Narrative and talk : a study in the folkloric communication of everyday conversational exchange

Laba, Martin (1983) Narrative and talk : a study in the folkloric communication of everyday conversational exchange. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

A view of the strategic use of folklore in everyday life, and in particular, verbal folklore as it is constituted by its social occasion, implies that it is not merely the presence of a stylized and traditional item of expression that determines the folkloric character of the occasion. If we can speak of an entire situation or event as folkloric it is because folklore is first embedded in, and second determined by the normal flow of verbal exchange. The suggestion is a distinct continuity between a folkloric performance occasioned by conversation and the conversation itself. This, thesis focuses on the nature of this continuity and specifically on the entire conversational event through which narrative is achieved and fashioned. -- The analytical perspective involved and the diversity of issues addressed by this study necessitate a multi-disciplinary approach. While the primary theoretical and methodological framework is folkloristic, other related theories and methods are drawn from communication, cultural anthropology, the ethnography of speaking , the sociology, of conversational interaction, sociology, poetics, and literary and linguistic, stylistics. In this way, various topics and themes are treated: the definition of "conversational narrative”, the analysis of conversation in the "activity of stylization", the interface between folkloric speech and natural discourse, the stylistic and structural connections between narrative and conversation, and the organization of narrative communication. -- In their concern with explicating the formal, performative dimension of folkloric expressions, folklorists have emphasized the differences between folklore and other casual or less formal kinds of communication. Performance-oriented studies of narrative have dealt with a process of foregrounding whereby a stylized model of communication, the communicative act itself, and the expressive skills of the narrator are all highlighted. This thesis examines the nature of the background, the conversational basis which structures and situates folkloric expression, and the relationship between the formal and informal behaviours that make up conversational exchange. Conversational narratives are situationally and thematically determined by the manner and subject of discussion and accordingly, particular attention is paid to speech in the informal, casual interactions of everyday life. The speech event (conversation) and the speech act, (narrative) then, are viewed not only as interdependent but interdeterminate. -- The sociology of conversational interaction has demonstrated that natural conversation depends on the complicated negotiation of acquired rules based in both immediate circumstances (the context of the speech event) and the larger culture. These rules are structuring or patterning principles which are analyzed as factors that serve to make speech exchange systematic. Similarly, folklore in the form of the conversational narrative is viewed as a patterning principle in conversational interaction and conversation itself is under stood as exerting a modifying influence on style, content and form of personal narrative and personal performance. -- Narrative operates to compose and define our perceptions of reality, and transforms these perceptions into codes for existence, into expressive forms of personal knowledge. This thesis establishes and analyzes the significance and method of this narrative function, and through three case studies and interpretations of contributing theory, develops a concept of, and manner of approach to the folkloric dimension of everyday conversational exchange.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1028
Item ID: 1028
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 241-260.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1983
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Communication in folklore--Newfoundland and Labrador; Folklore--Newfoundland and Labrador

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