Creative Practice as Research: Discourse on Methodology

Post-Textual Analysis

As discussed in previous sections, post-textual analysis provides additional insight into the practitioner’s process and work, as well as adding robustness to the auto-ethnomethodological observations. While the post-textual analysis methods may vary according to the art, genre, practice, and/or research question at hand, this methodology is particularly interested in fictional narratives and digital writing. As such, several seminal theories provide a foundation for examining the creative texts. Narratology offers three key directions of analysis: transmedia narratology, largely based upon the theories of Marie-Laure Ryan (2006); cognitive narratology, as presented by David Herman (2007); and unnatural narration, based upon the work of Brian Richardson (2006), Jan Alber, et al. (2010, 2012), Jan Alber & Rüdiger Heinze (2011), and Alice Bell & Jan Alber (2012). Transmedia narratology offers insights into the techniques and structures a text utilizes across and within media, which are useful for comparing creative artifacts across a variety of forms and media. Cognitive narratology enables yet another approach to understanding the process of composition, complementing the auto-ethnomethodological observations and interpretations. Theories of unnatural narration contextualize digital works (which remain largely outside of natural narration and convention) within the larger literary domain, as well as offering a specific framework to analyze the evolution of narrative practice into techniques with which the writer might not have previously engaged.

Within the overarching theoretical framework of narratology, the base for examination of the creative artifacts for meaning-making lies in N. Katherine Hayles’s 2002 media-specific analysis (MSA), which facilitates analysis of the materiality of the multimodal texts, and how that materiality shapes the resulting narrative. This MSA includes semiotic analysis of visual grammar and design (Kress & van Leeuwen 2006), of hyperstructures such as navigation and interactivity (Ryan 2006; Bouchardon & Heckman 2012), and of source code (Marino 2006; Montfort 2003, 2011). This approach is applicable not only to a digital work as displayed, in order to examine the effects of digital media upon the works themselves, but also source code, in order to discuss aspects of process and composition.

Clearly, the theories identified here are applicable to a specific project, an investigation into how shifting to digital writing affects a creative writer's process and narrative. Research projects should employ a base of theoretical research appropriate to the area in question in both their research design and post-textual analysis.

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