Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: Technology
Secondary Theme: The Visual
Online interactional spaces are characterized by new forms of intertextuality, multimodality, interactivity and variability, and by translocality, multi-authorship, and extensive audience participation in narratives (Georgakopoulou 2013, De Fina 2016, Tagg 2015). De Fina (2016) also points to the “dialogicity and openness of storytelling practices” in online contexts (477; cf. Page 2012, Georgakopoulou 2013). Online spaces of various types – Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, messenger conversations, blogs, YouTube – open up new possibilities for interaction. Audiences can be spontaneously constituted; in some cases, participants can join or leave without being noticed. Virtual conversations are, unlike face-to-face ones, not events that are time-bound, but rather spaces that can be revisited and rearranged. They also exhibit variable intentionality and performativity because contributions can range from fully extemporaneous to carefully curated.
These features of online interactional spaces call for a re-examination of theoretical and methodological approaches in discourse analysis. This panel examines the implications of the characteristics of online spaces for narrative study, the ethnography of speaking, and conversation analysis (CA). The first paper, taking as its point of departure Ochs & Capps’ (2001) and Georgakopoulou’s (2007) proposals for revisiting canonical approaches to narrative (e.g. Labov and Waletzky 1967), examines different types of narrativity and tellership in Tweets, Facebook posts, and YouTube video comments, and explores ways in which participants seek to create coherence and structure in the ostensibly unstructured online contexts. The second paper employs innovative methodology to analyze the concept of the speech event online. The paper argues that online talk entails multimodal interactions not just with other participants, but with the platform itself. The third paper examines online contexts as spaces on the example of a private Facebook group message, and explores the implications of the message’s spatial dimensions for CA methodologies. The fourth paper brings the discussion back to Ochs and Capps’ (2001) narrative dimensions to analyze the non-linear and highly embedded aspects of Twitter interactions. Finally, the last paper brings together a micro analysis of organizational tags on Tumblr and a macro perspective on multilingual practices and global English.
Taken together, the papers in this panel seek to revisit traditional methodologies of discourse analysis in the context of online interaction. The papers engage with diverse aspects of DA: narrative structure, CA, analysis of speech events, Goffman’s (1979) participation framework, Gershon’s (2017) communicative affordances. They also examine a wide range of online platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr, which is important considering the obvious mismatch between the pace of technological developments and that of scholarly analysis: for example, while discourse analysis of Facebook has often been the subject of analysis, Facebook is not the most salient platform for young people. The panel builds on existing work in this area (Tannen 2017; Tannen 2013; Giles et al. 2015; West 2013; West & Trester 2013; DiDomenico & Boase 2013; Meredith, in press; Meredith & Stokoe 2014; Meredith & Potter 2013) with the view to enhancing our understanding of what it means to do discourse analysis online.