Writing As Method: A PhD Workshop

Annette Markham

Apr 4, 2011


Writing as Method, a PhD workshop
Wednesday, April 6
Aarhus University

“How can I know what I think until I see what I say?” Starting with the assumption that “research procedure constructs reality as much as it produces descriptions of it” (Gubrium & Holstein, 1997, p.9), this workshop focuses on writing as an essential and often obscured method of inquiry. Writing is most often conceptualized as a procedural activity of organizing and composing findings at the end of a research project. This oversimplifies the framing power of writing as it functions rhetorically within larger communities of readers. It also underestimates the extent to which writing is a performative method of analysis throughout the course of a project. In this workshop, I will talk about some of the ways interpretive sociologists have integrated writing as inquiry with varying outcomes. While some use writing as analytical method and then create reports that fall into fairly traditional academic formats, others are pushing the boundaries, exploring genres that include narrative, fictionalized, or poetic elements, compelling us to reconsider conventional notions of what counts as academic writing.

In this workshop, I’ll be focusing attention on:
1) writing as a way of knowing (process)
2) Writing as analysis (interpretive tool, method)
3) writing as political (the rhetorical/political function of writing (genre))

I’ve been thinking about these issues for some years now, but lately, some particular writing has been capturing my attention, so I thought I would reference some of them here:

Jackson, J. E. (1995). Deja Entendu: The liminal qualities of anthropological fieldnotes. In Van Maanen, J. (Ed.). Representation in Ethnography (36-78). London: Sage.

van Manen, M. (2002). Writing in the Dark. In van Manen, M. (Ed.). Writing in the dark: Phenomenological studies in interpretive inquiry (237-252). London, Ontario: Althouse Press.

Goodall, H. L. (2003). What is interpretive ethnography?: An eclectic’s tale. In Clair, R. P. (Ed.). Expressions of Ethnography: Novel approaches to qualitative methods (55-64). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

George, D. (1987). Teaching Writing as a Way of Knowing: Roland Barthes and Structures of Interpretation. College Teaching, 35(2), 62-66.

Chandler, D. (2003). The phenomenology of writing by hand. Intelligent Tutoring Media, 3(2/3), 65-74.

I’ll post notes after my talk, likely.