Locke, Abigail and Edwards, Derek (2003) Bill and Monica: memory, emotion and normativity in Clinton’s Grand Jury testimony. British Journal of Social Psychology, 42 (2). pp. 239-256. ISSN 0144-6665

We examine links between factual recall, emotion and constructions of normativity in narrative accounts, using as an empirical case President Clinton’s descriptions of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. We analyse those accounts in the sequences of talk in which they occurred, under Grand Jury cross-examination. Clinton’s accounts of Lewinsky were part of how he attended to issues alive in court concerning himself, including his possible exploitation and abuse of power in an asymmetrical relationship; his motives, sincerity, credibility and intentions; and, indirectly, his fitness for office as President. Analysis focuses on how Clinton’s portrayal of Lewinsky accomplished a reflexive portrayal of himself, not as mendacious and exploitative, but as caring, responsible, sincere, rational and consistent, while reducing the scope and implications of their admitted sexual relationship. This study is linked to a broader discursive psychology of factual description, memory, mental and emotional states, and their relevance to the larger business of insitutional settings.


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