#CAAUK and Fragmented Narrative

I’m posting this from Day Two of the CAAUK conference. I think there may be more of relevance to my studies today, though yesterday was by no means disappointing. There were many thought provoking points made, and I got to meet more of my fellow Southampton students than I’ve met so far while actually at University.
I also heard yesterday that my seminar in Thursday might be streamed to York University’s Cultural Heritage students. Argh! Scary. I was already thinking it wasn’t brilliant. But with this news, I resolved to rewrite it. I might have got away with being a bit crap to my Soton cohort, but now I feel I’m representing the university, and having to prove the they were right to take me on in the first place!
However, the train journey gave me the opportunity to think about where my previous version of the presentation had gone wrong.
And the answer was, I was trying to tell my story chronologically. I fallen into this trap because this seminar is a bit of a “this is me” moment, and well as “this is what I’m interested in.” But since one thing I’m interested in is narrative, I should be a bit cleverer at turning story into narrative for this presentation.
So I’ve gone back to the drawing board (or iPad) to mind-map what I what I wanted to talk about. And I’ve already seen a better starting point, and realised that two story elements can be presented in parallel rather than sequentially.
So my presentation will become a “fragmented” narrative. Which is interesting because I’m thinking a lot about fragmented narratives currently. I’ve realised for example that the storytelling in Red Dead Redemption isn’t a sophisticated algorithm as I’d hoped, but rather an engagingly fragmented narrative, that only occasionally reminds the player that they may have gone “out of sequence.”
But more of that in another post when I’ve finished playing it. In the meantime I’ve been enjoying another fragmented narrative: Chris Ware’s Building Stories.

This is a comic. It tells the story of building and the people who live in it, including the owner and landlady, a young couple falling apart, another couple starting a family and … a bee. All these intertwining stories are told across a number of mini-comics in a number if formats, including ones resembling newspapers, an architect’s portfolio, “Tijuana bibles” as we’ll as more mundane softcover comics and hardcover albums.


They all come in a box, and there’s no indication of what order you should read them in, you dive into these characters’ lives at whatever point takes your fancy. For example, I’ve already seen the bee’s death. But his life is likely to be the last two comics I choose to read, as all the others are more attractive and accessible (to me). The back of the box even suggests scattering the various comics around your home (and makes suggestions are to where particular ones might go), so despite being an essentially linear medium, these comics have potential to tell stories around social spaces. Which is sort of what I’m meant to be studying.
Now though, lunchtime at the CAAUK conference is coming to an end, and the most interesting bit (for me) is about to start.

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