This article establishes a definition of we-narrative based on a plural type of narrator, and in doing so challenges many of the presuppositions in the recent work on we-narratives. Despite an increased interest in this mode of narration, a definition of specifically first-person plural narrative as an independent narrative form has not yet been suggested and we-narrators have been mostly measured by the I-narrator’s yardstick. I propose instead to consider we-narrators as an independent type of a collective character narrator that distinguishes we-narratives as such from we-discourses in otherwise first-person narratives. To demonstrate that we-narrative exists as an independent narrative form, I will combine an analysis of three case studies—short stories by William Faulkner and Joyce Carol Oates as well as a novel by Joshua Ferris—with a discussion of existing contributions to the topic. I will rely on earlier work by Susan Lanser, Uri Margolin, and Franz Karl Stanzel and draw on contributions by Monika Fludernik, Brian Richardson, and Amit Marcus. A formal definition of we-narrative is required, I argue, to productively analyze the features and rhetorical effects specific to we-narrative in terms of its own conventions of narration and without linking these to the classical form of first-person narrative.


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pp. 164-181
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