’Just because it isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening’: narrative, fictionality and reflexivity in humanitarian rhetoric

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Narratives that use experiments with paratexts, generic conventions
and frames of understanding to challenge an audience’s ability to
distinguish the fictionalised from the non-fictional have moved from
postmodernist forms of literature and art into newer forms of socalled
post-postmodernism and metamodernism. They have also,
and this is the starting point for this article, moved into rhetorical
discourse proper, aimed at moving real people about real issues. The
article investigates such experiments as they appear in two cases of
contemporary NGO campaign rhetoric: SavetheChildren’s ‘Most
Shocking Second a Day Video’ (2014) and Unicef’s ‘Unfairy Tales’
(2016). The campaigns do not simply use fiction in their attempts to
motivate – they challenge the ability to distinguish between fiction
and non-fiction by employing strategies of what the article calls
metanoic reflexivity, defined as a reading effect, produced when
combinations of textual and paratextual markers defamiliarise the
act of ascribing a rhetorical master trope (fiction or non-fiction) to
a cultural artefact. The article draws on a pragmatic, rhetorical conceptualization
of imaginative thinking and on rhetorical theory about
metanoia in order to engage critically with aspects of the discourse
on posthumanitarianism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of English Studies
Volume23
Issue2
Pages (from-to)190-205
Number of pages15
ISSN1382-5577
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Issue 2: Fact and fiction in contemporary narratives.

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