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The Autoethnographic Call: Current Considerations and Possible Futures by Kendall Smith Sullivan A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Communication College of Arts and Science University of South Florida Major Professor: Carolyn Ellis, Ph.D. Arthur Bochner, Ph.D. Eric Eisenberg, Ph.D. Donileen Loseke, Ph.D. Date of Approval: June 17, 2008 Keywords: autoethnography, therapeutic writing, health communication, narrative therapy, reflexivity, narrative Copyright 2008, Kendall Smith Sullivan
To Jim For being on the same page with me, always
Acknowled gments I gratefully acknowledge my major professor, Carolyn Ellis, whose insight, feedback, and inspiration have made this possible and my committee for their ongoing mentoring and encouragement: Art Bochner, Eric Eisenberg, and Doni Loseke. I also want to ackno wledge the ongoing moral support from my friends: Jane, Cris, Mary Katherine, and Jennifer L., with a special thank you to Beth who knows how difficult dissertation writing is and who was always there when I needed a friend, APA specialist, and doctoral co ach. For my family, Lisa, Carson and Kenton, thank you for living with me as this dream became a reality. To my husband, Jim, I never knew that life could be so full of love, respect, and laughter --thank you for going above and beyond these past six ye ars. I also acknowledge my late parents for their varied gifts, and Bijou and J.W. for being my constant companions. I also recognize and humbly honor the Divine guidance that has given me the strength to complete this project.
i TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT i CHAPTER ONE : INTRODUCTION AND LITERATURE REVIEW 1 Introduction 1 L iterature Review 3 Autoethnographic Beginnings 3 Etiology of A utoethnography 5 Overview of Autobiographical Literature 9 Literary Beginnings (in North America) 10 The R ise of the P ersonal Essay: The B eat G oes O n 11 The N ew J ournalism 12 Overview of Literature Related to Illness Narratives 14 Narrative M edicine 15 Narrative T herapy 17 Therapeutic W riting 19 Narratives and Health Communication 21 The P ersonal C onnection 25 Illness, Trauma and End of Life Autoethnographies 26 Interviewees C onnect with A utoethnography 27 CHAPTER TWO: METHODS 29 The Original Plan 30 The Modified Plan 34 Interviewee Selection Process 35 Interview Process 38 Participant Observation 42 Consent and Confidentiality 43 Data Analysis 44 Emotional Recall 46 Plan C (Almost a C ) 48 CHAPTER THREE : THE AUTOETHNOGRAP HIC CALL 50 50 53 55 57 58
ii 59 61 63 66 69 My Story 81 My Story Continues 84 CHAPTER FOUR : DEFINING AND EVALU ATING AUTOETHNOGRAPH Y 88 Defining Autoethnography 88 R ole o f Self, Culture and Theory 88 Self and O thers 89 Other I ssues of T heory 90 Evaluating Autoethnography 93 First Generation Guidance 93 96 Second Generation Profiles 97 Historical I nfluences 98 The Techno Third Generation 99 S^ with Cell P hones 99 Impact of Reality T elevision 100 Teaching Autoethnography 102 Undergraduate Instruction 102 ake 102 iew 102 esponse 103 Pitfalls and Possibilities 103 Poetry: A Special Case 107 Poetic C onsiderations 10 8 Poetic P roblems 109 Good for Many Purposes 110 CHAPTER FIV E: THERAPEUTIC AUTO ETHNOGRAPHY 112 Sense Making 113 The Ethno Exemplar 116 Beyond Language 117 No Words Required 120 The Wise Gazelle Tale 12 3 Professorial Perils 127 Counselors for Grief or Counselors of Law? 13 1 Question the Counselors 13 3 Get Thee to a Professional 135 Counseling Bodies 137 In House Counsel 139 Next Time 141 Silver Linings 144
iii CHAPTER SIX: MY AUTOETHNOGRA PHIC JOURNEY 14 5 The Perfect Life 14 6 Calm Waters 148 Capsized 1 49 Landlocked 150 Dry Life Preservers 15 4 Reading and Righting 15 5 A Scholarly Aside 156 Sea ing Differently 157 J ournal Entry No month, 1972 160 Trying to Writ e the Wrongs 160 J ournal Entry No month, 197 3 161 Jou rnal Entry October 21, 1973 161 Jou rnal Entry October 27, 1973 16 2 Jou rnal Entry Oct ober 28, 1973 163 Jour nal Entry December 25, 1974 163 Hometown Exit 163 Wherever You Go, There You Are 16 5 Kitchen Meltdown 16 7 A lmost Killing Myself, Softly 17 1 Journal Entry June 17, 1987 172 Journal Entry June 21, 1987 174 Grand Emotions 17 5 Journal Entry July 15, 1987 17 5 Journal Entry No date, 1987 17 8 Journal Entry September 15, 1987 180 Journal Entry December 29, 1988 1 81 Journal Entry March 3, 1989 18 1 The Ending and the Beginning 183 Journal Entry April 3, 1989 183 CHAPTER SEVEN: ASSESSING THE PRESEN T AND LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE 185 Opportuni ties in Health Communication 186 First Generation Autoethnographers 191 Potential Constraints of th e Emerging Autoethnographers 194 The World Now 19 6 Recapping the Challenge 19 7 Patterns 198 Professional Options 199 The Dream 199 The Atlantic Divide 200 20 6 Public Sociol ogy 2 09 Creative Graphy 21 2
iv Potential Employment Options 216 Creative Writing Component 21 7 Conclusion 222 I nspired by True Events 222 REFERENCES 2 29 APPENDIC ES 248 Appendix A.: 249 Appendix B. : Interview Questions 251 Appendix C.: Literature Review Charts by Discipline 253 ABOUT THE AUTHOR End Page
v THE AUTOETHNOGRAPHIC CALL: CURRENT CONSIDERATIO NS AND POSSIBLE FUTU RES Kendall Smith Sullivan ABSTRACT This research examines the increase of personal narratives in the past several decades, particularly the autoethnographic approach. The project begins with a historical contextualization of personal writing and autoethnography in relation to the crisis of representation and other diverse socio political shifts. One outcome of these cultural transitions was a proliferation of illness narratives, narrative therapy, therapeutic writing, and narrative health communication. Also in cluded in this research are data from interviews with emerging autoethn o gr ap hers and participant observation that occurred at the Third Internation al Qualitative Inquiry Congress The conference served as prism through which to view qualitative scholarshi p as a whole, as well as current issues in autoethnography and its possible futures Issues that are explored include what motivates scholars to write autoethnographically, how they define and evaluate autoethnography, their views on its use as therapeuti c practice and the ir vision for the future of the autoethnographi c approach Qualitative research methods are flourishing globally, and autoethnography is uniquely positioned to expand in the years ahead, particularly in the area of health communication, cross disciplinary academic studies, and mainstream publishing venues.
1 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION AND LIT ERATURE REVIEW Introduction In Human Communication as Narration Fisher (1987) coined the term homo narrans other research corroborates that people intrinsically understand the world in a general narrative and temporal framework (Bruner 1986; Carr 1986; Frank 1995; Freeman 1998; MacI ntyre 1981; Monk et al 1997). Because humans are born into a storied world, they premise is the foundation of this dissertation. However, this research project is not just an academic endeavor --it represents a personal mission. I was ten years old when I began actively looking for answers in books because I was in emotional turmoil. Stories became my sympathetic and entertaining friends when I needed hope, comfor t, and meaning. At the same time, I began the practice of journaling and wrote, even at that young age, from a place of questioning and angst. As I grew older, I continued to write as a form of problem solving and self reflection. Now, thirty something years later, I still journal for my own enjoyment and well being. Only later in my life did I discover more about how writing practices might be transformative and therapeutic for both writers and
2 readers. As a result, for the focus of my doctoral work, I chose to study autoethnography as a movement as well as a therapeutic practice. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the autoethnographic approach in several distinct ways. First, I explore the proliferation of pers onal writing in North the simultaneous advent of the therapeutic writing movement. The latter section includes a review of illness narratives, narrative medicine, and n arrative health communication which is part of the focus of my study. The heart of my project evolved from in depth interviews with autoethnographers that I conducted at the Third International Qualitative Inquiry Congress (ICQI) in May 2007. The confere nce served as prism through which I viewed autoethnography as a movement and where I also engaged in participant observation by attending key social events, having informal discussions with attendees and taking notes of my experiences. In addition, I att ended several panels that addressed significant issues related to autoethnography and the future of qualitative research. In this dissertation, I address what motivates people to write autoethnographically, how they define and evaluate autoethnography, their views on autoethnography as therapeutic, and the future of the autoethnographic approach. I also include a seminal autoethnographic chapter that deta ils my own experience with therapeutic writing which became the catalyst for my for mal study of narrative inquiry. I n the closing chapter, I present several untapped avenues for promoting autoethnography. T hese include expanded interdisciplinary associa tions as well as a call to move autoethnography into a more public arena.
3 B efore delving into the questions that drive this research, it would be useful to of persona l writing. Literature Review Autoethnographic Beginnings Auto thereafter, David Hayano (1979) modified the term to and, as a result, has an intimate familiarity with the group that is studied (p. 100). It took many years f over the past two decades it has been described in a variety of ways. One of the most definitive and frequently cited books about the topic is Auto/Ethnography (1997) edited by Deborah Reed Danahay She puts forth her definition of the term: In this volume, autoethnography is defined as a form of self narrative that places the self within a social context. It is both a method and a text, as in the case of ethnography. Autoethnography can be done by either an anthropologist who is doing anthropologist/ethnographer. It can also be done by an autobiographer who places the story of his or her life within a story of the social context in which it occurs. (p. 9) I appreciate this definition in part because it acknowledges that autoethnography is not the sole domain of anthropology, the discipline from which it originated.
4 Van Maanen attempts several definitions of ethnography in Tales of the Field (1988) incl tales. Yet in a later work Representation in Ethnography (1995) raised serious questions [a] profound rupture occurred in the mid [I] ssues such as validity, reliability, and objectivity, previously thought settled, were once more problematic. Pattern and interpretive theories...were now more The crisis of representation also motivated people to listen t o the voices of minorities and those who were marginalized or oppressed. This social awareness continued into the following decade. time for the growth of autoethnography an d its political potential. Mary Louise Pratt (1994) addresses this aspect when defining autoethnography as a unique form of self of the metropolis or conqueror. T hese are merged or infiltrated to varying degrees with indigenous idioms to create self representations intended to intervene in metropolitan
5 autoethnography as a vehicle to autoethnography was being used with some degree of consistency and people understood the basic applicability of the term. Goodall (2000) concludes that some ethnographers about the crisis of representation, and instead (p. 13). Etiology of A uto ethnography ting to look at the years when the term was employed and how there are gaps in its use by scholars of various disciplines. Words that demonstrate the compiled them prima rily using two sources: Ellis and Bochner (2000, pp. 739 740) and Reed Danahay (1997, pp. 3 9). While there are dozens of synonyms or variations that affiliation to the morphemic roots of auto ethno graphy because that is the distinct focus of this dissertation. I have also highlighted the term autoethnography as a visual tracking guide to show when it seems to become historically prominent: Dani Auto ethnography (Heide r, 1975) autoethnography (Hayano, 1979) socioautobiography (Zola, 1982) ethnographic autobiography (Brandes, 1982) auto anthropology (Strathern, 1987) autoethnology (Lejeune, 1989)
6 interpretive biography (Denzin, 1989) autoethnography (Lionnet, 1989) autoe thnography (Deck, 1990) ethnographic memoir (Tedlock, 1991) autoethnography (Pratt, 1992) narrative ethnography (Abu Lughod, 1993) auto observation (Adler & Adler, 1994) ethnographic short stories (Ellis, 1995) critical autobiography (Church, 1995) self ethnography (Van Maanen, 1995) autoethnography (Ellis, 1995) reflexive ethnography (Ellis and Bochner, 1996) new/experimental ethnography (Ellis and Bochner, 1996) personal ethnography (Crawford, 1996) autobiographical ethnography (Reed Danahay, 19 97) was used frequently and seemed to be the preferred term for this type of research. Recently, I have enjoyed reading how other scholars define autoethnography especially from the years 2000 to the present. The single most employed definition is the following from The Ethnographic I: A Methodological Novel About Autoethnography (Ellis, 2004):
7 It is an autobiographical genre of writing and rese arch that displays multiple through an ethnographic wide angle lens, focusing outward on social and cultural aspects of their personal experience; then they look inward, exposin g a vulnerable self that is moved by and may move through, refract, and resist cultural interpretations. (p. 37) I suspect this definition is used repeatedly because it was adapted from an Ellis and Bochner article in the often read and cited Handbook o f Qualitative Research (2000) Additionally, The Ethnographic I is currently the most comprehensive contemporary book devoted exclusively to the study of autoethnography. The work is not a compilation or edited version of short works, but a comprehensive text book about autoethnography, written autoethnographically (as a novel) by one scholar. H owever, I believe that people also are drawn to this definition because it is poetic and captures the flavor of scholarship that also includes creative writing tech niques. Another useful definition which captures the flexibility of genres such as autoethnography [t] hink of the new ethnography as writing that rhetorically enables intimacy in the study of a culture The new ethnographers w ant readers to take what we say personally We want our words to make differences 14). While creativity is encouraged when writing autoethnography, advocates of the approach still offer useful guidelines. Autoethnographers must be ast ute observers, consummate writers, and keen scholars. A hallmark of the genre is that the researcher becomes part of the data, and he or she must be capable of deep self introspection and
8 vulnerability. Intrapersonal neophytes need not apply as self refl exivity and rigorous honesty is essential! However, despite the rigors just described, one of the most liberating and attractive aspects of autoethnography is its versatility in form. Academic novels, photographic essays, scripts, co constructed narratives, personal essays, journals, fragmented and layered writing, multi voiced accounts, twice told tales, and social science prose (Ellis, 2004). Such allowances permit writers of autoethnograph y to employ their own brand of creativity, use the first person, and contribute to scholarship in a rigorous way. No doubt more co uld be included in this section; however, this entire dissertation is meant to be read as an unfolding exploration and micr ocosmic review of the study of autoethnography as a whole. Embedded in each chapter of this dissertation are direct quotes, paraphrases, and references from seminal scholars in the field to illuminate the topic. This documentation is a creative attempt t o extend the literature review beyond the features an edited transcript of a panel of autoethnographic pioneers and their in depth insights. Several salient historical issue s and influences in the field are discussed there that enhance the forthcoming literature review. While autoethnography is the specific topic discussed in this dissertation, the following section explores the historical advent of personal writing and gener al cultural framework underpinning the increase in personal writing.
9 Overview of Autobiographical Literature Although no one knows exactly how or when language evolved, ultimately a quantum shift in communication occurred when words could supplant pictographs on for entertai nment and sense making, and the power of narrativ e continues today. It is beyond the scope of this project to trace the origins of language and thousands of years of consequent narrative modalities, but it is useful to recognize the innate and continuous need that humans have to understand themselves, o thers, and their culture within the context of stories. and media capitalize our desire for are inherently curious to hear and tell experiences in a narrative context, and even the most reserved of adults will usually lean forward wide eyed at the potential of hearing a riveting tale. In the academic arena, many scholars have attempted to determine the genesis of not neatly heralded and can only be recognized when enough years have passed to r etrospectively study it as a collective phenomenon. With all of these contingencies in mind, I concur with Bochner (2002) that the narrative turn is most notably connected to ty
10 populations, and a growing commitment to use research to make a difference, personally, re the first to introduce personal writing to American audiences. Literary Beginnings (in North America ) but gained recognition when their work was made public. James Bald Notes of a Native Son Invisible Man (1952) and Shadow And Act (1964) nd social inequalities of minorities. Other previously taboo topics were described by Sylvia Plath (1963, 1965), Anne Sexton (1962, 1966 ) and Denise Levertov (1967) whose writing a bout mental illness and family Despite the sometimes negative connotations of that term, their work ultimately became popular, respected, and highly influential. They were at the foref ront of the field we regard as intimate writing. With the same spirit of candor, Phill ip Roth explored the Jewish experience in his novels (1962, 1969) as did Saul Bellow (1964) and Bernar d Malamud (1956, 1966). Their fascinating and complex stories made many gentiles wish to be Jews, and suddenly understanding diversity was a longing, not just a political or cultural buzzword. In the same decade, Allen Ginsbe rg published Howl and Other Poems (1956), a work that set the tempo for the genesis of the Beat generation. Ginsberg was joined by Jack Kerouac
11 (1957) and William S. Burroughs (1959) and the trio inaugurated a new form of decadent autobiography in response to the uncertainty in which they lived. In 1952, in the New York Times, Holmes describes the modus operandi of personal and social values is to them, not a revelation shaking the ground beneath them, but a problem demanding a day to day solution. How to live seems to them much more crucial than ( p. SM19 ). All of the afore mentioned writers and many of their contemporaries laid the foundati on for the proliferation and interest in the power of personal narrative that is now manifesting in various forms. The R ise of the P ersonal E ssay: The B eat G oes On While the Beat generation was establishing a new form of poetry and prose, the form of the personal essay also expanded. According to Phillip Lopate (1994), one of the most important features of the modern personal essay is the ability for writers to be r personal essay, its drama, its suspense, consists of watching how far the essayist can drop e traditional personal essays, the post modern essay employs literary techniques that correspond to a new genre of novels. Both types of writing use first person voice, include personal bias and feelings, and celebrate everyday language. Although writers may
12 personal essays are non linear, and small time frames and events are the focus. Digressions are common and include smaller climaxes rather than the tra ditional literary arc found in many other types of writing (Harrington, 1997). The new j ournalism As is so often the case with cultural movements, genres and authors do not fit into tidy disciplinarian categories. Writers such as Joan Didion (1968, 1979) and Norman referred to as literary journalism, intimate journalism, parajournalism, personal reporting, and creative nonfiction. However, one of the most distinctive terms fo r this the one that clarifies the critical difference between traditional third person reporting and the unique form of journalism whereby reporters immerse themsel ves into a community and include their experiences in their stories. This is yet another instance of writing Unlike fiction or essays, first person journalists are primarily concerned with accuracy of the facts and use historical research to validate their suppositions. The life drama and cultural values often while drawing attention to issues that need political or social reform. They do not use composite charac ters but frequently employ pseudonyms to protect people, places, and events. This type of writing reflects all manner of literary devices including suspense, foreshadowing and flashbacks (Harrington, 1997; Sims, 1984; Wolfe, 1975). Similar to the persona l
13 essay, stories need not be chronological but generally follow a traditional plot with a climax and denouement falling toward the end of the story. Bestselling books of first personal stories. Not see ordinary people become the main characters in real life dramas. In the past, personal and autobiographical writing was the exclusive domain of those who considered themselves profes sional writers, historians, researchers, or were celebrities, yet we have other period in history. Terrence Holt, who is an M.D. and who also holds a Ph.D. in litera ture, sees a direct correlation between the rise of illness narratives and the influence of other literary factors (2004, pp. 320 influence on writing and particularly on autobiography. He cl aims the writing was reinserting the first authority, the New Journalism tried to put into practice perhaps the characteristic political 322). Similarly, Smith and widespread illness and genocidal war, to profound change s in personal life, and to the growing audience demand for personal accounts as self is critical to understanding the momentum and popularity of illness narratives and the therapeutic writing movement.
14 Overview of Litera ture Related to Illness Narratives study. Some of these include: medical anthropology (Kleinman, 1995); narrative medicine (Hawkins, 1993; Frank, 1995; Couser, 1997; Charon, 2006 ); illness stories (Frank, 1995); disability narratives (Couser, 1997); psychobiography (Freud, 1910); euthanography (Couser, 1997); medical confessional (Hawkins, 1993; Larson qtd. in Aronson, 200 0); patient tales (Aronson, 2000); and neuroanthropology (Sacks, 1985 ). However one of the most frequently used terms for illness narratives is autobiography or biography that describes personal experience of illness, treatment, and pathography is rema rkable in that it seems to have emerged ex nihilo ; book length (1993, p. 3). pathographies reflect two significant changes: (1) many pathographies are driven by
15 anger and (2) others advocate alternative forms of treatment (pp. 4 10). A few exemplars include C ancer Winner (Davison, 1977), The Cancer Journals (Lorde, 1980), Heart Sounds (Lear, 1980), Anatomy of an Illness (Cousins, 1981) The Healing Heart (Cousins,1984 ) Bed Number Ten (Baier & Zimmeth, 1986) Illness as Metaphor (Sontag, 1988 ), and All of a Piece (Webster, 1989). increased exponentially. Exemplars of these personal illness stories include Cancer in Two Voices (Butler and Rosenblum, 1991), Final Negotiations: A Story of Love, Loss, and Chronic Illness (Ellis, 1995), Drinking: A Love Story (Knapp, 1996), Close to the Bone: Memoirs of Hurt Rage and Desire (Stone, 1997), and The Tennis Partner (Verghese, 1998). Narrative M edicine S eminal scholars in narrative medicine and related field s come from a variety of academic backgrounds. Hawkins has a literary background and her work Reconstructing Illness: Studies in Pathographies (1993) is largely based on her doctoral dissertation related to religious/spiritual autobiograp hy and related myths and images. Currently, she teaches medical and healthcare students at Penn State Another well known professor, Arthur Frank, and from sociology acknowledges a great many influences on his seminal work The Wounded Storyteller (1995), notes contributions to the field from Coles in psychiatry (1989) and Kleinman in anthropology (1991, 1995), both of whom are advocates of the power of illness narratives to hurt or heal.
16 Frank gives more than a pa ) whose work book, Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness (2006), is one of the most comprehensive treatments o f the subject. What makes Charon particularly interesting is she is one of the few scholars in the field who is an M.D. and a Ph.D. which she earned from the English Department of Columbia University. While Charon maintains an internal medicine practice, she incorporates personal writing into her work and not only shows her patients her notes, but encourages them to write ab o ut their illness for Columbia University with an emphasis on educating future 2006, vii.) Another narrative medicine scholar, G. Thomas Couser, is known for his influential work Recovering Bodies: Illness, Disability, and Life Writing (1997). As an example of interdisciplinary practice, Couser began his career in English and wrote his doctoral dissertation on topics related to autobiography. Currently, he is an English Professor as well as Director of the program in Disability Studie s at Hofstra University. While Hawkins popularized the term pathography, and Charon the phrase narrative medicine Couser has coined and disseminated the word autopathography to describe f illness, Couser says, is of
17 dysfunction tends to heighten consciousness of self an Peter Kramer, a psychiatrist and author of the controversial book Listening to Prozac urs is the era of autopathography. Bookstore shelves groan with memoirs of heart disease and asthma. No m ental disorder, from alcoholism (1996, p. 27). Millions of people are interested in writing about, and reading, accounts of illness in a way that is unparalleled in histo ry. Scholar and anthropologist Ruth Behar voices, which in time would create a vigorous and unsettling interdisciplinary intellectual t I was writing personally, I was writing and Frey, 2003, xv). Narrative T herapy Since Freud, mental health professionals have advocated verbally articulating life story, and this is a technique which is still widely used today. However, basic the the problem ts are able to detach from them and become better able to act as authors of their lives (or heroic
18 protagonists) who have an issue that simply needs to be solved. White and Epston rewritten to Monk et al s. Although several therapists embraced 1990, 1991, 1997, 2002, 2004) has made the most substantial contribution to the field of therapeutic writing to date in the mental health field. Pennebaker is a researcher and began investigating human trauma and discovered that not talking about the trauma posed a significant health risk to humans. He the n wondered if writing about emotional upheavals could improve health. His first writing experiment consisted of fifty students who wrote for fifteen minutes a day for four consecutive days. Students were asked to write about either emotional and traumati c topics or superficial, non emotional topics. 43 per cent fewer doctor visits than the control group who wrote only about superficial Since that initial experiment almost twenty years ago, dozens of similar experiments have replicated these results and now many other researchers and practitioners recognize the potential physical and psychological benefits of expressive writin being, yet the
19 majority of these authors study expressive writing from a clinical stance and use qua ntitative measures to validate their studies (Lepore and Smyth 2002; Mattingly 1994, 1998; Monk et al 1997). Therapeutic W riting A variety of quantitative assessment tools are used to judge the efficacy of therapeutic writing including: the multiple code theory, State Meta Mood Scale, Trait Meta Mood Scale, Marlowe Crowne Social Desirability Scale, Eysenck Personality Inventory, Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale, Toronto Alexithymia Scale, Byrne Repression Sensitization Scale, and the Self Conta inment Scale (Pennebaker, 2002) and the Linguistic and Word Count Inquiry computer assessment program (Pennebaker, 1997). Physiological tests used include resting blood pressure levels, enzyme counts, heart rate levels, perspiration rates and blood count levels and number of visits to the doctor (Pennebaker, 2004, pp. 7 8). In the field of psychology, psychiatry, and mental health counseling, the majority of researchers and practitioners endorse narrative frameworks and personal writing as bene ficial, but they (the therapist or researcher) are outsiders in the story When their findings are reported, the author is evident in the writing only as a non biased observer who uses the passive or third person voice. Although he or she may be studying scholarly work is formal, the content full of disciplinary jargon, and the conclusions are based on numerical findings derived from Likert type scales. The audience is c learly academic or research practitioners. Currently, Hunt and Sampson, Mattingly, Parry and
20 Doan, Pennebaker, Polkinghorne, Monk et al. White and Epston are major academic researchers in this field. In The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imag ination psychiatrist Robert Coles (1989) is adamant that reading stories has the profound ability to transform s book is pivotal in understanding the phenomenon loosely defined as narrative therapy. While formal scholarship has many takes on the topic, a number of non academic writers have published books to help the average person access hi s or her therapeutic writing skills. A dearth of self help books, most published within the past decade, promote the transformative and healing powers of personal writing for anyone who is willing to try. The majority of these books eschew scholarly references (even when written by scholars) and focus on creating a curriculum of writing exercises that serve as conduits for self healing. Examples include: Writing Out the Storm: Reading and Writing Your Way Through Serious Illness or Injury (Abercrombie, 2002), Writing As a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives (DeSalvo, 1999), Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering from Trauma and Emotional Upheaval (Pennebaker, 2004), Pain a nd Possibility: Writing Your Way Through Personal Crisis (Rico, 1991), Spinning Gold out of Straw: How Stories Heal (Rooks, 2001), A Voice of Her Own: Women and the Journal Writing Journey (Schiwy, 1996), Writing for Self Discovery: A Personal Approach to Creative Writing (Schneider and Killick, 1998), Writing to Save Your Life: How to Honor Your Story Through Journaling (Weldon,
21 2001), and Writing to Heal the Soul: Transforming Grief and Loss Through Writing (Zimmerman, 2002). Narratives and Health Commu nication When illness occurs to self or a loved one, this sense of order is disturbed. In almost every instance, when people visit a physician something has gone wrong in their life narrative. This ailment may be minor or life threatening, such as one Frank (1995) wou but in every case the patient is looking for tor Martin, 2002 p. 6). much less even communicating in the same language or with similar cultural values. P atients and physicians both need to unde rstand that they come to every medical encounter with their own storied version of the world. edicine makes a powerful contribution to contemporary culture and to the postmodern fashioning ies, while always biological, are also in part cultural artifacts, in the same way that medicine is a cultural artifact as it operates through 75). Patients bring with them narrative resources from various factions including (but not limited to): history, their family values, community, religion, cultural group, experience, education, tradition, gender, socioeconomic background, education, geography, and perceived information about he
22 illness, they bring critical information to a physician. Their story is informed by all of the narrative resources mentioned above, and these constitute a complex situation that is more than just a physical malady. M any health care providers are taught to focus exclusivel y on objective data that can be defined categorically and w ith external data. The problem, according to Kleinman (1995) doctor is expected to decode the untrustworthy story of illness as experience for the evidence of that which is considered authentic, disease as biological pathology In the --as fugitive, F ortunately, communication between patients and health care professionals is being taken more seriously today. With a national the medical community is trying harder t han ever to understand the complexities of their As I alluded to above, it is critical that physicians understand the diverse cultural if a physician or nurse can intellectually comprehend the complexities o is essential that doctors can demonstrate their understanding. In one study, c ommunication researchers Jones and Beach ( in press ) discovered that during phy sician questions or cautiously confirming their lay diagnoses one third of the time, more often ation or
23 response to their stateme Martin, 2002 p. 90). Ideally, a physician interrupted or the fear of being ignored or resisted. Simply list ening attentively may Healing Through the Dark Emotions : Something that starts out as a desperate but inarticulate anguish or a mysterious, painful sensation in the body begins to cohere as a story. Sometimes a new, old one felt for the first time, known in all its fullness, the emotions no longer seq uestered away in a dark room where no one can hear them. A new vitality emerges. (2003, pp. 15 16) Listening to patients is an excellent start, although there are other actions that may augur transformation in a health care encounter. Laing (1961, 1990) (echoing Buber) explains: confirmation. Listening to narratives is especially impo rtant when the person is not going to become well. Morris (1998) explains:
24 The American Board of Internal Medicine, in its 1995 publication on physician competency in end of life patient care, includes an entire section dedicated to use of narratives. S uch skills in listening effectively are especially crucial at the end of life, when curative intervention is often inappropriate and when suffering may be less responsive to drugs than to insights that come mainly through skillful attention to the patien (p. 265) Another aspect that health care providers would do well to educate themselves about is how patients have pain that is somatic in origin. Fadiman (1997) contends: It has been well known since the aftermath of the Second World War tha t because of the enormous psychological traumas they have suffered, refugees of all nationalities have an unusually high incidence of somatization, in which tests] the Merced doct ors began to realize that many Hmong complaints had no organic basis, though their pain was perfectly real. (p. 69) The body mind connection is rapidly gaining credence, especially as traditionally trained medical doctors endorse its power (Chopra 1998; No rthrup 1998, 2001; Siegel 1986; Weil 1990, 2000). Similarly, the award winning biophysicist, Pert (1997), who their illnesses is revealing, as well as the particular areas of the body that are affected by the illness. Physicians might want to pay attention to phrases that refer to emotional as well as physical ailments.
25 The P ersonal C onnection My first experiences reading illness narratives occurred when I was a doctoral student. I n my Communication courses I found that professors used stories as a springboard for a myriad of scholarly conversations. In various courses through the years, we discussed in classes the emotional repercussions of being a Holocaus t survivor, the potential horror of being a victim of cancer, the complexities of alcoholism, the burdens and joys of In the University of South Florida Com munication department alone I learned that illness narratives could be used to exemplify and explore a multitude of themes including, but not limited to, qualitative methods, mortality, caretaking, illness, aging, disability, end of life issues, autoethnog raphy, mental illness, physical and psychological addiction, political and cultural divides, narrative inquiry, any imaginable emotion from desire to despair, ethics, spirituality, and health communication (and the lack thereof). Throughout my d octoral studies, I have been mesmerized by the ways in which reading and writing can have powerful therapeutic properties. As noted earlier in the chapter, from first hand experience, I know that reading is enjoyable and usually instructive. Of more rele vance, however, is my belief that writing is almost single handedly responsible for my surviving an abusive childhood and my first marriage that was failing. Before wide spread access to therapy, the popular self help revolution, Dr. talks, and the wonders of Prozac, I was clinically depressed, suicidal
26 From the age of thirteen I have a kept a journal, and I believe that this self reflexive writing practice allowed me literally to ma intain my sanity until I was able to excited when I learned that an entire field of research had emerged related to t he study of therapeutic writ ing, especially when I discovered that autoethnography was part of this phenomenon Illness, Trauma and End of Life Autoethnographies While not all autoethnographies deal with personal loss, many of them do and are written in highly evocative and creative forms. Autoethnographic methods are particularly appropriate to explore and capture the lived experience of the ill, those who care for them, or those de aling with end of life issues. Years ago, when I first read Final Negot iations battle with emphysema, I knew that the writing was ground breaking. As a pioneer in the field of autoethnography, Carolyn Ellis (1986,1995a, 1995b, 1995c, 1997, 1998,1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006) ha s published works on a variety of subjects related to illness including abortion, minor bodily stigmas, caretaking an ill parent, and caretaking a terminally ill spouse. This burgeoning approach, connecting social science and humanities, is most notable fo r focusing on evocation of emotion and encouraging a researcher comes out of the shadows and into the study T he goal of the writing is
27 manifold: to include the personal and the cultural while framing this research within literary and scholarly contexts. Interviewees C onnect w ith A utoethn o graphy In this research, I began with the For example, Elissa Foster details her marital problems that she wrote when she was in great emotional pain as her r elationship collapsed and divorce became imminent. Another interviewee, Laura Ellingson, explained that her interest in cancer research came from her own experiences o f having cancer. Likewise, Patr icia Geist the emotional hardships of personal and physical tragedy: multiple miscarriages. Larry Russell explains his relationship with what a gift it is to me and wha t possibility what meaning it gives to my life and the kind each other mean What I find most interesting is not so much that these writers were somehow drawn to autoethnography, but they continued to write this way exclusively, or as a te a descriptor in their work. While some of my interviewees say they have to write
28 Laura Ellings on wants to change the health care system in the country --no small task. She says she will use whatever means are necessary and important to convey her message. However, no matter what her tools and terms, whether she calls it autoethnography or narrativ e ethnography or health communication research, her motive is to improve the medical system and the lives of patients and physicians. While traditional scholarship was meant to educate, inform, and perhaps eventually lead to positive change, hand experience of the researcher is the backbone of autoethnographic scholarship. In the pa ges ahead, many autoethnographers share their heartfelt experiences and vision for the future of autoethnography. However, before we delve into those details, the next Chapter will examine the methodology and research questions related to my project.
29 CHAPTER TWO METHODS In this dissertation, I concentrate on why and how autoethnographers choose to write narratively. A utoethnography is a burgeoning field of narrative inquiry, yet I noted nographers. While much is known about first generation autoethnographers through their publications and presentations, much less is known about those scholars they have influenced. Although many of these emerging writers are generous in revealing their e motions and reflections in their writing, not much is known about other details of how or why they choose to their work will likely influence the future and trajectory of autoethnography. In my research, I am interested in discovering what motivated them to write using autoethnography as a method, who were their mentors, how they defined and evaluated autoethnography, if they viewed it as therapeutic, and how they envisio ned its possible future. In this chapter, I provide an overview of my research methodology, identify the research questions I explored in this study, introduce my research participants and research site, as well as describe my methods for data collection and data analysis. Before detailing the methodological framework for my research, I provide a background for the genesis of the project. In order to better understand the complex, interconnections and morphic qualities of my endeavor, I share how my stu dy was
30 originally imagined, the ways in which it was modified with the insight of my dissertation committee, and what finally occurred after many discussions. I also hope to un (Neuman, 2003, p. 146). As the reader will see in the chapters ahead, one of my challenges was learning how to become a flexible researcher, a process that entailed recogniz ing both my strengths and weaknesses while working and writing. The Original Plan In addition to a literature review of personal writing, especially illness narratives and autoethnographies related to illness and end of life issues, my original research included (in alphabetical order) Arthur Bochner University of South Florida; Norman Denzin University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign; Carolyn Ellis University of South Florida; H. L. (Bud) Goodall Arizona State University; Ronald Pelias Southern Illinois Universit y and Laurel Richardson The Ohio State University. The core of my research would be an attempt to better understand how these ground breaking scholars think, write, create, feel, and teach. Because autoethnography is such a recent historical phenomenon, my stance was that insight from the pioneers of this discipline would be invaluable because they created the scholarly infrastructure from which all other autoethnographers are building their work. My reasoning was that while excellent books about quali tative methods (as well as exemplary collections of autoethnographic writing) exist, currently there is no work
31 devoted exclusively to the study of the pioneers of this rapidly growing social science approach. I felt fortunate that the majority of these w riters are still living, that some are my professors, and I planned to meet with others personally at the Third International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry (ICQI) in Champaign, Illinois in May 2007. The proposed model for my dissertation format was sim ilar to the literary genre. In my case operationalized as those who had made a significant and substantia l contribution to shaping the field of autoethnography using the criteria listed below: (1) They will have numerous published academic works in the area of autoethnography, with an emphasis on academic books in which they are the sole author or co autho r; also considered are their roles as editors or co editors of influential books related to or including autoethnographic components. (2) They will have numerous publications in peer reviewed academic journals, again with a focus specifically on autoethno graphic scholarship; consideration is e list of key words for journal articles; also to be considered is their self evidenced in their writing, biographies, and/or curr iculum vitas.
32 (4) They will have been instrumental in the field of qualitative writing advancement in other activities such as consistent conference participation, creation of autoethnographic components within organizations/conferences, awards and recogn ition by their colleagues, offices held in national organizations, notable speaking /teaching invitations nationally and internationally, and instigation of autoethnographic community building practices such as listservs and resourceful websites. (5) T hey will have contributed to the training, education, and professional scholarship will advance and enrich the discipline. The last point was critical as it would soon become the foci of my evolving project. However, this will be discusse d in more detail in a later section. generation autoethnographer, that these writers are emerging qualitative research scholars who have been mentored by influential autoethnographers. The second generation would still have published, preferably book referring to their writing. These criteria would portend a professional trajectory that includes autoethnographic scholarship as a continued professional focus In addition t o interviewing autoethnographers at t he International Qualitative Inquiry Congress, a nother aspect of my research included engaging in participant observation while there. I n particular, I would attend and tape several key panels related
3 3 to the future of autoethnography hold informal conversations, and record my experiences and observations. I had already completed most of a multi disciplinary analysis of the history of personal writing as well as an in depth review of illness narrativ es, therapeutic writing, and narrative medicine, all of which would inform my findings. With confidence and enthusiasm, I submitted my proposal to my major advisor, Carolyn Ellis, and the dissertation committee in preparation for my defense. One of the m ysteries I will never fully understand is how in one afternoon my dissertation proposal was lovingly de constructed by my committee, and in the course of two and half hours put back together again resulting i n a new proposal that benefitted from the synerg ism in the room. If I were capable, I would narrate exactly what happened, but the experience was so esoteric, I cannot recall how it occurred. Similar to the aftermath of a satisfying meal, movie, or making love, we all just left the room nodding to eac and grins. I do remember that Eric Eisenberg asked that I write a brief new statement of dissertat this is the next participated in a stellar example of academic communication at its best. I had a more focused topic and one that really was leading edge.
34 The Modified Plan Via our discussion, it emerged that m uch was already known about a result of their own publications, presentations, and However, in the process of my proposal defense, we began to agree that what would be interesting is to study the second generation of autoethnographers --all of whom were greatly influenced by the first generation but who had far less time in the limelight. While the first generation scholars were established and influential, the second their pred ecessors but there were inevitably notable differences. My revised mission was to interview seco nd generation autoethnographers in order to better understand the current and potential path of the autoethnographic movement, as they understood it. This e merging generation is on the cutting edge of establishing the trajectory of autoethnography My contribution to the scholarly understand and define autoethnography, and to disc over what they envision for the movement in the future. When necessary, I would include information or citations from the first generation, but the pioneers now became the background story for the new elight. Now all I had to do was figure out the details of how to make this work. I had less than a month to reconfigure my plans for interviews at the ICQI conference.
35 Interviewee Selection Process After my proposal defense, my first critical task w as to determine who exactly appropriate candidates for my study and how would I ensure my dissertation was precise enough to remain cohesive and focused? Initially my goal was si mply to locate emerging autoethnographers (1) who had published several works (2) whose work is cited by other researchers frequently enough to indicate their solid presence in scholarly conversation and (3) who would likely be in attendance and willing to be interviewed at the upcoming conference. One of the most useful resources I possessed was access to the preliminary program for the ICQI conference. Although I had a dog earred printed copy that I had all but memorized in preparation for my first gene ration interviews, what technological tool, I was able to locate any session, panel, or presentation that included any possible derivative, variation, noun, verb, plural, or possessive of the term Two panels yielded a wealth of data that informed my work. The first panel was Generation Autoethnographers Reflect on Writing Personal previously as first generation candidates. Generation nd featured (in alphabetical ord er) Carla Corroto, Elissa Foster, Lesa Lo ckford, Christopher Poulos, Carol Rambo, Tami Spry, and Mary Weems. These were the names I used as the start of my list for
36 potential interviewees and to whom I sent e mails informing them of my research interests and asking for an interview at the Confer ence. However, in an effort to cast as wide a net as possible, I also expanded my list to include more diversity in terms of geography and academic sub specialties. Furthermore, I deliberately sought to interview qualitative researchers engaged in healt h communication. Not only was this an interest of mine, but my preliminary research revealed that this is an area where autoethnography is likely to expand in the future (see Chapter 7 for more discussion of this topic). Of particular interest to me was interviewing those whose work dealt with the concept of health communication, illness, trauma, end of life issues, or therapeutic writing. Still, I knew that no matter how much I planned, who m I interviewed would end up being a matter of timing and their willingness. However, there was a third factor for which I did not plan and that was serendipity/destiny/mystery/chance/or fate. As a result, several of my ten in depth interviews transpired with people I had not originally slated for interviewing and di psychologist with expertise in treating trauma. Next were interviews with Patricia Geist Martin and Kim E therington, who have published widely in autoethn o graphy. They were not directly mentored by the first generation autoethnographers, but in their health communication writing they frequently cite the latter. I also was familiar with their books and want ed to meet with them both personally. I also had an opportunity to interview Nick Trujillo whose early ethnographic work was very influential on Bud
37 Goodall, a first generation autoethnographer. Although Nick does not identify as an autoethnographer per se er to some of his scholarship, and he also mentored Stacy Holman Jones (1998, 2002, 2005) who is an often cited performance autoethnographer (note that the topic of performance autoethnography is fascinating, yet beyond the scope of this particular research project). turned out to be invaluable especially in reference to therapeutic writing. My final serendipitous interview was with Larry Russell whom I met by chance because he is a long time friend and colleagu spirituality were touching and thought provoking. I was able to conduct ten in depth personal interviews at the Qualitative Inquiry Conference from May 2nd to May 7th 2007 with the following people (in alphabetical order): Laura Ellingson Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Santa Clara University; Kim Etherington Professor of Narrative and Life Story research, Bristol, United Kingdom; Elissa Foster Medical Educat or, Lehigh Valley Hospital, Pennsylvania (although at the time of the interview she was an Assistant Professor in Communication Studies at ) ; Patricia Geist Martin Professor, School of Communication, San Diego State University; C liff Heegel Psychologist, The Stress and Biofeedback Clinic, Memphis, Tennessee; Lesa Lockford Associate Professor, American Culture Studies, Bowling Green State University; Chris Poulos Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, University of No rth Carolina at Greensboro; Carol Rambo Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Memphis; Larry Russell Associate Professor, School of Com munication, Hofstra University; and
38 Nick Trujillo Professor of Communication Studies, Sacramento State University. Some of these interviewees became major characters in m y dissertation, some minor, although all were important to the totality of the project. Interview Process In the interviews, I asked these autoethnographers about their experiences and writing per my interview script (see Appendix B), but I also listened for additional themes and the opportunity to ask questions that organically emerged. Holstein and Gubrium contend that both interviewer and interviewee are engaged in reciprocal eaning and Chirban advances this theory to include elements of self awareness, authenticity, attunement, integrity, empathy, insight, nurturance, respect, and faith (pp. 39 55). I am particularly interested in o f attunement that may occur: verbal and non verbal actions...Furthermore, attunement resonates with the interviewee, and complementarity deepens the interview...As the mutual attunement occurs, the relational dimension grows. ...and a deeper awareness of one another emerges, fostering further opportunities to connect and explore. (1995, p. 42) that it acknowledges not only the concept of joint meaning making within the interview process but views the process as an energy exchange that creates a unified whole.
39 While interviewing autoethnographers served a practical purpose in fulfilling my res earch agenda, I did not anticipate that I would find the process similar to my spiritual practice of mindfulness (Goleman, 2003; Hanh, 1992). From the very first interview to the last, I was very aware I was being given a precious gift of time, energy, em otion, and shared intellectual exchange by my interviewees. The shortest interview was 50 minutes, the longest two and a half hours, with the average meeting lasting an hour and a half. I barely knew any of interviewees so their generosity was an act of kindness toward me but also a tribute to their respect for the field of autoethnography. Another aspect of the interviews was shared emotionality and vulnerability. Ellis my interviews progressed, I shared with the participants aspects of my past hurts, fears, and concerns and later recorded my personal and emotional reactions on tape and in my field notes. In the final project, I included my internal reflections with the inte ncluding the subjective and emotional reflection of the researcher adds context and layers to the story share in the text of this project are my apprehensions, missteps, mistakes, regrets, and navet as a neophyte researcher. If there is anything I learned in this process, it is how adaptability is one of the keys to a successful research project. I cannot say how this information might be useful to readers but, if nothing else, perhaps I will provide a little comic relief as I recount a few of my foibles and faux pas along the way. Nonetheless, there were some incredibly perfect moments as well. During the
40 challenges of conducting interview s at a site that was neither my, n turf was a need for locating appropriate space for interviews. Because this was my first visit to the University of Ill inois at Champaign, weeks before my departure I tried to familiarize myself with a map of the main campus. I enlarged the maps and then circled and highlighted key buildings and main meeting rooms. However, as Korzybski first said, and Bateson popularize 761) and when I arrived in Champaign, I had to roam the campus for hours to get my bearings. Knowing how geographically challenged I am, I felt it was very important to be familiar with the campus and especi ally the Illini Union, the main site for the conference (also, a small aside is that I now know it is pronounced EYE LIE NYE but Illeenie like martini, and Illah nye, like Illinois, seemed reasonable pronunciations at first). My thinking was that those whom I would interview may need my expert directions and, most importantly, I needed several options for taping locations. Soon, I knew where all the bathrooms were in the Illini Union, as well as ATM machines, coffee vendors, snack bars and, very impor tant for my interviews, quiet spaces. The biggest find of my reconnaissance mission was the discovery of three attractive and empty conference rooms. Like Goldilocks, I found my favorite one that I affectionately e entrance, there was a lovely dark antique conference table that could seat eight easily and it had a sparkling chandelier above it. To the left was an antique couch (or facsimile) in striped green damask fabric with a mahogany mirror over it, and two me tal sconces positioned to the left and right. To the right side of the room was a marble fireplace that completed the television set ambience.
41 At the back was my interview area: it featured two green damask striped chairs (that matched the sofa) which in vited conversation. In the middle was nestled a petite table illuminated by an antique lamp with a mosaic of amber and green glass for a shade. I and extra mi cro ca ssettes. I also brought along a small cooler with water and snacks for interviewees. One of my regrets is that I did not remember a camera ---for a researcher that would have been a useful tool. Six interviews out to other locations, out of necessity. Elissa was my first interview and meeting with her in our mutual hotel made good sense. She came up to my room, and we talked for more than two hou rs. Nick Trujillo was hard to pin down, but I finally interviewed him between happy hour and dinner at a local tavern. I promised Kim Etherington an ice cream cone if I could interview her (she is from the UK so a gift seemed in order), and we ended up sitting outside while having afternoon tea and snacks. My final interview was with Larry Russell and because we were both leaving Champaign on the same plane, we decided to go to the airport where we could relax and not worry about our travel details. On e of the most memorable parts of that interview was one dollar a cup fresh brewed coffee, with unlimited refills. We had a wonderful exchange and celebra ted our free refill coffee deal. Because of the limited availability of my interviewees (hailing from the United Kingdom to California), it was critical that I secured enough data. Ea ch interview was taped using 90 minute micro cassette tapes, and two tape recorders ensured an instant
42 back up. There was little room for technical errors when so much alrea dy depended on analysis, I ended up with 15 (90 minute) tapes and more than 300 pages of transcribed material. Participant O bservation While much of my research focuse d on a content analysis of personal writing and interviews with second generation autoethnographers, I conducted on site research as well. I arrived at the Third International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champai gn on Wednesday M ay 2nd and departed Monday May 7th, my energy was directed toward att ending three panels that are significant in my research regarding the development of autoethnograp hy and its pioneers. I gained permission to record these panels and had each participant sign a consent form. The back to nd generation autoethnographers, provided illuminating contrasts between the two groups. In Chapter Three, I include a large portion of the first responses intact in order to illuminate the roots of the qualitative turn, especially autoethnography. Because these scholars have worked, writ ten, and socialized with each other for decades, the synergy of the panel is palpable in their responses. In this section, they respond to what brought them into the arena of personal scholarship. While I irety, I discovered that the emerging
43 within the context of thematic chapters. I used replies from the second generation panelists (in alphabetical order) including Car la Corroto, Elissa Foster, Lesa Lockford, Chris Poulos, and Tami Spry; however, some are quoted in more detail because I also conducted in depth interviews with them. Finally, the third panel was devoted to the topic of tenure and featured an in depth exp loration of the tenure case of one of my interviewees, Chris Poulos. The substance of this latter panel clarified many of the issues related to detail in my concluding chapter. Initially I predicted I would have time for informal interviews but as it turned out my in depth interviews, writing of field notes, and panel attendance left me less time than I originally anticipated for informal interviewing I realized that in order to collect ample quality data in a short period of time, I needed to have as many in depth interviews with salient autoethnographers as time and opportunity allowed In the end, I was able to engage in participant observation that consisted of conversations before and after sessions, at social events, and in airports (very important ). All of these informal exchanges contributed to the t otality of my project. As a result, the events before, during, and after the ICQI conference became a lens through which I viewed autoethnography an d my findings are infused/embedded as subtext. Consent and C onfidentiality Many of the ethical concerns in this study were avoided as the interviewees were the Uni Investigator, I received proper certification necessary for interview privileges from the
44 Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the University of South Florida prior to my interview s. Likewise, all additional paperwork required by the IRB was submitted and approved prior to interviewing the participants. Data A nalysis I have to admit that fear, adrenaline, anxiety, excitement, and caffeine surged through me for the duration of the week of the conference. I felt so much was riding on or field notebook were large enough to encap sulate the magnitude of this moment for me. Keeping the singularity of this experience in mind, I had a portable office with me at all times. My accoutrements included my laptop, two computer batteries, a power cord and all types o f regular and rechargea ble cassette batteries for any interview opportunity that might present itself. I was hesitant to stray too far from the Illini Union action, so during the day I wrote my field notes immediately following each interview. During interviews I jotted note s as well, and when the day was done, I returned to the hotel and rewarded myself with a shower only after I had notes and added to them. By the 4th day of the Conference, I began to have so many ideas that I kept a tape recorder by my bed and was astounded at how many insights presented themselves as gifts from the subconscious in the middle of the night. Back in Tampa after the conference, the first round of transcriptions morphed from audio to hard copy. I took joy in their mere existence, like a long awaited birth. I ntuition told me to wait until all of the cassettes were transcribed be fore I began any
45 analysis. I tend to work best in chunks/blocks of time and felt that I wanted a marathon I conducted my data analysis by coding them thematically using a constructivist grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2000). I observed and coded patterns and themes, looking particularly for new discoveries and insights not previously anticipated. This i nductive approach allowed for the emergence of data and assisted me in fine tuning my research findings. I was not disappointed. Dozens of themes emerged and I began round one of highlighting, Post It noting, and marginalia izing. After my neon Post It N otes seemed to multiply in the night like fertile bunnies, I decided I needed more structure and a bigger view of what I was doing. At the office supply store, I bought a roll of banner paper and cut a 4 foot piece that I tacked to my office wall. On this large white slate, I listed the name of every interview and what I similarities and contrasts. Another tool was the reliance on a dissertation log to record topics to think about/to do/explore in the future. Once transcribed, longer interviews ran 30 pages and shorter ones around 20 pages. Then I began the voice/correction component which involved listen ing again (and sometimes again and again) to see if what I heard (or sensed if tonal) was on target. W ith each tape I felt not so much like deja vu but that I was getting to visit again with my interviewees. It was fun --it made me laugh, frown, and write even more notes. However, I soon realized that I ha d too much material and it was unwieldy. In a dramatic move, I began to excise the superfluous. I chopped words in an attempt to pare down the project to make the data more manageable yet when I saw the
46 results, I realized I made an error. A huge error I had butchered my interviews. I had lost nuances and tone and inflection. What I was left with were isolated phrases taken out of context and not at all what I wanted, or what I thought my interviewees would have wanted. I owed them a fair representati on. While this discovery was initially viewed as a setback, I forced myself to find a way to rectify my mistake. Instead of panicking, I remembered a technique hid toolbox: my tattered copy of The Ethnographic I (2004), and I sat on the floor of my office reading how to induce I can hear Car in the scene emotionally and physically. Revisiting the scene emotionally leads to So I held the book in one hand and with the other I gathered all of my conference memorabilia. Emotional Recall I retrieve d every note, souvenir, and keep sake that preceded and appended my experience at the Conference. I lightly touched my conference name badge and unwadded folded up field notes that had been stuck in my pockets. I lingered over the receipts from my favorite breakfast diner and recalled th e steaming latte that began every day of my fieldwork. Nick and I had an interview over the sound of pouring rain in a tavern -I know because I had the book of matches as a reminder. I opened the map of Champaign and one of the University of Illinois camp us. I found my brochure for the free bus shuttle the school offers after 9 p.m. and soon I am there again. Last of all, I retrieved the item that sent me right back to the heart of the experience: my dog earred
47 ICQI program and sacred coffee stained list of people to interview --every single name has a check by it. My husband comes home and finds me on the floor of my office with reminiscent tears in my eyes. He is immediately concerned but I stand up, kiss him quickly and with -really, but I need to write ---now knows what that means when it comes to the dissertation, so he kisses me on top of the head and just me alone to review the uncut, sloppy, sweet, very first transcriptions W hat I hope will richer and more mature way. Like a madwoman, I turn on my computer and pull up all the original transcripts and print fresh copies. This time I start reading from scratch with no preconceived ideas. It is like falling in love with your childhood sweethe art --except you are an adult. I try to remember what I enjoyed emotionally about each interview --I interview s that I liked (and had somehow omitted) fit into my proje ct now in new and more complex ways than they ever could have before. I found myself starting over with the very first transcriptions and reading them with new enthusiasm. I would find myself saying oh yes, that can fit in here, now, in and one of those things occurred that can only happen when you are deeply familiar with your data --
48 Not only did I have new topics, I had themes, and subthemes. I decided against another bann er and now worked from jottings on super sticky large Post It notes. Plan C (Almost a C ) Without useless and derailing elaboration, the first version of my dissertation that I gave my adviser was not a success. We both agree about the nature of the prob lem, and I can now (almost) laugh about it, but I was not so jovial when the entire project was in jeopardy. Although my dissertation proposal called for the heart of my project to feature anned and presented the first draft to my advisor, Carolyn, the result was beyond boring. She will say that the with her. Yet, my most important lesson, in respon se to this fiasco, was that as a researcher I must be able to reassess, rethink, re configure, reimagine and, most importantly, rewrite an entire project if that is what is needed. While it was a humbling experience, Carolyn and I also found a new synergy and approach that would make the story less boring, and I could claim narrative authority. The only setback was that it one emerging autoethnographer, we chose to re design the chapter structure using a framework yielded a far richer and more textured final project. As it is now written, the four chapters that follow correspond themat ically to four main questions that I asked of interviewees:
49 (1) What first motivated you to write autoethnographically? (2) How do you define/evaluate autoethnography? (3) Do you think autoethnography is therapeutic? For the final version of my dissertation, I located the places in the transcript s where interviewees and others address these questions Then, I began grouping the answers with other like responses. Very slowly (as I already learned my lesson about over cutting too early in a process), I began to clean up what the interviewees said and then tried to arrange their r esponses in some coherent order, at all times working to maintain their original meaning s. When appropriate, I layered in secondary references if I did not agree with what they said, I made sure to include their views to represent my to evocative story hat the interviewees and panelists said and juxtaposed their narratives.
50 CHAPTER THREE THE AUTOETHNOGRAPHIC CALL I kne w my personal reasons for being drawn to autoethnography but I hoped that my in depth interviews and participant observation at the conference would shed even motivation for taking this particular narrative turn. When I asked interv iewee s my first research social science methodology. I looked forward to my interview with Laura Ellingson as her focus is on autoethnography as a tool in health communication. Although through the years I had talked to her briefly at other professional conferences, this time we set a definite time and rees, one in creative Non Fiction and one in Communication. She also has a graduate certificate in book, Communicating in the Clinic (2005). Currently, she is an Associat e Professor of Communication (although she was an Assistant Professor at the time of the interview) at Santa Clara University. idea that your voice could be p art of your story was actually in a feminist methodology
51 qualitative thesis about women with breast cancer, but I openly acknowledged that my interest in cancer research had c ome from my own experiences of having cancer. I had osteogenic sarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer, when I was an undergraduate. So When I came to the University of So uth Florida for my Ph.D., I ended up taking experienced. It reminded me very much of being in a feminist class where you realize That very first class I really started exploring. It was also a little scary, but it was very exciting and --actually --one other thing happened. as well. You should never i gnore your body, but my body is particularly difficult to right femur and my right thigh. They rebuilt my leg using cadaver bones and metal, and muscle grafts and bone g rafts, and skin grafts. I had terrible osteoarthritis and other problems in my knee. One time right before a meeting with Carolyn, I was trying a new --I was just in tears and I was running late for my appointment with Carolyn --I thought she was going to be angry at me for being late.
52 I walked into her office and just started crying and crying. Carolyn shut the door, and she just held me, and I cried until I could finally get out how unkind this doctor was to me. We just had this amazing conversation about my work and how much my body is present in my fieldwork and how hard it is to have to continue to deal with chronic pain, which is very depressing, too. So I c ried with her, talked to her about what had happened, how painful it was and how really it influenced my understanding of the cancer center because my own experience as a patient was so fresh. By the end of that discussion, she was my advisor and then the proverbial world opened up. I started reading everything she gave me, and because m y sort of calling, or where I really connected with autoethnography, was in using my experiences and narratives of those experiences to connect to the ones I was narra tives about communicating with their physicians. other patterns that would emerge within my research. Serious physical pain and/or chronic trauma often precedes the writing o short lived distress, these hurts are ongoing, often spanning years. Those experiencing the pain also experience the trauma of failed, or even destructive, communication practices. This miscommunication may tak e a variety of forms including feeling misunderstood, stigmatized, judged, unheard, patronized, shamed, or one of the most
53 passive yet painful communication responses: being dismissed as Patricia Geist story demonstrates. Even though Patricia Ge ist approach to health communication. In her book Communicating Health (2002), she and her co authors use personal narratives th roughout the work to describe the lived experience of illness, trauma, and end of life issue, and she also teaches qualitative published works include three books: Communicating Health: Personal, Political, and Cultural Complex ities, co authored with Eileen Berlin Ray and Barbara Sharf (200 2 ); Courage of Conviction: Women's Words, Women's Wisdom, co edited with Linda Perry (1997); and Negotiating the Crisis: DRGs and the Transformation of Hospitals coauthored with Monica Hardest y (1992). She is a professor in the School of Communication at San Diego State University and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication with a focus on health communication. I would say that the first time that I put myself really into a piece in first person was in the book that I edited with Linda Perry, I co experie nced seven miscarriages, three before my baby girl and four after her, and I did not receive very much communication that was helpful or healing or acknowledging of my emotions. I also experienced incredibly dismissive sorts of communication; people said
54 over again. Everybody has good intentions, but they were communicating in ways that were very much not acknowledging when what I wanted to talk about was the baby: the names that we had planned, the day it would have been born, how old it would have been by now, what it would have been like to celebrate an upcoming holiday --like how the baby would have been at Christmas --or whatever. No one would let you talk about that even who had experienced miscarriage. I found over and over again the hopelessness t hat women and men felt surrounding miscarriage. So, I have my story in that chapter and it Like Laura, Patricia experienced repeated physical trauma and attendant emotional upheaval. In her case, however, it was not health professionals who were skills caused he r even more suffering. Furthermore, when Patricia interviewed women and their partners who had experienced miscarriages, she immediately identified with their hopelessness. Her intention in sharing her first person narrative was to transmute her and othe --unlike what she had been able to receive. Since that time, she has dedicated herself to teaching others how to communicate more empathetically and effectively in these types of circ umstances.
55 While physical trauma is often the catalyst bringing scholars to the autoethnographic form, there are many dimensions of suffering, including interpersonal pain. With many people getting divorces, not to mention the inevitable non marital dis solutions, a majority of people can identif relationship. A break up often taxes even the most adept interpersonal communicator, and this is the emotional struggle that brought Elissa to write her first autoeth nography. partnered and she and her mate, Jay Baglia (who also has a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of South Florida), are both Medical Educators at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Pennsylvania. At the time of the interview, she was an Assistant Professor in Communication Studies at San Jose State University. Her doctoral dissertation about hospice volunteers was ethnographic and became the book Communicating at the End of Life: Finding Magic in the Mundane (2006). It was fall of 1998 and it was my first semester in the Ph.D. program. Art signed up for. He announced that the final project would be a personal narrative about a what the sort of expectations of that would be. I happened to be having a lot of issues in my marriage at that time --pretty serious o nes --and whenever I was trying to think of what kind of relationship story I would write, there was really only one that was in the
56 two different versions. One was writ ten more like a novel and Norm Denzin published that in Studies of Symbolic Interaction. But he had seen Art and I perform it at a conference and Denzin --can you make it more perfo you know adding stage directions and sound cues, and finding a way to integrate the analysis part of it into the text without citations. So, for the passages that were analysis, my main character is speaking to her interpersonal communication class. She speaks relat ionship at the same time, which really reflects my experiences. Because by the time I taught interpersonal communication, I was in the midst of separation and then the divorce came the following year. It was funny having such a tumultuous marriage while speaking to these bright eyed young people who idealized the state of marriage and those sorts of things. to make sense of the many poignant issues related to a tumultuous bre ak up. She explores communication problems between the couple and others and reveals the many complexities of relationships in general. Because all the autoethnographers I interviewed have been in academe for a large part of their lives, they are teachi ng while at the same time dealing with their own private
57 pain. Elissa writes of how hard it is to talk about the dissolution of her marriage to remember having that same innocence of youth. The classroom is an overt teaching arena, but also can be where teachers learn interesting things about themselves from their students. Such is the case with Lesa Lockford, Associate Professor of Theatre and Film in the American Cult ure Studies Department at Bowling Green State University, who studied with Ron Pelias at Southern Illinois University. Lesa talks about her foray into the world of personal narrative and autoethnographic practices. the first autoethnography I did because personal narrative and autoethnography kind of blur in my mind. Nevertheless, I think the first piece that I actually got published was related to a student in a class who journaled about a very bad relationship in her personal life. I remember reading this very nave journal and thinking how could she be so stupid --and then, of course, it dawned on me that I had a similar event in my own life where I was effectively date raped. Basically it made me sense of herself at that age, trying to put together this understanding between myself and my student. One of my key findings is that successful autoethnographers must be willing to look at their own prejudices and assumptions. In the story above, Lesa shares how judgmental she is toward her student, when in fact that student mirrored back to her a
58 similar experience. Her doctoral dissertation (in Communication) explores multipl e and conflicting views related to feminis m, femininity, and embodiment. In a similar way, s he reflective book, Performing Femininity: Rewriting Gender Identity (2004). Like Lesa, Tami Spry also studied performance in the doctoral program at Sothern Illinois University. Tami is currently a Professor of Communication Studies at St. Cloud University focusing on issues related to gender violence, mental illness loss, and shamanic healing rit uals. She has published numerous articles featuring autoethnography and is currently working on a book, Paper and Skin: Writing and Performing the Autoethnographic Life She describes what brought her to autoethnography. Like bell hooks, I ca me to all of this from a space of pain and a place of pain and as hooks says, she came to theorizing with a yearning to make the pain stop, a yearning to move through that pain and make the pain have meaning. My first autoethnography, and I would look at i t as autoethnography now, was a description of being sexually assaulted, and in that [piece] the personal difficulty of dealing with something like that is being in p the ways in which I was dealt with in the system at that time, and the ways in which the person who I was dating at that time reacted to me. Then I wrote a narrative called mother. This kind of research [autoethnography] allows flesh to flesh engagement with
59 asure when bodies come together, and those spaces of pain and pleasure are spaces of critical engagement. For me those things are most important for us to articulate in the academy. As Tami concludes, a utoethnography is a vehicle that allows provocative sc holarship to come to the forefront in a format to discuss the previously undiscussed, at least in academe. Similar to Lesa and Tami, Carol Rambo explores issues of sexuality, the body, gender roles, including taboo topics, that in traditional scholarship are usually written in a clinical form, in the rare case they are addressed. Carol co edited the book, Everyday Sexism in the Third Millennium (1997), with Barbara Zsembik and Joe R. Feagin and is currently the editor of the journal, Symbolic Interaction She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at University of Florida completed her M.A. in Sociology with Carolyn Ellis at the University of South Florida, and now is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Memphis. Carol did a qualit ative M.A. thesis in 1987 on the topic of erotic dancing, and she has written some of the most cited articles in autoethnographic studies. through graduate school. I became fascinated with what was going on in striptease dance bars and I felt like I contained this secret and wanted to get that secret out. I felt listen to a dancer right? But I get caught up in my relationship with Carolyn Ellis and
60 another one of those empowering things to be able to write about those experiences. Secrets that you have to keep that you then have permission to come to the surface --that was probably the start of my working on some personal healing from all of that. y typifies many elements that are common to what brings people to write autoethnographies: pain but often secret or taboo pain that has been squelched. In general, autoethnography is a venue for people to discuss their experiences with issues that make p e --either physically, morally, emotionally, or mentally. In the books, Ethnographically Speaking (Bochner and Ellis, 2002) and Composing Ethnography (Ellis and Bochner, 1996), chapters include sections about emotional upheaval and tens ion in relationships, gender identity transformation, homosexuality, addiction, sexual abuse, mental retardation, eating disorders, racial/ethnic/religious prejudice, and serious illness. While many of these writings include descriptions of how authors dea lt with their pain, they also often provide solace and way s to move toward personal healing. The comfort of reading autoethnographies comes from the --similar to what Patricia Geist experienced with the dismissi ve communication regarding her miscarriages or the cruelty that Laura Ellingson experienced from a doctor regarding her cancer. These are the stories that need to be shared in a non clinical way with the inclusion of emotions, too often a rarity in tradit ional scholarship. Larry Russell contends that emotions are what
61 autoethnography. One of the things that happens in performance studies is that we aware of how texts are constructed as performances, and so a lot of the texts in performance studies have a performative emphasis, meaning that the performer is extremely present. Most of us write our own work and much of the work that we pe rform with yourself because you have to acknowledge your presence to the audience. I had performance training starting with grad school, so I was used to writing a bout myself documented tradition in which we use our embodied experience to explore different issues. I knew about ethnography because I had done some graduate work in the the first assignment was to describe the site of the place where we were going t o do research. So I started writing this description and, as I wrote, it all c ame pouring out in what I now know as autoethnography. I got a tremendous response from him in class and there were other assignments, and I began to write other things and the n I wrote myself into the dissertation in that way.
62 But I really had not read autoethnography, so I was scared about doing this form of scholarship and about my committee thinking that there was enough scholarship. So I tried to develop two voices in th e writing. In retrospect, I realize now one voice was forth between the two. I wrote storytelling, autoethnography, then stepped out giving background information, tell ing some of the history and doing a literature review and those sorts of things. So in the dissertation, I wrote in two fonts. I used italics for autoethnography and regular font for everything else. When I defended it before my committee, they basicall y said this is wonderful work --now, just use the italics and get rid of everything else. I was astonished by that! They said the only criticism we have is that you need to drop all need for you to have two voices, and it was a wonderful affirmation too. I was just stunned. It was like I mean it was really embarrassing because when I met Carolyn Ellis I had not read her work. I knew her name but I had not read her work. When I met her, she gave me her book, Final Negotiations -this is everything I want. Having met Carolyn and Art, I suddenly realized ther e was this body of literature which I desperately needed to read, but I was just felt like I had a really kind committee that understood that this was the most appro priate way to deal with my dissertation.
63 The n to find that this [autoethnography] was indeed a tradition, not long lived, but a tradition, well, then I started reading like crazy: Art, Carolyn, Laurel --and you know these are my people. It was quite won ignored in academia. Larry is currently an Associate Professor of Speech, Rhetoric and Performanc e Studies at Hofstra University (at the time of the interview, he was an Assistant Professor) as well as an active actor and director. I found it fascinating that so many of the up and com ing autoethnographers had a prior background in theater and performance, yet Larry articulates the link very well at the beginning of his story. Another fascinating link is that S imilarly, Chris Poulos earned an M.A. in Re ligious Studies. basically came down to was philosophy ends at god, and theology picks up where they many of my interviewees dealt with issues related to the body, Chris experienced a different kind of pain --perhaps emotional, perhaps spiritual, or maybe some combination of the two. Chris Poulos almost quit graduate school bef autoethnography, a What happened to me was I went to graduate school and I landed in a place
64 program. I took an Interpersonal Communication course and had to read nothing but said, yeah. What I was reading was quantitative social science research and it was to do this? How am I going to make it through graduate school if this whole thing is I was literally on t was a revelation to me and it was the thing that changed my life as a writer and as an academic and gave me hope. From my dissertation was just a beautiful experience. Everything just fell into place. and something else, I just wouldn career or not career, I would still be doing this because the power of it is so great. When you see people at places like this conference [International Qualitative Inquiry Congress] responding deep ly, both emotionally and intellectually, as if that were t was just a made up thing by a guy who was trying to come up with some philosophical endpoint doing a philosophical exercise. To me, you just have to do what you love.
65 Up until I interviewed Chris, I surmised that physical and sometimes emotional pain wa s the catalyst for most autoethnographic writing, but I began to acknowledge that there are many kinds of suffering He was despondent and ready to give up his doctoral studies before he read Casing a Promised Land: The Autobiography of an Organizational Detective as Cultural Ethnographer (Goodall 1994). In this book, among other topics, Goodall argues for the n eed for more interpretive ethnography in the social sciences and the work challenges the in the title. Moses had nothing on Chris at that burning bush moment when he However, for many scholars, autoethnography does represent a way to exist more holistically. It provides a method that permits the mind, t he body, the heart, and the soul to exist simultaneously. About writing autoethnographically, Chris concludes: ...what really seems to come out is my emotional self which is something that I think my culture, my upbringing, and my life taught me to completely ignore experienced this is I grew up Episcopalian ----so it was a revelation to me actually that I could write evocatively, emotionally
66 bleed, sometimes sweat, sometimes cry, onto the page, and sometimes laugh also. Ma ny people pursuing the study of autoethnography come to i t later in life --after the Latin vocare for people who are considering or on the cusp of this calling --I would say it is a calling -not easy. But it is powerful, and joyful, and painful, and agonizing, and ex citing and interviewed, or heard speak at the conference, discovering narrative scholarship is indeed a saving grace. For example, Carla Corrotto originally had a co veted position as an architect but was extremely unhappy with her chosen vocation. She is much happier now that she is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice. Ca into autoethnography: want to get up in the morning. I hated the places where I worked and the people that I worked with --
67 architecture and be great. So, I went to a history of architecture and art program here and other places in the Midwest. I happened to go to The Ohio State University and went to their department wa nting to study something about feminism and architecture, and they said you might want to study sociology. So I applied, got accepted, I enrolled, and my second quarter I took a course with Professor Laurel Richardson, and I thought everybody did narrative dissertation. It was a great experience writing an autoethnography with Laurel, and the committee was fantastic. One finding with all of my interviewees is that each p erson was greatly influenced by at least one autoethnographic pioneer Without exception, all of the up and coming autoethnographers I interviewed point to the pivotal influence of a specific mentor. In Carl it was Laurel Richardson, in Chris s case it was Bud Goodall and for Mary Weems it was Norman Denzin. Elissa was mentored by Art Bochner, and Carolyn Ellis influenced Laura, Carol and Larry. Still, many of the second generation autoethnographers express that reading several of these effect. To that end, wh at may be just as important is what was happening on a larger scale historically. Each of the first generation becoming part of a substantial body of literatur e that would influence the social sciences. As discussed in providing a context for the development of approaches such as autoethnography.
68 Moreover, another term for the crisis was in troduced earlier with the pub lication and popularization of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions ( 1996). with the blurring of a paradigm and the consequent loose in discussing how paradigms/ideas/social constructs must morph and undergo replacement. While he was initially alluding to the world of science, his theory of was also appropriate for the optimum climate for change in social sciences. I am always amazed at how historically groups of writers come together in taverns or cafes to discuss their craft and ambitions, but Kuhn would simply describe it as the natural course of paradigmatic d evelopment. I think of the romantic poets, Keats, Shelley, Byron and Coleridge who frequently gathered in taverns to discuss poetry and the Beat poets, young Kerouac, Ginsb e rg and Burroughs who had no idea how their work would influence future writers. I also recall Dorothy Parker in Manhattan, and her friends of the Algonquin Round Table. Similarly, in the case of autoethnography, it symposiums conferences and sometimes b ars and cafs. Eventually they began to read later exchanges through the mail and e mail would continue to bind the group. While my generation has had the benefit of mentors, journals, handbooks, graduate programs and con f erences as aids, these folks had only their internal longings for a different kind of scholarship, and of course, each other.
69 Some would say autoethnography was spawned by a paradigm shift or historical factors. In Chapter One, I discuss ed the genesis of personal writing in North America, the crisis of representation in the social sciences, and the etiology of autoethnography. That section includes comprehensive details on how all of these factors influenced the work of autoethnographers. I n the follo wing pages, I try to capture the first person voices of the autoethnographic pioneers who addr during this process. When I attended the Third International Qualitative Inquiry Conference in 2007, I attende om how they entered the world of personal narrative. The first generation autoethnographers stories are so comprehensive, that I choose to include very few of my own narrative comments. I believe it would dilute the evident synergy among them that I was able to witness and also might distract from the impact of their revelations (for a more complete rendition of oda: Talking Denzin et al. 2007, pp. 229 267 in Ethical Futures in Qualitative Research ). ********* I double check the room number and the conference program. Check. I take a seat in the front
70 ten minutes, the hall is standing room only, and I have to minimize my space and recording paraphernalia as a courtesy to other interested participants at the conference. The room is packed as Carolyn Ellis begins. all of you, know these characters. This is Ron Pelias, Art Bochner, Laurel Richardson, Bud Goodall, and of course Norm Denzin, who put the weekend together. Stacy Holman ng moderator and panel member. After I double check my two tape recorders and ensure that they are indeed running and picking up sound, I allow my eyes to roam the crowd. Most of the younger attendees in the crowd sit straight with notepads in hand, preparing to take notes The place is packed and more chairs are brought in while floor sitters gather closer together to make room for others. A few people peek in the door and shake their heads sadly when they see there is no available space --not even to stand. I feel fortunate that I have a prim e and talking about personal narratives. Q experience with writing personal narratives or autoethnography. For example, what was the first personal narrative you wrote? When and why did you write it? What was your
71 experience Now, panelists get to pick any part of this question that they want to address. Norm Denzin, the director of the conference, begins to answer the question. His clothes, sandal clad feet, tousled gray hair, and demeanor are casual but when he speaks, his voice is all authority. gets it into the literature as a formal term, as a formal methodology. So, in that sense we are talking about a genre that is twenty years old. And so each of us came into that genre before or after 1987 for our history. What has been critical to each one of our histories has been our relationship with each o ther. My particular entrance into the genre is at sort of two levels. First, I came through sociology in the sixties, not being taught anything about qualitative methodology. We would read anthropology accounts, and some sociological accounts, about pa rticipant observation. But to think that sociologists would write in the first person was completely taboo. When I wrote what became The Alcoholic Self and The Recovering Alcoholic I decided that I was going to have to be in the project because I was th e person doing the observing during the ethnography. But I was just going to --freedom to --bo oks. So that was sort of a disguised entry into ethnography written through the personal, but using the genre of the day to hide behind various accounts. And I used the theoretical apparatus of the book to hide myself.
72 It was after that book that a num ber of us at the Midwest and at the SSSI (Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction) meetings started doing sessions on postmodern motherhood. For four different reasons, with four different relationships with difficult mothers. But we decided we were going to do first person narratives about working our way through our childhoods and our adulthoods through our mothers. So, we started doing these sessions on mothers. I was the only male on the panel, so I wrote about my mother and they wrote about th eir mothers and they were all being mothers themselves. Out of that came two or three papers --built on these was calle personal narrati ve written through the autoethnographic was a legitimate form. stepped with my mother, dancing with the old Victrola radio in the dining room. That a phone call because she excluded everybody in the family from her death. You know, in the personal narrative there is a way to recover my o wn relationship to myself, and I went through Carolyn and she was at the moment her mother died, and I started my two stepping piece where I was when my mother died.
73 Y ou can see that this was a deeply personal and political project for each of us, and we empower each other and in my mind the lesson, one of the lessons, is this group that clarifies how this disparate group began to work together to accomplish more than they could possibly accomplish alone. They talked and wrote about tough topics such as addiction, recovery, strained relationships, e time, one of the primary catalysts is a dissatisfaction Laurel Richardson addresses the issues of selves and h er experience of personal and professional schism: I did divide myself. I wrote poetry under the name of Laurel Richardson and I wrote academic stuff under the name of Laurel Walum, and then after awhile Laurel Walum Richardson and Laurel Richardson Walum, but there was a real division. At one point I dec ided wait --this is not healthy --this is not healthy for me or So, my first real autoethnography was when I was president of the North Central Sociological Association and I wrote a piece c may have read that. It was epiphanous for me to be in a position of power. The second time I felt that strong position of power was when I was in a Couch Stone in Des Moines ce of power I felt was when I was the distinguished
74 loss. I was very concerned t hat I reached people, and I still am, who have that kind of about the reclaiming of the possibility to return. But those became a tradition where I really wanted to say something as an entitled s response is her awareness that she was in a place of power in the academy and in a position to wield some clout politically. While many pursuing other professions, Laurel knew she w as perfectly poised to help make a difference. personal and the academic, a topic he addresses in relation to his first autoethnographic writing. Although his early communication education included extensive quantitative analyses, these days Art is a full fledged proponent of qualitative studies that defy Cartesian dualism. When Art begins to speak, his deep voice seems serious but he opens his response with a light hearted quip. frills and direct response: Academically speaking, the first autoethnography that has my name attached to it is a piece that Norman published in Qualitative Inquiry
75 n NCA convention in 1995. I had been invited by the then president of NCA to be on a panel and my assigned task was to talk about social theory. At the time, I was reading and heavily statement that if you compare what has been accomplished in the realm of social justice between the social novelists and the social theorists you come out decidedly on the side of the social novelists. So, in presenting my own autoethnographic story abo meaning in relation to the divided self of the academy was a way through a story to academy as a result of this split between the academic an d the personal. One of the nicest experiences I had in relation to this particular piece was an e Massachusetts from another field who wrote to me and laid out what was evoke d for him by that piece. He had retired early from his position as a sociologist, and this particular piece touched a nerve with regard to that. And the concluding line of this letter was an opportunity to bring traumatizing. So all of our colleagues,
76 job for over twenty years, and I would not call the environments in which I taught abusive per se I have had the joy of teaching self expressive writing, discussing literature, humanities, and poetry and getting paid for it, all the while enjoying liberal vacations to pursue my own artistic endeavors. To me, that is a wonderful way to make a within the classroom is often not reflected in the infrastructure of the institution as a whole, nor within its conferences, academic journals, or tenure practices and I think this is the hierarchal humiliation to which Carol may be alluding. It also makes sense that having to squelch parts of -either personal or institutional as Art contends. While the process of getting a doctorate is humbling and rigorous, I suspect it is such as those in law, medicine, or accounting. However, what I think does matter, is that once academics have earned positions of power, as Laurel referred to, that we use our c lout to make the ivory tower a cozier place to live. All of the first generation autoethnographers are affecting change in momentous ways but their roads have not been easy, as Ron Pelias points out. He is the next pioneer to address the crowd. Ron begin s his response with a bit of a furrow on his forehead, like he needs to get something off his chest or mind before he can relax. kind of need to draw some distinction be tween personal narrative and autoethnography. I had been working with personal narrative and so forth I guess since the late seventies, or
77 studies with personal narrative. But one of the things that was interesting about that takes on --which is to try and use the self to help explicate culture. So, I think the first piece that I wound up writing that I would say would make a That piece I presented at a pre conference workshop with Carolyn Ellis and was lucky enough to have both Carolyn and Buddy give me some feedback on it So I raced home and did the revisions, and I sent it out to Communication Education This particular piece, really what it does, is tracks one day in the life of the academic. It tries to look at how much criticism we are involved in, in our day in an d day out living. So, when I sent this off to the editor, he and a nu mber of really wonderfully eloquent justifications for autoethnography had thought that was going to be the end of it. t some people to respond to that nice little forum to see different people trying to make some kind of sense of that -trying
78 and as I tend to my audi o tasks, I note that the audience is still riveted. We are all academics in one form or another, either students, professors, or independent scholars and this is a forum we have waited the entire conference to attend. As I double check my recording device next -I just love to be involved in this project as Carolyn begins speaking. F inal Negotiations which I started back in 1985, was really the context from which everything else started to emerge. The other significant thing for me was writing rt of the longer book, Final Negotiations Art and Laurel finally convinced me to take that piece out of Final Negotiations and publish it separately. I then of course sent it to Norman Denzin who published it in The Sociological Quarterly and that was at that because that was published, and then a sociological analysis of that piece was published afterwards by Sheryl Kleinman and helped legitimate having my story in the journal. My nex friend of mine and that was published in Symbolic Interaction Andy Fontana heard me
79 give it at a conference and then asked for it so publishing it was pretty easy. That piece got publ my work was getting out there. And then when Qualitative Inquiry began p important to have people out there providing feedback and sources and places to When Carolyn finishes, the applause is loud and sustained. So many of the people I interviewed shared that her book Final Negotiations was their introduction to the world of autoethnography. But one of the most important points I learned from Carolyn is that community is essential, particularly in endeavors where ground bre aking scholarship is involved. The final response to the first question begins as H. L. the floor. en carry journals that were in my field. One day I received a note from the library that said there was an issue of something called Communication Monographs that I might want to look at that had come in. So, I went there and there was this article calle analysis via narrative that I had always wanted to do but I had never seen an opening before so I started writing.
80 I sent a paper off about a computer software startup company to none other than Nick Trujillo, and to my surprise they accepted the paper. Actually I should also say this: have know n I was in ethnography until I was told , So, anyway, that paper became the first part of a book called Casing a Promised Land, that book to every academic press in America and it was rejected by every one of them. I had pretty much given up on ever bei ng able to publish it and then I got a phone call one afternoon from Ken Withers the editor at Southe rn Illinois University Press, who said, bu t you know Penguin Press just b ought the paperback rights to a book we published ten years ago called which was about the sexual problems of literary men, your book that n As Bud concluded speaking and the panel continued to answer other questions, I was still focused on how people came to, or were drawn to, autoethnographic writing. Is it the personal, the emotional, the altruistic possibilities of the work that draws people from all over the world to t his room? This is only the Third International Qualitative Inquiry Conference and it has over 800 participants from many different countries. And in this large, jam packed room with no space for one more body, I sit on the front row
81 and thank my lucky sta rs that somehow I found my way down the autoethnographic road as well. My Story As I read the words she has written, questions swirl through my mind with the force of a Category 4 hurricane. Although I am generally calm and quite rational, I feel l ike a woman possessed by powerful and disobedient airstreams of thought and emotion. My eyes focus again on the words she has written, and I am filled with a combination of envy, admiration, and intense curiosity. The rush of thoughts culminates into a tri ad of pressing questions: (1) Who is this woman? (2) What is this work that she is doing? and (3) When can I meet her face to face? A knock at the bedroom door startles me out of my spiral of cerebral inquiries. More persistent knocking and my husban ---are you I gather my wits and words. in a minute babe --make a quick foray into the bathroom. After rudimentary flushing and hand washing, I tentatively peek into the mirror. I try not to stare too hard, nor judge myself too harshly. Still I make a rather depressing appraisal: middle age is not my best friend. The new nowhere, the nagging questions about her are back without invitation. The hurricane
82 questio ns whirl around me again: Who is this woman? What is she doing? and When can I meet her face to face? My husband, Jim, is no Emeril but he knows the best take out restaurants in town. As I descend the stairs I see his big grin as he gestures proudly toward two beech wood Marsala, and for moi the infamous Sweet Sausage Linguine, compliments of Chef Antoine him even more, if that is possible. How can I not love a man who (a) is a terrible cook but knows the best take out restaurants in Soho (b) knows how to arrange the pasta artfully on our fine china plates (c) forgets the silverware but remembers the burgundy linen napkins and (d) most importantly, lights candles that illuminate every inch of our tiny downtown condo? As we get caught up on each of our days and e njoy our rich pasta, Jim asks me a question that sobers me up despite a glass of Italian Merlot. ---he asks. Rarely am I speechless, but I hesitate. I know the aut how to explain to him something that I am just beginning to understand about her and this kind of writing. Still, my soulmate deserves to be privy to what I know, and the important effect this woman is having on my life and pot entially our future.
83 but she writes novels --academic, too. I mean, I understand what is going on here. I left my job as a tenured English professor because I was looking for something else -some field I could study and earn a Ph .D. in but not have it be so left brained and...heartless. This woman is doing something very different and ground give him a little smile and a chance to respond. He starts, tentatively, with a question, l I nod vigorously.
84 then tell me more. Everything. Start at the beginnin g. Details. And, then I have some For the remainder of the evening I try to explain to Jim what little I understand and then branch out to explore the poss ibilities of seriously pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of South Florida (USF). Knowing how rigorous, expensive, and time intensive such a pursuit might be, I decide I need to talk to the graduate director of the program at USF to discuss the details. When I call Mark Neumann, he explains that he would be happy to meet me in person and then asks if I will be attending the upcoming National Communication Association (NCA) meeting in Atlanta next month. When I tell him no, he encourages me to consider th e trip as it would be the perfect place to meet him, the faculty, and other graduate students from USF. Additionally, it would give me a just one small problem. My S tory Continues I have spent the afternoon making my legendary homemade spaghetti, one of the few meals I cook well. It is late October of 2001 and the condo smells of ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and a hint of onion and garlic. Our tiny cafe table is set w ith the good china and cloth napkins, the living room is lit with candles, and instrumental piano music plays softly. Tonight I have quite a few developments to discuss with Jim and also a new recent terrorist attack of September 11th I have an intense need to live more purposefully. With both of my
85 parents now deceased and my children in college, I feel that now is the time to re assess my life. The tricky part is that Jim and I have only been married for eight months, and now I have something to discuss with him that could affect my life in a dramatic way for the next five to six years, and I suspect impact his life almost as much. I hear the front door unlock. Jim comes in carrying his bul ky briefcase and looks a little tired but his eyes light up as he assesses the coziness of the living room and the aroma of his favorite meal. -kitchen opening up the lids of the pots that are simmering on the stove. even better for the firm. Anyway, what about both a glass of wine and we move outside to watch the last of the sunset. Jim nods and seems very happy for me. He has been worried about me especially
86 and guilty when I spend any money that is not for the basics. Still, I have to broach this topic. aw hile on the phone. He asked me if I was going to NCA -the National Communication really said it would be a great way to meet him in person, and Carolyn Ellis -you know the professor I want to study with who wrote Final Negotiations? Also I could meet her husband, Art Bochner, who is well known in the field, too. Oh, and I could talk to other Jim e chance to see if you really want to pursue this autoethnography business. So, when is the -this year the meeting happens to be the week of my figure out a really good gift for you so how about a plane ticket to Atlanta for yo ur --you know -we can do that -member of NCA so I can attend, and then there is the cost of the conference --I know we
87 been a sad time for you lately, and I know you have been I jump up from my chair and throw my arms around him. I feel so lucky to have met him. After our hug, I head toward the kitchen to toast the garlic bread and toss the salad. Jim follows me and, after asking if he can help, his tone turns serious. e going good inquiries seven years ago become the focus of the next chapter of my dissertation. He wanted to know how to define and evaluate autoethnography, and I promised him I would try to get the answers. regarding these issues and also various views from the first generation as to what
88 CHAPTER FOUR DEFINING AND EVALUAT ING AUTOETHNOGRAPHY I n this Chapter, I expl ore the topics of defining, evaluating, and teaching he first generation are brought in to inform the co nversation. T he pioneers who w rote autoethnography have published much resist ove rly restrictive or prescriptive guidelines, each proffers useful criteria. In the latter part of the chapter, the issue of teaching autoethnography is addressed, particularly when it involves undergraduate students who have been greatly influenced by technological developments that influence their writing. Defining Autoethnography Role of Self, Culture a nd Theory One of the first aspects of my overarching research question is how my from a historical standpoint, how personal scholarship evolved, and the etiology of the contextualizes the term as well as discusses some variations. However, my goal in the and
89 Self and O thers re only writing about their own experiences and never connect them to either a research site, social movement, or larger context Other interviewees insist on au toethnography to be present in specific way s. component of autoethnography but want the writer to tie the work to the larger issues of culture, community, or politics. Yet, one contentious question is : Some argue that t it the multitudes are contained (see Be rger and Luckmann, 1966), thus, automatically included. Conversely, Nick Trujillo cultural groups a nd if we lose the others, if we only write about ourselves and our own Like Nick, in this case, Tami Spry also focuses on the E thnography is a critical enterprise where the historicity of who we are intersects with one another. A utoethnography should use a story to illuminate larger social issues where the micro and the macro come toget her and illuminate one another. If I talk ab out my navel, if I gaze at my navel, it should be for the purpose of talking about the ways in which the color of that navel, the power structures of the color of the skin of
90 my navel speaks to, and about, the power relations in larger social issues. So, f or me, pulling that into larger social issues is tantamount for autoethnography. Nick continues to say that it is misguided when people write just about their own the Nick shares that for his book (2004), he interviewed fifty relatives and for another work in progress about dog culture, he interviewed two hundred people. For him, authentic autoethnography cannot ignor e the assessment about this question is : work is hard -Some scholars, such as Nick, express the more traditional view that autoethnography should alw ays include a designated site and interviews of others. This type of approach falls more Certainly this is one viable assessment of what constitutes autoethnography; howeve r, i t is certainly not the only one or necessarily the most favored. Other I ssues of Theory A t the core of is primarily an art or a social science method. A 2005 issue of the Jou rnal of Contemporary Ethnography discusses this topic in great detail. In one article, Art Bo chner, 2005, p. 434 ). In the same article, Carolyn Ellis
91 shows struggle, passion, embodied life, and the collaborative creation of sense making in situations in which people have to cope with dire circumstances and loss of mea (Ellis and Bochner, 2005, p. 433). She uses the backdrop of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina as the type of event that will not be served well by traditional ethnographies, or 73). Another point considered is how autoethnography can be employed as a political tool that fosters to lose sight of the politics of autoethnography. Analysis and theorizing on the pages of 436). Echoing this same concern in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography issue is DeLysa Burnier a professor of polit ical science at Ohio University. Burnier states: I also worry that by classifying autoethnography into two distinct genres (e.g., analytic and evocative), a series of gendered dichotomies heart/mind, emotional/rational, literary poetic/analytical, personal/scholarly, descriptive/ theoretical will be reinscribed within autoethnography. I am not suggesting ven the way knowledge has been socially constructed within the social sciences. Personal, emotional, literary poetic, and descriptive knowledge historically has been constructed as feminine, whereas scholarly, rational, analytical, and theoretical knowledg e has been constructed as masculine. These are, of course,
92 the very gendered knowledge constructions that Krieger, Richardson, and Ellis sought to erase when they first made the turn toward autoethnography. (2005, p. 416). Similarly, second generation auto ethnographer Larry Russell shares his belief that a to heal the mind body split so we can live within our fuller embodied experience again, not just our Taking a middle g round stance, Patricia Geist Martin is less concerned about issues of sites and interviews but rather for her, theory. She states: to ta ke it somewhere --to allow me to see the connections theoretically. For example, look at Lisa Tillman theoretically to eating disorders and communication -only view is I want it to be beginning, it could be at the end. In a similar fashion, Elissa Foster concludes that for a personal narrative to constitute e doing Elissa also advocates for autoethnographic writing to differ substantiall y from other creative art forms. She continues:
93 I think what has not been made as clear, or prob conversation, is how autoethnography fits within a larger scholarly enterprise of inquiry into human life. How does it contribute something different from what a novelist would contribute, a poet, a musician, an artist, a performer or a playwright will contribute? For me there has to be a difference, otherwise who taught me qualitative methods yesterday that I like to read her writing as a body of work, not as a single piece because I comeback strike s a chord with me and brings to light much of what I think the autoethnographic pioneers have advocated: promote quality scholarship but do not impose form Evaluating Autoethnograph y First Generation Guidance boring, tedious, and unproductive...For most of my academic life --almost 30 years --I 2000, p. 267). Art studied and taught quantitative methods at one time early in his career and has fought the good fight In fact, all the first generation were s teeped in hard core traditi onal academic expertise long before they came to autoethnographic endeavors. As such, their awareness of the demands of
94 scholastic and artistic rigor is clear in all of their writing. Carolyn, Art, Ron, Laurel, Norm, and Bud all were traditionally traine d in either sociology or communication Only later did their work with personal narratives flourish. T heir decades of dedication to the promulgation of narrative and autoethnography make it possible for people like me to study it in a Ph.D. program. Whil the exponential growth of the field brings with it new concerns regarding future evaluation of autoethnography. Furthermore, w hen I reread article, I noticed that even he agrees on some general principles that are highly useful in evaluating autoethnography. These include: abundant, concrete detail...structurally complex narratives, stories told in a temporal framework that rotates between past and present reflecting the nonlinear process o f memory work -the curve of time....a tale of two selves...and demanding a standard of ethical self consciousness and...a story that moves me, my heart and belly as well as my head. ( 2000, pp. 270 271) In a similar fashion, a side from models of infl uential autoethnography such as Final Negotiations (Ellis, 1995) and Casing a Promised Land (Goodall, 1989), other books by pioneers in the field di scuss A few are: Handbook for Qualitative Research (Denz in and Lincoln, 1994, 2000, 2005 ), Auto/Ethnography (Reed Danahay, 1997), Writing the New Autoethnography (Goodall, 2000), The Ethnographic I (Ellis, 2004) and articles by Laurel Richardson (2000) and Art Bochner (2000). Each of these works has impact ed the way that autoethnography is evaluated and judged.
95 I think back to a piece in Composing Ethnography where Carolyn and Art have a dialogue about what they perceive is effective ethnography In this section, they discuss to what extent autoethnography should be evaluated: by stan dards of traditional scholarship, by literary principles, or by its utility to reach and affect a mainstream audience (1996, pp. 24 31) However, my favorite evaluation, was published in Qualitative Inquiry and is titl Ethnographic Sh 277). In this work, it is clear that she does not to writing autoethnography, rather she advocates looking for specific attributes when assessing narr ative ethnographies. This is what she hopes to find in a narrative: I want the two sides of my brain to be engaged simultaneously or for the text to call forth one side and then the other, back and forth, until thinking and feeling merge...I privilege evoc ation over cognitive contemplation... [But] ...If an author has trouble writing evocative narrative...then maybe it would be best to write in a more traditional narrative (273 274) latant acknowledgment that sometimes it is better if a writer does not try to write narratively, depending on his or her skills. While most people would regard her as an international proponent of personal writing and autoethnography, she clearly believes that it is not an appropriate approach in all situations. Laura shares similar thoughts in the section that follows.
96 enough to get away with this, and I think we need to respect that. Carolyn and I have had discussions about this before; if autoethnography is going to succeed, it cannot be for everybody. Because the fact of the matter is many people cannot write narratively. If we start saying that autoethnogr Laurel [Richardson] lays out criteria for judgi to review an autoethnography in a journal which I do fairly often, I look at her piece first. There is no one way to judge autoethn ography, but it gives me some standards to personally, meaningful for the As a refresher, I grab my Handbook of Qualitative Research (2000) and look up the five criteria I use when reviewing papers or monographs submitted for social science am curious now to review it in context criteria. Laurel calls for writing that includes:
9 7 1. substantive contribution (e.g. does the writer demonstrate a deeply grounded -if embedded -social scientific perspective?) 2. aesthetic merit (e.g. is the tex t artistically shaped, satisfying, complex, and not boring?) 3. reflexivity (e.g. is the author cognizant of the epistemology of postmodernism?) 4. impact (e.g. does it move me to action?) 5. expression of reality (e.g. does this text embody a fle shed out, embodied sense of lived experience? (p. 937). When I reread this passage several times, I see why Laura uses it in her reviewing and teaching practice. a successful social sc ientist is a tough job and to combine that requisite with being a talented creative writer certainly intimidates me. All of this contemplation makes me autoethnographic writing? Seco n d Generation Profiles The second generation may not have always been in traditional disciplines, yet many had educations that were formally rooted in the arts. Elissa is a talented writer with rees, one in Creative non fiction; Lesa is a scholar with a penchant for constructing solid performance pieces; Chris has a deep intellectual background rooted in philosophy and religion. All of these attributes inform their scholarship in rich and meanin gful ways. Perhaps even more
98 significant, most of the second generation were mentored one on one by the pioneers of autoethnography -the people who set the standards for the field. For example (as stated previously), Carl a was mentored first hand by Lau rel Richardson, Mary Weems by Norman Denzin, Elissa by Art Bochner, Lesa by Ron Pelias, and Carolyn Ellis acted as academic adviser for both Laura and Carol. Historical Influences Some of the second generation in my age group (mid forties and older) remember black and white television during their childhood (with no cable or satellite), an oven and no microwave, two telephones in the entire house (landlines only), one car for both Mom and Dad, and entertainment that consisted of playing ou tside, riding bikes, communing with nature, or read ing only 4 items on the menu: hamburgers, fries, milkshakes (vanilla and chocolate) and soda (Coca Cola brand only). That was the only fast food restaurant in town, and it cer tainly did not have a drive through autoethnographers, I surmise their ages range from mid thirties to early fifties and this is significant in context to how their writin g is informed. During this research I wondered in what ways the third generation of aut oethnographers may differ from the second. Since in the last five to ten years technolog y has become almost transparent, I began to ponder w hat impact this phenomenon has on developing reading and writing skills --especially on the ability to write dial
99 The Techno Third Generation S^ w ith C ell P hones Almost anywhere I go, I notice that writing e mails and text messaging are the pondered the impact this would have on young writers who are incessantly trying to condense Jennrich, 2008) attempts to enlighten novices by explaining dozens line chats. Most make basic sense to me, but there are more than a few that point to what I think bodes poorly for literacy and writing skills in the future Ultimately this truncated style of writing will impact future scholarship and no doubt, autoethn ography. The article lists dozens of explanatory terms and, in some cases, primitive coded as ? As I continue readi ng the inventory of technological ciphers, I feel as if cave men should grunt and drum in the is I nevitably the bulk of these conversations consist of variations on S^ to ask intended), the only two acronyms that I conclude possess any ima gination or complexity
100 Jennrich, 2008). With the proliferation of business letters, e it is the way the majority of communication is written. I personally have a difficult time writing dialogue, even though I have studied the craft for years. However, I suspect that task is slightly more problematic for writers whose daily dyadic exchanges consist of S^ and U8? Impact of R eality T elevision As I mused about the thinnest of descriptions, I also recalled another technological influence. Elissa articulates a problem that may co nfound those of us who teach, especially when it comes to younger students: Autoethnography is hot among the younger crowd and I fear that some are drawn to it by the same lemming impulse that draws thousands to the auditions of I fear that autoethnography looks glamorous and we kn popular, I think that it poses somewhat of a challenge. Personally, I am pleased that autoethnography is becoming more well known and accepted as a research method with each passing day. which I had not necessarily considered because the students I teach usually are in an and most are over the age of 35. teethed
101 impression that story could be interesting and even fame worthy. Similarly, those with a cell phone or web cam can make mini movies and upload internet presence via FaceBook and MySpace and some even have their own dedicated websites and pod casts. From a communication standpoint, I think this is an exciting era and people are connecting in ways never before imagined and much more prolifically. Nonetheless, from an educational stance, technological advancements will likely inhibit formal wri ting skills, much less foster the patience necessary for deep and repeated revisions. I fear I am being too pedantic and am reminded of the following quote attributed to Socrates by Plato around 500 b.c.: Children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they allow disrespect for elders and ...chatter before company, Johnson, 1953, p. 277). I am old but not that old. I still have faith in pr oblem solving so I turn ed to my interviewees for their advice and comments when it comes to teaching aspiring autoethnographers especially if their writing is not stellar. This is particularly a problem for the youngest undergraduate students who may no t have rigorous academic and/or artistic training as did the autoethnographic pioneers and their mentees.
102 Teaching Autoethnography Undergraduate Instruction T ake I think some people are drawn to the idea of doing this kind of work because they like the idea of telling their story. Students see this as an attractive method because they get to just work from their own experience to make claims about how the world is, but t. Number one is the creative writing dimension of it. It can be extremely difficult --your first draft is not your last draft. I think everybody who is successful works at writi ng. They care about it and they care about making it better. The writing itself requires attention, and you need to really think about it. And the second part is about making claims about the world. I did not become a playwright; I did not end up going into the theatre. I was drawn into the academy because I wanted to become a scholar and that is what I am. So, I really want the enterprise of autoethnography to be a distinct and different skill from the enterprise of creative writing. V iew As autoethnographers, we have to have the quality of being really good writers in addition to having good theoretical and analytical skills. All of that has to come together and inform this work. I think the best of autoethnography blends the theoretical, analytical, and literary. There are some instances out there of bad autoethnography that
103 cause people find it attractive; unfortunately, sometimes you get some meager work that is neither particularly insightful of the social wo rld or particularly good craft in terms of the literary. R esponse where it w art project that was a negative, dark, horrifying experience for this person. In my r eview, In this case, I need to have some thick description at least and I also need you to make was the intent, but as a reader I was lost. And I think th too luminal, too poetic. Pitfalls and Possibilities Chris walks me through his techniques when it comes to helping students become better writers: I am teaching an undergraduate course in autoethnography and my students your
104 they bring in drafts to class each week and get feedback in class from other students. Then they have to take it back and redraft it for the following class period, based on that feedback. T hen I give them feedback and they drafted it, each chapter, three times, an d the final product usually is pretty with. There is a lot of process involved in the writing, a lot of care and a lot of working on it. Chris seems to have a great deal of p atience for nurturing his students, but when I seen something they give me in writing an d I can give them feedback to enhance what my own career teaching composition and research to college students and tend to empathize more with Elissa. There are alway s the students who show a proclivity toward writing talent but after that, how much can really be learned? As we discussed above, there is always the most exclusively.
105 Lesa speaks to this problem: not a place that I see as the genesis of something that says enough about the social world to qualify as autoethnography. Often it ends up being som ething that I sort of know the story before I read it. Now that seems really me an spirited, but it has to be something that speaks to an experience that eithe r has a broad appeal or is so idiosyncratic often grab me the most, --summ arizing and telling something that happened instead of really bringing people into put personally using dialogue is especially important for those of us in communication --to Elissa makes a keen and gentle obs the difference between the kind of From my own experi ence teaching college composition, I know that I can usually succeed in instructing students in terms of traditional writing. Almost all students can learn to master the rudiments of a five paragraph theme that includes the usual thesis
106 statement, introdu ction, body paragraphs, and conclusions. What is far more difficult is having them identify the differences between similes and metaphors in a piece of literature and even harder learning to write using complex literary devices. To me, Art riteria are useful, but I particularly like the way that Carolyn actually but I think the future of the movement will benefit from more talk about evaluative criteria. I obviously believe in the autoethnographic form for all t he reasons mentioned previously; hadow side. My intention is to examine what might be called for in the future to keep it strong, viable, popular, and prolific but without acting as if it is always easy, glamorous, fun or even a good fit for everyone. I will end with a point made by Lau ra that struck a deep chord with me because of her deep respect for autoethnography and concern for its positive reputation as a valuable and legitimate qualitative research method: I think we should encourage rigor in autoethnography but use standards i n --not enforce the rigor from positivist or even post --and we have to come to con sensus. In theory and in principle I totally respect
107 that, but try and get something done in a board room when you have to honor not practical! As a former college literature instructor, I have to admit that I feel th ere is another topic that needs discussion when it comes to autoethnographic forms. T he majority of my intervi ewees embrace various forms of autoethnography including the approval of one of the most liminal forms: poetry. What follows is a brief discussi Poetry: A Special Case interviewees was: the poetry stood alone and had no analysis or theory in which it was positioned -could that be defined as autoethnography? teeters on autoethnographi c legitimacy. Laura continues to clarify her thoughts. She believes poetry in autoethnography is appropriate only if it incorporates theoretical components. She explains her view: I am a scholar for a reason. I want the narrativ e, I want the poetry, but then you can have the poems and then the acad very flexible as to how you do it; for example, you can have it at the top and at the bottom. Carolyn calls that the sandwich where you have a story and then the analysis. I love l ayered accounts where you play with the academic voice and you put it in
108 between (see The Ethnographic I 2004, p.198, Rambo Ronai 1992 for more on this technique). In my interview s, answers were varied about how to define and evaluate autoethnography. Fe edback range d from applying specific criteria to using general principle s as guidelines for assessment with Chris Poulos proferring that continues with an intriguing call to contextualize and assess autoethnography within the ire body of work. In most cases, all of these answers seem viable, but personally (and I openly admit my bias here), I believe that when it comes to poetry there is much less room for ambiguity. Poetic Considerations In Chapter Six, I include poetry as pa rt of my autoethnographic writing, but I know that this is not literary poetry by any stretch of the imagination. I include it because it reflects my raw emotions and that it informs the piece overall, yet I understand that it does not meet the rigorous ae In our interview, Nick raises a thought provoking point about the literary genesis of poetry and its place in more traditional scholarship: subjective personal view of what constitutes a good poem. Yet, just the fact that poets an judge poetry. To a great extent, I agree with Nick on this point, particularly when it comes to poetry.
109 I have attended many undergraduate and graduate classes related to writing poetry poetry. Of course, through the decades, some of these criteria have changed (as in all poetry had to rhyme or house itself in the form of a sonnet, haiku or villanelle). Nonetheless, agreed upon standards do exist by which to judge literary poetry, including use of features such as assonance, alliteration, sustained metaphor, simile, synecdoche, metonymy, inclusion of unique descriptive word s in combination with unusual and fresh words or phrase couplings, specific formulas for beginning and ending stanzas, and minimization of adjectives ad verbs and non descriptive words (Behn, 1992; Oliver, 1994,1998; Kowit, 1995; Strand, 2003; Myers, 2004; D rury, 2006; Hoagland, 2006; Ochester, 2007). A nagging question for me autoethnography, how do we judge it? Do we evaluate it according to established literary Poetic problems I personally believe that we c an include poetry in autoethnography but in a minor opinion, most of the autoethnographic poetry I have read is just truncated prose (as mine is) and would never with stand the scrutiny of literary criteria. In cases of established writers, the poetry could be read in the context of the entire body of their rigorous academic scholarship. Regardless, I would caution that poetry that is not well embedded in other forms will likely be a target of literary critics.
110 Another aspect related to this complicated topic is offered by Elissa: conversation is how does autoethnography fit within a large r scholarly enterprise of inquiry into human life. That contributes something different from what a novelist would contribute, then a poet or a musician or an artist or a performer o r a playwright will contribute? And for me there has to be a difference otherwise good for some purpose. It is good for personal therapy or connecting with your fam ily writing serves some purpose, yet in the case of poetic autoethnography, it may be wise to differentiate writing that succeeds as scholarly or literary. However, there is another way that writing can be valuable, whether it is poetry or prose, and that is as a therapeutic outlet. Good for Many Purposes As noted earlier, w e live i attractive for those looking for a glamorous public forum, a sympathetic audience, and ffirm/witness their life stories. In and of itself, this is not unnatural or undesirable. However, one of the prospective problems is that the quality of this writing may not translate into effective autoethnography.
111 Yet, not all writers of autoethnogra phy will create publishable work or continue their pursuits in graduate school and that is fine. S till questions remain. What happens if an undergraduate autoethnog raphy class and only earn a C? What if they only hear about autoethnography and write their own personal story at home? However, what if the story they write becomes a positive experience in their lives? What if finally being able to articulate in writi ng their illness, trauma, taboo, tragedy, or painful relationship is enough to make their existence on this planet a better, brighter, more livable space? In the next chapter I explore the possibilities, and potential challenges, that may occur when autoe thnographic writing becomes a therapeutic tool for writers and readers.
112 CHAPTER FIVE THERAPEUTIC AUTOETHN OGRAPHY From the moment I envisioned my dissertation, exploring autoethnography as a research interest. Most autoethnography deals with illness, trauma, or end of life issues, and I believe this is no coincidence. In Chapter One, I provide a detailed literature review that contextualizes and historicizes the therapeutic writing movement. As a continuation, this chapter is designed to reveal section, my interviewees discuss ways that autoethnography is therapeutic for themselves and others, and they also address solutions for potential controversial aspects w hen teaching autoethnography. Before reading what the interviewees share, I want to clarify my understanding any word derives from the Greek therapeia Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary that occurs over a specific period of time and has a definite end. Although therapy is
113 has proven harmful such as in shock therapy or aversion therapy. While the term therapy indicates an intent toward healing, the outcome is not assuredly positive. therapeutikos cates a process with no specific end and a beneficial outcome is inherent in the word. Even a or a heating pad to engage in therapeutic writing. All that is necessary are writing utensils and a willingness to be self expressive. Sense Makin g I think autoethnographic writing is enormously therapeutic and research shows that it is very beneficial helps to get it out of your head and onto a piece of paper or onto a computer. I also find it very therapeutic because I construct stories to make sense of my own experience, and to fashion my identity to find ways of thinking about my research that are meaningful to me. But I also think the writin g itself is
114 was just my journaling. Laura brings up several points that are at the heart of formal research on sense premiere pioneer in the field of therapeutic writing, James Pennebaker concludes (1990), coherent and meaningful stories for ourselves. G ood narratives or stories, then, organize seemingly infinite facets of overwhelming events. Once organized, the events are smaller minutes can yield positive results. Wh ile Pennebaker is in the field of psychology, it is just as easy to understand the power of writing to heal from a communication lens. As Laura said, writing can deal help with identity construction, and even journaling allows writers to construct some ty Laura engages in the practice of journal writing in her own research. Certainly one unique aspect of autoethnographic scholarship is the self reflexive writing component. Patricia is also a health communication scholar and she shares an interesting practice she uses when teaching personal narrative: I have my students create a sense of their analytic process in terms of how they would arrange those stories. I ask them what events woul d be first or last, and why. The writing does not have to be chronological --I just ask them how they would describe the heart of the mystery, or core of the story, and then ask rst,
115 with. It is very powerful. mode of being, is intrinsically linked to narrativity, as has been suggested, then the fabric of the self --by which I mean its constitutive and defining features --is inseparable from et al. ideas [with a client]is interested in restorying ...This form of interaction is a reauthoring Patricia shared with me an experience that occurred recently with a student who grew up with an alcoholic father. She elaborates: She interviewed her Mom and sister, then finally she interviewed h er Dad. Her understanding of herself became enhanced tenfold. She realized that she had been somewhat of a hypocrite with some of the things that she was accusing him of and that he was really one dimensional in her writing. One of the lines in her able to see. N ot onl y was the student able to see her father differently, but this type of writing gives voice to the writer and others in her life who until then remained unheard. Giving
116 arol addresses. Carol made a correlative point in our interview when we discussed the unique attributes of autoethnography. The Ethno Exemplar represents some of the earliest autoethnographic accounts, ual abuse. to those who read it. She continues, a typical reader might conclude, abuse survivor, I am a sex aspiring autoethnographers to use their emotional or physic aiding others. As noted in many places in this dissertation, humans live in a storied world and understand themselves within a narrative construct. Autoethnography is particularly appealing as an instructive tool because it is designed to include self and others. In fact, it is uniquely positioned in the social sciences because of this bridge from the personal to the cultural. on another autoethnographic project with the explicit hope that it would be therapeutic for her, but also that it might help others. Elissa explains the transition from high sc hool to college.
117 Beyond Language Three of us who were really close friends from high school, were sharing a flat together over Christmas to get ready to go off to college together. In Australia, you have to apply for specific programs to make the entranc e requirements and my top choices were the acting program and the directing/playwriting program. It was an intense week and a half of auditions and getting cut down and cut down and cut down --find out until the day before Christmas whether or not we were accepted. We had all gone through these auditions together and it was so stressful, but one of my very close friends was having an extremely rough time. She was auditioning for the acting program, and it was all she really wanted to do. I t was one of the most elite programs, and there were very few other places for her to study. So during that period she attempted suicide while we were living together in the flat. It was a very dramatic episode in my history and had been for me --even ten years later. As a result, for this particular piece, I decided to interview her. We talked about her suicide attempt and I interviewed her, recorded her over the phone, and she sent me some of her writing. She went back and found writing that she had don e at the time which was very dark, but she is also an artist so it was very amazing work. We talked about that time and what she went through, so I wrote the story as I remembered it and then I shared it with her. I think it was very therapeutic for both of us to revisit that experience and its meanings, but I wrote the piece primarily with the intention of maybe speaking to other adolescents. At the time, Australia was facing a rapid increase in the number of teenage
118 suicides. My mother is a teacher and one of her former students, a senior in high school, committed suicide quite dramatically. Then there was a young girl, at one of the private schools, and another boy who had been in my theatre classes who committed suicide upon the school grounds. The que In the case of the young girl, she actually had quite a serious mental illness that had not been managed, but with the boy it was a bit more of a mystery as to why this happened. My idea in writing the piece which when very performative. The drama was not was in that mode, all the choices she made were very communicative about her state of ting, the stage, the act itself went beyond language, beyond her pain. So, I tried to see it from that respect rather than simply as a dysfunctional behavior or as a something to understand psychologically. I claim no expertise related to the study of views trauma in light of the connection between comm unication and performative acts. In the case above, however, I see the complete inadequacy of language when it comes to suffering. Arthur Frank describes a reaction to trauma that is so severe that it is beyond so
119 severe that it defies words. In The Wounded Storyteller (1995), Frank discloses that one that person living the chaos story has no distance from her life and no reflective grasp on it. speech, and thus it is always what is lacking in speech. Chaos is what can never be told; going into shock, mental t rauma or suffering often defies clear expression S evere states may be so incomprehensible that they are unspeakable as in the example where Elissa describes her Correspondingly, Larry, a pe rformance studies scholar, shares a similar phenomenon where acts of ritual are paramount and words are not center stage. occurs annually in New Mexico. His original intention was to interview some of the participants who engaged in this practice and then transpose their stories into the heart of series of narratives that people would tell me about their wonderful experiences when d not tell agreed he did not have much data to work with for such an extensi ve project. When his advisor suggested that he participate in the New Mexico pilgrimage himself, Larry was
120 thousand miles away, I am a poor graduate student, I am a n older man who sits at the computer all day, and you want me to walk 100 miles in the blazing sun --udies scholar I would have to do it. I time Larry joined thousands of others pilgrims in New Mexico to embark on a healing ritual with a thirty year history. What follows is an abbreviated version of his healing journey: No Words Required By joining this pilgrimage which I have done 6 times now, I was what you might Catholic for the period for that week of walking. The only way you could do it is to participate so I had to learn how to pray the rosary and learn the mass but I was willing to do this because the practices are a function of compassion there. The most surprising thing in my research was to realize the basic question was not belief, which is what we usually position as the major question about religion. The most interesting thing in my experience of doing pilgrimages was it was not first and foremost a m to me in terms of performance studies because I was looking at religious practice, and I realized ritual is religious practice. So when you go from village to village, these p eople feed you, give you water, and keep you for the night. Here are people whose lives are really difficult, who suffer and
121 leave, they give you a little bag and it is f ull of these crumpled up pieces of paper that -very tough --and it is just heartrendin g when you read these petitions. breast cancer, is that the woman or her mother who just fed me that burrito back there? he pilgrimage itself is not life and death but you are so hungry, so tired, and hurting so much that when people give you these things you are incredibly grateful. And the practice is a very physical thing. because it is actually sweating, walking in the blazing sun, with raw feet that are maybe fourth day, or if you are really goin g to make it. Suddenly you begin to understand something more about suffering. Before, I and we will show you that you are not alone in what you have to suffer, that you have someone who is Those people know that in that week you are carrying them, and their suffering then is not silent. And I think that perhaps the worst suffering of all is silence. I think one of the most terrible things about the Holocaust is that people denied it, that so much
122 suffering would go unnoticed, un witnessed and un talked about that it was silenced and that made it more unbearable. And so, perhaps now you can understand how indebted I am to a tradition of autoethnography that made this kind of research possible. If this had happened to me maybe 15 years before or maybe even 10 years I could not have been able to express or talk in a meaningful way about that experience. I concur with Larry that autoethnography is a research vehicle that allows for the body or its actions were discussed as a somatic and transformative instrument. Just as Bohm (1996) astutely articulates: There is a difference between thinking about the hurt, and thinking the hurt. Thinking about the hurt is saying the h think the hurt, which is to go through the thought and let it produce whatever without being suppressed and without being carried out. (p. 77) One of the other wonderful aspects of autoethnography is so much of it does discuss issues of embodiment, and particularly matters related to how the body processes illness, pain, or trauma. However, when people undergo trauma, they need s kills to cope with their emotional and or physical pain. Unfortunately, without adequate tools or resources, people often suppress their emotions and the result can become exponentially traumatic.
123 Becau se man [sic] has not only the ability but the constant need of conceiving what has happened to him, what surrounds him, what is demanded of him --in short, of symbolizing nature, himself and his hopes and fears --he has a constant and crying need of expres sion. What he cannot express, he cannot conceive; what he cannot conceive is chaos, and fills him with terror. (pp. 32 33) makes sense that certain severe states may be in comprehensible, and worst of all Unfortunately, when emotions or traumatic memories are not articulated or expressed, e creatures who respond to trauma. When discussing this phenomenon, Carol told me an interesting story that has stuck with me ever since our interview. She leans forward in her chair as she begins her instructive tale. The Wise Gazelle Tale ma work and the lion comes charging after the gazelle, fangs bared. The next thing that g, and then something in the brain of the gazelle where it will seemingly drop dead because
124 ngry but because he wants to play. So in the gazelle there is kind of a merciful thing --wired into everything that is mammal. Th ey have actually filmed this in the wild and get up, look around, make sure everything is okay and then shake like a motherfucker. It will shake and shake, and the Now, getting back to people. When they are traumatized they want to shake it off what we would label perversions or fetishes or what have you. People medicate; they eat, drink alcohol go to entertainment that takes them away from their bodies and they numb out because they are trying so hard to hold it in. And what we do to our young men is even worse -at least women are allowed more freedom to be expressive. about regarding Judith Wright seemingly harmless habits like over shopping, overeating, watching too much TV endlessly surfing the internet, procrastinating that actually keep us from the life we want They cost us money, rob us of time, numb us from our feelings,
125 aspects o f her theory, but I do know from personal experience that when I stay busy just to avoid feeling my feelings, the result is usually a decline in my mental and/or physical health When we are faced with a strange or difficult situation, we cannot react directly, as other creatures do, with flight or aggression, or any such simple instinctive pattern. Our whole reaction depends on how we manage to conceive the situation --whether we cast it i n a definite dramatic form, whether we see it as a disaster, a challenge, a fulfillment of doom, or a fiat of construe the events of life. (p. 33) not. The most poignant memory I have which illustrates this type of emotional repression Twin Tower on September 11th 2001. A New Yorker of few words and fewer phone conversations, he suddenly called the phone. Shak They need to become storytellers in order to recover the voices that illness and its treatment o he is still there
126 P ersonal narra tive s and autoethnography can function as emotional conduits and therapeutic vehicles from at le ast two perspectives. In one respect, the writer can have a therapeutic experience because it is sel f reflexive research and the process serves as a healing ac t. Additionally, the reader or audience of autoethnography can have a therapeutic experience or emotional catharsis as the story may elicit empathy toward others, possible self reflection, and result in better u nderstanding of self and other Not all aut oethnographic writing is therapeuti c or emotionally transformative, but often it is a by product. While the results are often positive, some caution should be exercised when undertaking autoethnographic research during the Holocaust which exemplified 1963, still indicated a need for more pr being (Neuman, 2003, pp. 116 imagine the only therapeutic outcome was that stricter regulations were enforced to stop inhumane experiments. Although the re are many codes of ethics in place to guide adversely affect researchers and participants. In the documentation that I have found regarding formal study of therapeutic writing, most participants did receive a benefit from the crea tive exercise (see conducting s eemingly benign writing experiments, the utmost sensitivity needs to be considered regarding be ing. Even if
127 most studies indicate that writing is therapeutic, any research should be conducted under the auspices that it could be harmful, not therapeutic, despite previous outcomes. However, of even more importance to me is that as professional educators, we should be very careful when we teach autoe thnography or personal narratives. Professorial Perils regarding the therapeutic facet of autoethnography. I am obviously a proponent of researching and teaching autoethnograp hy, but I believe there are possible associated perils that will only increase as autoethnography continues its exponential gains in popularity. My intention is to examine some prospective problems and offer solutions ng classroom calamities. All of these safeguards are easy to implement and would likely avert potential problems that could arise especially when teaching autoethnography or any other form of writing that includes emotional components. The first time I r ealized that exploring emotional topics in a classroom setting could be problematic occurred in a class I taught two years ago. I was teaching in Eckerd background in Engl ish and also my expertise in autoethnography. The course I taught program is ge Degrees. The minimum age for acceptance into the program is 25 and the average age
128 range of the students is from 35 50 years old. In many ways, this constitutes the ideal population for any instructor! The students were older, wiser and had fascinating tales of their prior lives in business, the military, as stay at home parents, former addicts, world travelers, artists, or full time caretakers. As a result of their many rich and tex tured years of living, they also brought with them heart breaking stories of loss including deaths of spouses and parents, physical and sexual abuse, addiction, suicides of teenage children, diagnoses of terminal illnesses including cancer and AIDS, and hi stories of mental illness, some mild, some not so placid. Aside from a re introduction to an academic environment, the focal point of the class is an autobiographical paper students write that examines and discusses in detail their past, their present, a nd their desired future. Fortunately, I was a seasoned teacher and also had taught the course several times this class when I realized how writing autobiographically had the potential to become a negative experience, not only for a student but for an entire class. In the first meeting of the term, I discussed the narrative assignment, and I noticed one student seemed uncomfortable and began to sniffle through my instructi ons. After the break, she returned to the room seemingly composed, but then began crying that escalated into sobbing. Before I could comfort her, she stood up and declared to the class that she was having a panic attack. She left the room for a few minutes returned quietly, and managed somehow to make it through the evening until the class ended. Of course, I asked to talk to her afterward and then her story poured out, punctuated by sobs. She explained that
129 she had been hospitalized many times in the pa st several years due to childhood sexual abuse issues and other emotional problems. However, she lamented that she really wanted to try again in college and completing this class was really important to her. I listened as well as I could and then recogniz ed that the autobiographical writing assignment was exacerbating her volatile mental state. The following day, I contacted my supervisor who suggested that I offer her an alternate assignment (not related to personal events). She also suggested that I tell the student that if she desired, she could take the class as a directed study or enroll at another time with no fee penalties. I also alerted a fellow teacher of the problem so that I would have someone to assist me (classes were scheduled on Sunday even ings so the usual staff was not available). Not only was I concerned for the unstable student, I was equally as worried These students wait their entire lives to ret urn to college, and I make every effort to make the experience as enjoyable, festive, rigorous but fun, and instructional as possible. In my classroom, emotions are always allowed and even celebrated but with the parameter that they are non distracting. M maintaining an atmosphere that fosters the educational mission. In my decades of witnessed. At the beginning of next cl ass meeting, the student entered and I could tell the the student was already tearing up, seemed very agitated, and unable to sit still. She left
130 in the middle of an ea rly discussion, and I excused myself to find the back up teacher and then the distraught student who I discovered in the bathroom sobbing. She kept called her husba nd to come and pick her up (she had not driven herself to class she admitted because she was so upset that she had to take a tranquilizer). Meanwhile, I returned to my class explaining briefly what had occurred and gave them a short, early break. When t he upset student was safely picked up, the class reconvened and we with no more incidents that evening or that semester. The student never returned to the class, or to the program, as far as I know. Still, I was distressed about how this student with such a history of mental instability was even admitted to the program. I was told that this type of information is confidential unless students choose to share the detai ls with their professors. I also questioned the wisdom of the autobiographical class assignment in a mandatory class. abundantly clear that students could select one of three topics to write about: the original assignment which was autobiographical or two other less emotional topics that related to their thoughts on the educational system that could or could not include their personal experiences. An important element in my decision is that this course is not only mandatory, but it is the first class students in the program take, so I wanted their introduction to Eckerd to be as positive as possible.
131 Later, when I attended the Qualitative Inquiry Conference in May 2007, I was safety after the recent Virginia Tech massacre the previous month. However, some of my interviewees were also disturbed by other potential problems that might oc cur when students write about deeply emotional topics. As noted earlier, I listened to these concerns regarding personal writing and its instruction, and at the end of this chapter, I include a list of easy to incorporate solutions as a counterbalance. Nick had strong feelings about this issue and was the only interviewee who assessment of potential dire consequences. Counselors for Grief or Counselors of Law? What informs some of this work. I know that some people teach courses and have their students write about painful experiences that they have been through. But when you confront a very pai nful experience, there are implications, there are repercussions, and we are not trained therapists. If we ask somebody to open up their soul about what they may have suppressed, like child sexual abuse or something similar, and they write about it, now w hat do we do? Emotions are very difficult things you know. I went through this experience with my wife [and her death]. I was into sports and a man used to being tough, but a really e a lot of
132 too emotional. is 50 years old and repressed his emotions, and then 2 years later had to go through months of therapy to deal with it. e brutally sad songs on it, but when you suppress emotions, they have to come out. would have to go to therapy. I understand the argument that writing is therapeutic but if we are bringing out repressed emotions in people, we are not qualified to counsel them. and there will be panels about it. I predict that somebody at some point will commit suicide -or at least an attempt at suicide -after doing an autoethnography in some class. I do, I really believe that and then what? I would hate for that to happen be allow for you to write about a very traumatic thing in your life that you may have
133 repressed, that we also have a counselor in the co urse you know sitting in or team with the mopping up of emotions? W hen I first interviewed Nick, I felt his predictions about autoethnographic inspired suicides and lawsui ts seemed a bit far fetched and perhaps even overly dramatic. However, I remembered my own experience at Eckerd and felt grateful that I did not agree with was that I am a trained educator and scholar, not a counselor. I would much rather spend my time and energy in the classroom discussing writing techniques and social science influences, not personal crises. Next, I looked forward to my interview with Patricia as she currently teaches an ethnography class and I wanted to hear her reaction to the concerns that Nick had raised with me. She has an upbeat personality and is an experienced educator, so I knew I rns, I ask her to tell me a little bit about her recent undergraduate ethnography class. Question the Counselors I love teaching this class! My undergraduates have flown this semester -I cannot believe the stories that they have written. One woman who is Brazilian wrote about the kidnapping of her Grandmother and they never found her. She writes theoretically about Mom and Dad. She also writes stories of her lack of appreciation for her Grandmother and makes herself vulnerable --all those things become part of her story. And the list
134 just goes on and on. A young man found out that his Dad was gay this year, and he used to hate gays so he had to come to terms with that. Another one whose Mom was an alcoholic while growing up showed up at her graduation drunk, and another young lass. Here are these undergrads who have experienced so much! After Patricia shares this with me, I see it is the perfect opportunity to raise the questions of emotions and vulnerability. When I do, she is very open and apparently has given the matter so me thought. Patricia continues: students dig really deep, be so willing to be vulnerable and talk very openly about how much they appreciate the sacred space of this classroom, t never been able to talk about before, that just this semester it has made me realize that in the future one of the things that I will do is talk to a counselor on campus. I want to go over there and interview some people, becaus e you know what there are so many shitty and there are so many crappy counselors. When Patricia says this, I have to laugh and then agree. I too have been in counsel and talented professionals but also some fairly ineffective practitioners.
135 Ironically, later when I interview Carol, she echoes the same sentiments about questionable cou nselors, but describes how she uniquely handles a student who is in distress. Get Thee to a Professional kind of numb and survivor and what I can do is speak to you about my own experience. My experience may not match yours and my experience may not be everything you ne ed to hear, but I can --in the free counseling they are training students. So, one of the things I t ell them is you have to be an advocate you must understand that somebody who fits this person over here may not fit you, and wrong with them. I feel my rol that I wanted for them to get immediately.
136 Between what Patricia and Carol reveal, I begin to understand that Nick may have several relevant points. Clearly students are drawn to personal narrative classes because they probably want to write about themselves. However, a latent problem is that they may never have been to therapy (due to age or circumstance) and in these classes they are looking primarily for emotional healing, not a writing experience (word gets around about the topics covered in such classes). While I have a therapist and maturity as resources, these students may not even know they need professional help. Additionally, they could be intimidated by the idea of seeking counseling; whereas I am of the mindset that having a therapist on standby is always contingencies (I also acknowledge my privilege of always having had average, if not superior, health care insurance). told anyone this before l eaves an educator in a highly vulnerable position in more ways than one. The welfare of the student is paramount, but how can a professor insure that the student obtains professional help to deal with the newly unsuppressed or know for sure if the students receive the help they need because there is no way to track it. ADA regulations are stringent about privacy and even if a tracking system were available, another potential twist is possible. autoethnography as a vehicle for writing about trauma, especially the taboo of sexual abuse (1995). Readers and students often thank her for sharing her story and vicariously giving them voice by writing about similarly horrific experiences. Nevertheless, one stunned me
137 Counseling Bodies At first, writing was a way for me to open the door to my sexual abuse. I had to go research it, and I became obsessed for a while which was a good thing because that was part of my healing. Writing about it, getting that intellectual grasp on it, was hea ling written up on this --ving gone to therapy and then what that did was put me up on a pedestal, the model thing. People comp onent, so I had to process body memories for two years. I was a nut job -I was a fucking nut job -for two whole years. a cigarette or found out that my current pastor was having an affair, I was simply shocked. Schemata schism! I did not think less of Carol at all; in fact, I admired her even more, as I am certain that I could never have presented at conferences or pub therapy.
138 and her lifelong struggle with alcoholism and schizophrenia. I have spoken at conferences about my battle with depression, a painful divorce from the father of my two sons, the trials of single these situations dramatically impacted me. Yet, never, in a million years would I endeavor to write or speak so publicly about my intense pain if I did not feel as if I had processed the traumas both intellectually and somatically. I am glad that Carol got the help she needed -now I believe she can do further good and help more people. Yet, I also realize that her confessi on raises additional issues regarding the ethical care of the students we teach. If someone as bright and vivacious as Carol understood her trauma to be exception ally careful when it comes to the potential vulnerability of our students about whose backgrounds we know little. Students may have suppressed their traumatic memories until they are finally in a class where the hurt can rise to consciousness for the fi rst time. They may or may not write about their pain, but what if they still are feeling it? What if they do not have the Instead, they may write about their pain as a cry for help -for your help. What if like like illustrates to me that any stud ent is at risk for emotional fallout and dealing with even
139 earlier, I vowed to explore these potential dilemmas but also to offer educators assistance in these matte rs. First, though, I had to contact a professional. In House Counsel 2001. He does not know as much about autoethnography as I do, but he is an attentive listener and research pape r proofreader par excellence He is also a talented litigation attorney. When I asked him about these particular dilemmas discussed above, he became unusually serious. He did not want me to tape record him, or include his responses verbatim, or even write suicide, therap I let him read this chapter first as an underpinning for our discussion. Then he asked me a few questions and had an additional dozen queries regarding the disturbed student at Eckerd. He then wanted to know if anyone had ever initiated a lawsuit related to writing personal narrative or autoethnography. To the best of my knowledge, I said inevitable. Ironically, I was pleased to find tha
140 situation, he said if I were teaching a class in autoethnography, this is what he would recommend to me to protect myself, students, and my institution (and by the way, after this discussion, he urged me to implement some of t hese simple, yet useful, safeguards the next time I teach). First and foremost, he reminds me that despite whatever I say in class, I need the information also clearly stated in my syllabus. In addition, I should include a disclaimer that students rea d and sign. He quickly points out that the wording does not need to be intimidating, oppressive, or too legalese ish. However, the language does need to of class and returned the following class period after students have had ample time to their decision to stay enrolled in the course. They should sign the document, d ate it, and also sign or initial that they have received a copy for their records and future course is and is not. The in itial opening could theoretically read so mething to the effect of: reflexive and expressive writing. It offers many occasions for you to improve your writ ing skills, to engage in complex academic writing exercises, to develop higher order research skills, to engage in critical and analytical inquiry, to learn more about social science/qualitative/ narrative inquiry/autoethnographic methods, to explore your own and diverse cultures, and to educate you about potential publishing outlets in both academic
141 which relate to creativity, analysis, culture, and writing improvement (or whatever the goals are that do not relate to therapy). It is essential to clarify that in the course of the semester students may be asked to write about personal topics, yet alternate assignments are always available if these topics make them uncomfor table in any way. Lastly, it is important for students to product of essional if students find that they need to talk to a professional counselor at any time, make sure they know that USF/Your Institution offers free counseling. Then as part of the disclaimer, list an array of useful resources that students may access should they feel even the slightest need to talk to an expert. I believe that the disclaimer can be used as a helpful tool, not just a legal document. You will be performing a valuable service to students by advocating therapy if needed (and you may be the first person wh o has said this to them ever ) and also providing them with a list of possible resources if they have emotional concerns. Next Time From now on, when I teach I plan to implement a disclaimer and use it as a tool that also includes a wealth of self help re sources. Not only will the document contain institutional resources, but local and national aids, including 12 centers, recovery meetings, crisis hotlines, various national support groups, and useful mental health websites. I may a lso include relevant books about emotional well being
142 that I can place on reserve in the library. For all I know, I may be one of the only people students know who may direct them to seek help. Nevertheless, I also want to protect myself, other students, and my institution. creative writing, health communication, autoethnographic methods, qualitative research, They should also include a line stating that they are not trained mental health counselors or licensed psychologists. However, as mem bers of the shared academic community, they will help students as much as they can to assist with any emotional or personal crisis. legal protection in the event of a clas sroom or institutional disaster, and it serves to open if you feel these painful emotions unnecessary, paranoid, or overly litigious, just since I interviewed Nick in May of 2007, two other disturbing killings in higher education have occurred. At Louisiana Tech on February 8, 2008 a female nursing student fired six rounds of gunfire, killing two people and then committed suicide. Similarly, a male honors graduate student in social work at Northern Illinois University embarked on a killing spree February 14, 2008 killing five people, then turning his revolver to fatally shoot himself. These most recent shootings and the Virginia Tech massacre resulted in dozens
143 of wounded and a total of 42 people killed. My contemporary concern is that professors to process their pain but do not have adequate tools or resources to illustrate how such an emotio nal masquerade can go unnoticed class, but disruptive enough to preclude optim al learning for other students. In an extreme worst case scenario, a student taps into deep emotional hurt and embarks on a violent rampage such as the three listed above. Certainly the reputation of any professors of the perpetrator, as well as the inst itution, will likely be scrutinized and jeopardized. On a final note, I ask my husband, what would happen if a student killed him/herself while enrolled in a course encouraging emotional writing and somehow that fueled self ppear like a picture of doom and gloom. He --it is not Before the Virginia Tech massacre and other instituti onal murders, before my interviews at the conference, my dissertation research, and the recent discussion with my lawyer/husband, I might have continued to console an upset student in my usual sympathetic way. However, my view has altered dramatically. I do not want anyone to get hurt because of my lack of precaution, not do I want any writing class that I teach to be scrutinized or, worst of all, completely removed as a course offering because of its responsibility of educators to protect students, themselves, and their disciplines in ways that have never before been
144 considered. Then we can all feel our feelings, but when necessary have adequate expertise to help us through the hard parts. While legal liabilities may need to be addressed in order to protect participants, these issues can be easily resolved with the implementation of a waiver. There is no reason why a tool as efficacious and economical as self writing should not be employed if possible and appropriate. Silver Linings Meanwhile, I refuse to conclude this Chapter on a depressing note. If I have not made it abundantly clear, I believe deeply in the many attributes of autoethnography, personal narrative, narrative inquiry, and all of its variations. The pioneers in these fields make sure that they are not only secure but are fortressed so they can continue to flourish. For dozens of reasons, some p eople will criticize autoethnography and related endeavors, but one of my aspirations is to ensure a future that not only includes, but promotes, all forms of therapeutic writing. In the next chapter, I share a personal story that traces my development from a autoethnography from a healing perspective. As the autoethnographic pioneers have astutely determined, most researchers do not discover their academic path by mere therapeutic writing and h ealth communication.
145 CH APTER SIX MY AUTOETHNOGRAPHIC JOURNEY In the preceding chapter, I explored the promises and possible pitfalls of teaching personal narrative that were introduced by my interviewees. While it is true that some a practice to limit because of potential (and maybe nonexistent) problems, all of which can be offset easily in a few simple steps. As for me, I align with those who will continu e to support and educate others about autoethnography and, when appropriate, I will employ the appropriate legal disclaimers as a safeguard. There is no reason to much our institutions and go on about the business of enjoying the many benefits of personal writing. Personally, I would have been very grateful as a young adult if I had been fortunate enough to have had any acquaintance with autoethnography. Like many budding autoethnographers, my appreciation of personal narrative and its benefits showed up early in my life. Only now do I have the luxury, distance, and privilege to inve stigate the power of this form of writing as part of my professional training. As a researcher and scholar, I am interested in autoethnography as an effective and unique social science method. L ong ago, I fell in love with powerful stories and basked in t heir healing messages. As noted previously, as a young girl, I cherished
146 reading and began writing in diaries and journals to assuage the escalating emotional angst of my adolescence and imminent adulthood. For the remainder of this section, I share s elect personal writing and poetry as perspective in a quasi fictional format. Later, I explore the mental turmoil that leads to my adult clinical depression, inevitab le divorce, hard won contentment, and penchant for the topic of therapeutic writing. Lastly, I discuss these tumultuous, yet revelatory, years from a narrative and therapeutic view, intertwining my own personal writing with academic analysis (references t extended crises). My intent here is to illustrate one way that emotional states can be studied in the context of a ******** The Perfect Life As I charge into the kitchen, the slamming of the screen door startles Alma. As often is the case, I see her long brown arms are attached to an iron that is starching one of brow.
147 I am eleven and do not remember life when Alma was not par t of our family. She takes care of me and our home while Mama is in town volunteering or lunching, wearing Alma realizes that I am two hours early for our afternoon ritual of eating after scho ol snacks and telling about our days. last now summer No more dresses or homework, jus t me and you and the beach. And on ninety days of boating, crabbing, fishing, biking, making forts, p laying softball, blackberry picking, hermit crab racing, deep sea fishing with Daddy, making pudding and pies with Alma, enrolling in the summer book club at the library with Mama, and making a few dollars with a new and improved lemonade stand. As I have been talking, Alma listens but all the time she has been slowly gliding with her soft and forgiving brown arms. I like her caramel chocolate skin. Mostly, I like her because she is always there to talk to me, and she likes crabbing as much as I do. This will be our best summer ever. now you know to celebrate
148 Alma turns off the iron a dozen hanging on the doorknob to the playroom. She goes to the refrigerator and pulls out a casserole dish. not real hungry, my mouth waters when I peer into it. Dark chocolate pudding with whipped cream do llops and chocolate chip sprinkles get my attention. Neither one of us says a word. We just sit smiling at each other as well as you can with chipmunk cheeks filled with creamy chocolate. Calm Waters In less than a week, I have fully adjusted to th e summer routine. Every morning I eschew school dresses for ratty red or blue shorts and head to my backyard which sits on the Choctahatchee Bay. The Bay is a large body of water in North Florida between Pensacola and Panama City. Fort Walton Beach is w retirees, military personnel, and aquatic wildlife. Every morning my personally overview. The survey begins: Is the tide high or low? Is the water calm or does it have a light chop? Do I spot any dolphins or see a school of fish? If so, are they trout, mackerel, or minnows? What is the water visibility? In general, are there more or fewer crabs than usual per square sandy in ch? I have been watching Jacques Cousteau at night on the television and decide that I want to be a marine biologist. My parents nod but remind me
149 that I will have to live on a boat for a long time and learn a lot of science of math. These are minor obst acles to an ambitious eleven year old who considers herself a mermaid trapped on land. During that first week of summer, my father comes home in the middle of the we say, because I have just spotted a large pod of dolphins and need to get my row boat as close to them as possible. but I feel sorry for my poor mother and sister who are going to have to live in --poor th ings. My mother starts crying real hard Tallahassee during the holidays. For now, my wate r pets are calling me. Capsized wake up one morning, and I am in a very bad dream. My mother, sister, and I are living own try to be cheerful and see the move as an adventure, but when I find out th at the nearest
150 beach is two hours away, I am inconsolable. No Alma, no Daddy, no beach, no boat, no home My identity has been stripped from me like a dolphin scraped by a reckless speed boat. My mother enrolls me in ballet lessons and tennis lesson s, both of which I hate and quit after two weeks. Since Mama is going to real estate school for most of the day, I am told that I must find some way to occupy myself. I consider running away but I have no place to go. What I do is to begin a routine of daily walks. I hate Tallahassee on principle because it is not near the water, and I am living downtown with a bunch of old people. My hope is that if I walk around the neighborhood for long enough I will find something to fill the void in my days and he art. Landlocked After a few weeks of daily walking in Tallahassee, my route becomes broader, and I land in new terrain. I look up at a large building. It does not appear to be the state capitol which I have seen before. The mammoth structure ha s a dozen or more steps, thick white columns, and writing in stone that I cannot decode. Then I see a lady, a mom type person, coming out of the door with a little girl about my age. As they descend the giant stone steps and pass me, I see they each have a stack of books. This must be a library, but this one is huge compared to the little one I am used to back home. For once, Tallahassee impresses me. My legs wobble a little as I walk up 32 large stone steps and pass the looming columns that flank th e front entryway. Taking a deep breath, I push open the large glass tinted front door and begin the long walk to the main desk. Cathedral ceilings, a large clock with Roman numerals, and a dark circular wood
151 staircase watch as I shyly approach the desk m ade of mahogany and brass. It reminds me of courtrooms I have seen on television shows. There are several assistants, but one in particular seems nicer than the rest. colored woman. She rem inds me of Alma who I miss even more than my father, and I like it that she is a little chubby like someone who eats more chocolate than they probably should. Tallahassee and out from behind her mahogany arena and is magically right by my side. She smiles and confiden exactly that she knows her way around this big place, because I am already afraid of getting lost. My friendly guide has on large silver earrings that jingle when she talks. Her face is round and cream y brown. She seems delighted to help me, and I am buoyed by her cheerfulness. Since the divorce, no one in my home has been very happy about anything. have to work hard at not getting slapped because she gets so mad these days. I try not to think about that and concentrate on my new surroundings. As we slowly climb the brass and dark wood stairwell that looks like it belongs in the White House, I look to my new f a name tag but right there I name her Mrs. Hershey, because she is dark and sweet and
152 makes me feel good just like a Hershey bar always does. When we get to the top of the stairwell I am overwhelmed by the size of the second floor. reader because she section where your books Right past the top of the stairs, we turn a corner and there it is: a cozy fortress of books ---yes, there are hundreds of them but the size of the room is manageable. I also like how Mrs. Hershey said, young adult and your books. Mrs. Hershey continues her welcoming chat form three sides of a square but one side is missing. Still, the shelves create a fort and within that area sits a small pine table and something felt right about being there. I know the answer to this question. I do not hesitate at a ---a lot reading them I a book that looks like the Nancy Drew books but t his cover is blue, not yellow. like the Nancy Drew books but with a little more ac tion. Next, I would just start with the
153 the check jangles down the circular staircase, I feel a little panic as I watch her head bob out of sight. I feel afraid, but she has left me with a tangible comfort: my first Hardy Boys book. I read the back of Volu me One and discover that these detectives have a boat. Yes! just Mrs. Hershey had suggested. First I books. but hunger calls. As I carefully n avigate down the circular staircase, I make sure that the Hardy Boys book is on the top of my stack. I want Mrs. Hershey to see that I have taken her advice. I want her to help me. Without Alma in my life, I need someone who can be my friend. Plus, I fee section. After lunch that day, I start reading the Hardy Boys book. Mrs. Hershey is right I love these guys. Unlike Nancy Drew and her chums, these sleuths have a boat and are always exploring coves on islands. I eat my dinner while reading book two and wake up the next morning and read book three cover to cover. Even my usually
154 neglectful/angry mother is concerned because I have spent almost 24 hours quietly reading. I begin a ritual that is to define the summer of my tenth year. I sleep in, have breakfast with my grandmother and then start off to the library. I stay there until early afternoon, check out a stack of books, come home, eat a late lunch, and read. By then it is time for dinner which I endure with my mother and sister, and finally I retreat to my small bedroom to the only relationships I trust right now: those with my books. Dry Lif e Preservers I knew I was looking for something that summer and I found a big part of it when I discovered the name: Louise Fitzhugh and the title: Harriet the Spy My family was not ed in that moment. I read the back of the book: Harriet Welsh is an eleven year old girl who lives in Manhattan. Harriet walks through her neighborhood spying on people and writing down everything If ever there was a white light epiphanic moment, or angels singing acapella or cherubs chortling with delight it happened right then in the Tallahassee library when I fell in love with the nascent idea of my future self. I clutched the book lik e a life preserver and sat down at my row boat sized pine library table and began to read non transom window above me. I look up at the light and try to focus my eyes. It must be
155 up the stairs to check on me. This time she has her purse and an umbrella with her. deep kindness and concern. I proudly thrust out my new book treasure and start tellin g her about Harriet and this writing business and spying and the notebook much as I am. For the moment, I have been given a much needed anchor. The divorce, the move, no Alma, and no Dad, have shaken my fairytale mermaid li fe. My perfect story of living on the water and having little responsibility or trauma had suddenly been interrupted. I know I needed something to hold onto because I was learning that what looks solid can easily disappear, and often without warning. Reading and Righting That summer begins my lifelong affair with reading and writing. Because of the tumult in my life, I seek the wisdom of writers to help nurture me. Lack of parental guidance and deep questions evoked by recent losses and the onse t of adolescence make me rely on authors for support. As time progresses, I move away from reading one dimensional detective stories to seeking stories that explore the angst of the interior life. I area with the next stop ending remember were written by Austen, Chekov, Dickens, Faulkner, Hemingway, Oates,
156 Plath, Poe, Roth, and, of course, Salinger. I absorb the words of writers whose words are healing and guiding. In The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination, Coles (1989) they cannot only keep us company, but admonish us, point us in new directions, or give us courage to stay a given course. They can offer us kinsmen, kinswomen, comrades, advisers --offer us other eyes through which we might see, other ears with which we 160). During my adolescent years, I desperately need direction and reading gives me a reliable compass. Without Alma and my father to shield me, I discover that my mother is p rone to severe bouts of uncontrollable rage which manifest in verbal and physical abuse toward me and my sister. She is diagnosed with everything from schizophrenia to manic depression. Simultaneously, Mama becomes reliant on hard liquor and Valium as an attempt to sedate home life becomes more turbulent, I feel a need not only to read but to try and write. Intuitively, I must know that writing has therapeutic benefits and I need some kind of healing. A Scholarly Aside many academic disciplines have explored the topic of therapeutic writing and for those interested in a brief history of this exploration, I have included a literature review in Chapter One. For the remainder of this section, I am
157 particularly interested in examining my own journal writing and poetry as recorded through the decades and reflexively analyzing the ways in which I convey emotional states as well as ways in which scholarship informs my writing. It is the beginning of me utoethnographer. Sea ing Differently As my adolescent home life becomes more unpredictable, I seek to create meaning and order that is inviolate and permanent. The absence of my father, Alma, the water, and the only home I ever knew have left me aching for emotional connection. Journal writing seems to offer a stable construct and dependable other that cannot abandon me. Slowly, I am becoming aware of my interior self and begin constructing a story of my future. At the age of ten, I begin keeping a jo urnal as a way to establish a self separate from others, but also with the mindset that eventually I will create a family and identity that will (hopefully) be more stable than the one in which I am growing up. My need is pressing to create a story that c onstrues my future as meaningful and volitionally based. By the time I am thirteen, it is also clear that I want to benefit others, but in retrospect I believe that my writing was primarily a serious attempt to stabilize my own life. As much as I would initial trajectory, in theatrical terms, I was born in media res to parents and a sister who obligation to the family troupe was to learn my lines as quickly as possible, without missing any cues or breaking out of character. Like most people in the world, I was born
158 into a family with a pre existing narrative that shaped my identity. Of course my birth story is community that has a lengthy narrative history of which they must instantly become a part. Parry (1991) explains: Families are a breeding ground for dramatic tales and tradit ions. Only the most disconnected families do not tell stories that define expectations concerning the w constraining these maps or myths are, because they consist of stories that virtually define the person. (p. 47) Similarly, Monk et al. s may be seen as floating in this soup. The problems we encounter are multisourced, they are developed over a long period of time, and they come together through the medium of human language to Even befor e children can speak, undoubtedly they are given indications of what their role is and even the most intelligent children do not understand that they are which we did not design and we find ourselves part of an action that was not of our making. Each of us being a main character in his own drama plays subordinate parts in like to thin k that I was born into a world of unlimited possibilities, my birth is merely an
159 incidental new plot line in an already complex and ritualized story. To be clear, I want to clarify that I was born with much privilege and I am not complaining about the ove rall circumstances of my birth and subsequent life. However, what I am interested in as an autoethnographer are stories: my story, your story, our story and especially the stories that are painful and traumatic because those are the tales with alchemical power to heal us all. However, what happens when a family member, particularly a child, defies their adolescence and burgeon during teenage years. In an effort to please my parents, for years I tried to be quiet and compliant but another part of me simply could not conform to factored into their storyline is that eventually t her contract as a dependent, cute, quiet entity. For the first decade of my life, I tried to family story except as a poorl y performing understudy. Eventually, I had to question the this or that actio is following journal demonstrates m y attempts to create a new narrative construct for myself:
160 Journal E ntry No month, 1972 ll have a hard time (hopefully) helping hints and most anytime you can hold this information up to me. It I feel I have a lot and more interesting experiences to come. 101). I find it interesting that initially I choose t o write to my fictionalized future daughters as my audience (and I cannot claim any predictive power as my family is now complete and consists of two magnificent adult sons and two stepsons!). In reviewing my early journal entries, I think that as I exper ienced the deterioration of the nuclear family into which I was born, I having my own children (however, soon we will see that this story too went awry and had to be revised repeatedly). Trying to Write the Wrongs During these years my mother is as frustrated and sad as I, and probably much ensuing request for a divorce. She was never trained to be anything other than a devoted housewife and kept mother. While my father attended law school, she taught preschool to support him and later decorated his first shoebox size law office. Because attorneys
161 were not allowed to advertise i after seventeen years of marriage, he asks for a divorce. Historically, it is a time when divorce is almost u nheard of and as a result my mother (a former Sunday school teacher) is ex communicated from the Episcopal church because my father divorced her. When I factor in all the terrible losses of identity which my mother experienced, I am not surprised at her in ability to function well following the divorce. Although we tried to be optimistic, no one in our family was adjusting very well as evidenced by the following journal entries: Journal E ntry No month, 1973 --if I was put on this earth to live, only 14 without transportation, money, or a decent means of supporting myself. I am also on restrictions. Journal E ntry October 21, 197 3 This morning Mama freaked out. At least you can tell when she is hurting me his old
162 dramatic life to write about --but, no --In analyzing the emotional content of the entries above, I see that I am attempting about my feelings. Progoff (1975), one of the pioneers of therapeutic writing, develope d a process and an first step is to acknowledge the problems of our life as we find them, to observe them and establish our position there. We draw back. We move away from the surface of things. We move inward in order to return with a greater resource to use in approaching the At this point I am not able to demonstrate any reflexivity about my situation, yet I do realize that my journal is becoming increasingly important to my well being: Journal E ntry October 27, 1973 Sometimes I read publicly or maybe just my children will read it. What kind of purpose does this journal serve? An outlet for my emotions --
163 Journal E ntry October 28, 1973 seen, done, and felt In this entry, I see a smoldering frustration as I try to create a unique identity, not reated from my own repetitive actions. According to Vygotsky (1986) such intellectual and emotional endeavors are an constant. It emerges in the course of development, an continue to write but in reviewing my journal entries, I note now that I seldom actually name my feelings, and unpleasant feelings are almost nonexistent. In the few cases when they are mentioned, I end such entries with an o ptimistic spin: Journal E ntry December 25, 1974 here --. Hometown Exit My first major attempt at re writing my role occurred in undergraduate school where I was, for the first time, geographically free of my family and had the opportunity
164 to forge a new self identity. Unfettered by family constraints, instead of majoring in business as my father had hoped or art as my mother dreamed about, I took classes in English, Communication, and Theatre. Simultaneously, I had my first experience of a loved one dying, and suddenly I glimpsed my own mortality. My time le ft on this planet story of my life that was not wholly dependent on the storyline into which I was born. As many college undergraduates do, I began to question the values promoted by my family of origin and culture. By this time, my father had an affair, divorced my mother, and abandoned me and my sister. out of control as she began h er descent into alcoholism of which she died some years later. My sister abandoned her role as my caretaker and moved to Boston where her partying slowly morphed into full blown addictions to cocaine, alcohol, Valium. Nothing about any of their lives enc ouraged me that they ever possessed any credible answers, so it was easier for me to ignore their expectations. In college, I sought new ways to construct a meaningful narrative of my life in the aftermath of my unraveling nuclear family. This s earch for an authentic life story was aided by four years in undergraduate school where I read the work of great writers, philosophers, and dramatists. Instinctively, g uidance and also my professors concern and encouragement, I discovered new stories and role models for how I might choose a meaningful and authentic life story. I decided
165 that I was capable of creating a unique identity that not only replaced my original family role, but which superseded it; and if indeed I could construct a new self narrative, then mine was going to be just perfect (this unrealistic desire would later backfire as you will see in a few pages). Carr contends: So it is with the events and actions of our lives; either they are already embedded in the stories provided by our plans and expectations or, if they are not, we look for and anticipate the stories to which they do, will, or may belong. Narrative coherence is what we find or effect i n much of our experience and action, and to the extent that we do not, we aim for it, try to produce it, and try to restore it when Carr views narrative making as integral to making sense of our world s and understanding ourselves in the contexts in which we exist. Similarly, Freeman (1993) intrinsically linked to narrativity, as has been suggested, then the fabric of the self --by which I mean its constitutive and defining features --44). However, trying to live a congruent narrative can sometimes become a challenge. Wherever You Go, There You Are Even we are allowed full geographic freedom to move away from our family of origin and the family script, there are unconscious plots and subplots that may surprise us more than the discernible family storyline. Such is the case with the next stage of my life. In The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics Frank (1995) credits
166 believe that I could confidently defin e the next phase of my life as a moderate, yet life altering, narrative wreck. In 1982, I am right on target with forging my new and perfect personal narrative. Two weeks after my graduation, I marry my college sweetheart and six months later am pr egnant at the age of twenty two. With nave enthusiasm and the common sense of an time at night, and during the day I will be the perfect wife and doting mother. My life goals are calculated and simple: (1) st ay happily married and never get a divorce (2) create my own perfect family with 2.0 children so that I can forget about the dysfunctions of my family of origin and (3) manifest my own perfect career in academe that will quickly culminate with a Ph.D., a t enured professorship, and summers at the beach with my adoring Kodak moment family. healthy sons, my husband is promoted, and we buy our first home. My life looks absolutel y perfect, yet how I feel inside is another matter entirely. I did not realize that a narrative wreck could occur so quietly and creep into my life so insidiously. No, I did not suffer any of the atrocious horrors comparable to Holocaust survivors or vic tims of Stage IV cancer; my wreck was mild to moderate but it was enough of a life derailment that I still live with the dents and scars almost twenty years later. for the me ss. I had not been physically harmed by others or invaded by unstoppable mutating cells, but still my wreck was aggressive and immobilizing: her name was
167 Depression and once she cast herself as a leading character in my personal narrative, she was reluct ant to give up such a big role. I can only guess that ever since I was born, Depression had been waiting for the most opportune moment to make her grand entrance into my life. I suspect that she licked her lips in anticipation when she reviewed m y genetic make up. No doubt she was beside herself with delight as my nuclear family deteriorated. She immediately called her my second son was born, she recognized my mild post partum depression and decided it was the perfect time to claim center stage. She arrived at my house with dozens of trunks and heavy baggage indicating she was not looking for a bit part, but a long running hit. I did not even hear her come i n the door. was neatly organized and household tasks were accomplished competently, if not exceptionally well. Life contained moments of minor frustration with two toddl ers, but my days were never much of a struggle. I wore clean pressed tan khaki pants during the week and flowing floral dresses to church on Sunday. My two sons looked almost like twins, and I dressed them in matching Oshkosh overalls and coordinated ten nis shoes. was in big trouble. Kitchen Meltdown I remember the exact summer evening, and I am sitting at the kitchen table, too exhausted to do anything
168 except stare at an uncharacteristically large pile of dirty dishes. I know that I need to start dinner. I need to get up, but I cannot move. Only my eyes possess mobility. They scan the kitchen: why is it so messy? How did this happen? What is wrong? Somehow, that tainted: tw o high chairs are covered with Cheerio crumbs, sticky applesauce, and rumpled stained bibs; the dirty brown linoleum floor is covered in Fisher Price toys and primary color plastic building blocks; a pile of unopened mail sits by the mustard colored refrig erator that is missing a handle. My eyes return to the stack of dishes a foot tall in the sink. I must wash them. Then I see the trigger: a plastic sippy cup and its lid that has to be washed for my f a regular cup or he spills his milk for me to clean up and everything is already in such a jumble. I feel numb and lifeless except for pain in my eyes. The stinging abates as a few tears creep out. The stinging stops as my sobs increase in intensity. Finally, I hear a car in the driveway. When my husband comes through the door, he is afraid the boys are hurt or there has been a death in the family. I can bare ly stop my crying for long enough to tell him what the problem is. He is an accountant and emotions in particular make him nervous. So do tears and conversations about anything that does not have an equation as a basis. However, in this moment he is kin d and encourages me to breathe and tell him what is
169 I gesture to the crusty sink filled with dirty dishes and the lone yellow plastic sippy cup needs to be washed show has finally arrived. My kitchen is a microcosm of my narrative wreck: it is piled with debris and unattended past messes, is disorganized, it is littered with too many symbolic domestic props, the floor is covered with unidentifiable stains and residue, and I am the disheveled and disheartened protagon ist. Unlike June Cleaver, I do not have a spotless home, nor am I am vacuuming in stiletto high heels and a crisp starched dress (with a cinched waist). My hair is greasy and so is my stovetop, and though my children are not a disappointment per se, moth erhood is far more emotionally and physically exhausting than I could have ever anticipated. I am not a sexy wife, my house and children are not clean, I am not pursuing my Ph.D., and my story is not on track. I have been derailed. Somewhere betw een graduating magna cum laude and ensuing motherhood, I have become incapable of thinking straight, of managing my daily affairs, and of
170 envision is a futile future that will only be a continuation of my incompetence and the unending demands of two toddlers, both still in diapers, and neither can even drink out of alike by listeners and storytellers, is for a past that leads into a present that sets place in a less life looks far better than any possible tomorrow. Suicide begins to look like a highly att ractive option. At the time, I do not have the words or schemata that permits the construction of a better future. In Modernity and Self Identity, Giddens (1991) describes this type of dilemma: Where an individual feels overwhelmed by a sense of p owerlessness in the major domains of his phenomenal world, we may speak of a process of engulfment. The individual feels dominated by encroaching forces from the outside, which he is unable to resist or transcend. He feels either haunted by implacable fo rces robbing him of all autonomy of action, or caught up in a maelstrom of events in which he swirls around in a helpless fashion. (p. 193 194) I remember the kitchen event because it was so powerful; however, I admit that there are many months where I cannot remember anything except for my non stop crying and a feeling of living in a dream where I manage to bathe and feed children in between fantasizing about the best way to kill myself. If I am such a failure at living, my logic
171 contends that dying is something I might be a success at --finally, something I can do well. Almost Killing Myself, Softly That summer, I experience a debilitating clinical depression which smacks of the angst experienced by Sylvia Plath. I am shocked by this turn of events and abrupt about it enough. I am equally terrified of the emotional pain which has invaded my perfect home and made life unpalatable. With each day, I resist my pa in and consequently am a captor to its insistences. My emotional agony is no longer intellectual but visceral. However, that summer I have obligations that are getting in the way of eaching position, I have to attend to the hourly needs of a one year old and a three year old, and I have to do all of this on a limited budget, without the emotional support of my husband. I recall the intense fragmentation I feel as I experience every d ay with grave disappointment and inertia. Perhaps the reason I have been able to hold on thus far is that I still believed that The real problem is that I have achieved everything that I ever thought I wanted and needed except now I am barely functioning:
172 Journal E ntry June 17, 1987 Do I hurt? Oh just a little nothing too serious just a little death as I die again and again wit h each split second I spend in consciousness trying to act normal at a perfect family dinner Pass the potatoes oh yes, just a little for me more tea? Only a little without ice NO ICE I SAID DAMMIT my voices rises as tears fall into the glass sorry so sorry just nothing extreme life is too much right now just a little breath is all I can breathe in between suicide dreams. My depression coupled with inconceivable sadness fills me with despair and terror. Killing mys elf seems to be the only option as I do not have much confidence that I can live through feeling the emotions that will not be stayed for another moment. The hardest
173 Awarene constant need of conceiving what has happened to him, what surrounds him, what is demanded of him --in short, of symbolizing nature, himself and his hopes and fears --he has a constant and crying need of expression. What he cannot express, he cannot 33). I can barely manage to get out of bed each morning, much less dress and feed the children. Stil l I try to write. especially in relation to communication. According to Frank, one of the most horrifying The person living the chaos story has no distance from her life and no reflective grasp always beyond speech, and thus i t is always what is lacking in speech. Chaos is 102). I believe in most cases of moderate to extreme narrative wreckage, a period of chaos either precedes or follows the wreck. Similar to a into shock, or the emotional shock that augurs denial, severe narrative wreckage defies words. hard pressed to tell you what was wron g other than to gesture toward my messy kitchen (interesting to note that this is the one room in a home that is most closely associated with
174 and sophisticated literar y rendition of my condition. not even make phrases that captured my sick inner state: Journal E ntry June 21, 1987 Depressed again need healing sleep edgy like a hangover witho ut drink shaky edgy inside wordless voids of the little girl I am a failure inadequate afraid of my anger the rage makes me crazy or is it silence that makes me mad? In the final analysis, I believe it is my willingness to view my depression as a mystery to solve which made it possible for me to stay alive. By this time, I am going to therapy twice a week and am repeatedly assured by professionals and friends that going through the pain is possible and will lead to personal growth and transformati on. Ellis uncovering often for me is an activity that initiates recovery. Understanding offers the possibility of turning something chaotic into something potentially
175 401). Similarly, Kleinman (1995) contends it is our response to pain not the pain itself which is critical: In the course of experience, people come up against resistance to their life iously incapacitated. Crops or p. 125 126). At his point in my depression and attempt at recovery, I stop resisting the feelings and try and embrace them. Grand Emotions Because I have subverted my emotions for so long, I do not know how to organize the discomfort in my body into disparate parts. What needs to be acknowledged is not just my sadness, fear, and anxiety, but one emotion that women are really not supposed to feel: anger. I am trying to be a perfect mother and wife while simultaneously forgetting my volatile and abusive adolescence; however, all of these endeavors elicit an anger that insists on acknowledgment: Journal E ntry July 15, 1987 Finally in t ouch with it: anger suppressed truckloads of it but now
176 I thought about strangling the dog and then myself for being such a bad, bad, bad, person I behind suburban blinds perfectly ironed khaki pants and starched white tops but now the pain is bleeding out of me and the anger is erupting in bloody spurts I it takes too much ener gy to contain the pain can I convert this pain to joy or is this a senseless life like waiting copper to turn to gold? This poem, while not literary quality, captures the state of imbalance in my psyche and my anger at the world and myself. summer at a meeting f That time augurs not only the advent of my depression but also the rise in popularity of numerous 12 Step groups aimed at he aling bruised and battered hearts bodies, and souls. More recently, is a break through by biophysicist Pert (1997) who literally researches the molecules of emotions. Her professional conclusion is both intriguing and intuitive: Anger, fear, sadness, the so called negative emotions, are as healthy as peace, courage, and joy. To repress these emotions and not let them flow freely is a dis
177 integrity [or dis ease] in the system, causing it to act at cross purposes rather than a unified whole. The stress this creates, which takes the form of blockages and insufficient flow of peptide signals to maintain function at the cellular level, is what sets up the weakened conditions that can lead to disease. All honest emotions are positive emotions. (p. 192) Perha of the emotions for mental and physical health. Although grief and anger are two of the most undesirable feelings, many therapists concur with Pert and also Greenspan (2 003) ludes emotional literacy, the ability to find accurate words for emotional state s exceptionally grateful for the gift of my journal writing because it permits a space to try and place words on the page that connect my mind and heart. As I excavate my interior life, I try to capture my emotions in my journal and reflect on the nuances of my words and attendant revelations. The following poem represents a huge breakthrough in identifying one of the primary sources of my depression, sadness, and anger.
178 Journal E ntry No date, 1987 Early morning quiet my only chance at solitude and writing interrupted by primitive grunts that beg for toddler basics: apple juice in the yellow sippy cup and a muffin mom the tears and anger of my unlived life are becoming unstuffed from way down deep always getting stuff for the boys giving hugs and band aids and bedtime stories The last sente nce, once I write it, helps me to make meaning of my chaos. I concur with organism, as an atom relates to the universe. A word is a mi crocosm of human (p. 256). With more writing which explores this theme, I am able to see myself in a as a developed character. I am acting as a stereotypical slave to my husband and children and worst of all, I am the author of this depressing, poorly plotted, and unpublished story! Fortunately, with the help of skilled therapists, 12 step meetings, and supportive friends and family, I am able tentatively to begin revising my life st ory.
179 Like the mess in my kitchen, at first I lack the ability to create order in my internal world. Fortunately, my usually insensitive husband encourages me to start sa me month, my only sibling, Lisa, voluntarily (and unbeknownst to me) enters a drug way to this day. Whether it is coincidence or Divine design, my sister Lisa and I are simultaneously trying to make sense of our lives and are forced to go back to the beginning. I find it fortuitous and useful that my sister and I were both in the beginning stages of therapy so that we can discuss our family of origin and many of the that we had been unable to discuss previously. I worked hard in counseling and in twelve step meetings f or Adult Children of Alcoholics to deconstruct the embedded expectations, values, and lies promoted by my family of origin. I also recognize that my heard. Instead of fighting her, I begin to try t o see why she is so insistent and what she has to say. I am hoping that she is trying to teach me something. A major part of my healing occurs as I am able to sit in meetings and in pain, abuse, and abandonment as an adolescent. I articulate my chaos narrative until my sentences are whole and my story coheres. Pennebaker, a pioneer in the field of therapeutic writing, ture or the movies, we need to construct coherent and meaningful stories for ourselves. Good narratives or
180 stories, then, organize seemingly infinite facets of overwhelming events. Once Similarly, Monk et al restorying During this time, I write volumes in my journal recounting my disappointing past and current state of dissatisfaction, but I also begin to seek spiritual guidance and change my imagined audience. Instead of my thirteen year old jour nal entries which address an wife would supposedly fulfill me; however, I had to loo k beyond cultural expectations to define who I was and how I would live. When I finally realize that those prescribed roles might fail to deliver sublime satisfaction, I consider that an all powerful Divine might make a better and less biased audience: Jo urnal E ntry September 15, 1987 This is the first time in months that I can remember feeling all my feelings including anger AND stil l feeling hope, hopeful. Thank you Go d.
181 Journal E ntry December 29, 1988 Dear God/Higher Power/Divine Energy, I pray for guidance about what to do to make things better in all of our lives. I love you. devoted mother and wife. This does not include me pursuing a Ph.D., working full time, or getting a divorce. However, I decide that God probably does not approve of or desire that I commit suicide, so I consider my options. It takes several months to even allude to a radically altered future, and I remember shaking as I write the following wo rds. Journal E ntry March 3, 1989 She thought in her mind that this was her internal dialogue: How do I feel? So I suppose. pened up mountains of fear and tears, and hope. I am willing to leave; I am willing t o be alone, I think, at least for a while. What are the options? What ARE the options? Am I moving to o at I want more than anything I think it is revealing that this journal entry is unusually prefaced with a reference to internal dialogue which I have never done in over thirty years of journaling. In addition, the words I use are much more abstract and the phrases disjointed as compared
182 elucidated by Frank, including no period at the end which is uncharacteristic in any of my writing. Bochner (2002) assert riting is a process of turning life into this idea was written down, everyt hing in my life would change. That is what terrified and concurrently enthralled me. also realize that taking the boys away to live with me alone would hurt them and their dad. He is not a great husband, but he is a doting father. I also realize that economically I will suffer and will also have to work full time while being a single parent. By now my mother is living alone, in poverty, dying of alcoholism, and I wonder if getting a divorce will also cause my premature demise. Maybe this is how you become a bag lady. Furthermore, I only have a part time teaching job and no savings. I know that I will not be able to pursue a Ph.D. for years, I will have to live in an apar tment, and finding a man who wants to date a woman with a three and six year old does not bode well for a future remarriage. So, logically asking for a divorce does not seem like a prudent move. Intellectually, it does not compute to doing ng. However, the best part out a month later.
18 3 T he Ending and the Beginning Journal Entry April 3, 1989 This feels like the life I should have been living for th e past 7 years. I am not lonely inside, I feel whole, complete, serene. Will I ever learn to trust the universe (and myself) wholly? Will I remarry? Will the boys adjust? Will I ever become a writer? When I read the last line of this entry, I feel g rateful. My first journal entry at the age of thirteen speaks of my hopes of being a writer; I assume I dreamed of publishing books or poetry. Ironically, the writing which means the most to me are my thirty two journals, which recount the depths of my li ved experience as an evolving woman. All of my journals and my narrative writing give voice to the emotional interior of my life: the worn pages, erasures, new editions, developments, deletions, insertions, and most of all the many revisions which I have embraced. I used to think I was a mermaid trapped on land; now I realize that I have many future and possible selves. I can be a mermaid who sometimes lives on land and I can be a happy wife (with a new husband), a good mother (with grown sons) and pursue a Ph.D. (after the age of 40) but there is always one constant: wherever I am, I always carry a notebook! ********* In my case, I believe that my journal writing gave me a slate for sense making, an outlet for expression, and a path toward mental equilibrium when I needed it the most. Naturally, I am drawn to self reflective personal writing and autoethnography because the
184 in, but it is essential to the story. In the final analysis, it is unreasonable for me to write a dissertation about the autoethnographic this as a dissertation topic. When people ask me why I study autoethnography, it is clear to m e that everything in my past led to this particular moment, this particular place, this particular topic, and these six years of pursing a doctorate in the field. When I am asked why I study autoethnography, that I simple answer with a s Regardless of my answer or audience, I know that autoethnography is a unique personal tool as well as a n effective research method. In the next, and final chapte r I reflect on several issues related to the current state of autoethnography and conclude with my visions for its expansion in the future. In particular, I focus on opportunities and challenges related to employment prospects for future autoethnographers as well as discuss several non traditional venues for advancing autoethnography.
185 C HAPTER SEVEN ASSESSING THE PRESEN T AND LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE In this dissertation, I began with an overview of the etiology of the term its primarily an to its present day application in a variety of disciplines. I also contextualized the movement in relation to the historical rise of personal and literary narratives in response to the crisis of representati on and various socio political shifts. One result was a proliferation of illness narratives, narrative therapy, therapeutic writing, and narrative medicine. As result of my research, interviews, and participant observation, I expanded on three predomina nt topics that represent the heart of my project. These chapters explore what motivates scholars to write autoethnographically, how they define and evaluate autoethnography, and their views on issues related to its use as therapeutic practice. The latter topic I discuss at length in Chapter Five and address several ethical and legal concerns that instructors of autoethnography and personal narrative need to consider to protect themselves, their students/readers, and their home institutions. In this final chapter, I discuss opportunities for future advancement of autoethnography, as well as potential challenges and how these may be overcome. In the sections ahead I discuss opportunities for expansion in health related areas such as health communication which are particularly promising for aspiring autoethnographers seeking employment. I also explore various differences between the
186 career options and the advancemen t of autoethnography. As I conclude the project, I advocate more cross disciplinary alliances within the academy and also condone moving autoethnography into mainstream venues. Qualitative research methods are flourishing globally, and autoethnography is uniquely positioned to grow rapidly in the future. Opportunities in Health Communication Based on my research, I believe that one area where autoethnography is most likely to enjoy increased develop ment is in the broadly defined field of health communica tion. One of the strengths of autoethnography is that literally at its center is ed to reach out to others. As stated earlier and as shown throughout the dissertation, the majority of those who write autoethnograp hy do so because they have been hurt (physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and third chapter s reveal rst autoethnographies from trauma and/or a place of physical mental, or emotional pain. Nevertheless, once they overcame their hurt, they had a desire to aid others in similar situations. Their sympathetic voice s are encoded in their writing that affirms there, too at one time. I hurt then, and thus I can honor and validate your painful experience. Hopefully, my story will affirm your experience and help your suffering Because so much personal writing deals with issues of i llness, trauma, and hurts of various types, I believe that the real power of autoethnography comes from authors
187 who have endured pain, who then capture that suffering in words, with the ultimate intention of assisting others. As a side result, writing is usually healing for the writer and most pro bably therapeutic for readers. The act of writing can be cathartic, but often it is the act of re helps people make sense of their experiences. In addition, readers of ill ness or trauma narratives may become the W riting and reading illness related stories is often a form of support or catharsis, yet in some instances, it becomes a moral act. Frank concludes conditions that rob others of their voices. When any person recovers his [or her] voice, xiii). There other reasons, as well, why ma ny people are drawn to both writing and reading about these conditions. of why people write and read narratives of illness, grief and loss: To frame the experience in alternative ways To figure out how we want to live To prepare for death To help others c ope, to help us cope To restore a sense of meaning and coherence
188 See how things connect To make wise decisions To connect with others in a humane way A utoethnography will likely continue to advance in the areas of health communication because of the universality of death and illness. It is clear that there is an explosion in personal writing related to health issues. Many may wonder why there is an int ensification in interest in narrative medicine and therapeutic writing now and I speak to this in some detail in Chapter One, but I also contend that several additional factors have converged to propel the therapeutic writing explosion: (1) People spend millions of dollars out of pocket on alternative and complementary health aids. As the word gets around about the healing properties of writing, it will be viewed as an inexpensive and convenient form of self help therapy Bolton explains the W riting is pretty nearly free; can be undertaken by anyone with ordinary writing al to dispense or (qtd. in Hunt and Sampson, 1998, p. 79). (2) People are more literate than any other time in history and reading and writing are writing easier, especially in terms of using computers. (3) Technology encourages people to write more than ever before. Communication exchanges that used to occur face to face now often occur by phone, e mail or text
189 message. People use writing more in their daily lives than at any other time in history. Similarly, people want to connect to others and writing provides a global and seamless form of communication that can be dispersed in a variety of modalities including via the Internet (via e mails, blogs, websites, chat rooms, YouTube, MySpace etc.). Furthermore, print on demand technology has made it possib le for anyone to produce a book at an affordable cost. (4) New forms of first person journalism and media vehicles, such as reality shows (and the technologies listed above), demonstrate that there is an audience who yearns to understand the intimate expe riences of others. (5) In a fast paced world of post post modernism, threats of terrorism, global economic and political upheaval, people have a desire for groundedness and writing is a way to concretize experience an d make sense of a chaotic world. For these and related reasons, the future of therapeutic writing has untapped potential. Lepore and Smyth (2002) discuss its possibilities : intervention could be disseminated and impl research studies. marketing, and communication theory may be valuable in the development of community level interventions. Appropriate points of intervention (e.g. work si tes, schools) and effective modes of reaching people and delivering the intervention (e.g. through media programs, self help materials, Web sites) must be identified. (pp. 211 212)
190 One application of therapeutic writing that has been explored outside of th e United States uses a different approach than has thus far been mentioned. In England, at the Institute of Primary Care and General Practice, Sheffield University General Practitioners participated in a study employing writing exercises for their patients Patients who presented with depression or anxiety were asked by their doctors to participate in expressive writing exercises. One of the General Practitioners in the study ease is when patients are not at ease with their bodies. Patien ts present with many psychological problems, which it is important not to medicalise. But they feel they need to present with medical symptoms, and feel embarrassed to show emotions. nt and Sampson, 1 998, p. 79). W hether writing about illness or discussing sickness with a medical professional, certain narrative structures underpin both activities. While much of current health communication practices evolved from traditional social science traditions, ethnographers such as Patricia Geist Martin and Laura Ellingson are making progress promoting personal narrative and autoethnography in health education and communication. Furthermore, health communication covers a broad spectrum of topics from social and cultural issues, to social marketing and health campaigns (du Pre', 2005; Wright, Sparks A recent visit to the website shows that health commu nication is one of the most promising fields in terms of nu mber of advertised job openings. Many graduate students may want to consider positions a t institutions such as hospices, hospitals, or non profit organizations. The job prospects both in and out of the
191 academy should encourage current and potential autoethnographers who study health and related issues As exemplars, Elissa Foster, one of my interviewees, and her partner Jay Baglia, are both graduates from the doctoral program in the Communication Department of the University of South Florida and now work at Lehigh Valley Hospital. Both were previously employed in academe but now are using their expertise in health communication in their roles as medical educators. Certainly health communication is a field that is growing quickly and offers a great deal in terms of future research, as well as employment opportunities for those interested in health and illness narratives. While this is promising news, p art of my research project was to study the future of autoethnography and discern its potential problems as well as its possible futures. Before I explore some of the challenges facing second generation autoethnographers, it is necessary first to discuss further the first generation experienc e in the academic arena. Following that, I will compare and contrast the unique constraints and opportunities for second generation autoethnographers First Generation Autoethnographers In the months of writing this dissertation, one topic that continual ly required revision was my impression of the first generation autoethnographers. As part of my research, I had read almo st all their books and articles but Carolyn pushed me to read more about what they said about their experiences in coming to the fiel d. I knew I was an early draft that they did not upon qualitative research and magically their careers esc alated. Originally, I attributed
192 much of their success to their young ages when they earned their doctorates (as opposed such as myself) W hile this was one factor in their achievements, it does not tell the whole story. My initial version read like a brief newspaper article: The majority of first generation autoethnographers earned their doctorates at a young age (most i n their early to late twenties) and were ambitious. They devoted themselves to the academic life and advanced through the ranks via hard their hard work, substantial service and numerous publications. These accomplishments earned them At this point, because t hey had attained the highest rank afforded in the academy, they had the freedom to study narrative inquiry, qualitative research, and autoethnography. In conjunction with peers who had s imilar goals and values t hey generously applied decades of their talent and intellect to advance qualitative scholarship. Due to this think means, and opportunities, a blossoming occurred in qualitative research, interpretive ethnography, narrative, and autoethnography. I think of this period as a phenomenon whereby the time/place/people were perfectly synchronized to generate a quantum leap in qualitative writing and autoethnography. My original explanation for the burgeoning of personal narratives was akin to the song lyrics that extol the vir tues of a time Jupiter aligned with Mar s y or may not have been a factor. Nonetheless, Carolyn refused to let me rely on that as a primary explanation. She sent me away to read more because I was missi ng a crucial historical connection. Now, after digesting
193 tomes about post modernism, the crisis of representation, poststructuralism, and paradigm shifts, I understand better the cultural climate that made their work possible. When I demonstrated my cur rent understanding of this topic, Carolyn finally shared her version of their success in a telephone conversation from North Carolina. After a lengthy discussion, I reiterated to Carolyn saying that the reasons you think the fir st generation was successful when it was is because (1) you were all formally educated in traditional disciplines such as sociology and communication (2) it was a time when there were decent job options in academe (3) you all ended up teaching in Ph.D. pro grams and obtained reputations and positions prior to doing qualitative work (4) historically the crisis of representation and the paradigm shift that Kuhn (1996) talks about, made the times ripe for change and rebellion, especially for women and minoritie s and (5) you helped each other professionally by s manuscripts and you also got it finally. I still th ought my version had some merit but admittedly lacked the socio cultural component necessary for this type of a research endeavor (for the formal review of these cultural movements as related to autoethnography, se e Chapter One and also the first generatio n panel section in Chapter Three). However, one unexpected benefit from better understanding t he first success was that it better positioned me to examine the challenges and opportunities facing the second generation.
194 Potential Constraints of the Emerging Autoethnographers tenured, Assistant Professor position in English at a community college at the age of 40 to earn my Ph.D. Although I was committed to st udying narrative and earning my doctorate, I soon realized that pursuing a Ph.D. requires a tremendous commitment of to get a Ph.D...Fifty percent of students drop ou t along the way, with dissertations being a mature student, such as whether to work full time (which most say is close to impossible as a doctoral student) or to work p art time and/or as a teaching assistant which is almost full time work yet garners poverty level wages (which is a bit embarrassing if you are not so young). Furthermore, older students may not want to leave their geographic area to study at one of the few universities specializing in interpretive/autoethnographic studies. As part of my mission, I went online and searched the National Communication Association [NCA] database and was able to make a few determinations. I wanted to see how many institutio ns of higher education in the United States offered a Ph.D. in Communication. While the NCA database revealed that 77 institutions offer doctoral programs in Communication, many of these are focused on media, broadcast, or journalism studies. A concentra concentr ations yielded 15 universities. The highest number of institutions offering doctoral degrees numbered
195 qualitative research, autoethnography, or ethnography. Looking at these numbers is thought provoking. No matter what the age of a doctoral student, many may not want to leave their communi ty to pursue graduate work or future employment, or they have partners or children who do not want to be uprooted. Many of the second generation autoethnographers and those following will have, or may want to have, children. The responsibilities of spous al or parental commitments may likely serve as constraining factors. With the Ph.D. taking so many years to complete, the issues of geographic location, sacrifices of time and money are not to be taken lightly. I personally have spent almost $50,000 to d ate in the process of pursuing my doctorate. Then there is alwa ys a question of finding a job. Despite the immense personal gain after graduation, most graduates have an interest in securing employment, particularly a coveted tenure track position in aca deme. time, non tenure track positions are also increasing...tenured and tenure track positions have become decidedly in the 20007, para. 2). Similarly, according to the American Association of Universit New York Times 2007, para. 8). It is also a distinct possibility that it will be more difficult for some of us who are more ma ture to secure a job due to age discrimination. Another less attractive scenario is that new Ph.D.s will need to take a ny reasonable academic position available even if it is not related to their academic specialty. While the first generation certainly did not have it
196 easy, the second generation faces incredible competition to simply secure tenure track jobs, especially at institutions that embrace qualitative methods and/or autoethnography. The World Now F or many of us, the events of September 11 th occurred while we were still in graduate school or new hires (both Chris Poulos and Larry Russell were newly graduated track appointments). This tragic event was destabilizing for millions, but I wonder if the uncertainty and anxiety of the day is affecting the second generation in untold ways? What I often sensed from my interviewees was a low grade anxiety and sense of fear. Certainly much of this could be beca use they are not as professionally established as the first generation, but I also feel As I write this in 2008, the United States is still engaged in a war in Iraq and a ost everyone I know has been deeply affected by the signs of a housing market, high employment rate, educational budget cuts, mortgage crisis, plunging stock market, cost of h ealth insurance, devaluation of the dollar, global outsourcing, price of gas, and tensions of an upcoming presidential election are creating a volatile and unpredictable environment. T he United States is experiencing sustained economic upheaval, and it i s not clear when or how the circumstances will improve. Because of these uncertainties, I struggle to stay positive, avoid risks in general, and try not to obsess too much about my future, financial burdens, or the war. I certainly cannot speak for every one in my position, but I
197 think some of the limitations of the second generation must be acknowledged in order to lead to creative solutions. Recapping the Challenge As discussed above, here are some issues that may constrain the advancement of autoethno graphy via Ph.D. Communication students: (1) undertaking a Ph.D. involves a 5 8 year time/energy commitment, in addition to a sacrifice of finances without an assurance that it will lead to gainful employment (2) tenure track jobs are rapidly diminishing d ue to the historical and economic climate and competition for these jobs is fierce even among highly qualified candidates and (3) in the United States of the dozens qu alitative, narrative, or autoethnographic studies and, finally (4) as a result of the limited number of Ph.D. programs, the geographic, time, financial commitments and s who are often attracted to studying autoethnography) the proliferation of autoethnographic seeds via doctoral students is greatly hindered. I r students into universities where there are Ph.D. programs where they can teach other people to do this. And to me that has been a technically I could complete this d issertation without having any profound revelations about this conundrum, but the problem haunted me. I went over the issue again and
198 again: we needed more Ph.D. programs with autoethnographic studies and more Ph.D. students who studied it in order to sec ure the future of autoethnography. While driving, sleeping, showering, reading, walking, waiting in line, cooking, I would ask mysel ow do we get more Ph.D. students to study autoethnography so they can teach others auto myself why I cared so much about this particular method of inquiry but that answer always came easily: autoethnography is a unique combination of art and science with a focus on helping others When I remembered my purpose, I was reenergized. Patterns Nascent answers came tentatively as I read through my interviews and field notes. I slowly saw patterns emerge. Some concepts were obvious, others needed elaboration, and a few I dismissed repeatedly, but they refused to recede into my mind. All of the following ideas came to me as the combined result of: re reading the autoethnographic work of first and second generation scholars as well a s critiques of autoethnography; listening and attending numerous conferences over the yea rs including SSSI, ICQI and NCA annual meetings; reading posts for the past two years on the interna tional Autoethnography listserv; and conducting in depth interviews and informal discussions with qualitative researchers. All of these endeavors are fuele d by my passionate belief that autoethnography is a unique, artistic form of scholarship with an immense power to help others.
199 Professional Options The following sections discuss numerous ways that autoethnography c an be advanced more efficiently and d iversely P art of the problem all along was that I had d o we get more Ph.D. finally came to me when I broadened autoethnography significantly, we need more types of eggs in more kinds of baskets in more varied places. I offer a plan of action that will advance the autoethnographic movement and certainly includes still training Ph.D. students to become scholars and professors in the traditional sense. However, it does not rely on them as the only conduits to disseminate autoethnography. The Dream autoethnography via doctoral students and within higher education, particularly during a dream after weeks of reading and re reading my research findings. In the dream, I was cheerfully giving away bumper stickers and very cool black t shirts to anyone who and Into the Streets. --at least not at first. However, I am a firm believer in the power of the subconscious mind to instruct especially when I am
200 immersed in a writing pro ject. I concluded that the message was to take autoethnography from the tower (academic audiences) to the streets (meaning common people?). Fortunately, I remembered something that Norman Denzin had said. In one of the panels referring to insularity of writing within our own discipline. I began to realize that not only are we in the tow er, we may be in our own wing on the top floor. So my first schools, medicine, p opular magazines, global academic towers, global streets, and into pedestrian bookstores around the planet. Why not? Of the autoethnographic pioneers, we already had role models: Carolyn, Norman, and Laurel were trained in one discipline and then crossed over to Communication. Autoethnography is a versatile approach and well suited for travel within and without of academe. The Atlantic Divide the Qualitative Inquiry conferen ce: I really would like to see our work move outside of academic scholarly endeavor to speak to really can do that. You see jo urnals in the Sunday New York Times Magazine or
201 Mother Jones venues? Lesa and I discussed this topic in more detail in our private interview. When we were placem She continued to relay her story of an article she wrote involving Pat Tillmann, a teenage football player who turned down a 3 million dollar contract to play with the Arizona Cardinals in order to join the war in Iraq. Soon after, he was killed by friendly fire and there was an elaborate governmental cover up. Lesa goes on to explain that she wrote an evocative piece about these events, and when she presented it at a conference, someone enthusiastically said she should publish it in Atla ntic Monthly Lesa continues: You know, I bought an Atlantic Monthly ve an audience --During our interview I did not think too much about the goldmine inherent in her comments. However, as part of my ongoing research, I returned home and beg an Performing Femininity: Rewriting Gender Identity (2004).
202 I was struck once again at the scope of her work. Then I recalled that she had said Now, here is a woman who wrote a brilliant book with over 140 references, earned a Ph.D. bu t Atlantic Monthly she is taught how in the academy. incapable of learning the ropes when it comes to publishing in the ma instream. We simply do not pursue this avenue because not only is it not rewarded, it is discouraged. In venues, not mainstream outlets. Lesa, a highly talented scho lar and creative writer, also highlights two other critical points: while she knew the Tillmann piece was appropriate tory because many times I have felt exactly the same way. I myself have self published two books that I will not include on my curriculum vita scholar. Carolyn Ellis describes a similar e xample of this schism that occurs within academe (2006) preserve of an elite class of professionals who wittingly or unwittingly divide the world
203 into those who see the light and thos (and perhaps especially) a discrimination that carries to outside of the academy. What I find potentially exciting is that autoethnography is uniquely positioned to undercut conventions of writing that foster hierarchy yet this is also its s trength and makes it ideally suited to go to the mainstream. One of the most interesting findings of my research was that several of the interviewees indicated a desire to succeed in the mainstream [Trujillo, Rambo, Lockford, and Foster] but I sensed the y did not pursue it vigorously because popular writing is not It is also difficult, but not impossible, to publish in the mainstream. However, there is another problem that relates to the competition for tenure and academic promotion. Lesa explains Atlantic Monthly you have to have enough numbers of publications by the time you go up for tenure and persuasive objections was articulated by Carol Rambo. When I asked her if she had any desire to publish mainstream writing, she summed up her objecti While several factors are considered for tenure and promotion such as student evaluations, service work, and professional development, publications also play a part. Carol continued, It
204 shared, When [mainstream publishing] and I have an article I I am intrigued with this and ask her to share the details of why her IRB [Institutional Review Board] o Field and Stream When I got this rejection from the IRB, I walked to the bookstore and I bought a big chunky 2004, at the time it happened, because I was they felt all these different things, but basically it was just too risqu for them I think. s I note that when they were inspired, Lesa bought and Atlantic Monthly and Carol bought a -both very clear indicators of their in terest in mainstream
205 publishing. Y et despite their curiosity and desire, neither followe d through on their impulses. I n the panel featuring first generation autoethnographers, it was Bud Goodall who pushed for scholars to go more public with their valuable research and writing: both to the academy and to the more general publics that pay us university salaries to live this How well do we train generations of writers in the practicalities of being a writer? A bout getting a literary agent? Writing a literary inquiry? Putting together a blog? Putting together a website? These are things that should be part and parcel of the enterprise that we call academic preparation for a future Because unless we gi ve a very competitive, highly competitive market, without any skill. Other than that t quite enough [italics mine]. academicians pursue parallel tracks that include training to get agents and publish in popular don believe one of the most important findings of this research is that we should empower all
206 graduate students not only to write literature reviews, research questions, and meth ods chapters but the rudiments of publishing outside of academe. magazines, you have to call, you have to pitch, you have to be a go interviewed stated that they had looked into getting published in the mainstream, but there was also a r ecurring sense of fear about such endeavors. So far I detected the following problems: (1) academicians need to support themselves and their families financially which is traditionally secured by the promise of long term employment vi a tenure and promotion s (2) academicians must publish in peer reviewed journals and academic presses to get tenure and to get promoted, all of which is becoming more and more competitive (3) if they publish only autoethnographic work they may encounter res istance such as in the contended tenure case of Chris Poulos (4) if for some reason they do write for mainstream audiences, the work will not count toward tenure or promotion and if they do it anyway, it may have a detrimental effect such as in the case of Carol Rambo (5) when they can finally achieve the rank of full Professor have the freedom to write whatever they want without fear of reprisal (7) however, some of us, du e to advan ced age, may be ready to retire by then.
207 So in short, there is no real incentive for academics to pursue publishing outside of the mainstream -or so it seemed. I just kept getting the feeling that I was asking the wrong questions or looking for the wrong answers. Then something dawned on me: what if mainstream publishing WAS rewarded in academe? In a spotlight panel related to tenure at the ICQI confe rence, Mitch Allen, editor of L eft Coast Press iterated that while publishing with a uni versity press is considered ommittees, that most university presses have become He continued to assert that: More and more they are looking for trade books, bo oks that will go to a general public audience that they can sell at bookstores...their standards for academic rigor have become intermixed with their standards for public sale. At this point versity press if they have written a good narrative that has potential to be a more popular book so As a life long academician, I like our ivory tower, as it is often a very cozy to be especially with the right mix of colleagues. Plus, the view is great and it is nice and quiet so I can get my writing and rese arching done. However, I am beginning to realize that I am, and my scholarship is, lonely up here. In A Methodology of the Heart (2004) Ron
208 for writing the book was deep dissatisfaction with academic treatises that were read by few, devoid of emotion, and did little good in the larger social arena (pp. 11 sentime nts echo an earlier lament from Laurel Richardson (2000): Qualitative work could be reaching wide and diverse audiences, not just devotees of the topic or the author. It seems foolish at best, and narcissistic and wholly self absorbed at worst, to s pend months or years doing research that ends up not (p. 517) Laurel also speaks from experience about trying to reach a larger public. In her Writing Strategies: Reaching Dive rse Audiences (1990) she discusses her trade book The New Other Woman (1985). However, that book was published over two decades ago and she confesses that if she were to write a trade book again, she would do it differently: I would try even harder to g et an agent, especially if I were interested in a large book to be sponsored and recommended to a specific editor by an agent, sales representative, acquisitions editor, or a colleague who had published with that editor or reviewed him/her. (1990, p. 31). More recently, a scholar discusses her experience with mainstream publishing. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Whisnant, 2008) features a story titled,
209 and large b ookstores as an overall positive experience but draws a similar conclusion as p. C3). I was also reminded that Carol yn had also considered publishing mainstream (Ellis, 2004, pp. 263 264) and Final Negotiations (Ellis, 1995) was in one instance called a n autobiography (1996, Zussman) and listed as a trade book, showing up in some bookstores. Buddy Goodall actually had several mainstream publishing projects which he describes in his latest book (2008). According to Mitch Allen and Bud Goodall times are changing and we can use that to our advantage. Goodall even goes so far as to assert that if we can make our of justice to guide human institutions, ensuring the health of all our citizens and sustainability of our beautiful blue but tortured planet, our work will attain a va p. 283). At the very least, I feel strongly that a primary mission for second and third generation autoethnographers is to attempt to take their work ping academics from publishing in the mainstream and scholarly journals if that is what it takes to get tenure or a promotion. In fact, the American Sociological Association (ASA) has already made strides in that direction in their promotion and support o f public sociology. Public Sociology ced my understanding of some of the promises and pitfalls of any extra academic pursuit
210 Publishing academic work for the public is a topic that is already being addressed and argued about by many sociologists. At the 2004 annual American Sociological Association (AS A) meeting, Michael use of reflexive knowledge and its appeal beyond the university (Zussman and Misra, 2007, p. 3). What is augured by this shift in sociology. After all, autoethnograp hy is a social science and shares many qualities inherent in sociology. Furthermore, this topic is hotly debated and f the writing. These include (1) validation of existing public sociologies (2) introduc tion of incentives to reward its pursuit in academia and (3) determinations of he underscores: (pp. 57 58). In fact, these issues are the very ones that unwi ttingly underpin my thematic chapters: I ask how do we define and evaluate autoethnography? How do we help others? How do we teach and how do we reward writing it in the academy? According to Zussman and Misra: As both his sympathizers and critics acknow public sociology seriously would require rethinking and remaking our relationship to the university, our relationship to other disciplines, the ways we train graduate
211 students, the ways we reward and honor colleagues, and last (not least) the way we Change is inevitable but the latter point illustrates why it is slow. Once a part of any system is modified, then the entire infrastructure is disturbed. However messy or taxing the process might be, it is also to consider expanded publishing options read entitled, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain (2 007). The author, Maryann Wolf, is an education professor at Tufts University with a Harvard anticipate (and frankly hope) that this type of writing is part of the acade mic future, especially autoethnography. Her conclusions are intellectual but accessible, and what I found most interesting was the way she incorporated her formal research. In a preface to ...this book is based on hundreds of invisible sources. Because it is a trade book meant for general audiences, I have not given all these sources immediately in a reference or a footnote, as is my way in academic writing. Rather I have used this notes sectio n with catch phrases rather than numbers for giving background information...All the reference materials are found here. (p.237) This dual approach to writing could serve at least two critical purposes: it could still help traditional academics secure tenure while simultaneously advancing scholarship to an exponentially larger audience: mainstream and global readers. Then I pondere d the
212 question, and could dramatically increase academic job prospects? Creative Graphy During this intense questioning phase, ideas came to me in unusual ways. At the tim e, I was employed at a liberal arts school, Eckerd College, teaching in a program for mandatory to pass before students proceeded with the remainder of their studies. One of the primary reasons I was hired was because I had a background in both English and autoethnography, and the heart of the LLV course was an assignment whereby students had to write an autobiographical paper. In this self narrative, they were to reflect on the meaning of their lives until this point and then anticipate possible futures. It was a wonderful course to teach and the papers were not always refined, but always deeply interesting and evocative. In the course of the semester, I met several other adjuncts as well as full time professors of the college and was surprised at their reactions when I shared details of my autoethnographic research. Whether they taught history, literature, composition, or I had not counted on was the ways in to assume that of course I would write about others (ethno) and use myself (auto) as the lens. No matter what, the staff and faculty co ntinually referred to me as a writer or a writing teacher, even though I was in no way affiliated with the English Department. It
213 During this same term, I conducted my disse rtation interviews with second generation autoethnographers, and noted how many of them had degrees in fields other than communication including: sociology, theatre, counseling, playwriting, religion and philosophy. Of particular interest to me where thos e who were trained in fields related to Fiction. My background is similar; in undergradu ate school, I double majored in English Arts program, as well as avocationally. Finally, my Ph.D. studies in Communication culminated in an investigation of personal writing, health communication, and narrative inquiry with a focus on autoethnographic writing. I also realized that several of my fellow Ph.D. students had training in cr eative writing and/or English. As I pondered the larger and I recall a line from the 1996 Compos ing Ethnography (Ellis and Bochner). In a ethnographic writing as a form of creative non fiction, to take certain expressive liberties associated with the arts, but to feel the ethical pull of converting data into experiences believe strongly that...we must learn to produce ethnographic work that is more
214 stories out there...I believe we can make a significant contribution to public knowledge guaranteed connection to scholarship, I decided to explore if this might be a potential aphy. without compromising our standards of including theory and scholarship? If so, could the g creative writing (including autoethnography or similar variations) in colleges and univers ities? If so, were there promising job openings? Did the field of Creative Writing have more tenure track positions, especially in creative non fiction? Then I realized that many of my interviewees also had skills in playwriting and poetry writing --I wo uld look into that as well. I began with research. As a critical point of clarification, a doctorate is not necessary to teach Creative Writing at colleges or universities. An M.A. is required, but the Master of Fine Arts in Writing (MFA) is regarded as a terminal degree and puts the recipient in a position to apply for tenure track positions. The MFA usually takes 2 years to complete and graduates exit the program with a book length manuscript in their genre. Sometimes a teaching practicum is required, sometimes it is not. Furthermore, from 2006
215 reports that there were 916 full time academic job openings in creative writing and 484 of those were tenure track creative writi ng positions in higher education. Now this was indeed interesting news, but I wondered if people with Ph.D.s in Communication, particular with a narrative or autoethnographic focus, would be attractive candidates for any of these coveted 484+ tenure track jobs? All I could think of was autoethnographers like Lesa Lockford and Carol Rambo finally being rewarded for mainstream writing while still having the prestige and options afforded by having a Ph.D. The most direct answers came from responses to e mai ls from two program directors of Creative Wr iting Departments. Rita Ciresi is the program director of the brand new (beginning in the Fall of 2008) MFA in Creative Writing at the University of South Florida. Regarding securing a tenure track job, she can didly explained that degrees were largely irrelevant unless applicants had publications. She said that for one recently advertised tenure track position, more than two hundred of candidates applied for the job elf has an MFA in Creative Writing and has several published novels to her credit. I accepted her news graciously and then sent an e mail to Sterling Watson, who has an M.A. in English, is also the author of several novels, and is the head of the Creative Writing Department at Eckerd College. Conversely, he did care about how much they had published. He relayed that he had
216 candidates had book length manuscripts to show him. He implied that this was very bad news Apparently at least one book was a nec essity. I thanked him graciously and began to type up my findings. In the midst of writing, it occurred to me that many autoethnographers I interviewed had book length manuscripts in the form of their dissertations and the majority had their work publish ed as books (Foster, Ellingson, Lockford, Geist Martin, Etherington, Trujillo, Poulos -in press). The first generation autoethnographers had several published books as well. Nonetheless, all of these books were published in academic venues only, not in ma academic job options would expand dramatically. Potential Employment Options As cited earlier in this cha pter, one of the problems that Ph.D. students in Communication face is finding jobs teaching primarily narrative, qualitative or autoethnographic studies. Similarly, if there are jobs in sociology, education, or health, the institutions want applicants wi th doctorates specific to their field (according to 2007 Chronicle and HigherEd.com jobs list). However, if we acknowledge that we could teach autoethnography exclusiv ely and, in many cases, to graduate students. For instance, according to the Associated Writers and Writing Programs database (AWWP), there are currently 135 Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in Creative Writing in the United States. Of those 135 progra ms offering specialties in poetry,
217 non fiction as noted by Ellis ( Ellis and Bochner, 1996) and Behar (1999). Also, as discussed at length in my literature review in Chapter One, the two genres share many of the same roots and concerns. Of particular significance for future job opportunities and advancement of autoethnography is the sheer numbe r of graduate students interested in creative writing. According to a recent Atlantic Monthly article, each year 20,000 people apply for admission to MFA programs (Delaney 2007, para. 4) and where there are students, there have to be teachers (thus the 484 + tenure track jobs previously mentioned). Of the most interest to me, however, is a very recent phenomenon that bodes exceptionally well for track teaching positions...the Ph. is to think that the years and money spent toward a Ph.D. now also qualifies you as a top candidate of those vying for jobs in creative writing because you have a coveted advanced degree. Creative Writing Component With a Ph.D. (as the ultimate terminal degree) there is no need for an MFA. As Ciresi and Watson concurred, it is publications that are most critical. I assume that when when it comes to employment in colleges or universities. One caveat is that currently most professors (and Directors) of MFA programs, such as Ciresi and Watson, do not have Ph.D.s although this will likely
218 change. According to the AWWP website, c urrent ly there are 34 institutions offering --almost all having been established in the last few years as the interest in arts based academic programs have increased. The Creative Writing programs are housed in English Departments an d the curriculum include s theoretical and histor ical underpinnings, and the final product is a that a Ph.D. in Communication with a focus on autoethnography would make for a very attractive candidate on the creative writing job market. Ph.D. programs in Creative Writing are growing but not that quickly. As a result, one of the perks of having a P h.D. now is that it would be hard to see an institution hiring non Ph.D.s to teach in a doctoral program. I suspect that the need for qualified professors with creative writing skills and Ph.D.s will increase dramatically in the future. To take my proposal a bit further, I suggest that all autoethnographers study creative writing as part of their coursework. These courses could count as an elective or even a methodology. In fact, the reason that I knew Rita Ciresi is that I was enrolled in a Creative Non F iction class with her at the University of South Florida, early in my doctoral studies. She was a superb and dedicated teacher with unique insights about writing that I had not thought to consider. Moreover, the top four schools known for autoethnogra phic studies also have Creative Writing MFA programs: Arizona State University, Southern Illinois University, University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana, and University of South Florida (beginning
219 in Fall 2008). All offer graduate creative writing courses and Communication students may very want to avail themselves to this potential career enhancer. As a perk, if autoethnographers took courses in creative writing, they might also polish their writing and learn more about literary standards for creative n on fiction. Also, a brief mention need s to be made that another area of possible jobs would be teaching in strange fortune not only welcomes, but demands, a mix of a cademic and artistic modalities. Aut o e thnog raphers looking for future employment may want to also check for humanities based and interdisciplinary positions in and out of academe. I also want to credit Buddy Goodall for planting this seed when he shared that in Fiction as a boundaries between creative non ersonal I have always thought that when I write personal narrative... autoethnography is a fancier term then I am used to but I can carry it as well... I believe firmly in the power of personal narrati ve I think that it gives us a wonderful opportunity to use creative nonfiction as an outlet for our work to reach broader public audiences I envision for us.
220 As I was following up on this topic, I e mailed Buddy, and he was kind enough to share with me a chapter from his newest book Writing Qualitative Inquiry: Self, Stories, and Academic Life (2008). In the final c d the Academy: B ecom Goodall opens with a story about an assistant professor in the Department of Speech at Wayne State University. In 1966, Phillip K. Tompkins published a piece in Esquire However, Tompkins makes an interesting point which is that as Communication scholars, Similarly, Goodall recounts the words of another colleague Gerald scholars turned inward and created journals as the primary vehicles for the dissemination of knowledge, before we divided up the study of communication into narrow specializations, we had to cultivate a public audience to drum up interest in our subjects talking Plato, Aristotle, the Sophists, all the way up to the early 20 th When I read this chapter, it dawned on me how well suited we are as communication scholars to reach people in ways that many other acad emics do not. For this reason, I believe that we should attempt to make cross disciplinary connections with others who are having similar discussions in the academy, particularly those in sociology, creative writing, and journalism.
221 Sociologist Judith S She says style that pervades our ac 57) a sentimen t echoed by journalist Barbara Ehrendich, author of the best selling ethnography Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America ( 2002) She advocates driven discipline, as opposed to a mere chunk of academic turf, [that] must reach out to o am talking about a complete disregard for the disciplinary boundaries laid out in the Communication Currents that attempts to make communication more accessible to those outside of the discipline. But Goodall proposes that one of the most important next steps for reaching out in the future involves technology. In his latest work, he recounts his three experiences throughout the years of publishing mainstream and concludes the book with tips about how to get an agent, but also how to create an author website podcast and literary blog ( 2008, 258 280). In a similar fashion, in The Social Scientist as Public Intellectual (2006) Charles Gattone communicate with a greater number of people, without compromising the integrity of et, as its sources of
222 ng is where the public sphere writing that reaches across disciplines and into the world is the new gold standard, and creative nonfiction is the preferred style of this brave n ew genre. Democracy and the 243). Last of all, I just read an article in Spectra (2008), whereby Art Bochner speaks as column was based on an earlier publication (Bochner, 1997) but he is more emphatic in this contemporary version. He concludes the article with this call to ac how much change may threaten us, we need to consider alternatives --different goals, different styles of research and writing, different ways of bringing the academic and the Times are c hanging. Conclusion Inspired by True Events Sullivan. Is Jim in, or should She replies warmly, --right thro ugh.
223 thinking ahead to the unusual freedom this particular weekend offers. I have finally given all my committee members my dissertation and my defense date is set. While I am still mulling over this pivotal accomplishment, I am transported to mode and hear his matter of fact greeting: But I quickly bridge the Before I even finish my question, I am clicked off his speaker phone and am talking to him one on one. in his cheery assure him that all is well and remind him of our dinner plans. us to get to I made reservations for seven tonight -w I was planning on knocking off a little early so we could start our evening te your post dissertation days. B esides I been craving their linguine it carry I agree and about ov er carry out and frozen dinners. toast to the end of this chapter of your life and to the next on e --whatever that is. Speaking of, an y
224 We hang up and I head toward m y closet looking for something besides my usual flannel pajama ensembles -my dissertation writing uniforms. clothes, I suddenly feel exhausted by having to decide what I might wear when I leave the house. The intense months of revising the dissertation have made me chronically tired and much less creat ive in the fashion department. Although relieved to h ave a dissertation defense date finally I am hit with the Six years of waiting for this moment and now what? I have ignored friends, family, and my garden a s well as gained twenty pounds. I put away my easel and paints one of the few hobbies I cared ab out before I began pursing my Ph .D. How do I begin a new life that I already live in require homework assig nments or dissertation rewrites ? While most graduating doctoral students seg ue directly into academic jobs, I am not sure if I will be able to find a tenure track position in the Tampa area Jim definitely does not want to leave Florida. I could never work a regular nine to five job bu t I could possibly work freelance drowsiness, I wonder if I will have a definitive answer today from Dr. S. [abbreviated last name to protect her anonymity] just too hard to concentrate Maybe I should just rest my eyes for a few minutes before Jim comes home. Just a few minutes. I stretch out on the couch and the room fades to black. In the dream, the phone ring s and Dr. S. leave s a muffled message o n the answering machine. I wonder if the news will be good or bad. If I have to have a partner
225 when it comes to health issues she seems like a solid choice. As the dream continues, I am on the way to listen to my voicemail but the d errupt my mission so I head toward the front door. No matter how hard I try, it unlo cked but the doorbell continues to ring and then the doorknocker beg i ns banging. Finally, when I pry open the door no one is there, but on the stoop is the package I have been waiting for: a delivery from Amazon.com. When I open the box, there are three books inside: new book Writing Qualitative Inquiry, as well as How to Get a Literary Agent and Writing the Break Out Novel Instead of be ing happy as I normally am when I receive any Amazon delivery, I feel confused. I cannot decide which book to read first Should I choose the scholarly book or the guide to literary agents, or the book about novel writing? I feel paralyzed with indecis ion about my priorities Which one is really the most important? T he doorbell rings again and the doorknocker bangs loudly. Then outside, I hear several voices, I peek out the front window and see a van with blue a nd red sirens flashing then hear the Decide Now, Decide Now or Else ---then a loud his is the Decision Police and you must make a choice about which book to read first or we are coming in, we repeat, w heir voices fade as the phone rings again It is Dr. S. and t his time I can hear her voice clearly: wonderful news. Call me at the office or on my cell when you get a is excellent A s the machine clicks off, I realize that all the outside cacophony has disappeared.
226 No more voices. No more Decision Police lurking. I look down clad in pajamas but a silk green skirt and real shoes, not just socks. I feel relieved, pick up one of the Amazon books, and snuggle deeper into the sofa as I begin the first chapter. opening line, I think comes through the door you? Oh, you must have been exhausted I Slowly I shift consciousness. Out of my dream or still in it? Reading or not and street shoes. The n I remember: I did change clothes but decided to lay down for just a minute. --do you still want to go to dinner? If not, I could get us carry A ro mantic outing for a change, and C hicken M arsala and good wine and toast s I get up and give Jim a hu --it will be fun and a nice change. I just need to check something real quick on the answer ing machine before I have wonderful news. the news is excellent. So part of the dream was real. Am azing how dreams and
227 reality can merge when the conditions are right. As I am musing about this, Jim walks in and asks, Is ever ything okay? Who is that Doctor that called? Well, there is but I was waiting to hear back before I told you the good news. Dr. S. is a psych iatrist who got my name from a woman at the Jim interrupt and asks, she got your I crack a big she wanted my help. She wants to write a book about depression but needs a writer to help her out, but not like a ghost writer. I told her that I w ould collaborate with her, do the research and the creative writ i ng aspect, maybe even conduct some interviews but I insisted on being a co author. So on the fron t of the book, it would say Mary S., M.D. with Kendall Smith Sullivan, Ph.D. Just like that this but it sounds like a great job. But wha ecause she conducts clinical trials, she said that the pharmaceutical company or one of the labs, would fund the project and she said there would be plenty of money for the project Plenty I nod And, after this project is over I have a few other options related to work that I want to run by you, so we better go lose our reservation. As we quickly head out the front door, I almost trip. When I look down, I see the
228 familiar Amazon.com logo on a large box. So dreams do become reality, or maybe it is the other way around. In any case, n ow I know exactly what I will read next: all of the books --and in no particular order Just for today, it is time to celebrate.
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248 A ppendices
249 Appendix A. The following questions are taken from the preliminary Qualitative Inquiry Conference Program and will asked of the panelists of Generation Autoethnographers Reflect on Writing Persona Let's Get Personal II: Second Generation Autoethnographers Reflect On Writing Personal (1). Personal history : Discuss your experience with writing personal narratives or autoethnographies. For example, what wa s the first personal narrative you wrote, when and why did you write it? What was your experience with publishing it? Discuss other personal narratives that followed this one. (2). Presentation of Selves : What selves do you allow to become present in your work and what selves do you leave out? What selves do you become by virtue of having written autoethnographically? (3). Evidence and Truth : (4). Evaluation : How should we evaluate personal narratives? What is good autoethnography? What is the role of writing? Fiction? Creative non fiction? (5). Ethics : How do you make decisions about what to write, what to leave out, who to ask for con sent, and whose voices to include? Discuss a particular case. (6). Current state of Autoethnography : How would you characterize the current state of
250 autoethnography? For example, what are its strengths and tensions? What have we done right? What have we d one wrong? Why do you think autoethnography grew in popularity so, describe it and discuss why it might be happening. (7). Challenges and Goals : What are the major chal lenges autoethnographers face in the next decade? What work needs to be done? In what new directions do we need to go? What would you most like to see happen in autoethnography politically, practically, and/or academically and intellectually? Where do you see your work heading?
251 Appendix B. Interview Questions One of the interesting aspects of my dissertation is that the interviewees are educated and employed in a variety of disciplines. Each participant was asked a set of core questions and then given the opportunity to respond at the end of the interviewing with any closing thoughts or comments. Right before I ask ed for closing comments, I ask ed ee as seemed appropriate Core Questions How did you begin writing autoethnographically? How would you define and evaluate autoethnography? What are your views on autoethn ograp hy as therapeutic writing? In what ways do you predict the field of autoethnography may change in the future? Other Pot ential Questions If you studied in an academic field prior to the one you are currently affiliated with, why did you choose that one then and this one now? Who were your mentors or writers who influenced your autoethnographic writing? What ethical issues do you think are raised in autoethnographic or narrative writing?
252 If you teach classes that incorporate autoethnography, how d oes teaching it differ than actually writing it? Do you have anything you would like to add or a story you would like to share?
253 Appendix C. Literature Review Charts by Discipline DISCIPLINE MULTI DISCIPLINARY GENRE Personal Essay, also known as Informal Essay, Familiar Essay writer often tells and does not show; vulnerability of writer essential for success; writer often poses as inferior to gain trust of audience Writing Characteristics Conversational and casual writing; everyday language is used; not usually scholarly although may include literary and historical allusions; oft en is ironic, humorous, exaggerated, comedic, and satiric in tone Temporal Aspects of the Writing Intuitive and non linear (unlike autobiography); smaller chunks of time or frames are examined; often includes fragments and digressions; smaller climaxes ra ther than traditional literary arc Methodology reflexive Ethical Concerns No formal protocol is followed; writer bears responsibility for Analysis and Evaluation Success is achieved when writer is vulnerable and topic resonates with reader Audience Average reader of human interest popular publications Purpose To entertain, inform, educate; to present the complexities of human experience; some writers call for pol itical and social reform Additional Distinctions Topics include: ruminating about the past, emphasis on local rather that national history, middle aged experience, human frailty, inner life, nature Influential Authors Baldwin, Benjamin, Borges, Didion, Dillard, Emerson, Hazlit, Johnson, Lamb, Lopate, Montaigne, Orwell, Rich, Seneca, Thoreau, Vidal, Woolf
254 DISCIPLINE JOURNALISM STUDIES GENRE Literary Journalism, also known as First Person Journalism, Intimate Journalism, New Journalism, Parajournalism, Personal Reporting, Creative Nonfiction Point of view may be first person or third person; writer acts as an objective observer; stance is mobile as they tell stories and also address readers directly Writing Characteristi cs choice: stories are often human interest describing routine and everyday events; accuracy of events essential; ordinary people become main characters in real life dramas; there are no co mposite characters; pseudonyms are often used but may still identify people, places, and events; emphasis on dialogue, storyline and accuracy Temporal Aspects of Writing May be chronological or punctuated with digressions to emphasize events; writing may utilize literary devices such as suspense, foreshadowing and flashbacks; background research is often interwoven into stories Methodology the community (often for years); they observe, conduc t interviews, and engage in historical research Ethical Concerns their worlds; reporters and their sources need to be legally protected; participants often sign releases freeing the writer an d publisher; writers must live with potential repercussions of what they have written Analysis and Evaluation Success is based on accuracy of details and events; literary quality emphasized Audience Readers of mainstream publications Purpose To captur e real life drama and cultural values while using a personal voice and entertaining readers; address social and national issues that need reform or more attention Additional Distinctions Note the similarities between writers who are considered personal essayists and also literary journalists Influential Authors Capote, Didion, Harrington, Hoagland, Kidder, Kramer, Mailer, McPhee, Newman, Rhodes, Sims, Singer, Wolfe
255 DISCIPLINE PSYCHOLOGY AND MENTAL HEALTH GENRE: Therapeutic Writing Research and Practice Writer acts only as researcher; personal bias or feelings are rarely mentioned; hard core positivist stance; author is objective and distanced from subjects Writing Characteristics Third person or passive voice is used; sch olarly and formal; uses academic verbiage; employs statistics, graphs, and case studies Temporal Aspects of the Writing Almost always chronological with the exception of the conclusions that reflects on various aspects of the experiment Methodology Usually quantitative research; typical assessment tools include inventory tests, scales, and the Linguistic and Word Count Inquiry computer assessment program. Physiological tests used include resting blood pressure levels, enzyme counts, heart rate level s, perspiration rates and blood count levels and number of visits to the doctor Ethical Concerns Particular concern is taken to (1) screen out applicants with mental instability (2) thorough explanations are given and participants sign release forms (3) An Institutional Review Board (IRB) approves projects (4) presumably a disciplinary code of ethic is followed; author is distanced from experiments and case studies and is protected by formal institutional or organizational protocols Analysis and Evaluat ion Results are derived and presented in quantitative terms; validity, generalizability, replication, and reliability are primary concerns Audience Research conducted for publication or presentation in academic circles; possibly conducted to help mental health professionals working in the field Purpose To enlighten other academicians or professionals; could assist researcher in obtaining tenure, grants, or promotions; possible unspecified altruistic purposes; the role of cultural, political, and communit ies are not a relevant concern or determining factor in the research design or outcome Additional Distinctions n/a Influential Authors Hunt and Sampson, Mattingly, Monk et al Parry and Doan, Pennebaker, Polkinghorne, White and Epston
256 DISCIPLINE MULTI DISCIPLINARY includes Sociology, Anthropology, Communication, Cultural Studies, Race and Gender Studies, Aging, Education, Medicine GENRE: Autoethnography, also known as personal narrative, narratives of the self, reflexive ethnographies, narrative inquiry, self stories, interpretive ethnography, emotional sociology, autobiographical sociology, etc. First person voice always used; researcher is part of data; authors open themselves up to deep self introspection and vulnerability; se lf reflexivity is essential Writing Characteristics Includes literary conventions such as dialogue, characterization, and plot; encased in a variety of forms including (but not limited to): poetry, short stories, fiction, layered and multi voiced accoun ts, co constructed narratives, documentaries, and dramatic performances; emphasis on concrete details and rich (thick) description; may or may not contain academic citations Temporal Aspects of the Writing Writing employs temporal flexibility including foreshadowing, flashbacks, and non linear chronology Methodology Includes field notes, interviews, interactive interviews, life histories, focus groups, grounded theory, documentaries; conversational analysis research, introspection, research, participant observation, layered and multi voiced accounts, and emotional recall; self reflexivity is essential; autoethnography is both a process and a method Ethical Concerns (1) Fundamental is to write from an ethic of care and concern and do no harm (2) thoro ugh explanations of the study are given to participants (3) consent forms are signed (4) if appropriate, an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approves projects Analysis and Evaluation Goal is to evoke emotional experience in readers, give voice to marg through deep introspection; validity of work is judged on verisimilitude, not facts; Audience Multi disciplinary academic audience as well as mainstream Purpose Connect the personal to the cultural, social, and political; help self and others make meaning of the universal complexities of life that challenge humans; attempt to create narrative meaning in order to make better sense of the contingencies of human existence Additional Distinctio ns Merger of art and science; blurred genres; transdisciplinary Influential Authors Bochner, Charmaz, Conquergood, Denzin, Ellis, Geertz, Goodall, Lincoln, Pelias, Reed Danahay, Richardson, Riessman, Tedlock
257 DISCIPLINE MULTI DISCIPLINARY GENRE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ILLNESS AND TRAUMA NARRATIVES Always includes (but is not limited to) first person accounts of part of the story and demonstrates self reflexivity Writing Characteristics Flexible forms; may include journal entries, poetry, co constructed narratives, composite characters, dialogue, and literary or scholarly references Temporal Aspects of Writing Writers use a wide range of temporal frameworks; work may be chronological or employ typical literary devices such as foreshadowing and flashbacks; unlike personal essays digressions or irrelevant scenes are not included; focus is on making sense of the crisis perpetuated by the illness Methodology Recall, field notes, journal entries, self and other observation Ethical Concerns No formal protocol is usual followed although writer must bear the consequences of the work once it is in the public domain Analysis and Evaluation at is primarily therapeutic for the writer both emotionally and psychologically but often the writer intends to help others who have experienced similar devastation Audience Self primarily (for sense making) then others who may resonate or be aided by the narrative Purpose narrative to make sense of the disruption; altruistic purposes include helping others deal with similar crises Additional Distinctions The study of illness narratives is therapeutic illness narratives, and educating health care through story Major Authors Butler, Ellis Greenspan, Knapp, Lorde, Schneider, Stone, Verghese
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Kendall Smith Sullivan has been teaching in higher education for over twenty Huntingdon College, majoring in English Alabama at Birmingham and after graduating, she taught English and Literature for seven years at Kennesaw State University in Atlant a. In 1994, she moved to Florida to become taught there for six years until she moved to Tampa to pursue her doctorate with a focus on autoethnography and health communicat ion. In the past several years, she has taught at the University of South Florida and Eckerd College and has published in a variety of mainstream and academic venues. Currently, she is a freelance writer and has been the president of Quantum Wave Media C orporation since 2005.
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The autoethnographic call :
b current considerations and possible futures
h [electronic resource] /
by Kendall Smith-Sullivan.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 257 pages.
Dissertation (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2008.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: This research examines the increase of personal narratives in the past several decades, particularly the autoethnographic approach. The project begins with a historical contextualization of personal writing and autoethnography in relation to the crisis of representation and other diverse socio-political shifts. One outcome of these cultural transitions was a proliferation of illness narratives, narrative therapy, therapeutic writing, and narrative health communication. Also included in this research are data from interviews with emerging autoethnographers and participant observation that occurred at the Third International Qualitative Inquiry Congress. The conference served as prism through which to view qualitative scholarship as a whole, as well as current issues in autoethnography and its possible futures. Issues that are explored include what motivates scholars to write autoethnographically, how they define and evaluate autoethnography, their views on its use as therapeutic practice, and their vision for the future of the autoethnographic approach. Qualitative research methods are flourishing globally, and autoethnography is uniquely positioned to expand in the years ahead, particularly in the area of health communication, cross-disciplinary academic studies, and mainstream publishing venues.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Advisor: Carolyn Ellis, Ph.D.
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.