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Negotiating Values: Narrative and Exposition


In this paper I focus on the limits of narrative by asking what kinds of things narratives do, and what kinds of texts do related things in other ways. In particular I focus on how narrative genres organise time in relation to value, drawing on functional linguistic models of temporality and evaluation. From a linguistic perspective, the various narrative genres negotiate different kinds of solidarity with listeners, and so the limits of narrative materialise various possibilities for communing in a culture, alongside the potentialities for construing community through related and other genres of discourse—since in general, the limits/possibilities of our language (and attendant modalities of communication) are the limits/possibilities of our social world.

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    See also Hasan, Martin; Chafe includes related work from a west-coast functionalist discourse perspective; Toolan provides an excellent language focussed introduction to narrative analysis [1518].

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    I acknowledge that Labov's work taken as a whole allows for optional elements of structure and evaluation conflated with other stages rather than operating as a stage on its own; but this simply muddies the waters as far as providing a principled tool for text analysis is concerned [2326].

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    For an alternative translation see Krog, who worked as a reporter during the hearings and documented this harrowing experience in her extraordinary Country of my Skull [29].

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    The observation is a story genre which reflectively appreciates the significance of events; see Jordens [2] for discussion.


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Martin, J.R. Negotiating Values: Narrative and Exposition. Bioethical Inquiry 5, 41–55 (2008).

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  • Negotiating values
  • Narrative
  • Exposition