I use a lot of terms on this site, drawing from several academic disciplines. Many of these terms are used in my scholarly work such as my theses, which also tend to use ethnographic terms from fan studies or education. Here, I have compiled an ever growing glossary. Many of these terms have been used for centuries with established definitions attached. Others, I define through a mixture of accepted meanings. I do NOT claim to offer the definitive definition for these terms. Nor do I include an programming or technical terms. I welcome any feedback on this glossary.


Antagonist – The primary villain of a story whose purpose is to thwart the protagonist.

Archetype: A prototype character upon which specific characters are created as implementation. Using a Jungian and Vygostkian understanding, many of these archetypes are shared in the collective unconscious of groups of people or whole civilizations.

Character– A person, animal, or inanimate object that plays a part in a story by making decisions and responding to circumstances.

Character Growth – The process by which a character (usually the protagonist or hero) changes. These changes need not be physical but are most often changes in personality, behaviors, and beliefs.

Collective Memory: A shared pool of information held by a group of two or more individuals, typically in the form of a shared narrative.

Community of Practice: A group of two or more people in a social setting that offers social resources. This community then becomes an arena in which individuals use common social-symbolic tools to construct, perform, and test their identities.

Hero – A character who sets out from their ordinary world to enter an ordinary world in hopes of restoring balance to a situation The hero grows and changes (either internally or externally) during the course of the

Hero Audience Bonding– The process by which the audience identifies with the hero and empathizes. Furthermore, the audience hopes for the hero to be successful and goes as far as to travel through the story in a vicarious manner.

Hero’s Journey– A body of work created by Joseph Campbell in which characters are divided in archetypes and the plot of a story is divided into 12 stages. Also called the Epic Structure of Story because it is the formula for virtually all myths, epics, and stories.

Identity: socially constructed, socially maintained, and socially transformed meanings a person attributes to himself or herself and projects to others.

Medium – The way in which a story is presented. Some examples include film, television, theatre, novel, and oral tradition.

Narrative Acquisition: The process by which individuals adopt, adapt and perpetuate the group narrative.

Narrative Identity (Theory of): The interplay between narratives and social identity construction in which individuals incorporate elements from narratives (fictionalized, social, and others) into their personal identity narrative and attempt to project this identity narrative by way of a performative identity. See also Triad of Narrative Identity.

Narrative Induction: Coined by Charlotte Linde, this is the process by which outsiders join a group and begin adopting elements of the groups shared narrative into their own Personal Identity Narratives.

Narrative Resources: Socially shared narrative elements that provide symbolic points of reference, context, and content for fashioning identity and for performing identity. These elements or resources come from a shared “reservoir” that may be folkloric in nature, part of popular media, or shared in some other way.

Narrative Schema: James Wertsch”™s term for the web and reservoir of narrative resources that exists inside the collective memory of a group of individuals.

Narrative: The central sense-making structure that allows human beings to arrange, categorize and present symbolic idea using the elements of story.

Performance: Related to Presentation. Performance is the way in which an individual structures his or her account via interaction with the listener. Presentation is the substance of the account.

Performative Identity: The portion of identity that is expressed to an audience and interpreted using shared narrative resource. The “me” that I want others to see and try to express through performance, self-adornation, and projection. See also Theory of Narrative Identity.

Personal Identity Narrative: The cobbled together story we tell ourselves, about ourselves. An internal description of who we are that changes depending on context. Created, in part, from shared narrative resources. See also Theory of Narrative Identity.

Plot– The sequence of events in a story that lead from the beginning to the end.

Point of View– The perspective of the narration. The character through who’s eyes the story is told.

Presentation: Related to Performance. Presentation is the content of the narrative itself. The actual course of events, themes and characters selected and emphasized by the informant. Performance is the structure of the account.

Protagonist – The primary character of a story. The character the audience is hoping to see succeed.

Self:  The “me” that is perceived by others. Similar in concept to the “person.” Described by Irving Goffman.

Story: The presentation of events, whether real or fictitious, involving three primary elements: plotting, character, and setting.

Triad of Narrative Identity: An analytical framework helpful in analyzing narrative identity. The framework is a guide to describing the connectedness between the shaping and projecting of narrative identity using narrative resources. See also Theory of Narrative Identity, Personal Identity Narrative, and Narrative Resources.

Universal Story– A story, fiction or non-fiction, that transverses culture to the psyche of all mankind. A story that any person in any culture can identity with. A truly universal story is an impossibility.

Voice– A storyteller’s particular, recognizable, style of storytelling.

World – The setting, both time and place, in which a story takes place.