Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



This thesis is an examination of drinking stories and how authors, through linguistic means, achieve narrative, social, and cultural goals. Language is a biological fact of Homo sapiens and narrative is a universal method by which humans make sense of their world. Humans’ primeval relationship with alcohol is an expression of the innate desire to achieve altered states of consciousness. To study drinking stories is to study a manifestation of the essence of humanity. This research employs the narrative theories of Labov (1997) and Labov and Waletzky (1967) combined with Du Bois’s (2007) model of stance. I focus on the linguistic techniques of authors as they attempt three basic narrative goals of drinking stories: the construction of a believable and tellable narrative; production of satisfactory accounts for transgressive behaviors; and self-presentation of an identity as a competent drinker. Through Du Bois’s (2007) model of stance I detail how narrators strategically deploy language as they invoke and assign cultural value; manage alignment with interlocutors and their stances; and position themselves in relation to evaluated entities and their utterances. I find that the structure and content of the drinking stories examined is shaped by cultural expectations about the genre of drinking stories, dominant discourses about drinking, the specifics of narrated events, the narrators’ experience of intoxication, and authorial decisions about methods to achieve narrative goals. Furthermore, both stories examined contained a variety of stance and discourse markers, grammatical constructions, valenced lexical tokens, reconstructed dialogue, and causal arguments. I conclude that an appreciation and understanding of context is critical at all levels of discourse analysis; drinking stories are maximally intelligible only when considered with regards to the context of events described, the context of production, surrounding cultural discourses, and narrator goals. Finally, the virtual absence of literature on drinking stories per se demands further research.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Student has submitted appropriate documentation to restrict access to LSU for 365 days after which the document will be released for worldwide access.

Committee Chair

Brody, M. Jill