Disnarration and the performance of storytelling in folklore and evermore

Chloe Harrison, Helen Ringrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In a similar way to dramatic performances and plays, song lyrics establish a complex discourse structure whereby listeners are placed in a position to overhear ‘the pretence of a conversation constructed to convey the performer’s meaning’ (Nahajec 2019: 25; see also Short 1996: 169). In Swift’s songwriting,
listeners are positioned not only to eavesdrop on the narratives presented, but are also invited to conceptualise and enact particular roles and scenarios in the discourse. This paper offers a stylistic analysis of songwriting and narrative structure across Swift’s oeuvre to identify how disnarration strategies are used to build stories in her two sister albums written and produced during the Covid-19 pandemic, folklore (2020) and evermore (2020). Specifically, this study examines how disnarration characterises the albums’ narrators, establishes narrator-narratee relationships and invites listeners to adopt a participatory role in the meaning-making process. Through close analysis of four songs across
the two albums, this paper builds on developing studies of the stylistics of songwriting (see West 2019), and argues that disnarration strategies foreground particular themes within the discourse, such as nostalgia, wistfulness and regret, and contribute to the fictionalisation and self-aware storytelling characteristic of these albums’ storyworlds.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Literary Linguistics
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 17 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • stylistics
  • songwriting
  • disnarration
  • Taylor Swift
  • folklore
  • evermore

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