Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Class 3/24

Here is an overview of concepts discussed today.
First, a reminder: we are working towards a better understanding of the grammar of storytelling. To that end, your first assignment on conversational storytelling will help us clarify our analytical tools and develop a rubric to use for our final assignment on formal storytelling.
We discussed the Spoken–Written continuum, and compared it with:
Noting that the more composed the oral work becomes, through repetition of telling, it tends to employ more integrative language typical of written composition as identified by Chafe.

Beyond the analytical tools we have most recently been studying, I am concerned with Labov's question, "So What?" in regards to the overall practice of telling stories. That is: why do we do it? What are our objectives for telling stories and hearing stories? What may be the benefits or "pay-offs"?

We can think of two main areas for consideration: Message and Experience. Certainly there are messages and "meta-messages" being exchanged int he storytelling event. Additionally there is the creation of an experience int he event itself as well as the transference of experience inasmuch as the effective teller gives the involved listener a virtual experience drawn from the recounted story.

Therefore, let us consider:
1. The roles, if any, that grooming behaviors and stroke transactions have on the establishment and maintenance of rank and status.(see Locke and Berne)
2. The effect of "making special" (see Dissanyake)on teller and listener alike.
3. The health benefits of disclosure vs. suppression. (see Pennebaker)

We discussed Donald Davis' telling about his mother in some of these terms, noting that there is pleasure in being reminded of our past, being directed to rethink our past, and being exposed to the common human experience of aging, death, and growth in a manner that was reassuring. (We also noted Donald's background in homiletics.)

Furthermore we discussed Donald's involvement strategies and the manner in which he appears to take care of the listener.

We discussed the grammar from Elizabeth Ellis of stories and story programs progressing from "Ha Ha" to "Aha" to "Aah" to "Amen"

Additionally, consider Donald Davis' grammar of story as: People, Places, Problems, Progress.

COMING UP: Please read
1. "Making Special": An Undescribed Human Universal and the Core of a Behavior of Art by Ellen Dissanyake
2. "Forming A Story: The Health Benefits of Narrative" by James Pennebaker.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Being someone who listens to metal music, I witness a lot at shows. I have seen a man who was solid muscle ( a bouncer) pick a 90 lb. teenager up in a full nelson and carry him out of a venue. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would see linguistic and grooming patterns at a heavy metal show. I guess when you think about it, they are everywhere. I just never thought to look for them before. First off, I will start by laying a backdrop. The rough definition of a circle pit is a group of individuals (mostly men, however you do get the occasional female who has energy to burn) who, when listening to music, get so emersed in it that when the tempo gets to a fevered pitch, everyone starts thrashing and running in a circle. This in turn grows as the song progresses. As I sat there on my stool, out of harm's way, I began to see a definite pattern in their behavior. A heavy part of a song would come on, and a few individuals would begin the grooming process by running into one another. The people that they ran into would push them back to the center of the pit. THe more they did this, the more energized they seemed to get. The repeated cause-throwing yourself into someone and the effect-getting pushed back to center, seemed to be a kind of grooming mechanism that made these young men feel powerful. Fueled by the music and the energetic crowd, the circle pit was born. As the song gained intensity, the grooming seemed to occur more often, which would cause more people to take part. This in turn fueled the pit. Being a spectator to this seemingly animalistic form of grooming, it only seemed logical that the inhabitants of the pit would get angry and chaos would ensue. Well, the pit has a grooming "code of ethics." Whenever someone would get thrown to the ground, everyone would rush and pick him up in such a way that he seemed to take defy gravity adn would continue on his way. Whenever a female came near the pit, no matter how fueled they were and no matter where she stood, they seemed to groom themselves right around her. WHen the song was over and the pit ceased to be, the members would groom each other by shaking hands and pulling each other into a hug, as an apparent sign of good will and friendship. THe pit was not without control. THE one controlling the pit was the one singing the song. Whatever his voice would do, they would manipulate the pit accordingly. WHen his voice slowed, the pit slowed. When his voice went faster, the pit sped up. when a song started that was familiar to the inhabitants, they seemed to whip into a frenzy the likes have neveer been seen before. All the same rules applied, the grooming would commense and would continue until the song ended, speeding up and slowing down with the song. At the end, as before, a grooming sign of good will adn peace was issued and the participants went their seperate ways.

I really found this intersting. If you have trouble understanding it, I dont blame You. I do myself. Just ask me to explain it and I will try the best that I know how

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Story Slam Winner 2006

Here is a video of Adam Wade, 2006 Grand Slam Storytelling Winner at The Moth in NYC. Note the combination of quirky personality, rapid fire speech, high energy, and a kind of sloppy verisimilitude.
Adam Wade, NBC Page for Conan Obrien


Read & Listen to this segment from NPR's Weekend Edition. Welcome To The Twitterverse Full of neologisims!

How is the ongoing development of "text messaging" affecting the oral/literate continuum?

Daniel Shorr: "I'm becoming familiar with it, even as I listen now," Schorr told us. "It really is another generation. I'm agape as I learn about how people can communicate with the outside world. It somehow reminds me ... of something in ancient Greece, the agora, the marketplace. You come out and you say things at the marketplace and everyone can hear. And every person now seems to be a network."

"We're losing the difference between audience and conversation," Schorr added. "It's all becoming part of one vast thing. ... You're not really communicating one to one anymore ... and the whole world is going to end up as an audience."

Monday, March 2, 2009


I know there is still some confusion about the first assignment. Specifically the socio-linguistic analysis. We are not well enough acquainted with socio-linguistics to make use of it for this assignment. Instead, here is what I want:

1. Give me a detailed description of the conversational storytelling event. Transcribe the conversation. Describe the context and the event. (Remember: "people sitting around talking" won't suffice.) Use Dell Hymes SPEAKING model as a guide. Also reference Grice's Maxims and note if they are being adhered to or flouted.

2. Analyze the event in terms of work we have discussed and read to date. This includes your observations of stroke and grooming behaviors, strategies for establishing rank and status, interesting use of syntax, phrase, word, and phoneme (sounds!).