The Power of Point of View

NEW BOOK on “Perspective Criticism”

Now available from Cascade Books, Perspective Criticism: Point of View and Evaluative Guidance in Biblical Narrative, a full-length treatment of this methodology of point-of-view analysis. This book is designed as an introduction to analyzing point-of-view crafting in biblical narratives, setting out the full range of storytelling devices used in the manipulation of point of view. One such device was covered in the Oct 4/12 post, that is, a storyteller having the readers follow a particular character for a significant stretch of a narrative. This placing of the readers in a position at the side of the character reflects one of the dynamics on the “spatial” plane of point-of-view crafting. Further, the Oct 25/12 post features a storyteller’s ability to have readers experience events through a certain character’s point of view simply by limiting the amount of information the readers receive to the level possessed by the character–a dynamic on the “informational” plane of point of view. There are six planes all together on which point of view functions, and a full chapter is devoted to each one.

The concluding two chapters of the book demonstrate point-of-view analysis in action, with comprehensive perspective-critical treatments of “Gamaliel” in Acts 5 and “Gideon” in Judg 6. In the Sep 25/12 post, the point was made that if readers are led to view the events of a story line through the point of view of a particular character, they will experience a sense of empathy for the character, and thus, feel positively inclined toward him or her. Both Gamaliel and Gideon have been the subjects of debate regarding whether their actions are intended to meet with the readers’ approval or disapproval, making them prime candidates for perspective-critical analyses. An assessment of the point-of-view crafting of Acts 5 and Judg 6 would determine whether or not the readers are being led to experience the actions of Gamaliel and Gideon through the characters’ points of view, and thus, whether or not the readers are intended to feel positively inclined toward them.

Film plays a significant role in the book. Most of the posts in this blog make reference to movies; indeed, “point of view on SCREEN” constitutes one of the blog categories. There is substantial overlap between the workings of point of view in biblical narratives and the workings of point of view in film, and because a moving picture is worth a thousand words, it was decided that movie scenes would serve as effective illustrations for the discussions of point of view in these blog entries. This is also the case with the book; coverage of the various facets of point-of-view dynamics in the first nine chapters features discussions of films–fifty in all–including a chapter-long analysis of the point-of-view crafting of a sequence from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

As the subtitle makes clear, the focus of this book is the capacity of point-of-view crafting to provide evaluative guidance, that is, guidance for the readers regarding whether they should be approving or disapproving of characters’ actions. This is a premise that definitely needs to be tested, and this blog has been established as a venue where some of this testing can take place. Further, other capacities of point-of-view crafting in biblical narratives need to be explored, and this blog can be a venue for this as well. If anything in these posts–or in the book–sparks an idea that you would like to write up in a post, please consider contacting the site administrator (click HERE).

Perspective Criticism is available at the publisher’s website (click HERE) for $16 (20% off the retail price).

– Gary Yamasaki

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