Narrative as a Complex System

Federico Pianzola


Relevance for the GOLEM project

This article provides the theoretical fundation for the modelling of narrative features.


I am here proposing a strategy of consolidation for narrative studies. Disciplines and paradigms have their own specificities, which implicitly shape how we approach narrative phenomena. To make explicit such processes of selection and contextualization is an act of intellectual honesty and I suggest how to do it in three simple steps: (i) adopting a systemic perspective, (ii) distinguishing between logical levels, (iii) employing the Proteus Principle in the formation of theories. Narrative is seen and used in many different ways that can be conceived as systems, i.e. considering that the properties of narrative cannot be studied in isolation but are interconnected in a network of relations where all the components are influencing each other.

Pianzola, F. (2018). Looking at Narrative as a Complex System: The Proteus Principle. In R. Walsh & S. Stepney (Eds.), Narrating Complexity (pp. 101–122). Springer.