Department / Unit
Department of Visual Studies
aesthetics, erotetic theory, narration, narrative structure, NoÃ«l Carroll, reception
Over the last thirty years, Noël Carroll has elaborated his theory of erotetic narration, which holds that most films have a narrative structure in which early scenes raise questions and later scenes answer them. Carroll’s prolific publishing about this theory and his expansion of the theory to issues such as audience engagement, narrative closure, and film genre have bolstered its profile, but, despite its high visibility in the field, virtually no other scholars have either criticized or built upon the theory. This article uses Carroll’s own criteria for evaluating film theories—evidentiary support, falsifiability, and explanatory power—to argue that erotetic theory’s strange position in the field is due to its intuitive examples and equivocal descriptions, which make the theory appear highly plausible even though it is ultimately indefensible.
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