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Photography and narrative : An investigation of serial imagery

Halliwell, K (1986) Photography and narrative : An investigation of serial imagery. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86257) (KAR id:86257)


The history of photographic serial imagery cannot be taken in isolation. It shares many features with various ancient and medieval visual serial texts and later painted series. Nor can the conditions for its creation be divorced from the theatre, the magic lantern and film. From its inception photography exploited serial texts, mainly in reportage, advertising, the photoroman, and art practice. There are various problems in the characterisation of narrative. An examination of traditional problematic areas shows that 'visual narrative' depends ultimately on the signification of a state change through the use of a transformational matrix. Narrative, however, works on three levels. The 'text' can be defined according to the traditional features of visual signs which motivate the imaginative construction of the object through the image. Serial narrative texts also require basic signifying conditions which establish relevant differentiations and cohesions, for which the interstice is to be considered as the point of narrative montage. The narrative work also involves organisational features on the level of 'discourse'. Following a Genettian analysis of discourse and story relations indicates where the static visual narrative's strengths and weaknesses lie and where the analysis needs to be extended or reduced. This applies to temporal relations as well as focalisation and modality. The incorporation of the verbal text also needs to be considered. The accompanying verbal can be formally divided into title or text, but functionally it will depend on the strengths and weaknesses of the visual's textual and discursive capabilities. Text and image can only be seen in symbiotic relation. Ultimately, however, a consideration of the role of the reader and the sign as read is vital. One would have to consider other pragmatic and ideological factors which are involved in this activity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86257
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: Visual serial text imagery
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature on music
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:38 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2022 11:45 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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