Narrative Instability

Destabilizing Identities, Realities, and Textualities in Contemporary American Popular Culture



This book introduces the concept of ‘narrative instability’ in order to make visible a new trend in contemporary US popular culture, to analyze this trend’s poetics, and to scrutinize its textual politics. It identifies those texts as narratively unstable that consciously frustrate and obfuscate the process of narrative understanding and comprehension. Despite—or rather, exactly because of—their destabilizing tendencies, such texts have attained mainstream popularity in recent years across media, most prominently in films, video games, and TV series. Focusing on three clusters of instability that form around identities, realities, and textualities, the book argues that narratively unstable texts encourage their audiences to engage with the constructedness of their universes, that narrative instability embodies a new facet of popular culture, that it can only be understood transmedially, and that its textual politics particularly speak to white male middle-class Americans.