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Title:Stories Women Tell: An Ethnographic Study of Personal Experience Stories in a Women's Rap Group
Author(s):Jenkins, Mercilee Macintyre
Department / Program:Speech Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Women's Studies
Abstract:This study explores communication in a women's rap group focusing on storytelling. Using a symbolic interactionist approach, storytelling was analyzed as a linguistic and a social interactional phenomenon. For nine months, the researcher acted as a participant/observer in a group of eleven young mothers who met once a week for 1 1/2 hours at a local church. Sessions were tape recorded for a five-month period; the stories told during the first eight recorded sessions were transcribed and then organizational features were analyzed. In order to select segments of talk for transcription as storytellings, members were asked to identify the stories they heard on a tape of one half of one session. Results were compared with the researcher's selections and revealed agreement as to what constituted a story. To augment the analysis of interaction in the group, interviews were conducted with each group member focusing on her impressions of the group. Members were also asked to respond to a transcript of an episode of talk.
When patterns of interaction in the WWC were compared to the patterns of storytelling, the researcher concluded that the interactional work that the women did facilitated a cooperative style of storytelling in the group: (1) Members were invited to tell stories. The questions preceding many storytellings (17 out of the 38 transcribed) and the high number of stories begun without presequences (21) indicated that it was not necessary to ask permission to tell a story. (2) They contributed to each other's storytellings by showing interest, asking questions, filling in, tying together and adding commentary. (3) They used their facility for making linking remarks to connect stories to each other and to the ongoing conversation. (4) Narratorship was rotated over the course of several sessions. (5) Two-thirds of the storytelling analyzed in the total sample of 55 stories involved the narrator as a minor character or no character in the story, rather than as the protagonist. Thus, their storytellings were not primarily self-aggrandizing, but involved sharing common experiences out of which was constructed a sense of a shared social reality. A different pattern of storytelling may emerge in men's groups where a hierarchical mode of social organization may contribute to a more presentational and competitive style of storytelling.
Issue Date:1983
Description:293 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1983.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8309964
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-05-13
Date Deposited:1983

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