Teaching Autoethnography: Personal Writing in the Classroom

Author(s):

Teaching Autoethnography: Personal Writing in the Classroom is dedicated to the practice of immersive ethnographic and autoethnographic writing that encourages authors to participate in the communities about which they write. This book draws not only on critical qualitative inquiry methods such as interview and observation, but also on theories and sensibilities from creative writing and performance studies, which encourage self-reflection and narrative composition. Concepts from qualitative inquiry studies, which examine everyday life, are combined with approaches to the creation of character and scene to help writers develop engaging narratives that examine chosen subcultures and the author’s position in relation to her research subjects. The book brings together a brief history of first-person qualitative research and writing from the past forty years, examining the evolution of nonfiction and qualitative approaches in relation to the personal essay. A selection of recent student writing in the genre as well as reflective student essays on the experience of conducting research in the classroom is presented in the context of exercises for coursework and beyond. Also explored in detail are guidelines for interviewing and identifying subjects and techniques for creating informed sketches and images that engage the reader. This book provides approaches anyone can use to explore their communities and write about them first-hand. The methods presented can be used for a single assignment in a larger course or to guide an entire semester through many levels and varieties of informed personal writing.

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Introduction
1. Understanding our Students’ Relationship to “I”
2. Getting Started in the Classroom
3. Writing Essays for Class: The First Steps
4. Workshop and Peer Review Process
5. Memory/Character Essays
6. Writing about Spaces and Events
7. The Autoethnography Project
8. Choosing Topics for the Autoethnography
9. The Interview Process
10. Conducting Observations
11. Putting It All Together
12. Challenges of Personal Writing
13. Concluding Thoughts
14. Sample Class Schedule
15. Additional Readings on Autoethnography
Deep Observation Assignment: Eleven Examples

Melanie
Joomi Park
Rattling Thoughts
Neziah Doe
Southern Belle
William Rossi
The Battle
Emma Suleski
The Woman with the Purple Mat
Heather Brackman
David Everitt-Carlson
Anna Ehart
The Man
Justine Giardina
Colors, Lines, and Shapes
Jillian McDonnell
Angelic Atmosphere
Chadbourne Oliver
Sylvia
Tyana Soto
One
Adriana Pauly

Self-as-Character Assignment: Eight Examples

Sight
Neziah Doe
Fastforward
Emma Suleski
Reflections
Zachary Volosky
Unfortunate Truths
Justine Giardina
Hanatomy
Hannah Lajba
What I Never Thought
Or Gotham
Past Midnight
Jeffrey Cheung
Five Feet Mighty
Joomi Park
Memory Assignment: Six Examples

The Curse
Zachary Volosky
Memory of the Maine
Joomi Park
A Memory of Mr. Oko
William Rossi
Inhale, Exhale
Emma Suleski
An Honest Living
Justine Giardina
A-Relief
Hannah Lajba

Memory/Character Essay: Thirteen Examples

How to Survive
Or Gotham
A Living Contradiction
Mike Gomez
Georgia on My Mind
Joomi Park
To the Center
William Rossi
Growing Through Dirt
Magdalene Moore
Playbill
Hannah Lajba
I Told You So
Jillian McDonnell
Genetic Disposition
Emma Suleski
Shomer Nagia
Neziah Doe
Brooklyn, Madness, Lust, Death, and the Apocalypse
Chadbourne Oliver
Mommy
Katie Braner
The Job That You Want
Jeffrey Cheung
Self-Destruct
Danny Gomez

The Space or Event Essay: Thirteen Examples

In-Patient
Mike Gomez
Daringly Different
Tyana Soto
Two Places, One Home
Maria Beyer
See the World
Adriana Pauly
Manhattan
William Rossi
November First
Neziah Doe
Get a Grip
Emma Suleski
Room in the Back
Justine Giardina
Aging Not so Gracefully
Anne Ehart
There and Back Again: A Comic-Con Tale
Hannah Lajba
Sundays
Jillian McDonnell
Family Ties
Zachary Volosky
Focus
Erika Veurink

The Autoethnography: Ten Examples

On Anarchism in New York
Adriana Pauly
Allies, Advocates, Activists
Tyana Soto
Unicorny, the Only Way a Coder Will Define Rails
Hannah Lajba
Friendship Is Magic
Heather Brackman
Gin and Tonic: A Look into the Subculture of Taxidermists
Jillian McDonnell
Don't Judge the Bible by Its Cover: An Honest Story
Emma Suleski
Autoethnography on Manhattan Drag
William Rossi
NaNoWriMo
Joomi Park
Steel Paradise: The Hardcore Metal Aesthetic
Justine Giardina
YouTube: Science Isn’t Just for Geeks Anymore
Neziah Doe
Works Cited

About the Autho



Melissa Tombro

Dr. Melissa Tombro is an Associate Professor of English at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She is the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for her work on a wide range of courses from Creative Nonfiction to Theatre Arts. Her research interests include autoethnography, ethnography, personal writing, creative writing and performance studies.

Outside of FIT she runs volunteer writing workshops for at-risk and underserved populations through the New York Writers Coalition. In her writing, teaching and volunteer work, she encourages other writers to use self-reflection and community engagement as a way to create meaningful, informed, and inspiring prose.