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In class yesterday I referred to linguist William Labov's analysis of "natural narrative" into component parts that are also useful in analyzing literary narratives.

You can find a handy chart of these components (in pdf) here. As you'll see, the term I should have used yesterday for the brief summary that speakers usually provide at the beginning of their everyday stories is "abstract," not "exposition." Labov's analysis of narrative is an excellent starting point for thinking about the structure of Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," which begins with a one-paragraph "abstract" and ends with a Latin "coda." It's particularly interesting to consider where the component that Labov calls "evaluation" is located in the story.

Wikipedia offers this biography of Labov, whose work in sociolinguistics has been enormously important in advancing our understanding of the nature of dialect. In particular, Labov's research established that African American Vernacular English (AAVE), earlier known as "Black English," far from being a "deficient" variant of Standard English, represents a coherent, consistent, logical lingusitic system.

In yesterday's discussion, I also took off on a brief digression about The Little Engine that Could as a narrative that realizes, in its own geography, the metaphor A NARRATIVE IS A JOURNEY.

I blogged about this aspect of The Little Engine back in fall, 2008. You can read that blogpost here.