Are NLP Models Good at Tracing Thoughts: An Overview of Narrative Understanding

Lixing Zhu, Runcong Zhao, Lin Gui, Yulan He*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


Narrative understanding involves capturing the author's cognitive processes, providing insights into their knowledge, intentions, beliefs, and desires. Although large language models (LLMs) excel in generating grammatically coherent text, their ability to comprehend the author's thoughts remains uncertain. This limitation hinders the practical applications of narrative understanding. In this paper, we conduct a comprehensive survey of narrative understanding tasks, thoroughly examining their key features, definitions, taxonomy, associated datasets, training objectives, evaluation metrics, and limitations. Furthermore, we explore the potential of expanding the capabilities of modularized LLMs to address novel narrative understanding tasks. By framing narrative understanding as the retrieval of the author's imaginative cues that outline the narrative structure, our study introduces a fresh perspective on enhancing narrative comprehension.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFindings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023
PublisherAssociation for Computational Linguistics (ACL)
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Oct 2023


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