Narrative & Moral Meaning

By Chris Jury.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Most accounts of narrative assume that moral meaning only results from some coherent narratives, and that the author can chose whether or not his story has moral meaning.
I am using ‘moral’ in the widest sense, to cover what is of value and how we should live, not just specific doctrines about moral obligation.
I will argue that moral meaning is a necessary feature of ALL coherent narrative, The thesis is based in the concept of Protagonal Volition - i.e. that the protagonist/s in a dramatic narrative make choices, moral choices, (i.e. choices between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ actions) and the results of these choices (chosen by the author) are what gives the narrative its meaning and that because of the moral nature of these choices, the meaning of the narrative is necessarily moral.
The paper will explore ideas from various disciplines including, Ethical and Moral Philosophy, Social History, Sociology, Social Psychology, Anthropology, Aesthetics and Literary Theory.
If proven the thesis has potentially important implications for both the perception of dramatic narrative as a cultural and social force and the status of dramatic narrative within the political, ethical, moral and aesthetic discourse of Western post-industrial societies.

Keywords: Ethics, Morality, Philosophy, Social History, Sociology, Social Psychology, Anthropology, Aesthetics, Literary Theory, Drama, Society, Politics

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp.27-42. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.011MB).

Chris Jury

Senior Lecturer, School Of Music & Performing Arts, Bath Spa University, Bath, UK

For 30 years Chris Jury was a TV actor, director and writer best known for playing Eric Catchpole in over 60 episodes of the BBC’s antique classic, Lovejoy, and for directing over 50 episodes of Eastenders. In 2008 he was appointed as the Senior Lecturer in Recorded Media in the School Of Music & Performing Arts at Bath Spa University. He currently is the author and moderator of the political philosophy blog I Am Not A Number, and presents, Agitpop, a pop & politics radio discussion programme on North Cotswold Community Radio


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