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The expectation of narrative in the photograph.

Giles, Kenneth W. (1997) The expectation of narrative in the photograph. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86025) (KAR id:86025)


The Expectation of Narrative in the Photograph is an investigation into the expectation of the narrative structure within and outside the photograph. The means of this exploration is to uncover the type of narrative structure that is in place in the photograph, and at what point in our reading of the still photographic image does this narrative structure come into play. By looking at the various types of photographs (found anonymous photographs to postcards to fine art prints from individuals such as: Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, Edward Weston and Richard Avedon) that are in circulation in today's contemporary society, I present a theoretical exploration of an expected narrativity being implicit in the photograph. To complement this photographic narrativity, I also look into the literary equivalent and theories of realism found in the work of William Faulkner, Henry James and Ernest Hemingway.

In the latter sections of the text, I look at three distinctive bodies of photographic work. Therefore the issue of a-temporal in medias res narrativity is a key aesthetic feature and factor when rading and looking at and into the work of Cindy Sherman, Jacques-Henri Lartigue and Robert Frank. To parallel the aesthetics of this investigation, I also use a phenomenological position, borrowed from Husserl's theories of temporal understanding and Bergson's theory of perpetual present, to outline a consideration of reverse causality in the photographic act (the creating of a photograph) which helps the reader come to define and read the resulting photograph as a historical trace of a larger story.

The text advances the understanding of a photographic narrativity which traditionally tends to be seen under the rubric of filmic or literary narrative structures. The central argument of the text will therefore expand the notion that there is a certain type of narrative which is particularly photographic and that a revision of this distinctive narrativity will open up further debates and dialogues of a narrative photographic retelling.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86025
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: #ethos, Literature
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
T Technology > TR Photography
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:25 UTC
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2022 04:58 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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