Physical artifacts used in stance-taking: Constructing an Appalachian identity

This paper looks at data from interviews conducted in the Blue Ridge area of western North Carolina in order to highlight the ways in which speakers enact authoritative, evaluative, and interactional stances to construct individual identity. In this data, we find a subtle interplay between the content of explicit statements, narrative content, and the use of grammatical features associated with Appalachian English (e.g. a -prefixing, nonstandard past tense), and the use of physical artifacts as sources of stance-taking. This article focuses on two speakers’ use of (present and not-present) physical artifacts (a placemat, a Civil War era sword, a lock of hair, and a piece of wood with a bullet hole in it) to enact stances that construct their individual versions of an Appalachian identity. What this analysis suggests is that it is not just linguistic choices that contribute to stance enactment, but physical objects as well.