Toward a Formal Ontology for Narrative

  • Fabio Ciotti Università di Roma Tor Vergata


In this paper the rationale and the first draft of a formal ontology for modeling narrative texts are presented. Building on the semiotic and structuralist narratology, and on the work carried out in the late 1980s by Giuseppe Gigliozzi in Italy, the focus of my research are the concepts of character and of narrative world/space. This formal model is expressed in the OWL 2 ontology language. The main reason to adopt a formal modeling approach is that I consider the purely probabilistic-quantitative methods (now widespread in digital literary studies) inadequate. An ontology, on one hand provides a tool for the analysis of strictly literary texts. On the other hand (though beyond the scope of the present work), its formalization can also represent a significant contribution towards grounding the application of storytelling methods outside of scholarly contexts.


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How to Cite
CIOTTI, Fabio. Toward a Formal Ontology for Narrative. MATLIT: Materialities of Literature, [S.l.], v. 4, n. 1, p. 29-44, feb. 2016. ISSN 2182-8830. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 25 apr. 2019. doi:
Secção Temática | Thematic Section


computational narratology; digital literary studies; formal ontology; character theory; distant reading; text analysis