Counter narratives and controversial crimes: The Wikipedia article for the ‘Murder of Meredith Kercher’

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

Narrative theorists have long recognised that narrative is a selective mode of representation. There is always more than one way to tell a story, which may alter according to its teller, audience and the social or historical context in which the story is told. But multiple versions of the ‘same’ events are not always valued in the same way: some versions may become established as dominant accounts, whilst others may be marginalised or resist hegemony as counter narratives (Bamberg and Andrews, 2004). This essay explores the potential of Wikipedia as a site for positioning counter and dominant narratives. Through the analysis of linearity and tellership (Ochs and Capps, 2001) as exemplified through revisions of a particular article (‘Murder of Meredith Kercher’), I show how structural choices (open versus closed sequences) and tellership (single versus multiple narrators) function as mechanisms to prioritise different dominant narratives over time and across different cultural contexts. The case study points to the dynamic and relative nature of dominant and counter narratives. In the ‘Murder of Meredith Kercher’ article the counter narratives of the suspects’ guilt or innocence and their position as villains or victims depended on national context, and changed over time. The changes in the macro-social narratives are charted in the micro-linguistic analysis of structure, citations and quoted speech in four selected versions of the article, taken from the English and Italian Wikipedias.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-76
JournalLanguage and Literature
Volume23
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014

Keywords

  • Counter narratives, linearity, reported speech, tellership, Wikipedia