Chronotope, Story, and Historical Geography: Mikhail Bakhtin and the Space-Time of Narratives



Abstract:  This article studies space-time as revealed in narrative, especially narrative intended to validate truth claims. Narrative plot is uniquely suited to capturing truths about time, causal complexity, and space. Bakhtin's “chronotope” (space-time), which bridges plot, narrated events, and the real world, is critical to understanding this capacity, whether in fiction, in histories, or in didactic stories, myths, and parables. The chronotope is underutilized in the social sciences, but disputes over indigenous land in Canada exemplify its potential applications. To fully capture these heteroglot (“many-voiced”) conflicts, factual verification should not be the only test of a narrative's truthfulness.