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ERIC Number: ED424574
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Apr
Pages: 11
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Telling Stories: The Subject Is Never Just Me.
Zawacki, Terry Myers
The lures and the risks of using personal stories in research and pedagogy are considerable. One danger of using experience as evidence is that "an experience" becomes the foundation for the construction of an essentialized identity: for example, a woman's experience becomes woman's experience. Despite the risks, however, telling stories allows teachers and students to identify and critique the ideologies which produce them as subjects. Some of the early stories respondents told in an ethnographic study of gender, writing, and teaching (for which 10 women who teach composition courses were interviewed) demonstrate how an examination of the role of the mother in their stories can lead to larger questions about their desire (at this time and in this location) to reproduce certain constructions of the mother, and not others. After writing about a particular event that was a "turning point" in their education, certain classroom exercises help students read their own narratives critically and reflexively, learning to recognize, analyze and critique the biases in their own stories. What similar plots and contradictions are found in these stories, how have they come to be telling the same story, and how did the plot come to be that way in the first place? Why do they desire to represent themselves this way and not another, to position themselves within or outside of particular identity categories? Personal narratives are never just about "me"; rather they are about a "me" constituted by gender, class, race, ethnicity, historical moments, and particular locales. When composition instructors are reflexive about the stories they tell and how those stories tell on them as well, they can begin to construct different stories which have the potential to interrupt entrenched discourses around gender, race, class, ethnicity, and education. (SR)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A