Like all writing, biographies are interpretive. In Interpretive Autoethnography, Norman Denzin combines one of the oldest techniques in the social sciences with one of the newest. Bringing in elements of postmodernism and interpretive social science, he reexamines the biographical and autobiographical genres as methods for qualitative researchers. Grounded in theory and rigorous analysis, this accessible book points up the inherent weaknesses in traditional biographical forms and outlines a new way in which biographies should be conceptualized and shaped. The book provides a guide to the assumptions of the biographical method, to its key terms, and to the strategies for gathering and interpreting such materials. Denzin introduces the key concept of “epiphany,” or turning points in person’s lives. A final chapter returns to autoethnography’s primary purpose: to make sense of our fragmented lives.
1. Assumptions of the Method
2. A Clarification of Terms
3. Interpretive Guidelines
4. Selves, Stories, Experiences
5. Evaluating Performance Autoethnography
6. In Conclusion: Performing Lives
Norman K. Denzin’s newest text, Interpretive Autoethnography, intricately blends the best of Interpretive Biography (1989) and Interpretive Interactionism (2001). It is a must read for advanced, seriously committed narrative, autoethnographic researchers and writers. Denzin succeeds at making autoethnographic terminology accessible. Crisp accounts illustrate the abundance of terms and characteristics. Writers now have a means to write with new and varied eyes elevating participants’ voices. Stories blend histories, cultures, drama and myriad other features that Denzin illuminates to add sincerity to text.
Lois McFadyen Christensen
University of Alabama at Birmingham
This is a groundbreaking and visionary text for anyone interested in autoethnography, personal experience, and life story research.
Tony E. Adams
Northeastern Illinois University
Denzin's Interpretive Autoethnography provides a deeply comprehensive and deftly concise analysis of autoethnographic methods, theories, and trends. He places autoethnography where it belongs, grounded in theory and rigorous analysis. From Sartre to Conquergood, Anzuldua to Derrida, Denzin tracks the philosophical and methodological journey of autoethnography as an interpretive, performative, poststructural, and politically transgressive methodology. This is the foundational survey text for autoethnographic inquiry belonging under the arm of students and accomplished scholars alike walking into a qualitative methods classroom.
St. Cloud State University
Good text for reference but others are more contemporary.