Thursday, June 17, 2010

Autoethnography as Method: Heewon Chang

into the lightImage by »dolfi« via Flickr
My summer reading continues.  I just finished Heewon Chang's book:  Autoethnography as Method (Left Coast Press, 2008).  It's a wonderful contribution to the literature on qualitative research methodology.  With all of the hoopla about autoethnography over the last decade (and I don't mean that as critical) it was about time for a text like this to be written.  Thank you Dr. Chang for doing so! 

Heewon Chang has taken on the task of translating emergent ideas into concrete methods for the next generation of researchers (or for those in the field who haven't yet investigated these methods).  Her writing is clear, well structured, and easy to follow.  The contents of the book are informative and provide good grounding in the background that has been developing in this area.  Examples and exercises are included that help to make the methods concrete for new learners. 

I was particularly appreciative of her Part I:  Conceptual Framework which provides solid definitions of the topics she will be discussing, and a discussion of the context in which her work is situated vis-a-vis various literatures.  Her list of all the possibilities for terms for this kind of work was astounding.  No wonder it can seem a daunting area to enter!

It gave me good things to think about in regard to my Journal Project, which I am still trying to locate within this literature.  Interestingly, like any book that lays down the law (so to speak), it provides you with a backdrop for thinking about pushing the new boundary.  Personally, I am wondering about the boundary between me and them/self and other.  This will be my challenge, how to position something that is personal but professional within a discipline that is professional, with some hints of personal. 

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