Narrative and Identity Construction: Discourse Analysis Perspective
This CLIC Research Workshop will offer an opportunity for the Rice Community to analyze connections among language, narrative, and identity construction. Illustrations of these relations will be presented through discourse analysis activities and a follow-up discussion.
When: November 20, 2019, 12:50 - 1:50 pm
Where: Rayzor Hall, 113
RSVP to Aisulu Raspayeva at firstname.lastname@example.org
In research on narrative and identity, “identities are viewed as locally occasioned, discursive projects that interrelate with language forms in indirect and mediated ways” thus allowing identities to be “multiple, fleeting, and irreducible contingent” (De Fina & Georgakopoulou, 2011, 166-167). This suggests that narratives are a rich resource for constructing identity as they allow narrators to do agentive work via story content and presentation as well as through selection of linguistic and paralinguistic elements. Indeed, tellers foreground and present different aspects of their identities by manipulating the story structure and content. Following this approach to narrative and identity, I will focus on three major frameworks within this approach and illustrate this through discourse analysis activities that include data from me research projects and other relevant studies.
First, I will introduce Schiffrin’s (1996) work on narrated agentive (i.e., as figures in a story who takes actions) and epistemic (i.e., as figures in a story who state their beliefs, feelings, and wants) selves in the narratives about accepting a new person in the family. Therefore, by displaying these selves in a certain manner, we can construct and present a desired identity (e.g., a social identity of a mother in this case-study). Having introduced this framework, I will illustrate how I have applied it to my examination of narrative discourse among Kazakh-speaking Kazakhs in the rural area. I will invite the audience to explore how a Kazakh woman presented her gender identity through the narrative about her dying husband by presenting her agentive self as actively taking care of husband and her epistemic self as someone who believes that a proper care of a husband is wife’s main duty.
The second framework is narrative positioning (Bamberg (1997; Bamberg and Georgakopoulou, 2008) that examines identity construction in three levels of narrative positioning, i.e., positioning story characters towards each other (who are protagonist and antagonist, perpetrator and victim, agent and powerless, and linguistics means to create these positions), positioning tellers towards audience (linguistic means employed by the teller to use narrative for certain social actions like instructing or blaming), and positioning tellers towards themselves and making connections to broader cultural ideologies (“Who am I?” claims). Thus, this approach suggests that we employ narratives to create a sense of who we are via creating characters in displaced space and time, and then creating positions vis-à-vis interlocutors and bigger ideologies. Using data from De Fina (2013), I offer the audience to explore how Latin American immigrant women to the US constructs their identity in relation to Discourses and ideologies about language and migration (Level 3) in their personal stories during interviews.
If time permits, we will explore how narrative analysis can shed a light on family identity construction in a culture-specific way. Using the data from Tannen (2008) from interviews with women regarding their relationships with their sisters, the audience will discover how those women described events that showed how they had the same tastes or took the same actions as their sisters to support the point that sisters are usually similar, which is a common cultural belief about sisterhood in the USA.
Bamberg, Michael, and Alexandra, Georgakopoulou. 2008. Small stories as a new perspective in narrative and identity analysis. Text & Talk 28.377-96.
Bamberg, Michael. 1997. Positioning between structure and performance. Journal of Narrative and Life History 7.335-42.
De Fina, Anna and Alexandra, Georgakopoulou. 2012. Analyzing Narratives. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Schiffrin, Deborah. (1996). Narrative as self-portrait: Sociolinguistic constructions of identity. Language in society 25.167-203.
Tannen, Deborah. 2008. “We’ve never been close, we’re different” three narrative types in sister discourse. Narrative Inquiry 18.206–229.