Talk about receiving, giving, and taking in radio interviews: ‘doing modesty’ and ‘making a virtue out of necessity’

Here are excerpts of an academic paper from 2005:

* The following excerpt from an interview with the internationally acclaimed Canadian jazz singer, Diana Krall, illustrates how talk of giving and receiving is a site for doing modesty. In this excerpt, contrasts are used by the speakers to create a kind of ‘point and counterpoint’ performance in which the construction of acts of giving and receiving is deftly managed.

* Peter begins this exchange (ll. 1–3) by focusing on what Diana has received from fame and stardom’ and he casts the possibilities in terms of material benefits (‘buy yourself something you’ve always wanted’) and privilege (‘meet people you’ve always wanted to meet’). His initial questions provide two exemplars of ‘perks’ which, if
endorsed, might run the risk of the speaker being seen as boasting. Acknowledging that one has bought oneself something one has always wanted, if this something is extravagant, has the potential to cast one as self-centred and materialistic. Similarly, acknowledging that one has been able to meet people one has always wanted to meet
draws attention to one’s privilege, particularly if one is a celebrity. Both outcomes can place one in a negative light. Peter’s questions can also be understood as tongue-in-cheek exemplars of the ‘good things’ that come from fame and stardom. As such, they provide opportunities for doing modesty via resisting.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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