Second person in different genres and cultural practices

  • Joanna Jeziorska-Haładyj Uniwersytet Warszawski, Wydział Polonistyki, Instytut Literatury Polskiej, Zakład Poetyki, Teorii Literatury i Metodologii Badań Literackich
  • Magdalena Rembowska-Płuciennik Polska Akademia Nauk, Instytut Badań Literackich, Pracownia Poetyki Historycznej
Słowa kluczowe: second-person narrative, “you” address, narrative theory, game studies


The editorial introduction shows the richness of traditional literary genres (fictional and non-fictional), new cultural practices (digital literature, games, and playable media) in which second-person address may be encountered. The presence of a direct address to “you” (indi­vidual or collective) is also a distinct marker of contemporary marketing, advertising, and so­cial media communication. There is a number of transitional forms in-between print and digital literature and games, in which the presence of the second-person pronoun is one of the main features of poetics. These include narrative role-playing games (RPGs), game books, interactive text games, and paragraph games/books. Complementing the existing gap in Pol­ish interdisciplinary research, the editors discuss both the historical forms of second-person narrative and its potential to cross the boundaries between various media. Additionally, the article reconstructs the fuzzy status of you-narrative in 20th-century narrative theory, since the semantic ambiguities of the multifaceted “you” address resulted in multiple theoretical attempts at defying and analyzing the second-person storytelling. We summarize the main threads of the heated debate on the semantics, poetics, and pragmatics of second-person nar­rative that took place at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. The editorial discusses the reasons why narrative theory gradually recognized the typological equivalence of second-per­son storytelling to the third- and first-person narrative mode. Another recurring problem in research on second person is its impact on reader’s immersion and identification processes. Moreover, we indicate the new cultural context (the digital revolution) as an important fac­tor in the current dissemination and popularization of second-person narratives.


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