The current reckoning with systemic bias and discrimination calls for centering historical and social context in narrative theory, as in other domains of academic and public life. This article undertakes that centering in rhetorical narrative theory. Informed by genre theory, it argues for theorizing narrative occasion by focusing on two dimensions: 1) the social positions it entails and 2) the conceptual frameworks it engages. Readings of two German-language texts, Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther (1774/1787) and Babak Ghassim and Usama Elyas's “Behind Us, My Country” (2015), establish continua for mapping these social positions and conceptual frameworks and for evaluating their thematic salience in the narrative. Crucially, these methods are applied not only to text-internal figures like narrators and characters but also to the real-world parties to narrative: authors and actual readers. In addition to providing a framework for describing narrative occasion, this socially attuned analysis highlights problems with rhetorical narrative theory's treatment of audience, particularly its idealization of the authorial audience. The article thus points the way toward dismantling the universal thinking embedded in other narratological categories and suggests that rhetorical and cognitive narrative theories could be combined to understand how cognitive frameworks shape narrative occasion.

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