Date of Award
Master of Arts in English Composition
First Reader/Committee Chair
This thesis explores the ways in which teenage girls use narrative performance to negotiate participation, social and gender identity, and individual authority in order to establish ratified and equal statuses of power within their social peer group. Although previous work on narrative discourse has shown that narratives can act as the catalyst for the complex co/construction of identity especially in social situations of talk, little work has been done to focus on the way teenagers, particularly girls, use this discourse to their benefit as they fulfill social and gender goals in social and conversational settings. Furthermore, while multimodal, narrative performance has been discussed as a cognitive and participation centered function of narrative discourse, this work has been largely quantitative. Consequently, the field of sociolinguistics, predominantly in the realm of narrative discourse, could use more work on the social function of narrative performance. This project, then, combines an analysis of teenage girls’ narrative co/construction in social contexts with a qualitative analysis of their use of narrative performance to show the ways in which this combination allows the girls to do complicated social and linguistic work to manage membership statuses, via complex participation frameworks.
Data for this project consists of 5, one hour long, audio and video recorded instances in which four teenage girls, who make up an established peer group, hang out during regular social meetings. An analysis carried out via a lens of Narrative Discourse influenced by Conversation Analysis (CA), revealed that teenage girls are doing a great deal of power negotiation during their social interactions and that moments of narrative, particularly those in which narrative performances are utilized, function to make these negotiations both visible and therefore more influential on overall group dynamics. Suggestions for how this research could be continued in the future are discussed.
Smith, Chere M., "The Narrative Performances of Teenage Girls: Participation, Identity, and Authority as the Foundation for Power" (2016). Electronic Theses, Projects, and Dissertations. 415.