ERIC Number: EJ844445
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Reference Count: 21
Historical Research and Narrative Inquiry: Striking Similarities, Notable Differences
Craig, Cheryl J.
American Educational History Journal, v32 n2 p214-218 2005
When Theseus sailed from Athens to the island of Crete to slay the Minotaur, a fearsome monster whose food was human flesh and whose home was the labyrinth, Ariadne, the daughter of the Cretan King Minos, gave her new found love, Theseus, a ball of thread to assist him in maneuvering his way through the great maze of winding passages. "Unwind it as you go in," Ariadne advised, "then you will be able to find your way out again by following the thread." Thanks to his lover's instruction, Theseus made his way into the labyrinth and slaughtered the Minotaur, then deftly re-traced his steps to freedom using Ariadne's cord as a guide. The author opens this article re-telling this well-known Greek myth because it aptly demonstrates how similarly, yet differently, those who engage in historical research and those who use narrative inquiry make sense of the world. To the historical researcher, Ariadne's thread serves as a keen metaphor for history and how history serves to record events of critical importance to the human enterprise. But to the narrative inquirer, Ariadne's thread forms a powerful metaphor for human experience and the centrality of experience to how humans interpret their subjectively perceived worlds individually and in community with one another. Thus, for the former, the interest is in studying history in its own terms; for the latter, the intent is to study experience in its own terms. To the author's way of thinking, how the two different research approaches interpret Ariadne's cord forms a starting point, a metaphorical "bridge" (Lakoff & Johnson 1980) of sorts, for comprehending the unique features of these two different modes of inquiry. At the same time, the author recognizes that enormous differences exist within each of the modes of inquiry. The author fully understands that Cubberley (1920), Cremin (1961), and Ravitch (2000) undertake historical research in distinctive ways just as Clandinin and Connelly (1995), Elbaz-Luwisch (1997), and Conle (1997) pursue narrative studies in individualistic manners. But some core assumptions distinguish the studies of the first three researchers from the studies of the latter three researchers. Focusing on these broad understandings will bring to light the striking similarities and notable differences between historical research and narrative inquiry.
Descriptors: Research Methodology, Figurative Language, Personal Narratives, Researchers, Educational History, Inquiry
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
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