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To my considerable embarrassment, I still (more than a month later) have not responded to a number of thoughtful comments on my last post. I would say "mea culpa," except that in fact I blame the very paper alluded to in that post for sucking away all my time. It's a bad sign, I feel, when writing one's seminar syllabus becomes a form of procrastination.

I emerge from my offline hermitage to report that I have fired off another paper proposal, this one to an edited collection on Metalepsis in Popular Culture. (Recall, please, that writing paper proposals on a lark is exactly how I ended up in my current predicament of having to write a paper to deadline. Apparently I just don't learn. Either that or I really want tenure. Possibly both.)

The term "metalepsis," like so much of narratology's wacky vocabulary, can be blamed on Gérard Genette, who coined the term something like thirty years ago and defined it as "transgressing the border between the world of narration and the world in which narration takes place" (except of course he wrote it in French, in which it probably sounds even more impressive). More recently, H. Porter Abbott has described it as "a violation of narrative norms, usually in which the diegesis, or world of the story, is invaded by an extradiegetic entity or entities, as for example when a 'spectator' leaps on stage and becomes a part of the action, or the 'author' appears and starts quarrelling with one of the characters" (Cambridge Introduction to Narrative 193).

If you're curious about the proposal, I'll skip the first bit explaining vidding, as my assumption is that anyone reading this LJ already knows that part, and cut to the relevant paragraphs:

In the context of a collection about metalepsis, a discussion of vidding might begin with "I Put You There" by Laura Shapiro and LithiumDoll, a particularly relevant contribution to the emerging canon of metavids—vids about vidding and the female fan community itself. In "I Put You There," the vidders create an original animated fangirl character who literally draws herself into the narrative of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and specifically into a relationship with the character Giles—and who at the same time brings Giles into her story: "You're in this here song with me, 'cause I put you there."

"I Put You There" is thus notably different from many if not most other instances of metalepsis. While the transgression of the boundary between story world and real world is familiar, this transgression is engineered not by the show's writers or directors but by two of its viewers, and the animated 'real world' is as obviously constructed as the live-action story world. We have, then, multiple boundaries and transgressions: not just the boundary between narrative and reality, but an even more complicated set of boundaries between creators and consumers. The vid becomes a space in which the vidders use metalepsis to transform themselves—and, by extension, all fangirls—from audience into authors.

For although the vid focuses on a single show and character, it is clearly intended—and has been widely received within the vidding community—as universal; it represents "a kind of love every fangirl knows," as Laura Shapiro writes in her description of the vid. "I Put You There" can therefore be understood as a specific instance of metalepsis that has resonated with vidders and vidwatchers in part because it literalizes the ways in which all vids are to some degree metaleptic: they enable viewers to intervene in the story, to have their way with the narrative.


I hadn't gotten as far as thinking about vidding in terms of metalepsis--my thoughts on vidding and narrative have thus far been much more general--and in fact am not sure I would have gotten there on my own at all, so this particular call for papers was especially welcome and useful. Whether or not the proposal's accepted, I'm grateful to the editors for pushing my thinking in this new direction.

Date: 2009-01-10 03:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] renenet.livejournal.com
Yay! Now write me some papers, woman! I need MOAR!

Date: 2009-01-13 12:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kassrachel.livejournal.com
Oooooh. Shiny. Metalepsis is my new favorite word. :-)

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Tisha Turk

November 2016

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