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Situation: A Transmedial Narrative Concept?

green highway sign that says "situation" against a blue sky

This working group delves into the history of the term "situation" and explores its role in different media forms.

In Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds, the situation is that birds have started attacking humans. In Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” Gregor Samsa wakes up as a bug. In the face of such overwhelming states of affairs in a given situation, the rest is details.

Situations may be confined to the experience of a single character or they may encompass towns, regions, or worlds. They may pre-exist the beginning of a story or emerge at any time, and they may or may not come to an end. They may be immediately evident to the characters, or they may require gradual unfolding or disclosure.

Originally rooted in theater, the term “situation” encompasses aspects beyond words in storytelling. Despite its significance, it hasn't received much attention as a narrative concept until now. Occasionally discussed in theories, it mostly remains a colloquial term. This informal nature likely contributes to its versatile presence in various discussions and practices.

Rather than rigidly applying rules of use, this working group delves into the history of the situation and explores its role in different forms like literature, performance, film, television and games.


  • Marcie Frank, English department, Concordia

If you would like to join this working group, please contact Marcie at


  • Nikola Stepic, PhD HUMA

 Group members

  • Kevin Pask, English department, Concordia
  • Ned Schantz, English department, McGill
  • V.K. Preston, History department, Concordia
  • Jonathan Lessard, Design and Computational Arts, Concordia
  • Michael D. Moon, Women and Gender Studies, Emory University
  • Jonathan Goldberg, English department, Emory University
  • Adam Frank, English department, UBC 
  • Aaron Obedkoff, English department, Concordia
  • Paisley Conrad, English department, Concordia
  • Olga Tsygankova, English department, Concordia
  • Kasia van Schaik, English department, McGill


This interdisciplinary group of faculty and graduate students meets twice each term to discuss shared readings and workshop presentations by members. Our fall schedule of activities will be posted soon.

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