Refereed journal article or data article (A1)

Narrative Agency and the Critical Potential of Metanarrative Reading Groups

List of AuthorsMeretoja Hanna, Kinnunen Eevastiina, Kosonen Päivi

PublisherDuke University Press

Publication year2022

JournalPoetics Today: International Journal for Theory and Analysis of Literature and Communication

Journal name in sourcePoetics Today

Volume number43

Issue number2

Start page387

End page414





This article lays out the theoretical-analytic framework of narrative agency, three central dimensions of which are narrative awareness, narrative imagination, and narrative dialogicality, and presents a model of metanarrative reading groups, which aims at amplifying narrative agency. It argues that an important form of self-reflexivity in contemporary literary fiction is metanarrativity—self-aware reflection not only on the narratives’ own narrativity but also on the significance and functions of cultural practices of narrative sense-making. It analyzes how reading together metanarrative fiction, which critically engages with the roles of cultural narrative models in contemporary society, can shape narrative agency—that is, the ability to navigate narrative environments. The article illustrates the metanarrative reading-group model through the analysis of one reading-group session, which focuses on a metanarrative excerpt from Carol Shields's The Stone Diaries. The article suggests that a creative, dialogical space of a metanarrative reading group forms a productive environment for exploring the affordances, limitations, and power of narratives. It argues that working with narrative agency has the potential to help participants gain critical awareness of—and thereby more agentic power over—their narrative environments, and to engage with them in more critical and creative ways.

Last updated on 2023-15-06 at 16:11