Telling tales of identity: an interpretation of women's narratives
Barthus, Tatum Terri
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This paper examines selected discourses found in the journals kept by 21 working-class women during a training course for domestic workers in South Africa. The principal aim of the paper is to examine how emotion, voice and agency are expressed through literacy practices such as writing. With critical discourse analysis, the existing literacy levels of these women are revealed as well as the way in which women express identity, agency and emotion through the act of writing and reflecting on their experiences. A secondary aim is to uncover those recurrent discourses and attitudes that either empower or disempower these women. This is done to showcase how women's perception of themselves and their opportunities help them become active or inactive agents in their communities and families. Contributions are made to the study of women's language and literacy practices, with particular investigation of how their identities are shaped and moulded by language use. Critical discourse analysis and narrative analysis are the main analytical tools used in the study, highlighting aspects like agency, voice and ideology. These aspects are examined through the lens of women's experiences.