In our introductory section, we touched on two different approaches to the analysis of temporal relations that may be elicted from linguistic (or other) discourse into a formal system. James Allen's temporal relation diagrams represent the "detenser" approach grounded in formal logic which assumes the possibility of showing relations outside of natural language constraints. Mark Steedman's work was cited as an introduction to various investigations into tense modalities, the "tenser" approach grounded in linguistic analysis. Such approaches are not irreconciliable, and the goals of both are extremely valuable for the analysis of temporal relations in humanistic inquiry where time-stamped data may be only a small portion of the information to be analysed and represented.
Deixis: the concept of deixis comes from structural linguistics as applied to narrative and literary theory. Deixis refers to the way subjectivity (individual speaker identity and position) is structured in language. Discourse markers, such as concepts of "here" and "now" point towards subject positions in space and time as referred to, but also, as inscribed within narrative or linguistic form. Though classical narrative -- as defined by Aristotle's three unities of time, place, and action -- assumes that time and space are universal, continuous, and coherent, such assumptions are not part of all narrative frameworks. Self-conscious manipulation of these unities is a part of 20th century literature under the influence of the theory of relativity, but earlier forms of literary expression also demonstrate significant alternatives to these presumed unities - and to the unity of subjectivity as well. This topic will be discussed in the workshop seminar by literary scholar Maura Tarnoff, a member of our research team.
An extensive literature exists on the study of tense modalities within linguistics, and in some cases, with direct application to narrative theory and study. We chose to focus seminar workshop discussion on a specific case study, the William Faulkner short story, "A Rose for Emily," since this work has received considerable critical attention for its temporal structure (and inconsistencies) within traditional literary studies and has also been used to develop an analysis in constraint logic programming (a subset of Prolog).
SUMMARY: Jennifer Burg and Sheau-Dong Lang, "Using Constraint Logic Programming to Analyze the Chronology in a William Faulkner Story," encode the narrative elements of the story by setting up a system of internal references for temporal relations. By giving each event in the narrative a code and constraining its temporal identity in a formal system, they are able to extract an ordered sequence from the temporally disordered elements of the narrative.
SUMMARY: Pamela W. Jordan, "Determining the Temporal Ordering of Events in Discourse," summarizes "the models that have been proposed for determining the temporal ordering of events in discourse." This work addresses distinctions among narrative reference frames and the tense indicators in syntax and discourse structure. Conceived within an information science perspective, this work is particularly suggestive in its potential application to analysis of the documents central to humanties scholarship.
Images: Allen Diagrams, Steedman's diagrams (Prior's and his own)