Article in:Narrative Inquiry: Online-First Articles
Older adults’ conversations and the emergence of “narrative crystals”
A new approach to frequently told stories
Energized by seminal scholarship within narrative studies; communication studies of aging and dementia; and formulaic language, we examined a wide range of stories told multiple times within two different longitudinal collections of verbal interactions involving two women in their 80s (one US American; one French). Based on multifaceted analyses of these longitudinal series of stories, we identified a new type of narrative, the “narrative crystal”. We characterize the internal formal architecture of two illustrative crystals (one from each corpus) before illuminating how such crystals function for their speakers as reassuring interactional “stepping stones” within their larger discourse surroundings. Our findings sketch a possible developmental process regarding how meaningful personal experiences come to be transformed over the lifespan: from the inchoate qualities of first-time tellings shaped by the interaction, through incrementally increased stability over the course of many tellings, to reach the highly durable nature of narrative crystals.
- Introduction: Discovering narrative crystals
- Many ways to recount the past in discourse: Our focus on “scenes”
- Recounting the past in old age: Narrative retellings in healthy aging and dementia
- Description of data collections and narrators
- Carolinas Conversations Collection and Ms. Taylor
- LangAge and Ms. Moreau
- The internal architecture of narrative crystals
- First bell’s ringing: Illustrative narrative crystal within the Carolinas Conversations Collection
- Sunday concert: Illustrative narrative crystal within LangAge corpora
- Narrative crystals as stepping stones: Exploring multiple narrative crystals within single conversations
- The use of stepping stones in transitions between discourse topics
- Prosodic traits of stepping stones: The role of articulation rate
- Conclusion and implications: Why should we care about narrative crystals?
Published online: 10 March 2022
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