Jun
2009

Carolyn Ellis + autoethnography

A true hero of mine, and former prof, Carolyn Ellis, has been on my mind lately b/c I’m re-working the third chapter of my dissertation. This is going to be the longest one b/c of its defining of methods and then the data itself. I’ve been moving a lot of information around but I believe I’ve finally found a logical way to discuss both digital writing research (or virtual ethnography) and autoethnography:

I feel being a digital writing researcher complements autoethnographic studies since both push the primary investigator to find new ways of understanding. As the edited collection Digital Writing Research contends, “Because of the complexity of researching in digitized spaces…researchers should ‘embrace working across methodological interfaces’, pursuing multiple methodologies while continually engaging in critical, reflexive practices” (McKee and DeVoss 17). “Doing digital research is not merely a matter of shipping old methods and methodologies to a new research locale” (Porter, “Foreword” xvi), which echoes Ellis’s definition of autoethnographic approaches as ones that “do no follow a rigid list of rule-based procedures” (16). The interdisciplinary nature of the Internet engages scholars in innovative ways, and learning to both approach research subjects and collect data requires new techniques.

I will share more about my use of a wiki to collect my interactive interview data as I polish up the profiles of my participants this week and next, but for now I wanted to link to Jeffrey Keefer’s live blog post about Carolyn’s latest book, Revision. I haven’t finished reading all of it, but the opening chapters have been quite helpful to turn to the past 2 weeks. It’s reminded me of being in her classroom at USF and how the best [in terms of emotionality and story] writing I did in my PhD program was in her course, rather than the many literature and rhetoric courses I took!

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