Co-animation in troubles-talk

Cantarutti, Marina (2022). Co-animation in troubles-talk. Research on Language and Social Interaction (In Press).


Through troubles-talk, participants disclose and negatively assess unfortunate past or habitual happenings and offences, and these are often vividly staged in the here-and-now by temporarily “doing being” past Self or others, what we call animation (Goffman, 1981). In this study, we show how by animating their own affective reactions towards the recounted experiences, tellers cast themselves as victims and their recipients as witnesses. More importantly, we demonstrate how animation is also a relevant practice for recipients, who in a contiguous position often offer a responsive co-animation (Cantarutti, 2020) of the same figure, validating and amplifying their teller’s affective displays, turning the experience into a common cause. This study contributes further to our understanding of empathic responses in troubles-talk in English by inscribing co-animation as a previously undescribed alternative at the response slot that allows recipients to temporarily position themselves “into the moment” (Heritage, 2011) as co-victims, co-experiencers and co-sanctioners.

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