ED 816: Reading Log for February 8

Monday, February 6, 2017

Article: Diving into autoehtnographic narrative inquiry: Uncovering hidden tensions below the surface by Brooke B. Eisenbach

My dog, Ginny, helped me with my homework this week. She wanted to make sure everyone knew that. She even put her head on top of it when she knew I needed a break to get up and move. 😉

Brief Overview of Chapter: 

Key Words/Phrases: This week, I am doing key words differently. The key words of this article are shown in the sketch appearing in my synthesis of the article.

Related quotes:
1. “Honest autoethnographic exploration generates a lot of fears and self-doubt and emotional pain. Just when you think you can’t stand the pain anymore that’s when the real work begins. Then there is the vulnerability of revealing yourself, not being able to take back what you ‘ve written or having any control over how readers interpret your story.” (Ellis, 2004).
2. “Autoethnographers have responded to these critiques by claiming to be more embodied (Sparkes, 2007), political (Jones, 2005), truthful (Ellis, 2001; Ellis & Bochner, 2000), experimental (Bochner & Ellis, 1996), and reflexive (Ellis & Bochner, 2000) ways of doing social science” (Jackson and Mazzei, 2008).
3. “Rather than more and more reflexivity that would reveal more and more about the researcher’s ways of knowing, we argue that autoethnographers might question what they ask of voice (or the narrative “I”), confront what they hear and how they hear (their own privilege and authority in listening and telling), and deconstruct why one story is told and not another” (Jackson and Mazzei, 2008).
4. “Bochner explains that autoethnographers need not be concerned with the veracity of the researchers’ own stories as reflecting their past experiences; the goal is to produce evocative, therapeutic stories through writing acts that lead to self-discovery and self-creation (Ellis & Bochner, 2000). This positioning of the “researcher as subject” assumes a self who is able to recognize, know, and easily capture the “I” that has had shared experiences with those whom s/he studies” (Jackson and Mazzei, 2008).
**There are so many in the article by Jackson and Mazzei that really connect to me but if I keep posting them, I will give away the whole article. So I will leave these three.
5. “Autoethnography can be defined as a self-narrative that critiques the situatedness of self with others in social contexts” (Spry, 2001).
6. “The autoethnographic text emerges from the researcher’s bodily standpoint as she is continually recognizing and interpreting the residue traces of culture inscribed upon her hide from interacting with others in contexts. This corporeally textual orientation rejects the notion that “lived experience can only be represented indirectly, through quotations from field notes, observations or interviews” (Denzin, 1992, p. 20). In autoethnographic methods, the researcher is the epistemological and ontological nexus upon which the research process turns” (Spry, 2001).
**Again, many more I highlighted but I will let you go read for yourself. 🙂

Recommended related reading(s):
1. Ellis, C. (2004). The ethnographic I: A methodological novel about autoethnography. (Book).
2. Ellis, C. (2009). Revision: Autoethnographic reflections on life and work. (Book).
2. Jackson, A. Y., & Mazzei, L. A. (2008). Experience and “I” in autoethnography: A deconstruction. (Article available here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282217941_Experience_and_I_in_Autoethnography)
3. Spry, T. (2001). Performing autoethnography: An embodied methodological praxis. (Article available here: http://www.nyu.edu/pages/classes/bkg/methods/spry.pdf
**Great read with some poetry too!)

1. Is it possible to lose control of your work when you begin your research?
2. How do you allow your research to become something of its own but also still mean something to you?
3. How do you prepare yourself to disagree with those involved in your work, whether it is your advisor, research participants, review committee, and any others involved?

1. “I was forced to see a reflection of myself in a way I never anticipated” (p. 604).
2. “…I never anticipated I would find myself…defending my identity, choices, and lived experience” (p. 608).
3. “I now have greater respect for the immense vulnerability to which they are exposed in sharing their stories with me. This is something I will never take for granted” (p. 608).
4. “…I can never take it back. My experience is forever exposed to the world, and people will take from it what they will” (p. 609).

My synthesis of article (with educational perspectives): 

An image appeared in my head as I read this week’s article. So instead of writing my response this week, I decided to attempt to sketch the image that came to mind. I am no artist and this was challenging but I think it perfectly describes what I connected with in Eisenbach’s article about autoethnography narrative inquiry.


I will briefly explain my sketch.

While reading the article, I imagined myself looking into the edge of a pool – the pool being my future research for my thesis that I begin this summer. In the background, all the mirrors (broken and in different shapes) in my background. These mirrors of my stories do reflect into the pool as well.

The pool has four walls – it involves the participants in my research (whether those who are my research, my advisor, other professors, and readers); the cultural phenomenon that I will be including (reconciliation and truth aspect in French education); the research process; and the final thesis itself. These four walls hold a pool of water that reflects to me.

On the surface I see all the things that will be involved in the process. Most of it not as scary. But below the surface in the darker waters, I also see the more difficult process my work will involve. I cannot avoid these aspects of the work but there are more hidden below the surface and I will have to dive into these waters and release them.

If I do not allow this to happen, I could encounter the same troublesome comment that Eisenbach did in her doctoral defense: “This isn’t the you we see” (p. 606). I want my final work to portray the self that I see of me, who will have changed through the process of the thesis work. I will want those who read my work to see themselves within it too. In order for my work to make a change for education, I have to dive into the waters and allow others to swim in them with me. The stories in my background mirrors will always remain a part of me. But I will come out of the waters a brand new person.

Eventually, my thesis work may become another mirror on my wall. But first, I have to swim!


Eisenbach, B. (2016).Diving into autoehtnographic narrative inquiry: Uncovering hidden tensions below the surface. The Qualitative Report, 21:3, 603-610.

Ellis, C. (2004). The ethnographic I: A methodological novel about autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

Ellis, C. (2009). Revision: Autoethnographic reflections on life and work. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Jackson, A. Y., & Mazzei, L. A. (2008). Experience and “I” in autoethnography: A deconstruction. International Review of Qualitative Research 1(3), 299-318. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282217941_Experience_and_I_in_Autoethnography.

Spry, T. (2001). Performing autoethnography: An embodied methodological praxis. Qualitative Inquiry, 7(6), 706-732. Retrieved from: http://www.nyu.edu/pages/classes/bkg/methods/spry.pdf.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s