Work[ edit ] Genette is largely responsible for the reintroduction of a rhetorical vocabulary into literary criticism, for example such terms as trope and metonymy. Additionally his work on narrative, best known in English through the selection Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method , has been of importance. Thresholds of Interpretation Terms and techniques originating in his vocabulary and systems have, however, become widespread, such as the term paratext for prefaces, introductions, illustrations or other material accompanying the text, or hypotext for the sources of the text. If narratology could cope with Proust, this could no longer be said. They are primarily used to look at the syntax of narratives, rather than to perform an interpretation of them.

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The use of the concept in other disciplines than literary studies and for other media than printed books is discussed. In doing so, Genette points out the importance of paratextual elements in transforming the text into a book, and the fact that a text is not necessarily the same thing as a book, even if texts often appear in book format.

A paratext thus is a text that relates or mediates to another text the main work in a way that enables the work to be complete and to be offered to its readers and, more generally, to the public. History In Seuils Genette gives a complete study of the notion for the first time [2]. Seuils has been translated into German and English , and the concept has since been applied by scholars in other disciplines than literary studies and for other media than printed books.

In the last and smallest part of the study he discusses the public and private epitext that can contain of everything written or said about a text. The division between peri- and epitext is purely spatial, and epitext can become peritext and vice versa.

In addition to that, a paratextual element may appear, disappear and reappear again at any time, definitely or not. To illustrate these changes, Genette mentions examples of titles that have been shortened by posterity and prefaces that have been deleted in a new edition for later to reemerge in a newer edition. By using numerous examples from the history of the book, Genette shows what role paratextual elements play in interpreting a text. In so doing, Genette combines material aspects of a document with its context.

Most of the paratextual elements explored by Genette are textual elements. By drawing our attention not only to textual elements, but also to factual, iconic and material, Genette also includes social and economic aspects in his analyses. Or as Birke and Christ put it: paratextual elements have both interpretative, commercial and navigational functions , [3]. In addition, in many cases it can be difficult to decide where to draw the line between text and paratext [4] and between paratext and non-paratext.

Genette himself advises against proclaiming all as paratext Genette , When analyzing paratextual elements and their importance for the understanding and interpretation of a text, it might be difficult to find out who has actually taken the decision and why.

Nevertheless, we can always assume that the choices are made in order to fulfill a function. In addition to that, we might assume that popular and successful authors often have more influence on decisions made by the publisher like the choice of title and the cover illustration cf.

Skare Application of the concept As pointed out in the foreword of the English translation of Seuils, Genette is hard to categorize and has been called structuralist, narratologist, rhetorician, semiotician and more. In literary studies Genette is probably best known for his narratology. Birke and Christ ; Desrochers and Apollon ; Pesce and Noto , game studies, but also museum studies, translation analysis cf. Pellatt , and knowledge organization and information retrieval cf.

Andersen ; Paling [8]. Not surprisingly, digital media and the appearance of new paratextual elements in the digital word are discussed in recent years. The same argument has been used by others when it comes to the distinction between author and user Burk , in new media. The question of authorship or co-authorship is not a new one in the digital world.

Already the printed book, and especially many of its material paratextual elements involved other producers than the author of the text, but in the digital world this becomes more and more visible.

Birke and Christ are mapping the field of paratext and digitized narratives. We therefore can find some of the same paratextual elements in all of these materials. A wide range of extra materials on DVDs expands the number of paratextual elements that are easily available for the user. So even the boundaries of a distinct physical object are not so easy to define as it might appear at first sight. In addition to that, we have, as for printed books, outside materials that can be produced by the film company as for instance an official web page or a fan page on Facebook or other pages produced by fans.

These pages often have a short life time and they do not necessarily present completely new or different materials as compared to, for instance, the special edition of the DVD. By spreading the paratextual elements in several media, the visibility is increased and probably more potential viewers will actually see and use these elements either as a threshold into the film or as a guidance for how to understand the film.

We are all familiar with examples belonging into this category like films on DVD and research articles and books online. There are different initiatives — local in-house initiatives in the beginning and national or international initiatives with common standards like the Project Gutenberg gutenberg.

Many national libraries have also digitized their collections during the last decades. In Norway for instance, we can read books published in Norway before the year when we are on a Norwegian IP-address [10]. There are different solutions for how the texts are made available to the public. When the books are scanned — as in the case of the Norwegian National Library — the cover and all pages, including empty pages are scanned.

As in the physical library we might find different editions of the same text, this also happens in the digital library. In addition to the paratextual elements of the physical book, new elements like the address of the web page appear when the book gets digitized. The web page as part of the National Library of Norway gives authority to these digital documents.

Other examples often produced and used by researchers can be enhanced by, for instance, comments or explanations. In the case of older material, we also can view the facsimile in addition to the printed text. These examples, especially in cases of digitization without enhancing, are not very different from the distinct physical objects. Each book on nb. As in the case of Amazon or streaming services like Netflix where we get personalized recommendation based on our preferences, we can expect personalized paratexts too.

If we compare the digitized printed books with e-books, there are of course differences in how we can access and read the book. The reader has often the option to choose between downloading the book as a PDF or to read it online.

Both options make the reader encounter something that looks like a printed book. In the downloaded PDF version we also can write our comments and highlight text as we could do in a printed book. There are some differences due to the medium: we can choose the size of the page by enlarging or minimizing, we can move easily around in the text by clicking on the hyperlinks in the table of contents, and we can search the text for certain words or phrases.

In addition to that we can read the book on different devices. But contrary to Birke and Christ who argue that these elements [11] cannot be considered paratextual elements because they belong to the delivery device and not to the book , 76 , one could also argue that they are important paratextual elements the same way as for instance the format, or the font, or the paper quality for the printed book, because they imitate what the reader is used to experience and is able to do with a printed book in a digital surrounding.

Because of updates in web browsers, older works are often no longer accessible unless we run or emulate an outdated version of browser software [12]. We can only read about the work and watch images that others have taken while they were reading it. Here we can find examples of a digital document where the paratext — or the different paratexts — are the only documents visible and available to us today. While printed books could be damaged and disappear, here the text still exists, but we are no longer able to access it.

As with other older media formats, we not only need the document, but also the right devices to access the content. When analyzing the paratext of a film, the importance of different media platforms like cinema, DVD and television becomes visible and necessary to notice because they highlight the fact that elements of the paratext can change position at any time.

Elements of the epitext like a film trailer or conversations with the film maker or the actors can become extra material on a DVD, thus getting spatially closer to the film text, turning into pertitextual elements. An important element in many of the discussions about paratext is the question of where to draw the line between the paratext and the film.

By watching US TV shows such as The Simpsons or special DVD releases such as The Lord of the Rings, Jonathan Gray goes a step further and also explores toys, video games, advertising campaigns, websites with audience discussions, and the like as paratexts cf. Gray , 4 and their significance for the interpretation of the film or television series. Today we could add that more and more films and TV series have their own web pages in addition to their social media appearance.

Different paratextual elements like interviews with actors and film maker, stills from the set, reviews etc. As already pointed to by Genette, elements of the paratext establish a genre contract with the reader for how to read a text cf.

Genette , Gray observes the same when it comes to establish truthfulness and claim authenticity for the stories told Gray , The premiere of a film or a TV series is today often accompanied by many other products in different media, thereby trying to establish a media event that makes the audience wants to be part of. Thus, the question of what is central and what is peripheral, what has to be taken into consideration when analyzing a media text has become more difficult to answer.

The tension between ephemera and permanence is not a new one, but has become more exposed for digital media. How to collect these paratextual elements, how to archive and how to make them available for future research are important issues to discuss.

For the study of silent films and the exhibition practices during the silent era, the concept of the paratext can also include intertitles, film music, and the surrounding program as important elements that give us an idea of how a film has been exhibited at the time of its premiere and afterwards cf. As Birke and Christ asked for digital narratives, also Rockenberger is concerned about where to draw the line between introduction and prologue and asks where the game actually begins What belongs to the game and what does not; where do we draw the line between the game and its surroundings?

This is an important question, because the elements of paratext can become numerous over time and it can be difficult to know what to include and what to ignore. Skare to document analysis. Paratextual elements will often be the first encounter with a document for a potential reader, but also for a librarian.

Paratexts are therefore not only thresholds of interpretation but constitute also thresholds of access Paling In recent years researchers have also focused on the peritext in academic publishing, and the study of book jackets as access points and thus as part of library practices has been paid attention to. Overall, the concept of paratext in knowledge organization is relevant in considering the issues of metadata Mayernik in press. Here we have examples where paratextual elements also are providing access points for document retrieval, helping the reader to identify relevant documents.

Table 1: Elements of the paratext and the kind of information provided.


Genette, Paratexts

Shelves: scholarly Genette defines and explores the paratexts of a text. Under his definition, paratext is essentially a threshold, the parts of a book beyond the explicit content that help the author convey his meaning. That includes elements included in the book the peritext and those outside the epitext. Peritext includes the title, notes, prefaces, and so forth; epitext includes journals, correspondences, press releases, reviews, and so forth. And while a generation or two postmodernism has frowned at the Genette defines and explores the paratexts of a text. Paratexts would make for a tremendous interactive course, though one I would neither create, teach, nor perhaps even sit in on.



Sterne, Tristram Shandy, III, 36 Laurence Sterne, that pioneer anatomist of the physical body of the book, is offering advice to one of the much put-upon fictive readers of his antic text. XI Foreword novel as genre by a series of devices priemy that fundamentally disturb the narrative conventions of the book. In the case of the liminal devices or "paratextual" elements, this means the radical dislocation of readerly expectations: dedications and prefaces are scattered within the text and on one occasion a dedication is put up for sale ; notes, glosses, intercalations, and misplaced chapter headings interrupt the conventional diegetic progress of the narrative. And an important part of this reflection is the function of the elements that surround and contextualize the text. As the present epigraph suggests, this interrogation of the frontiers between the text and its public demands a dedicated reader, in the senses both of one widely read and of one alert to every artful disruption, intrusion, and lacuna under the patronage of "St.

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