and further reading:
Brooks, Peter. 2006. “Narrative Transactions – Does the Law Need a Narratology?” Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities 18.1: 1 –28 .
Hühn, Peter. 2013. “Event and Eventfulness.” In The Living Handbook of Narratology, edited by Peter Hühn, Jan Christoph Meister, John Pier, and Wolf Schmid. Hamburg: Hamburg University. URL: https://www.lhn.uni-hamburg.de/node/39.html. Accessed August 16, 2023.
Nünning, Ansgar. 2010. “Making Events – Making Stories – Making Worlds: Ways of Worldmaking from a Narratological Point of View.” In Cultural Ways of Worldmaking: Media and Narratives, edited by Vera Nünning, Ansgar Nünning, and Birgit Neumann, 189–214. Berlin and New York, NY: De Gruyter.
Nünning, Ansgar. 2012. “With the Benefit of Hindsight: Features and Functions of Turning Points as a Narratological Concept and as a Way of Self-Making.” In Turning Points: Concepts and Narratives of Change in Literature and Other Media, edited by Ansgar Nünning and Kai Marcel Sicks, 31–58. Berlin and Boston, MA: De Gruyter:
Sommer, Roy. 2023. “Migration and Narrative Dynamics.” In The Routledge Companion to Narrative Theory, edited by Paul Dawson and Maria Mäkelä, New York and London: Routledge: 498-511.
Work Package: 2, 5