The purpose of the group Narrative Research Lab is the investigation of narrative in various media and art forms; its forms, techniques and voices, its cross medial potential and its relations to different cultural discourses.The issues of narrative are addressed from a variety of positions and perspectives, focusing on topics like unreliable narration, narrative sequencing, intermediality, remediation, realism, irony, autofiction and autobiography and other non-fictional narratives like testimonies. One position emanating from NRL with a rather large international impact is "Unnatural Narratology".
NRL is embedded in a series of existing networks, prominently Project Narrative at the Ohio State University, headed by James Phelan, Freiburg Center on Fictional and Factual narrative, headed by Monika Fludernik, and Richard Walsh's research group on fictionality in York.
Members are also part of the pan-European network, ENN and several of the members of Narrative Reseach Lab have co-taught and developed joint courses and educations with e.g. Jan Baetens and Liesbeth Korthals under the auspices of the LACE-programme.
Narrative Research Lab has hosted visiting professorships for Nicholas Royle (2007-9), James Phelan (2011), Richard Walsh (2012) and Brian Richardson (2013)
From 2009 to 2012 Narrative Reseach Lab hosted the annual ERASMUS-funded MA-summerschool "Intensive Programme in narratology" (IPIN), headed by Associate Professor Stefan Iversen (themes were 'Narrating the Extreme (2009), 'New Media/New Narratives (2010), and Narrative Theories in Action (2011-2012)). Among the renowned teachers have been Professor James Phelan (US), Dr. Richard Walsh (UK), Liesbeth Korthals Altes (NL), Professor Brian Richardson (US) and Professor Lisa Zunshine (US). In total more than 130 MA's from more than 30 countries graduated from the school. In 2013 the summerschool was changed to an yearly Doctoral course called "Summer Course in Narrative Studies" (SINS), Among the teachers in 2013 were Professor Alexandra Georgakopoulou (UK), Associate Professor Ruth Page (UK) and Professor Jan Baetens (BL). More than 30 PhD's from more than 20 universities participated in the first run of the Ph.D-course which is set to run again in 2014 and in 2015.
Closely connected to NRL is "Centre for Fictionality Studies". The centre examines fictionalization conceived of as a fundamental human cognitive ability to process not only what is, but to imagine, project, produce, and to communicate also what is possible and non-actual, i.e. the domains of imagination, thought experiments, fiction, scenarios etc. Fictionality, thus conceived, is extremely pervasive and completely understudied since fictionality studies have been conducted almost solely within literary studies supplemented only by studies within philosophy and linguistics. In the center the field is redefined by focusing on fictionality beyond fiction, i.e, as a quality that applies not only to fiction in any generic sense. Political speeches, conversations, advertisements, Facebook updates, court proceedings, philosophical investigations, thought experiments, and news shows regularly and routinely employ fictionality without thereby turning into generic fictions. The relationship between fiction understood as a conventionalized set of genres with a specific formative period (approx. 1700-1850 in the Scandinavian region) on the one hand, and fictionalization cognitive ability is examined. A point of departure is the assumption that the conflation of fictionality theory with fiction theory has been to the detriment of both, since it has overlooked the importance of fictionality outside fiction and some of the most important roles and functions of fiction.