GSE Faculty Research

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



Many have proposed that autobiographical stories do more than describe a pre-existing self. Sometimes narrators can change who they are, in part, by telling stories about themselves. But how does this narrative self-construction happen? Most explanations rely on the representational function of autobiographical discourse. These representational accounts of narrative self-construction are necessarily incomplete, because autobiographical narratives have interactional as well as representational functions. While telling their stories autobiographical narrators often enact a characteristic type of self, and through such performances they can become that type of self. A few others have proposed that interactional positioning is central to narrative self-construction, but none has given an adequate, systematic account of how narrative discourse functions to position narrator and audience in the interactional event of storytelling. This article describes an approach to analyzing the interactional positioning accomplished through autobiographical narrative, and it illustrates this approach by analyzing data from one oral autobiographical narrative.


Postprint version. Published in Narrative Inquiry, Volume 10, 2000, pages 157-184.

Included in

Education Commons



Date Posted: 08 May 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.