Intertextual media references as resources for managing frames, epistemics, and identity in conversation among friends
Hamilton, Heidi E.
Gordon (2009) has demonstrated that intertextuality (e.g., Bakhtin 1981, 1986; Kristeva 1986; Becker 1994; Hamilton 1996; Tannen 2007) and framing (e.g., Bateson 1972; Goffman 1974; Tannen & Wallat 1987/1993) are intrinsically intertwined. This study builds on this work, merging the study of intertextuality and framing with Raymond and Heritage’s (2006) analysis of epistemics in social relations, and simultaneously contributing to the study of ‘intertextual identity construction’ (Hamilton 1996) and ‘epistemic discourse analysis’ (van Dijk 2013). I demonstrate how intertextual ties, specifically media references (to movies, TV shows, songs, videogames, and online memes), contribute to epistemic management and frame shifts, which is conducive to group identity construction in ‘epistemic ecologies’ (C. Goodwin 2013).The analysis focuses on five conversations of seven hours among ten American friends in their mid-twenties. These data include 116 media references across the five interactions, where speakers use repeated words, phrases, and phonetic and paralinguistic features appropriated from media texts.Expanding on Gumperz’s (1977, 1982) work on contextualization cues, I demonstrate how these speakers use vowel lengthening, loudness, pitch shifts, laughter, smile voice, regional and foreign accents, singing, and creaky voice to signal media references in talk. I also show that speakers primarily demonstrate recognition of media references through laughter and participating in play frames, and that repetition or explicit affirmation also occasionally demonstrate recognition. I argue that and demonstrate how media references often serve to remedy epistemic imbalances and simultaneously manage frames, thereby negotiating interactional dilemmas (M. Goodwin 1996). Building on Gordon's (2009) understanding of what Goffman (1974) refers to as laminated frames, I show how two kinds of frame laminations are constructed and interrelated in play frames around media references: overlapping (two frames at once) and embedded (a specific frame within a more general frame). Through such play frames, speakers rekey, reframe (Tannen 2006), and re-adjust the epistemic territory of conversation and ultimately construct group identities as speakers with shared experiences. This study demonstrates how shared prior texts that are referenced by a group of people, such as media references, are used as a resource for managing epistemics, shifting frames, and identity construction.