Self-Culture-Writing: Autoethnography for/as Writing Studies



Literally translated as “self-culture-writing,” autoethnography—as both process and product—holds great promise for scholars and researchers in Writing Studies who endeavor to describe, understand, analyze, and critique the ways in which selves, cultures, writing, and representationintersect. Indeed, interest in autoethnography is growing among Writing Studies folks who see clear connections to well-known disciplinary conversations about personal narrative (Brandt, et al 2001, Spigelman 2004), as well as to the narrative turn in general and social justice efforts in particular. Canagarajah (2012), writing about the emancipatory potential of autoethnography, observes that writing autoethnography “enables marginalized communities to publish their own culture and experiences in their own voices, resisting the knowledge constructed about them” (p.115). Others in the field discuss uses of autoethnography in the writing classroom (Kost, Lowe,& Sweetman 2014, Auten 2016, Damron & Brooks 2017), as a research method (Noe 2016, Broad 2017), and as a legitimate way of knowing (Villanueva 1993).

Outside the field, particularly in the social sciences and education, autoethnography method/methodology texts abound (e.g. Reed-Danahay 1997; Ellis 2003; Ellis 2008; Chang 2009; Nash 2011; Denzin 2013; Adams et al. 2014; Jones et al. 2016). These texts provide philosophical and methodological grounding in autoethnography, yet their applicability to Writing Studies is limited. Simply put, they leave unanswered the major questions Writing Studies scholars and researchers are interested in: what are the lines between autoethnography, personal narrative, memoir, and what Nash calls “scholarly personal narrative”? When is experience data? What are the (irrefutable) features of an autoethnography? What forms of autoethnography—evocative, interpretive, analytic, interactive, performative—should Writing Studies embrace? Is autoethnography simply the latest iteration of using personal story in scholarship, which has a long history in the field under various names (e.g. Gilyard 1991, Britton 1993, Villanueva 1993)?

This edited collection will address these and related questions, foregrounding the possibility of autoethnography as a viable research method and methodological approach, and providing researchers and instructors with ways of understanding, crafting, and teaching autoethnography within Writing Studies. We imagine organizing the collection into three parts: a section on how and why to do autoethnographic research in Writing Studies, a section on how to teach autoethnography, and a section of Writing Studies autoethnographies. We invite chapter proposals that fit within one of these three sections, although we are also open to proposals that straddle these categories or offer an alternate perspective on autoethnography not represented here. We are particularly interested in proposals that study or articulate how to study writing or literacy practices in non-classroom spaces and non-US settings.

Please send inquiries and submissions to and Proposals should be 350-500 words, accompanied by a brief CV (no more than 5 pages). Proposals are due by July 1, 2017. Drafts of completed chapters will be due by Jan 1, 2018.