Time, Narrative and Culture

  • Mark Currie
Part of the Teaching the New English book series (TENEEN)


This chapter is about the experience of teaching narrative in the context of philosophical and social theories of time. Most critical writing about time and narrative is focused on the question of memory, but this chapter argues that expectation, anticipation and surprise are equally fruitful concepts for teaching narrative. It looks at the notion of ‘epochal temporality’, or the claim that different historical epochs have distinct and describable experiences of time, and asks what this might mean for an understanding of narrative time in the contemporary novel. It explores the idea that, in the historical present, there is a preoccupation with the unforeseeable, which differs significantly from predominant conceptions of time in the second half of the twentieth century. The chapter also aims to set out a range of useful narratological concepts, particularly related to the notion of narrative tense, which is useful for the description of time structures in so-called ‘epochal temporality’ and for the teaching of time experiments in contemporary fiction. The chapter is closely tied to a third-year undergraduate module in which students work on a range of modern novels.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Currie
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen Mary UniversityLondonUK

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