From the OED
a spoken or written account of connected events; a story: a gripping narrative • the practice or art of telling stories • a representation of a particular situation or process in such a way as to reflect or conform to an overarching set of aims or values.
As seen in the course notes, individual photographs and series of photographs can each hold narratives within themselves.
A useful, if glib, working distinction between ‘context’ and ‘narrative’, then, is that narrative deals with what is inside the frame and context deals with what is outside. As a photographer, my first thought is that narrative is the more important because that is the part the photographer has direct control over. He shares control of context with others, the publisher, gallery owner or curator.
It is therefore interesting to read in the course notes, ‘By understanding the context of particular photographs it becomes possible to obtain the fullest appreciation of the narratives they convey’. This is something I look forward to exploring further over the next few months.