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To open this article about storytelling in homage to Charles Goodwin, I will compare two quotes in which he sets out some defining elements. The first is taken from his 1984 article, “Notes on Story Structure and the Organization of Participation.” It comes at the end of the first analysis of the “wallpaper” story, which is told during a conversation between four friends, where the narrator, in the presence of her husband, describes a faux pas he made during their first visit to their friend Karen’s new apartment:
A multi-utterance turn […], the body of the story, is preceded by specific moves by both the teller and the recipient: a preface offering to tell the story […] and a request to hear the offered story […]. At the conclusion of the story proper the participants engage in further talk relevant to it […]. The body of the story contains a number of distinct sections. It begins with relevant background information […] and then […] with […] moves to what will turn out to be the climax of the story […]. The story thus contains not only preface, background, and climax sections but also what may be called a parenthesis, a section of background information embedded (disjunctively) within the climax.
In this quote, stories are described in terms of overall structure as having a preface, a “body” within which there are distinct elements, background, parenthesis, and climax.
The second quote is from the 2015 article, “Narrative as Talk-in-Interaction.” It appears at the conclusion of an analysis in which Goodwin shows how, through the organization of their verbal and bodily behaviors, the participants demonstrate their understanding that a story is emerging…


In this article, I attempt to characterize brief narratives repeatedly produced within the framework of psychosocial support sessions with refugee and vulnerable women in Lebanon. I treat them as “fields of action,” demonstrating how, at different levels, they transform the situation in which they are produced, with a view to understanding what the women are doing with these “stories of before.”

  • interactional resources
  • participation
  • refugee women
  • framework
  • transformation
Véronique Traverso
Institut français du Proche-Orient
(French Institute of the Near East)/ICAR Lab – Interactions, Corpus, Apprentissages, Représentations
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