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What does an “autoethnography” look like?

1. Basics. Each student will complete an autoethnography due on July 24, 10 pm. The length requirement is approximately 10-12 typed, 12 pt font, double-spaced pages (one-inch margins), APA style, etc.

2. What is an “autoethnography?” It is writing and qualitative research that connects the autobiographical and the personal to the cultural and social. This form usually features personal reflection (including emotion, embodiment, self-consciousness, and introspection) with a critical/theoretical reflection on the situatedness of self and others in social contexts. In other words, autoethnography is a kind of storytelling of one’s experience that seeks to communicate a social reality, a story or account that will impact and influence others to produce some kind of change for the better.

3. What does an “autoethnography” look like? It is an open form of qualitative research that may include literary elements such as poetry, dialogue between people one has encountered, or imagined dialogues, or fictional accounts, but it need not. It can purely consist of one’s recollected, historical life, and current personal experience. It also contains a healthy dose of social theory and context. Though it needs to be personal and introspective, it also needs to communicate some form of insight to others regarding a dimension of social life. Please see the example autoethnographies that have been made available online. Though the examples take up “critical,” progressive political commitments, your work may take your own commitments.

4. Topics for the autoethnography. This really will come from you and your own experience, but ideally will have connection with the themes of the course. For instance, how has modern psychology/psychotherapy affected your own life? How would you critique its aims and social influence from within your own experience? How has consumerism, advertising, media culture made you and your world the way it is, and how do you see this state of affairs? How has gender/sexual construction – its ideals, stereotypes, expectations – impacted your own experience, made certain realities possible, denied other realities? How has race/ethnicity – as a cultural matrix – affected you, given you certain horizons or ways of making sense of the world, produced suffering, or pride in identity? These are just a few ideas; there are many others.

5. Grading. The rubric for the course project will involve the following issues for evaluation:

Narrative — How well does the author articulate a claim/narrative/thread that is sufficiently followed throughout the paper?

Insight & reflection — Does the paper manifest real reflective insight into personal experience that is unavoidably social?

Persuasiveness/impact — Does the paper really bring something thought provoking to the reader, an intensity that must be taken seriously? Is there an impact on the reader? How does the author creatively make this felt?

Appropriateness of subject matter — Does the topic of the project relate culture and psychology, as oriented to the themes and theoretical considerations in our course?

Mechanics — How well is the essay organized? Consider structure (introduction, body, conclusion), paragraph unity, paragraph coherence, and clarity. Also, consider grammar, spelling, and adherence to appropriate citation conventions (i.e., APA).

Grading Policy

A Consistently excellent effort in all areas.

B Good or very good effort in most areas, perhaps excellent in one area, or fair in another.

C Satisfactory effort in most areas, perhaps minimal effort in one area.

D Minimal effort in most areas.

F Failure to address most areas.


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