Pathways to Meaning (Aarhus University)

Lori Kendall and I are teaching a PhD course at Aarhus University August 2013. We taught it for the first time in May 2011. Pathways to Meaning: Analytical Tools for Qualitative Researchers of Digital Media.

Reading List 2013
Reading List 2011

Course Description

Many methodology workshops emphasize methods for gathering information, giving only minimal attention to the actual analysis of that information.  With that in mind, this course will introduce students to a range of tools for conducting detailed qualitative analyses of texts.  We are conceiving “texts” broadly to include both raw materials such as websites, images, and other media, as well as field notes, interview transcripts, and other intermediate products of qualitative research. The workshop will include presentations by the instructors on underlying logics of research, different ways of conducting qualitative research, and exemplar projects.  Over the course of three days, students will participate in several hands-on exercises.

Requirements for Participation

The course will include presentations by the instructors on core concepts related to specific forms of analysis, different ways of conducting research within this framework, and exemplar projects. The course is a “hands-on” exercise format, whereby students do several small exercises to practice different tools of close analysis of digital materials. The class is intended for PhD students at all stages in the research project. We ask students to bring materials to analyse. These materials can comprise any form of textual or visual media.  Students may choose to bring materials from ongoing thesis work, test out an idea for a future project, or materials from a “side project.” Students need not have spent any time in analysing the materials they bring prior to this class.  For the purposes of the class project, students will likely be able to work on only a short segment of these materials (e.g., e.g., a single interview transcript, several pages of field notes, a short series of images, one portion of a website, etc.). Students will be asked to submit in advance a brief description of what they’re working on, what they’re bringing to the class, and particular analytical challenges and questions that have come up for them. All participants will be asked to read others’ descriptions in advance.  All participants will be asked to read a packet of articles and book chapters in advance.

Basic workshop outline. Specific details will be shared with participants

Day 1 (begins at noon)

“Research Logics I,” presentation by Lori Kendall and discussion
“Research Logics II,” presentation by Annette Markham and discussion

Day 2

Exercise 1: Emergent Coding
Exercise 2: Close Text Analysis (coding, with emphasis on metaphor)

Day 3

Exercise 3:  Ethnography of Documents
Exercise 4: Bricolage/Remix Analysis

Day 4 (ends at 16:00)

Individual discussions with Kendall and Markham, working individually on projects
Informal presentations by participants