Agency Construction and Navigation in Oral Narratives of English Learning by Chinese College English Majors

  •  Qiuming Lin    


The current study aims to investigate the discursive construction and navigation of agency in oral narratives of English learning by Chinese college English majors. Based on the theoretical framework integrating Bamberg et. al.’s theory of identity dilemma and Hallidayan systemic functional linguistics, the study has addressed two research questions: 1) How do the speakers construct different levels of agency in their narratives? 2) How do the speakers navigate among different levels of agency throughout their narratives? The research data comes from monthly-based individual interviews with the participants for one year, from which significant English-learning stories are selected. Then transitivity analysis and logico-semantic analysis are conducted to the stories clause by clause so as to find out the linguistic patterns for agency construction and navigation. The study has found that speakers construct different levels of agency with various transitivity patterns, and navigate the agency dilemma by moving back and forth among different levels of agency with various logico-semantic relations. It has also illustrated that agency is not a fixed entity that a speaker possesses, but constructed and negotiated dynamically by the speaker all the way through his/her narratives.

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