The identity formation through stancetaking in A Many-Splendoured Thing

Australia, ID CLEaR2015-265;

Stancetaking has been recognized as an indexical form of identity formation and display. The study attempts to illustrate how the identity of the author, Suyin Han, is constructed and displayed through stancetaking in her famous autobiography A Many-Splendoured Thing (Han, 1952). Informed by the five-principle framework of identity analysis (Bucholtz & Hall, 2005), the study will employ the concept of stancetaking which has been categorized into ‘the indexicality principle.’ ‘The indexicality principle’ addresses the importance of interactional contexts to the relationship between linguistic form and its social meaning. Per this line of thinking, the study will focus on the interpretation of the contextual construction and display of Han’s identity. Insomuch as Han passed away at the end of 2012, and the paucity of other resources (videos and tape-records of her interviews) is striking, all data being analyzed are from A Many-Splendoured Thing. The language features of Han in her autobiography will be examined using the analytical tools as critical discourse analysis (CDA) which broadens the analytical aspects of identity to the relative social and cultural context, and conversation analysis (CA) which emphasizes much on the inner relationship between the minute moments unfolding in the conversation (Hyland, 2012). The data will be illustrated utilizing Du Bois’s ‘stance triangle (2007)’ as the theoretical framework for analysis which proposes stancetaking has three relative phases: evaluation, positioning and alignment. The study will demonstrate how Han’s identity is unfolded through the three phases of stancetaking with reference to varied contexts.

Keywords: identity, stancetaking, the stance triangle, indexicality



Bucholtz, M., & Hall, K. (2005). Identity and interaction: a sociocultural linguistic approach. Discourse studies 7 (4-5):585-614. London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi: Sage Publications.


Du Bois, J. W. (2007). The stance triangle. In R. Englebretson (Ed.), Stancetaking in discourse: The intersubjectivity of interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


Han, S. (1952). A Many-Splendoured Thing. Jonathan Cape Limited.


Hyland, K. (2012). Disciplinary Identities: Individuality and community in academic discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



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