Understanding and Analyzing Narratives in Context

An invited lecture for the SLA Talk Series

Dr. Anna De Fina

Professor and Chair, Italian Department
Affiliated Faculty, Linguistics Department
Georgetown University

Friday, November 4, 3:00 pm
1418 Van Hise Hall

About the talk

Since the inception of the “narrative turn” in the 1990s, narratives have been widely used as research tools to investigate a variety of social issues: from identity construction to multilingualism to online activism. Researchers doing narrative analysis rely on different traditions such as text based, biographical and interactionist perspectives. The latter are the focus of Dr. De Fina‘s talk. She will discuss the shift from text to practices in narrative analysis and the implications of approaching storytelling from a practice-oriented perspective (De Fina 2021, De Fina and Georgakopolou 2008). She will first lay out some antecedents to this approach: in particular she will concentrate on conversation analytic insights on telling everyday stories and on the dimensional model put forth by Ochs and Capps (2001). She will argue that these and other ethnographically oriented perspectives have informed present day interactionist models by presenting an alternative to defining stories exclusively from the point of view of their structural make up and by pointing to participants orientation and participants practices as central to the analysis of how stories are produced and managed concretely. She will then discuss how a practice- based perspective implies paying attention to different storytelling genres and she will illustrate some characteristics and functions of different types of narratives such as for example canonical stories, accounts told in interview, chronicles, and other kinds of digital stories in order to show the varied ways in which they are used to make meaning. In the case of narratives in interview, she will also discuss researcher positionality and the importance of including a reflexive component in the analysis of data.

About the speaker

Anna De Fina is Professor of Italian Language and Linguistics in the Italian Department and affiliated faculty with the Linguistics Department at Georgetown University. Her interests and publications focus on discourse and narrative, qualitative interviewing, identity, chronotopes, migration and super diversity. She has published extensively on these topics including 80 articles and book chapters and 12 volumes between authored and edited books. She is one of the editors of the book series Encounters for Multilingual Matters and of Discourse, Narrative and Interaction for Routledge. Her latest publications are the volumes Exploring(Im)mobilities: Language Practices, Discourses and Imaginaries (2021, Multilingual Matters.) co-edited with Gerardo Mazzaferro and the Cambridge Handbook of Discourse Studies, coedited with Alexandra Georgakopoulou (2020, Cambridge University Press).

Sponsors: Second Language Acquisition PhD Program with the Language Institute. Funding by the Anonymous Fund.

Contact: Jana Martin

The UW-Madison Language Institute is committed to inclusive and accessible programming. To request an accommodation for this event, please contact Language Institute associate director Jana Martin three business days in advance.