Cover: Living Narrative: Creating Lives in Everyday Storytelling, from Harvard University PressCover: Living Narrative in PAPERBACK

Living Narrative

Creating Lives in Everyday Storytelling

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Print on Demand

$52.00 • £45.95 • €47.95

ISBN 9780674010109

Publication Date: 09/30/2002


368 pages

5-3/4 x 9 inches

21 line illustrations, 2 tables


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Ochs and Capps’s text is well-written and their background in anthropology and psychology provides a thorough and broad perspective of conversational narratives. They discuss and present examples from several different cultures and a wide range of age groups. The book is theoretically based and provides citations from an extensive spectrum of research on narratives and storytelling… Living Narrative provides an interesting journey into the heart of the conversational narrative. The strong theoretical foundations of the book make it an excellent source book for professors of graduate students to use in analyzing everyday narratives.—Jessica Mallard, Texas Speech Communication Journal

Ochs and Capps develop a framework for analyzing narratives of personal experience, focusing on five dimensions or features along which narratives may vary when produced by ordinary speakers in natural, not experimental or literary, settings: ‘tellership,’ from one author to collaboration by two or more; ‘tellability,’ high to low; highly ‘embedded’ narratives to detached ones; closed temporal and causal ‘linearity’ to open temporal and causal ordering; and certain, constant ‘moral stance,’ or uncertain, fluid stance. The transcriptions to illustrate these features are very accessible but include enough fine transcriptions to be lifelike. The authors’ points of view derive from therapeutic concerns and the power of narrative in memory formation and cultural learning, and from anthropological studies of varieties of narrative in different cultures. Most examples are drawn from the US, but a very wide variety of ages, groups, and settings provides cultural diversity. Literary theory, from Bakhtin, Havel, and Vygotsky is well used. The book includes an exceptionally useful and full bibliography.—G. R. Benjamin, Choice

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