Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Chronotopes @ Random

I have no idea whether this is useful to anyone or not, but here we
go. In Bakhtin's notion of the chronotope, genre is defined by its attitudes towards time and space. The example most commonly used, 'adventure time', which is used by Hellenistic romance novels, is distinctive because it uses a 'considerable' amount of time and space (the story takes ages and roves about the place) but has limited change (the protagonists are in love at the start, and end in love). 

I had a look at a few genres and decided to suggest their chronotopes, using 'time', 'space' and 'change' as the three categories, and deciding that they could either be 'considerable' or 'limited'. 

Let's start with Greek Tragedy.

It has 'limited time' (it happens within 24 hours) and 'limited space' (a single scene): that's following Aristotle. But it also has 'considerable change' for the protagonist (a major shift in their self-understanding, or death, or something big. Isn't that Aristotle's reversal, pretty much?)

Now I am comparing it to farce. Limited time, limited space, limited change. Shakespearean tragedy: considerable time, space and change. 

Maybe I could make a chart?

Beckettian Tragedy: LT, LS, LC
Aristophanic Comedy: CT, LS, CC
Life: LT, CS, CC

And so on. What options do we have?

Let's take LT, CS, CC... that matches the graphic novel Watchmen by Gibbon and Moore.

I suppose there are some problems. What counts as 'considerable' time? What are the boundaries of a particular genre? If I take, say, classical ballet, is there sufficient conformity to reduce genre down to such a simple formula? And if two genres end up with the same formula, does that prevent this from being a meaningful way of defining genre altogether?

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