Emotion and Discourse in L2 Narrative Research

Author: Matthew T. Prior

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Multilingual Matters
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This book examines the interactional management of emotionality in second language autobiographical interview research. Advancing a discursive constructionist approach, it offers a timely methodological and reflexive perspective that brings into focus the dynamic and dilemmatic aspects of interviewee and interviewer identities and experiences, and it makes visible the often unexpected and unseen consequences for the research project and beyond. The author weaves together critical discussion and empirical analysis based on longitudinal, narrative-based research with adult immigrants from Southeast Asia living in the US and Canada. This interdisciplinary book will be compelling reading for students, researchers, and others interested in emotion, narrative, discourse, identity, interaction, interviews, and qualitative research.

Incisive, engaging, and thoughtful, this book deeply interrogates the role that emotions play in doing narrative research, and serves as an authoritative guide to how emotionality might be examined in interview studies. Well-illustrated with examples, it issues a strong challenge to interviewers to reflect and enact reflexivity. A pleasure to read, this book is essential reading for qualitative researchers. 

In this thoughtful, sensitive and challenging study, Prior explores the collaborative and situated production of emotionality and identity in autobiographical research interviews with L2 migrants. Adopting a primarily ethnomethodological and conversation analytical approach, Prior is admirably dedicated to the principles of researcher reflexivity and his text sheds a powerful critical light on the often neglected interactional role of the interviewer in qualitative research and data gathering.

With an uncompromisingly meticulous micro-analysis of stories – funny, sad, poignant – from immigrants and refugees, this book delivers exactly what L2 interview-based narrative research needs (more of): a sustained critique of representational approaches to narrative and identities from a standpoint of a researcher who self-scrutinizes and does not hold back and who is equipped with a deep knowledge and rare respect for previous interactional studies of narrative. If that were not enough, the focus of inquiry is the under-represented topic of emotionality: you learn, feel, and enjoy as you embark on a journey of emotions being narrated, elicited, co-produced, reflected upon and done justice to as parts of complex, messy and so often troubled biographies.

Prior's book is a must-read treasure that will appeal to qualitative scholars and graduate students who employ interview methodology in their studies. This book will help them pay closer attention to how emotionality can be co-constructed between participants and researchers throughout narrative autobiographical interviews.

Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement, Vol. 13 [2018], Iss. 1

This rigorous and candid book will appeal to both discourse analysts and autobiographic interview researchers (foreign language or otherwise) for its in‐depth analysis of how emotions – viewed as "social actions" (p. 1) – are constructed and performed through dialogic interaction between interviewer and interviewee. A key aspect which is relevant to qualitative researchers across disciplines is that of managing emotion, particularly participant distress and
vicarious emotions experienced by the researcher.

International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Volume 27, Issue 2

I think this book is relevant to L2 studies in the sense that the participants are all L2 speakers; however,
I see in this book an immense treasure for graduate students and researchers using qualitative methods and all related narrative inquiry fields. This book not only provides the most up-to-date theoretical explanations and frameworks in the field, it also addresses the answers to questions that surely graduate researchers were/are silently asking, but for which there was simply an ample absence of research. This book is a must for students of narrative inquiry.

Discourse Studies 2017, Vol. 19(2) 234– 249

Prior's insights through retrospective analysis into researcher interview behaviour are illuminating and his call for specialist training to raise awareness of the particular demands made on the autobiographical research interviewer, and consequently on the participants, from the emotional turn of the interaction, positive as well as negative, is well grounded. Prior asserts that his intended readership is L2 scholars. In fact, the many insights he offers into discourse, identity construction and qualitative research generally, particularly in the later chapters, deserve a much wider audience.

Discourse & Society, 29 (3)

Prior's Emotion and discourse in L2 narrative research is essential to qualitative researchers who are interested in adding analytical lens of emotions in their analyses of interview data. Throughout the whole book, Prior presents how emotionality is important in qualitative autobiographical interviews through transcripts of his participants and critically analyzes his role as an interviewer. Because many qualitative researchers and graduate students use interviews in their studies, I believe this book will help them to pay closer attention to the emotionality that participants and the researchers co-construct the narratives. In
my opinion, this book has helped me to further examine my positionality as an applied linguist in employing interviewing as a method of inquiry in the future. I highly recommend this book to everyone who may be thinking of incorporating emotions in their qualitative interview research and analyses. Let's get emotional!

System (2017)

Matthew T. Prior is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Arizona State University. His research interests include emotion and other socio-psychological dimensions of second language learning and use, multilingualism and identity, transcultural belonging, discursive constructionist approaches (narrative, conversation analysis, discursive psychology, membership categorization analysis), and qualitative methodologies.



Chapter 1. Getting Emotional

Chapter 2. Constructing Discourse

Chapter 3. Telling and Remembering

Chapter 4. Inviting Emotional Tellings

Chapter 5. Eliciting Feelings

Chapter 6. (Re)Formulating Emotionality

Chapter 7. Managing Emotionality and Distress

Chapter 8. Being 'Negative'

Chapter 9. Reflecting Back, Moving Forward


Postgraduate, Research / Professional
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