In these senses and others, then, “the personal narrative is political” (Langellier, 1987, p. 269). The literacy narratives in the DALN, we believe, involve individuals representing themselves politically, as part of an established social order and as agents who intervene in and change those orderings (Jarvenin, 2004; Mumby, 1987; Langellier, 1989). This work is often accomplished through narrative “positioning,” the representation of oneself as “belonging to the world in certain ways and thus seeing the world from the perspective of one so positioned” (Davies and Harre, 1990, p. 47).

One of the primary kinds of positioning taking place within autobiographical accounts of literacy practices is relational (Davies and Harre, 1990; Bamberg, 1997) or interactive (Wortham, 2000). As Miller et al. (1993) observe, “the narrated self is a relational self” (p. 89). In contributors' stories within the DALN, individuals tell themselves into being within a range of social systems, identifying themselves in relation to other people (Clark and Medina, 2000; Davies and Harre, 1990, Bamberg, 1997)—as well as to any audience who may be listening to their narratives (Wortham, 2000).


When we narrate our lives, we take a step outside ourselves and organize the others’ attitudes towards us as well as our attitudes towards others into a biographical system. The individual narrator does not construct his/her life history single-handedly and directly, but only indirectly, from the standpoint of the generalized other. According to Mead, no definite line can be drawn between our own selves and the selves of others, between our own experience of ourselves and other’s experiences of us. Reality is always in the present, but this present is anchored in social interaction.

(Jarvinen, 2004, p. 52)