Wednesday, March 19, 2008

GURT '08

I'm just home from GURT '08, which was an action-packed, intellectually rich conference. As someone who likes to work in both literary and lingusitic paradigms, I found myself feeling very much at home there. Pretty much everything I attended on the programme was excellent, and I've come away with lots to think about, some of which will come out in various posts here. And of course, I got to meet lots of really interesting, friendly people. So if I met you there, and you are checking this blog post out - a special 'hi - how are you?'.

Well-known, even infamous(?) Debbie Tannen was talking about her latest project examining stories sisters tell about each other. She made the distinction between 'Narrative' and 'narrative', parallelling the distinction between 'Discourse' (critical/cultural positioning) and 'discourse' (actual language use). An interesting thought, given the dispersal and dilution of the term 'narrative' in popular use, to mean anything from 'background information' (e.g. so what's the narrative on that?) to sequence of information (e.g. the RA5 Narrative). I can see what she was getting at, and I found myself reflecting on how the 'narratives' in the blog posts I've been looking at index the 'Narrative' of gender identity when it comes under threat from critical illness.

As for my own presentation (on the cancer blogs project) - well - strangely enough it was one of the toughest papers I've ever had to give. Not because of anything I was saying, but because the presenter before me was showing a digital narrative about the death of her father through cancer. How anyone could sit through that and fail to be moved, I don't know! But standing up to speak when you feel choked - I have never so not wanted to give a paper before! But I did, and it went fine, and there was good discussion afterwards. But more on that later.



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