GSE Publications

Urban Fathers Positioning Themselves through Narrative: An Approach to Narrative Self-Construction

Stanton Wortham, University of Pennsylvania
Vivian Gadsden, University of Pennsylvania

Document Type Book Chapter

Postprint version. Published in Discourse and Identity, Studies in Interactional Linguistics, Volume 23, edited by Anna DiFina, Deborah Schriffrin and Michael Bamberg (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006, 36 pages.


Many have argued that narrators can partly construct themselves when they tell autobiographical stories. For this reason, autobiographical narrative has been proposed as a therapeutic tool (Anderson, 1997; Cohler, 1988; White & Epston, 1990), as a means to critique unjust social orders (Personal Narratives Group, 1989; Rosenwald and Ochberg, 1992; Zuss, 1997), and as an educational tool (Cohen, 1996; Witherell & Noddings, 1991). This body of work makes at least two important points. First, the self is not an unchanging entity beyond the reach of everyday human action, but is something that can under some circumstances be changed with effort. Second, changing the self can happen through the social practice of narration, not just through the activity of an isolated individual.


Date Posted: 16 April 2007