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Narratives, A to Z
Where One Might Find Them on the Web
Examples of them
Where One Might Find them Defined or Described or Exemplified

Judy Duchan, January 30, 2002

Accounts (Brice Heath, 1986) A speaker tells of an experience or provides information that is new to listener.  This differs from recounts (see below) in that accounts are speaker generated and are judged only on truth value and logical  progression. (eg., A child tells his parents of an afternoon spent at a friend's house as opposed to a parent asking the child to recount something the parent already knows.)

Acted out stories (e.g., Paley, 2001) http://www.creativedrama.com/creative.htm

Adventure stories (eg., Jack London) http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/London/Writings/DutchCourage/preface.html or

Allegories (Abrams, 1999, p. 5).  A narrative in which the agents and actions are contrived by the author to make coherent sense on a literal level as well as on another level.  Gulliver's Travels is an allegory for the political situation in England at the time. 

Anecdotes http://library.thinkquest.org/11402/homestories.html

Animal tales (told by children) http://www.kidlink.org/KIDPROJ/Kidwriters/Animals/Animtales.html

Antinarratives-A text that calls narrative structure and logic into question

Autobiographies http://www.gotop10.com/BOOKS/autoslist.html

Fifth graders' autobiographies (portfolios): http://www.millville.cache.k12.ut.us/Millville/Teachers/Carles/carles98-99/autobios98-99.htm

Bawdy stories (eg. Boccacio, tales from the south) http://www.ibiblio.org/bawdy/ 

Bedtime stories http://www.bedtime.com/

Bible stories http://www.essex1.com/people/paul/Bible.html

Bildungsroman (growth narrative) Hader, (1996) The story of a single individual's growth and development within the context of a defined social order. The growth process, at its roots a quest story, has been described as both "an apprenticeship to life" and a "search for meaningful existence within society."

Biographies http://www.biography.com/

Campfire stories http://www.isd.net/srtobin/story/st-index.html

Case studies that tell people's stories http://home.epix.net/~renjilia/books.htm

Cautionary tales Native American: http://www.kstrom.net/isk/maya/coyjag.html

Chaos narratives (Frank).  A narrative that lacks coherence.  It is often disjointed lacking sequence.  It comes from a difficulty in being able to tell one's story because of anxiety or discouragement. 

Children's stories-stories told by children (e.g., Paley, 1981, 2001; Sutton-Smith, 1981)

Chronicals (American Heritage Dictionary, 1992, p, 341-342). (1) "An extended account in prose or verse of historical events, sometimes including legendary material, presented in chronological order and without authorial interpretation or comment" or (2) "A detailed narrative record or report."



Consciousness raising narratives Rejection of them: http://www.accessexpressed.net/Articles1.nsf/3cf90a23430db5a9852562840073ae37/9d4912d7f7cacd5e852568c1006a6486?OpenDocument

Conversational stories http://www.bubbe.com/

Cultural stories Ojibway: http://www.schoolnet.ca/aboriginal/kenora/index-e.html

Litsite Alaska: http://www.schoolnet.ca/aboriginal/kenora/index-e.html

Native American: http://www.kstrom.net/isk/stories/myths.html

Dialogic narratives (Bakhtin)-Interaction of several voices, consciousnesses or world views, none of which takes precedence over the others. http://www.textual.org/text/reviews/greer.htm

Diaries including stories

Disability narratives http://www.tell-us-your-story.com/

Dramas-scenic enactment of a story or narrative


Emancipatory narratives.  Through dialogic retrospection: http://www.atee.org/htm/conferences/leipzig/abstracts/rdc1-nevin.html

And disability studies: http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/cjscopy/reviews/twoinone.html


Ethnographies that include stories

Everyday stories

Experience stories

Fables (e.g., Aesop) http://www.pacificnet.net/~johnr/aesop/


Factual stories

Fairy tales (e.g., Grimm brothers, Hans Christian Anderson) http://www.inform.umd.edu/EdRes/ReadingRoom/Fiction/FairyTales/

Farces http://wntapp.cc.utexas.edu/~davern/Farce.html

Feminist narratives: Literary criticism: http://www.csudh.edu/dearhabermas/publpriv03.htm

Stories for and about young feminist readers: http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~kvander/Feminist/femread.html

Latino feminist stories: http://www.ucsc.edu/currents/01-02/10-15/publications.html

Fictional stories

Films as stories

First person accounts-told as if happening to the narrator, referring to a character as "I" as character

Folk tales (Propp) http://www.anu.edu.au/english/jems/lb/Theorists/propp.html

Formulaic stories (eg. Horatio Alger) http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/magic/news/alger.html

Frame narrative (Prince)-A narrative in which another narrative is embedded.  The frame narratives serves as a setting for a second narrative (also called embedded narrative).

Ghost stories http://theshadowlands.net/ghost/

Gossip stories

Gothic novels http://members.aol.com/franzpoet/intro.html

Grand narratives.  Jean-Francois Lyotard  (1979) argues that grand narratives such as those underpinning science or the notion of historical progress are not tenable because there is no single path or vantage point that deserves choosing over others. All things are seen as relative, depending upon what vantage point is taken. (For definitions of grand narratives and their relation to postmodernism, see: http://www.man.ac.uk/Science_Engineering/CHSTM/teaching/hs124_c.htm

Hearsay stories http://www.its-hearsay.co.uk/contents/fantasy/hearsay_stories_01-01.htm

Heterodiegetic narrative-(Prince, 1987).  The narrator is not a character in the narrative.

Histories (Taylor) http://www.ed.gov/pubs/parents/History/Story.html

Holocaust stories http://www.storypreservation.com/links-o2.html

Homodiegetic narrator-(Prince, 1987) The narrator is a character in the narrative. 

Illness narratives  (e.g., Becker, 1997; Frank, 1995, Kleinman, 1988)  Arthur Frank, The wounded storyteller:  http://endeavor.med.nyu.edu/lit-med/lit-med-db/webdocs/webdescrips/frank759-des-.html  Questionnaire for eliciting illness narratives: http://medweb.pc.edu/staff/lori/questions.doc

Jokes as stories

Just so stories (Rudyard Kipling) http://www.candlelightstories.com/D001/JustSoPage.asp


Letters containing stories

Limericks as stories

Lost and/or untold stories (Parr, Romero)

Metanarratives-(Prince, 1987) A narrative with another narrative as one of its topics.  A narrative about another narrative. 

Minimal narratives-(Prince, 1987, p. 53) Narratives representing a single event (e.g., "She opened the door.")

Monologic narrative (Prince, 1987, p. 54) A narrative with a unifying voice or consciousness superior to other voices.  

Moral tales (Aesop) http://www.pacificnet.net/~johnr/aesop/

Mystery stories

Myths--(Prince, p. 56) A narrative, often associated with a religious belief and ritual, that expresses and justifies an exemplary aspect of life. 

 Nature stories http://www.naturalist.org/stories.htm

News stories


Nursery rhymes (Mother Goose) http://www.zelo.com/family/nursery/

Objective narratives (Prince, 1987, p. 67). A narrative characterized by the narrator's attitude of detachment toward the situations and events recounted.

Old wives tales http://www.ida.net/users/dhanco/tales.htm


Parables (Abrams, 1999, p. 7) A short narrative about human beings presented to stress a lesson. 


Personal stories http://www.storypreservation.com/links-o2.html

Philosophical stories (Plato)

Postmodern narratives.  Postmodernists argue that no Grand Narrative is possible (see grand narrative, above). They reject the idea of absolute truth, since truth depends on class, gender, ethnicity and ones vantage point.  Postmodernist stories portray truth as relative.  (For brief definitions of postmodernism and grand narratives see http://www.man.ac.uk/Science_Engineering/CHSTM/teaching/hs124_c.htm

Psychonarration (Prince, 1987, p. 76). A segment of discourse representing a character's thoughts (How terrible!  It never should have come to that.")

Quest narratives (Frank, 1995). In this type of narrative, a person faces suffering head on.  The narrative describes alternative ways of being ill and is built upon the idea that there is something to be gained from illness.

Recounts (Brice-Heath, 1986) A speaker retells experiences or information known to both teller and listener, and may be questioned in so doing. E.g., adults ask children to repeat a story or tell of an outing or experience they have had. There is an inherent power differential in this type of interaction

Restitution narratives (Frank, 1995) A narrative that describes a return to being well.  "Yesterday I was healthy, today I am sick but tomorrow I will be healthy again".

Romance novels


Scary stories

Science fiction stories

Scripts as stories (Nelson,1986)

Shaggy dog stories http://sisko.awpi.com/Combs/Shaggy/

Sharing time (Michaels, 1981)

Short stories

Skaz-(Prince, 1987, p. 87-88) A narrative told in oral style to give the illusion that the narrator is in the story and the one telling the story.  An impression of oral narration created by a narrator who employs colloquial language, and conveys a "here and now" setting.

Story poems http://www.geocities.com/alicia_blade/storypoems.html

Story problems (e.g., math problems cast in story form) http://www.hawaii.edu/suremath/chemistryProblems.html

Subjective narratives-(Prince, 1987, p. 93).  A narrative told from the point of view of a character's thoughts or feelings.

Suspense stories http://www.bookbrowser.com/Reviews/DeaverJeffrey/suspense.html

Stream of consciousness novels or narratives-(Prince, p. 92, William James, 1892) A mode of representation of human consciousness focusing on the flow of thought and stressing its associative nature. http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/James/jimmy11.htm.

Tall tales http://www.hasd.org/ges/talltale/talltale.htm.  A story full of exaggeration.  It usually involves a superhuman main character.  (e.g., Paul Bunyon in America)

Third person narratives-(Prince, 1987, p. 97) The narrator is not a character in the situations and events recounted (e.g., He was happy, then he lost his job and he became violent). 

 Tragedies-using stories and talking to children to help them cope with tragedies http://www.uccan.org/cim/010911.htm

Uncle Remus stories (Joel Chandler Harris) http://members.aol.com/dixieten3/remus1.html

Unfinished stories http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type2250.html

War stories http://www.zen.co.uk/home/page/tony-j/ww1/


Westerns (cowboy stories) http://www.cattlepages.com/pubs/stories/index.asp



Abrams, M. (1999). A glossary of literary terms. 7th edition.  NY: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1992) Third edition.  NY: Houghton Mifflin.

Becker, G. (1997). Disrupted lives: How people create meaning in a chaotic world. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Heath, S. (1986). Sociocultural contexts of language development.

In D. D. Holt (Ed.) Beyond language: Social and cultural factors in schooling language minority students (pp. 143-186). Sacramento, CA: California State Department of Education/Bilingual Education Office

Frank, A. (1995). The wounded storyteller: Body illness and ethics. Chicago, Il: University of Chicago Press.

James, William (1892). Stream of consciousness, First published in Psychology, Chapter XI. Cleveland, OH: World.  http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/James/jimmy11.htm

Kleinman, A. (1988). The illness narratives: Suffering, healing, and the human condition.  NY: Basic Books.

Michaels, S. (1981). "Sharing time": Children's narrative style and differential access to literacy.  Language in Society, 10, 423-442.

Paley, V. (1981) Wally's stories: Conversations in the kindergarten. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Paley, V. (2001). In Mrs. Tully's room: A childcare portrait. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Prince, G. (1987). Dictionary of narratology.  Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.  

Sutton-Smith, B. (1981). The folkstories of children. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.


Copyright © 2001 - 2010 by Judith Felson Duchan
Last revised:
Please send comments or corrections to duchan@acsu.buffalo.edu