Author

Amy LeMoine

Date of Award

8-2006

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Advisor

Kristin M. Langellier

Second Committee Member

Eric E. Peterson

Third Committee Member

Claire F. Sullivan

Abstract

This thesis is an examination of weblogs, or blogs, which are online journals that have become increasingly popular as a means of self-publication. Women's blogs are studied due to the historical challenges women have faced in publishing their writing. Blogs allow a democracy of writing on the Internet. Communication Theory values blogs' contribution to participation and collaboration in communication. The subject of the study is six women's blogs and includes entries from three consecutive months. The women are in their late twenties or early thirties and most write daily entries. Mishler's typology of the three models of narrative analysis - reference, textualization, and function - provides the methodology for the study. Three stages of analysis determine the structure, connections and identities in blogs. Structurally, blog entries are either narrative or non-narrative. Narratives include complete narratives, incomplete narratives and narratizations. Complete personal narrative is the temporal ordering of past events and includes an evaluation of the experience. Narratization, on the other hand, is the telling of experience from that moment; the temporal ordering of a story is not privileged. The blogger gives meaning to those experiences by writing them. The stories women tell reveal their lives; they write about themselves, their friends and family, their work, and their interests. Unlike traditional narrative research which values extraordinary stories, women's lives consist of ordinary stories foremost, embarrassing stories second, with few extraordinary events. Non-narrative entries form the other type of structure. They are nontemporal entries that include commentaries about the blogger, descriptions of routine generalities, entries about future events and commentaries about politics or popular culture. The six blogs are not isolated; they form connections between other bloggers and their readers. Connections between blogs include sharing of links and stories, as well as collaboration, such as asking and answering questions and offering support. Women communicate through their blogs, which leads to the formation of communities among like-minded bloggers. Within these communities, relationships and friendships develop between bloggers. One function of the blogs is the creation of identity. Personal identity emerges from the blogger's self-expression and from the struggle to define her identity through narratization. Blog identity is the identity of the woman as a blogger, her attitude towards her blog, and the struggle between writing for herself and for an audience. Group identity is the identity of the community of bloggers. The six bloggers have similarities including age, sexuality, location, socioeconomic class and interests. This study adds to narrative research because it reveals that written narrative is comparable to oral research. Forms of narrative other than the traditional complete narrative should be valued, including the ongoing nature of women's blog writing. The blog is not an isolated diary; it is a public conversation written for (and with) an audience. Bloggers create and share their identities through the stories they tell, the non-narrative entries they write, the links they provide, and the conversations in which they participate.

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