This article aims to provide a definition, description, and typology of collective narrative agents and of collective narratives. A collective narrative agent occurs in a given narrative if three conditions are satisfied:(a) the argument position in numerous narrative propositions is occupied by an expression designating a group of some kind; (b) the predicate position in these propositions is occupied by predicates that designate the group's holistic attributes or collective actions; (c) the group as such fulfills a range of thematic roles in the narrated sequence. A narrative is a collective narrative if a collective narrative agent occupies the protagonist role. The difference between standard and collective narratives resides therefore in the reversal of the usual proportion between individual and collective agents. Not every collection of individuals (e.g., Zola's crowds) qualifies as a collective agent. To qualify, the collection must act as a plural subject or we-group, capable of forming shared group intentions and acting on them jointly. A different type of collective agent is a community: a group with a shared sense of identity. At the extreme end stands the group as a corporate entity, a totally impersonal network of positions and roles that creates the impression of an independent entity with a will of its own.
With respect to individual group members, the narrative adopts a collective perspective on them. The individual is accordingly presented as part of a collectivity or a social self, its actions those of a role bearer within a group, and the relations be-tween any two individuals defined via a plural subject category. With respect to the group as a collective narrative agent,the portrayal of its physical, verbal, and mental activities oscillates between two poles: description in group-as-a-whole terms and in individuals-as-group-members terms. Both individual and collective levels exist concurrently and are irreducible to each other, so that an unresolved tension between the two is a basic feature of collective narration. The tension increases as one moves from the representation of physical action to that of speech, where the employment of direct discourse features for the speech of many is problematic. The greatest difficulty is encountered on the level of mental activity or experientiality, because exact inner verbalization varies from one group member to another. The article further discusses collective narrators, narratees, and the appropriation of collective narratives by actual world individuals and groups, using the Passover Haggadah as a primary example.