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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 30, Issue 4


Re-examining narrativity: small stories in status updates

Ruth Page
  • Corresponding author
  • Lecturer in English Language in the School of English at the University of Leicester.
  • Other articles by this author:
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Published Online: 2010-07-22 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text.2010.021


Social networking sites are an increasingly prominent form of computer-mediated communication that provides a venue for individuals to document their life experience through the publication of “status updates.” The stories reported in updates fall outside the literary, conversational, and electronic narrative canon, but are a rich data source for re-examining key concepts in narrative theory, including factors that give rise to perceptions of narrativity. This article examines the narrative potential of status updates found in the social network site Facebook, based on the analysis of just under 2000 updates posted by British users. The episodic narrativity of the updates is influenced by the online discourse situation where recency is prized over retrospection and updates are distributed within a multidimensional web of connections between Facebook Friends. The narrativity represented in the surface features and genres of the status stories are characterized by the present tense of Breaking News (Georgakopoulou, Small stories, interaction and identity, John Benjamins, 2007) and archived in reverse chronological order. These narrative characteristics are in keeping with stories in other Web genres (blogs, e-mail, discussion forums) and suggest that the parameters associated with prototypical narrativity are by no means abstract or universal, but constrained by the canonical data from which they were originally derived.

Keywords:: narrative; status updates; social networking sites; Facebook; small stories; temporality

About the article

School of English, Attenborough Tower, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK 〈

Published Online: 2010-07-22

Published in Print: 2010-07-01

Citation Information: Text & Talk - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies, Volume 30, Issue 4, Pages 423–444, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text.2010.021.

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