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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton January 1, 2012

The role of gender and culture in the narrative construction of identity

Nora Schleicher


This paper focuses on gendered constructions of success and failure in narratives produced in a specific cultural context. The paper presents results of the analysis of narratives produced in the context of a class reunion. The ca. 10,000-word corpus is made up of 28 short, autobiographical narratives told by 18 females and 10 males in 2007, in Hungary. A discourse-analytical approach is applied, which makes possible the combination of a close analysis of actual texts, the self-presentation of women and men in front of their class mates, and of the wider social-cultural context in which they are produced and consumed. An analysis of narrative networks links the local-interactional and social-discursive functions of the narratives. First, macro-topics of success and failure are identified then their linguistic expressions are examined focusing on distancing through the frequent use of slang, mitigation and self-irony. Results are explained by the ambivalent relationship towards success in the Hungarian value-system as well as by the gender-differentiated meaning of the concepts of success and failure.

Received: 2011-11-01
Revised: 2011-12-20
Accepted: 2011-12-23
Published Online: 2012
Published in Print: 2012

© School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland, 2012