Unreliable Narrators: How Can We Identify Them?

English Taster Lecture

Speaker: Dr Catherine Brown

Date: Monday 7 June 2021, 4:30-5:30pm

When reading novels – or, indeed, when listening to people talk – we sometimes get the sense that we are in the hands of an unreliable narrator. But what is it about what they say that gives us this feeling? And is ‘unreliable narration’ a hard and fast category, leaving all other narrators in the category of ‘reliable’?

We will explore these questions by looking at examples taken from Ian McEwan, Sebastian Faulks, Martin Amis, J.D. Salinger, Vladimir Nabokov, Lev Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky amongst others – making a distinction between factual and ethical unreliability, and identifying certain common features of some of the most famous unreliable narrators in European literature.

The hope is that you will go away from this lecture more attuned to – and savvy about – unreliable narrators wherever you may encounter them.

This taster will also include an introductory overview of studying at NCH, and there will be ample time for Q&A with Faculty and Student Ambassadors.



Here’s what previous participants have said about our English Taster Lectures:

“I loved the exploration of the topic and the diverse range of views. It’s opened my mind to new concepts and left me feeling very motivated, so thank you!”

“This event was informative, interesting, and worthwhile. I would highly recommend it to those with a passion for the subject, as well as those who are still unsure which university course would be right for them.”

“I enjoyed the interactive portions of the lecture and found the material really engaging. I also felt like I learnt something which I can apply to my A-Levels.”

“Extremely helpful in figuring out what the course will be like. Ambassadors were very helpful, and questions were answered so quickly.”

“The points made were fascinating, and I had no trouble understanding any of the content; some of the other university taster lectures I’ve attended have had a tendency to over-complicate analysis.”

“The English Taster was interactive and extremely informative. I learnt a lot about NCH and the courses they offer, so very helpful.

“The lecturer explored different points of view and introduced contextual information that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. He was clearly passionate about this subject, and all of the other staff (as well as the students) also seemed enthusiastic to help and answer questions :)”

“A wonderful and welcoming experience!”