Paratextual Features and Functions: Mapping Amorphis Tales from the Thousand Lakes

Paratextual Features and Functions: Mapping Amorphis Tales from the Thousand Lakes

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The notion of paratexts as “thresholds”, as thought by literary theorist Gerard Genette, was initially intended for analysing books. However, researchers have recently applied that knowledge to a variety of mediums. Birke and Christ (2013) investigate how paratexts function in DVD cases and digital literature. They propose that paratexts serve three main functions: interpretative, commercial and navigational. In this chapter I will draw on Birke and Christ’s functions to explore paratextual features present in the booklet of the album Tales From the Thousand Lakes, by Finnish folk metal band Amorphis. I will use some elements of macroanalysis (Jockers, 2013), a new approach to studying digital literature that combines human interpretation with computational analysis of key words and linguistic patterns. By applying that method, I will attempt to identify paratextual elements in the album’s booklet and understand how they bind the work to different historical contexts within Finnish culture. In conclusion, I will borrow some of Birke and Christ’s characteristics to approach an individual-focused perspective and propose three paratextual functions: perception, reception and contextualization.
Key terms: distant reading, paratextual functions, heavy music, Kalevala, album booklets, track lists

With the advance of technology in the contemporary world, the field of literary research is also facing the renovation of many of its theoretical frameworks. The implications of that form of restoration are overflowing both digital-born and traditional literature, especially when it comes to how texts are made available and accessible for a greater public. In such new media, materials are not completely context dependent, and may often appe...

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...resented at Encounters: refereed conference papers of the 17th annual AAWP conference. Available from
Jockers, M. L. (2013). Macroanalysis: Digital Methods & Literary History. Urbana, Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press.
Kallioniemi, K., and Kärki, K. (2009). The Kalevala, Popular Music, and National Culture. Journal of Finnish Studies, 13(2), 61-72.
Nottingham-Martin, A. (2014). Thresholds of Transmedia Storytelling: Applying Gérard Genette’s Paratextual Theory to The 39 Clues Series for Young Readers. In Desrochers, N. and Apollon, D. (Eds.), Examining Paratextual Theory and its Applications in Digital Culture (pp. 1-419). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Virtanen, L., and DuBois, T. A. (2000). Finnish folklore. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society.

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