The Interactive Construction of a Celebration: Participation and the Embodiment in Acts of Surprise, Joy, and Gratitude - Marjorie Harness Goodwin

Event Date: 

Friday, November 30, 2018 - 1:30pm to 3:30pm

Event Location: 

  • Room 1205 Education Building

Event Contact: 

C. Goodwin (1979) analyzed how sentences in natural conversation emerge as the products of a process of communication between speaker and hearer as they mutually construct the turn at talk. In this paper I explore how the principal character (Chuck) in a celebration (a surprise party in his honor) with other co-participants collaboratively build moments of joy and gratitude through embodied interactive processes within greetings, assessments, and toasts. Voice quality, facial expression and bodily comportment mutually elaborate one another to intensify forms of affective stances within these activities.

Elsewhere I have described how, through by-play (M. H Goodwin 1997), multiple floors can be maintained simultaneously during a focused spate of talk. The primary conversation can be overlaid with commentary occurring in its midst, often produced in a soft voice with bodies positioned so as to not be intrusive. Whereas byplay can produce a fission of two simultaneous floors, here I describe how a single speaker can address two different participant frameworks simultaneously (or in quick succession) — that is, both target a specific recipient of talk while simultaneously addressing multiple participants to a gathering. In other words, both dyadic and multiparty participant frameworks (Goffman 1979; Goffman 1981) exist at the same time. How is this accomplished?

Multiple frameworks can be operative simultaneously, as gestures and the body may index one form of engagement with a recipient, while talk can simultaneously engage others. That is, one may use one’s voice to speak to the larger gathering, while engaging haptically with a particular recipient. How activities of greeting and assessment are assembled and dismantled is a focus of this talk. At the surprise party celebration the spatial configuration for activities constantly shifts as activities themselves emerge and change and participants mingle and change their location in coordination with a focal activity.