Brief Autoethnography 5: Outline of Outset

iProposed Outline of Developing Content Areas

I. Overview of autoethnographic practice and theory (non-exhaustive)

A. Review of Ellis, Reed-Danahay, and Denzin, et. al

1. Discussion of the interdisciplinary nature of autoethnographic practice

2. Discussion of autoethnography as a tool and practice in creating transformative social change through facilitating critical reflection on the factors and forces which impact human and ecosystemic life in the 21st century

a. liberation psychology

b. decolonization praxis

c. cultural narratives, epistemic knowing and identity

B.  Roots in symbolic interactionism (sociology) and practices of ethnography (anthropology), also expressive arts

C.  postmodern overview of postmodern (Baudrillard, Debord, others) perspectives on self, truth, and reality

1. self and simulacra

a. representational, reflexive, relational crises of existence

b. the compulsion to document as a means of proving one’s existence

c. the pathos therein

II. Reflection on researcher’s motivations in working with autoethnography

A. Summary of the researcher’s personal relationship with narrative writing as a life practice

1. letters, emails, writing-to-self

2. public writing, depositing private writings in public, online spaces

3. Purpose and motivations

a. visibility

b. vulnerability

4. impact of writing and self-presentation/writing on life experiences and circumstantial outcomes

1. pathos stories (define pathos)

2. reality stories (define reality)

3. Difficult choices and things I will not write about in ways that are public

B. Reflection on the process by which the research came to realize that they were powerfully motivated to work with autoethnographic practices within academic, vocational, and personal pursuits

1. Specific autoethnographic practices and methods that the researcher will be utilizing for the purpose of this inquiry

a. a layered account

b. narrative analysis

c. multimedia presentation

C. Discussion of potential outcomes, personal goals, and disclosure of known anticipated experiences

                           

[All of this is subject to change.]

I am not sure of the precise moment when I understood that I had begun to change my relationship with formal research and reporting, reviews of the literature and APA citations. For some reason, I have developed an attitude about formal reporting that  could be assessed as being immature, disrespectful, or wise, depending on how my views of the legitimacy of expectations placed upon participants in the production of knowledge, rhetoric, and culture were seen, what quality or character of the attitude was amplified or diminished, over-looked or hyperbolized. It’s possible that my conflicted relationship with academic endeavors, the culture and economies of higher education, the abitrers of ideas and policy, is simultaneously immature, disrespectful, and wise – all at the same time.

Since being challenged by the rubrics and linearity of graduate studies at the turn of the century, just prior to several absurdly tragic and dangerous years, I have thought/believed that the rigors of academic reporting and legitimacy of thought rooted in referencing are basically a tool of oppressive systems of knowledge bound by modernist privilege and prerogative in establishing systems of exclusion that relegate the production of knowledge to people who know how to use proper citation format.

I think – at this moment – that, very real politics of privilege and exclusion in knowledge production aside, my attitudes toward solid works of academic relevance and significance has been a little immature.

I struggle to maintain attention to linear coherence and my inattentiveness to tasks and processes of research. It’s odd that I should have a troubled relationship with research, because what I have realized over the past two days is that I love research, I love theory, I love putting together solid ideas. It feels good to me. It makes me happy. It is hard for me to work within rubrics and my coherence is subjectively variable, so it is intimidating for me to face work that carries these formalized expectations of performance and participation.

I have told myself, a number of times, “Forget it! Who needs to dally around in all that academic-ish work? I don’t need to do that. People have lives of deprivation, who am I to go to school?”

I have, believe me, tried to not finish graduate school, quitting programs and changing programs for over a decade – fraught with dissonance over privilege and education, muddled in purpose, confounded by how hard it was to re-recite knowledge in writing that was not remotely interesting or exciting to me, going through some life upheaval or another.

I have been finding myself feeling excited about constructing a well-researched and dynamically contextualized and told story, an autoethnographic project. I actually love reading about autoethnography, and postmodern theory/anti-theory, stories about telling stories.

This is not a project that I ‘have to’ do. It is not an opportunistic project, or a perfunctory project. This project is – in a lot of ways – my dream. It is an extension of so much that I have already been doing, a natural and – no matter how much I downplay it – hard-earned assertion of the part of me that will not let go of the importance of telling one’s story and exploring how it is that story comes to take such shape in the mind and heart, why we are who we believe ourselves to be, how history and imagined futures have shaped identity and outcomes within our lives.

However, I have never been so great at “reports,” at “research.”

It is going to be hard for me to complete this project, because my mind has become so willful and unwieldy in how I express myself, or how I feel I should express myself, and what I then feel about how I think I should be expressing myself. I have developed a chip on my shoulder in regard to other people’s theoretically possible perspectives and estimations of my voice and/or expression.

My perception of my own voice as written is pretty unreliable. Half the time, I know that objectively a great many of the words I have written are utterly superfluous, foolish even. I know this and then issue the words anyway, sometimes out of sheer defiance, and sometimes as an act of self-destruction. I am certain that I have – on one or two occasions –  put words together in a way that does something, enacts something, conveys something in such a way that the phrase or pause becomes a mechanism, almost a code. I know this not by the words, but by the feeling that I sometimes get when I am writing, a fluidity, a pleasant urgency, a single-minded clarity and rhythm in communication, soliloquy, like singing.

I know that, in order to begin the segment of my project which defines my chosen methodology and offers an initial contextual framework and scope of inquiry…

  • I need to write down an extensive list of all the reference resources I have identified and made note of
  • I need to begin to write down excerpts I may want to include in reporting, as well as further clarify my theoretical and practical girding in regard to this project at its outset.
  • Continue to remind myself that I am able to change my ideas and interaction with research processes and procedures, that – lately – working on this project has felt amazingly good, that I feel good about myself when I work on this project.

…My goal is to have a reference list completed by the end of this week, 02/21/2015

…I will utilize free-writing time to begin creating content according to the outline above.

OUTTAKE:

When I was 16 years old, I dropped out of high school and went to community college on the campus of a military installation in S. Georgia. I moved to the mountains, took a Western Civ. class in a modular pod, another community college. Finally, I transferred to Portland State University. I took my first sociology class and understood that I was a sociologist. I took long walks and discovered I was an artist, because I noticed things that nobody else seemed to notice, and saw them as beautiful and significant. I wrote letters to a friend, and found out that I could use words to make things happen.