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Academic Paper


Title: Crossing boundaries: The nexus of time, space, person, and place in narrative
Author: Deborah Schiffrin
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Georgetown University
Linguistic Field: Discourse Analysis; Semantics; Syntax; Text/Corpus Linguistics
Abstract: Recent research on narrative has widened the scope of analysis, suggesting the value of reexamining the canonical Labovian view of the structure and function of personal-experience narrative. This article suggests that narrative is not simply a way of evoking and shaping experience in time. Rather, narrative can evoke and shape cultural “chronotopes” (Bakhtin ) or nexuses of time, space, and identity. To illustrate this, I analyze a narrative from an oral history related in 1972 by a young woman whose volunteer work in the mid-1960s led to the rehabilitation of a small African American enclave in a middle-class White suburb. Analysis of clause types, constructed dialogue, existential there, deixis, verb chains, and referring expressions shows that the narrative is a blend of genres evoking place as well as personal identity linked to complex coordinates of time and space, and dependent intertextually on other parts of a larger story. (Narrative, oral history, chronotope, space, place, identity, genre)

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This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 38, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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