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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Conference Presentations

Sequentiality and spatialisation: narrativity in text-messages

Dr Agnieszka Lyons

Queen Mary University of London


Technology development has brought the question of (digital) media into narrative and narrative processing and led to the popularisation of interdisciplinary approaches to narrative analysis. The framework is being applied to a wider range of texts than ever before, e.g., cartoons (Baldry & Thibault 2006), digital audio files, Facebook status updates (Page 2010), as well as a range of narrative texts in video games, reality TV, and virtual worlds.

This paper brings text-messaging - to the discussion and establishes it as bearing narrative features and worthy of further analysis in terms of its narrative potential. I discuss texters' use of specific discursive tools to (re)construct storyworlds and position themselves and the intended recipients of their text-messages within a discursively constructed and spatially organised narrative. I draw on deictic shift theory (Duchan, Bruder & Hewitt 1995), cognitive narratology (Herman 2004, 2010), and semantics (Fauconnier 1985) to theoretically ground the discussion. I discuss two of the characteristics associated with narrativity in text-messages: sequentiality (understood as a temporal sequence of events) and storyworld construction, and present two case studies to illustrate the applicability of these concepts to texting. Based on the analysis of sequentiality and storyworld construction in text-messages, I establish texting as bearing narrative potential and worthy of further investigation under narrative studies frameworks. This paper opens a line of inquiry into a ripe yet unexplored field of the text-message narrative.