Overview of course

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Narratives have been studied by many different disciplines: literary theory, clinical, cognitive and developmental psychology, folklore, anthropology, sociology and linguistics. The primary focus of this course is the sociolinguistic study of narrative through discourse analysis. Our initial attention is spontaneous oral narratives told during conversations or conversation-like interactions. However, we will also compare and contrast stories that are written and electronically communicated. Likewise, although our discussions and analyses will dwell primarily on narrative told by one person, in one place, and at one time, in everyday life, we will also touch on narratives that develop across time, places and persons.
We begin by discussing basic features of discourse analysis and sociolinguistic frameworks for the study of narrative, while collecting and transcribing narratives for our own analyses. We then turn to how different parts of language (e.g. tense, referring terms, reported speech) are used to create a story world, and how that story world both constructs, and reflects, different facets of context (including identity, relationships and social interaction). Included will be discussion of very short stories, long life stories, public stories, retold performances of stories, intertextual stories, and the infiltration of the notion of “narrative” into therapy, medicine, politics, history, law and business.
-Data (1) Tape and transcribe one narrative (with at least 4 narrated ‘events’); include a few lines of its surrounding conversation

(2) Ask for three more versions of the oral narratives, in which the person (a) tells the story again, (b) emails you the story and (b) writes the story.

(3) We will combine all the narratives into a class corpus.
-Complete readings (articles, book chapters). We will review and discuss readings in class: what do the readings tell us about the topic of interest? how do they continue (or alter) previous work? how can we use the ideas to analyze our narratives?

Bring the readings to class on their assigned date.
-Complete 4 exercises (2- 3 pp. each). Exercises require application of the readings to your data and/or to class data. Be prepared to discuss your exercises in class on the day on which they are due. After class discussion, you should post your exercises on Blackboard for a class archive.

No late submissions accepted!
-Final paper (8- 10 pages) that integrates issues raised in the readings with data analysis
Grades are based on exercises, final paper, and contributions to class.
Each exercise counts for 15% of your grade (total 60%), the final paper counts for 30%, and class contributions for the remaining 10%.
SCHEDULE (flexible)
August 31 Introduction

What is narrative? Why study narrative?

September 7 Overview of discourse analysis and sociolinguistics

Read: Schiffrin (in press) “Discourse” and one of the Schiffrin handbook articles

Do: -Listen to stories that both you and others tell

-Take notes (to share in class discussion , but not to turn in) on who tells

stories to whom, where, why, when, how? what makes them stories?

-Begin to think about how you will collect your data for class.

In class: discuss discourse analysis and how to collect stories. If time, begin to discuss

transcription conventions; listen to some stories and practice transcribing

September 14 Stories during interviews

Read: Labov and Waletzky 1967, Labov 1972, Schiffrin 1997

Do: Tape one or two conversations (or similar interactions) in which at least at least one person tells a story.

Bring tapes to class.

In class: -Listen to the (possible) narratives

-Discuss and practice transcription

*ME: some oral history interviews

September 21 Social interaction and “small” stories

Read: Jefferson 1978, Ochs and Capps (2001), Chapter 1

Narrative, social interaction and “small stories”

Do: -Complete transcription of your story.

-Ask your informant to retell the story.

Bring your transcription of the retold story to class (enough copies for class members and teacher).
September 28

Units of story production

Read: *Chafe

Do: Exercise 1: compare Labov’s units (narrative clauses) with Chafe’s units in both versions of your oral narrative. Where do they match? Not match? Which were easier to identify? Which units give you a better indication of the following: how the narrator remembered the past, felt at that time, and/or experienced the past? Which units helped you identify why “really” happened? Which units helped you discover the story structure? how the story fit into the ongoing interaction?
October 5

Topic(s) and frame in narrative: What is it about? Who is it about?

Read Tannen 1979, Gee 1997, Schiffrin (in press), Chapter 5

**USE Louie Gelman story for this; compare 1982 and other versions of SB (for Gee)?

email it to you, and write it on paper.

Ask for written versions of the story (email and paper)

Bring your written versions of the story to class (enough copies for class members and teacher).

October 12

Time and events in narrative: What happens when?

Read: Schiffrin 1981, *Wolfson (on perf narratives)

Emergence of HP only with event sequences in linear narratives?

October 19

Action and interaction: Who does what and how? (event types, reported speech)

Read: Labov 1981, Tannen 1991, Hamilton on bone marrow

Do: EXERCISE 2: analyze time markers in your stories

*in class: present stuff on SB’s father and his actions over time

October 26

Evaluation in narrative: What matters and why?

Read: Schiffrin 1984, review Labov 1972

November 2 Narrative and the self

Read: Bruner 1987


Schiffrin 1996

DO EXERCISE 3: analyze at least two evaluative devices in your stories

November 9 Narrative and the self (continued)


Schiffrin, L in S (2nd Ilse)

DeFina from D and I

November 16 Social and cultural meanings of narrative

Read: Blum-Kulka et. al.. , Holmes



Do: Exercise 4: Narrative and identity
November 23 Narrative, oral history and life story

Read Schiffrin 2001, (in press), Linde. Schiff and Noy

November 30 Narrative across the disciplines (and how can your iPod tell a story?)

Read: Bruner

Do: Examine websites of “Hungry Fish” and “Golden Fleece”

December 7 Summarize and present plans for final paper

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