what's a teleological narrative?

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donnach

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I've tried to find the answer from my Lit. Handbook and Google. I have found many references the term on Google, but no explanations. For all the encounters I've had with it, I can't seem to be able to glean the meaning from it's context.

Thanks in advance,

Donna
 

Anglika

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Teleology is the belief that everything has a special purpose or use.

So a teleological narrative is a story or description of events in which this belief is the directing motive.

Could you indicate where you met the term?
 

donnach

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I met the term when studying for module IV of the English CSET.

Maybe I am being overly simple, but would you please give an example of a story with a teleological narrative? (Or make up the simplest type of example.) And no, you are not doing my homework for me; this would be purely for my own edification. It's not even required knowledge for the CSET test.

Thanks in advance,

Donna
 

Anglika

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This link gives a reasonably comprehensible outline of what it is in para three: robin_d_laws: Mimesis, Teleology, Chaos, and Lycanthropy

In this quotation: "Thus in George Levine's landmark study The Realistic Imagination, for example, a teleological narrative is constructed in which George Eliot's work comes to represent the culmination of “realism”, and the work of earlier novelists such as Jane Austen is described as an exercise in induction in which moral significance naturally emerges from empirical reality" =
The argument in Levine's study is based on the belief that Eliot's writing is realistic and that the earlier novelists are moralistic.
 

donnach

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The link was helpful, thank you.

It seems to me that a teleological narrative means that the attitude of the writer towards the subject matter, i.e., mood of the story, is, that there exists an ultimate and underlying purpose to all (or at least major) ins and outs of the plotline.


As for this quote:
In this quotation: "Thus in George Levine's landmark study The Realistic Imagination, for example, a teleological narrative is constructed in which George Eliot's work comes to represent the culmination of “realism”, and the work of earlier novelists such as Jane Austen is described as an exercise in induction in which moral significance naturally emerges from empirical reality" =
The argument in Levine's study is based on the belief that Eliot's writing is realistic and that the earlier novelists are moralistic.

Not sure how Levine creates a teleological narrative in a study comparing two authors' work. A study is a narrative? I thought a study was just a study. Oh well.

Anyway, if you agree with my 'nice wrap up' definition, I get the gist of the term.

Let me know if you don't agree, please!

Thanks,

Donna
 

Anglika

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Yes, you have understood the term.

In the extract about Levine, "narrative" is used in the sense of a coherent and reasoned text, not as the telling of a story. I rather agree that it is not the best word in the context!
 

lojill

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Hi, I just came across this thread, and I'm concerned the definition you've arrived at doesn't quiiite convey the normal usage of the term.

A teleological narrative is one in which all the events are leading to a final culmination that will make sense of all that has gone before.

It's a term often applied to history -- a teleological narrative of history would be one in which mankind is constantly building towards bigger and better things -- it's a model of history as *progress*. Eg the industrial revolution was a step forward from the medieval period that preceded it, and our increasing globalisation of today is another step forward again. Whereas someone who was opposed to such a teleological model might argue, for example, that these events have led to increasingly isolated individuals, and in that respect people were a lot better off in the medieval period.

Postmodernists, and others, generally use the term "teleological narrative" in a bit of a disparaging way -- they see it as an overly simplistic way of looking at the world. That quotation Anglika cited is criticising George Levine's study by describing it as a teleological narrative -- if you google the quote to find the article it came from, you'll see that the author is criticising George Levine's study for being too narrow in its point of view.

Hope that helps! The most important thing to remember is that the phrase "teleological narrative" is rarely used in a neutral way -- normally it will be an implicit criticism of whatever it is that is described by the term.
 

soyjuice

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the rules say not to post anything bigotted, but the very fact that none of the moderators, contributors or anyone managed to define teleological narrative in the post colonial sense is incredibly bigotted.

the teleological narrative is the belief that every country that is not america or europe will eventually reach "the pinnacle of all civilization and that all the trajectory of the history of all third world countries is to approach the "best of all possible worlds", i.e. the white first world.

as great as capitalism and democracy is, america and europe are neitehr pure capitalisms nor pure democracies, yet the people of these countries believe that third world countries must become pure capitalisms and pure democracies in order to be considered "on par" socially, culturally and economically with first world coountries.

the teleological narrative is the belief that eventaully all histories and beliefs of people will eventually align with the master euro-american race.

it is the most bigotted belief unconsciously disseminated by the sorts of racists that probably run this forum.
 

David L.

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'bigoted' is so spelt, not 'bigotted'.

bigoted: obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one's own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions.

"...who hold different opinions" - like me, for one - and quite vehemently.

So soyjuice - with your peacock display of bigotry, not only would it be that
it is the most bigotted belief unconsciously disseminated by the sorts of racists that probably run this forum.

...but also by the sort of racists and imperious prigs like yourself who interject with 'contributions'.

But then, in my experience of those who rail so mightily against the 'ignorant bigotry' of we hoi polloi, it is less that they have any real understanding to convey, or intention to do so, and more that they seize any opportunity to give vent to their disdain of others, and so flaunt their (presumption of) superiority whilst betraying their amusing over-inflated self-importance.
 
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Pedroski

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Well, visiting this forum is voluntary. No one has to come here. If I didn't like it, I should simply not visit. Strange twist to a simple thread!
 

konungursvia

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I'd like to qualify the definition of narrative: It would normally mean a text in which a diegesis or story is recounted by a narrator having an awareness of a distinct dichotomy between the time of the narration (the time of the telling) and the time of the diegesis (presumably in the past). Something people were writing above made me suspect there were different understandings or perhaps misunderstandings.

Teleology is Greek for the study of purposeful endeavour, working towards a conscious goal; I agree with lojill's refined definition of a teleological narrative.

I'm not sure I understand the bickering that follows that point.... :)
 

Pedroski

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The bickering probably had something to do with the gentleman in question saying the following:
it is the most bigotted belief unconsciously disseminated by the sorts of racists that probably run this forum.

I think you might understand that this is not good behaviour.
 

konungursvia

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Right, I meant I couldn't see any reason why he thought that.
 

David L.

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konungursvia: I meant I couldn't see any reason why he thought that.


soyjuices's contribution is not posted/intended as furthering discussion or understanding.
Let me reiterate one explanation:
But then, in my experience of those who rail so mightily against the 'ignorant bigotry' of we hoi polloi, it is less that they have any real understanding to convey, or intention to do so, and more that they seize any opportunity to give vent to their disdain of others, and so flaunt their (presumption of) superiority whilst betraying their amusing over-inflated self-importance.
 
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