Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jonathan Culler's concept of naturalization and its adaptation by Monika Fludernik

In her challenging and inspiring work "Towards a Natural Narrtology"  (1996) Monika Fludernik attributes part of her inspiration to Jonathan Culler and his work that suggested the heuristic concept of "naturalization".
Jonathan Culler's "naturalization" relates to readers' strategies that are employed as interpretive methods for reconciling what appears to be inconsistencies in the text. In a sense Culler's naturalization is the process of making something strange and puzzling in the text fit in with knowledge and perceptions we have of out existence, what is often referred to as mental model, schema or cognitive frames. That is, something which is odd about the text or unexplainable is reconstructed by the reader in a form that makes sense, that sense being something that we know and are able to explain.

Naturalization, as suggested by Jonathan Culler, is a process carried out by the reader, in response, but not in a binding relation, to elements in the text. It is essentially an individual action, and therefore can vary from person to person. However, social and cultural elements go to work here by providing common shared and socially acquired cognitive frames, thus insuring that a mutual understanding of what a narrative is about will be fairly possible within a certain social and cultural context.    
Cullers' naturalization bears an interesting, almost opposite relation to the Russian Formalists' concept of estrangement. Estrangement was defined by the Russian Formalists as the main function of art and literature that takes something familiar and "refreshing" our grasp of it by making it suddenly strange. Naturalization, as is evident, works the other way around. This alludes to the notion that, when dealing with narratives, the quintessential trait of a narrative is its ability to induce naturalization by the reader.

This is very much Monika Fludernik's approach in "Towards a 'Natural' Narratology. She perceived narrativity defined by the experientiality of an anthropomorphic agent, or in other words, our apparently innate ability to narrate and receive narration of experience. Monkia Fludernik replaces Culler's "naturalization" with "narrativization". Narrativization is the action we carry out in making the text fit a shape of experience we are familiar with. In other words, Fludernik's narrativization is making a given story be understandable is relation to a prototypical "meta-story" we inherit from our culture and society, but also from the mere experience of being alive. Narrativization, in a sense, is life and fiction coming to terms.