This week we are discussing and taking a dive into autoethnography. Essentially, this is the idea of using personal experience and anecdotes in a way to enhance our research. It almost sounds like an oxymoron of sorts; how could one’s own personal experience be a part of research? I think after taking in the information from the article I can now see how it can be used. FIrst, we get a kind of broad description of this method of research. It is described as describing and analyzing personal experience to understand cultural experience. From there, In the next section, it is brought up that this type of research would widley rely on epiphanies, which are the larger moments that are more likely to stick with a person after any event. It made me reflect on some of my own experiences and where these epiphanies have happened for me. I thought that was a particularly good point, as epiphanies are what happens when something truly begins to make sense to someone. By using these examples in writing and research, we can see how the overall point of what it is we are talking about has affected us and in some cases acted as the inspiration to make the inquiry that we did, which I feel is very important. It is kind of like not losing sight of what is important to you, in a sense. That personal experience that brought you here in the first place should be something that is always in the back of your head, as that is conceivably the driving force behind the decision to do the research in the first place.
The next part of this entire method is the ways in which the author can go about showing these things. “Most often through the use of conversation, showing allows writers to make events engaging and emotionally rich. “Telling” is a writing strategy that works with “showing” in that it provides readers some distance from the events described so that they might think about the events in a more abstract way.” This is how the authors described it and I found it to be the most helpful in terms of truly understanding what it was to “show” and how the “showing” shoud be done. The idea of removing one from the larger picture is a great way to visualize how something is affecting people on a much deeper kind of level. It becomes very circumstantial in that there are variables surrounding each individual tale that can all aggregate to a reason behind why and how someone is feeling from a particular event or instance. I am a big proponent of using personal anecdotes in writing, I just never saw these personal stories as a tool that could be used in the type of academic research we are conditioning ourselves to do.
This reading brought up many good questions for me, as follows:
- Which other research methods do you think would work best with this method? Is it universal in its application to all of them?
- What kinds of studies could be shut off from the possibility of using this type of method, and why?
- Does personal experience really matter in terms of academic research?
I again want to take a moment to say I hope all of you are doing okay, and thank Dr. Nelson for doing his part in creating a plan for us to move forward with our semester. Just like I’m sure is true for all of you as well, I am very much looking forward to resuming our studies and program as it was intended.