Macrostructure Model of Narrative Analysis – Anyone who can help?

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    Hello group.

    I am looking for clarifications regarding macrostructures and superstructures as tools for narrative analysis. Can a section of an interview where the narrator discusses a certain event of his/her life be isolated using a contextual macrostructure? And how can we identify a superstructure?

    I do not seem to be able to find much literature on this except for Kintsch & van Dijk’s work.

    Thank you very much,



    Hi Valentina

    I have read ‘NARRATIVE MACRO-STRUCTURE: Logical and Cognitive Foundations* (Van Dijk 1976) and I have a suggestion for you… (hope this helps…)

    Please see these 2 posts (both are fairly quick to read, ie, 3 minutes, and 10 mins)…


    ie Here are some macrostructures: (cited from the above article)

    “Various examples of memes/holon-partons in culture – in accordance with the three laws of holarchy-partarchies – are listed below. (Please note, these lists below are not arbitrary; each successive category describes a higher level in the holon-parton, or the holarchy-partarchy. For example, alphabetical letters are ‘parts’ that make up a whole word; words are whole words but are parts of a sentence; a sentence is a whole sentence but part of a paragraph – and so forth.)
    • Novels: ideas > letters > words > sentences> paragraphs> chapters> novel
    • Films: ideas> action/dialog lines>shots> scenes> sequences> acts> film
    • Science: ideas> facts>laws> phenomena>theories>meta-theory>paradigm
    • Religion: ideas>facts>interpretations/scriptures>believers>spiritual leaders (human) >messiah (human/metaphysical)> deity (metaphysical) >faith> religion
    • Poems: ideas>letters>words>stanzas>poem
    • Music – Popular songs (lyrics): ideas>letters>words> verse / chorus / bridge > song
    • Spoken Languages – phonemes > morphemes > words > sentences, etc,
    • Technology: fuel, oil, water, air, materials (metal, rubber, vinyl, etc) > car parts > car > a city (and, a state, and, a nation) full of cars.   
    • And so forth.

    Also: (from the above article)

    “This definition (or: ‘discovery’) of the structure of the units of culture (memes as holon-partons) would encompass many prior suggestions for the definition/structure of the meme, including (but not limited to) the various categories of: tropes, motifs, patterns, themes, configurations, complexes, ideas, beliefs, values, rules, principles, symbols, and concepts.”


    Also see the attached ‘Movie Screenwriters Workbook’ (Velikovsky 2011), the story templates in there are all macrostructures. (Many of those macrostructures in that workbook also apply to novels, comics, poems, etc…)

    Hope this helps, somehow…!




    Thanks JT. I will take a loot at these resources.
    Best, V.

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