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The role of second-person narration in representing mental states in Sylvia Plath's Smith Journal

Demjén, Z; (2011) The role of second-person narration in representing mental states in Sylvia Plath's Smith Journal. Journal of Literary Semantics , 40 (1) pp. 1-21. 10.1515/jlse.2011.001. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper looks at instances of second person narration in the first journal published in The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath (Kukil, 2000) in order to determine the potential that second person narration can have for the linguistic representation of mental states. The contributions of different disciplines (narratology, linguistics, psychology) to the study of second person narration are considered and their findings are re-applied to a non-fictional text. In a corpus-informed comparative analysis, the paper takes into consideration both perspectives from narratology and developments in the understanding of language use in the field of psychology to provide an interdisciplinary, but cognitively inclined perspective on the phenomenon. Appearances of second person narration are chronologically tracked through the data and compared to biographical developments in Sylvia Plath's life; entries written in the first- and second person are compared to each other to determine linguistic differences using corpus methods; the results of the two analyses are then interpreted in the light of traditional functions attributed to second person narration in narratology, and in the light of research in narrative psychology. The paper aims to demonstrate that second person narration can project a sense of emotional depth and inner conflict as well as of emotional balance. However, the temporal orientation of a given text will influence which of these effects predominates.

Type: Article
Title: The role of second-person narration in representing mental states in Sylvia Plath's Smith Journal
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1515/jlse.2011.001
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1515/jlse.2011.001
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1530113
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