The write of passage: Reflections on writing a dissertation in narrative methodology

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In this essay I explore, reflect upon and theorize my experiences as a doctoral student writing a dissertation in the field of narrative studies. The inquiry concentrates on the problematic tensions that are unique to academic writing in qualitative disciplines, tensions with which I dealt and grappled extensively during my work. I wish to reflect, through the writing of a theoretically informed autoethnography, on the space inscribed between the proposal and the dissertation, and thus on the young scholar's initiation journey through a constructed, narrative-in-becoming space, and on the relationship between the backpackers' narratives of identity and change, which I researched, and my own. In doing so I will evocatively problematize the epitome of the academic rite-of-passage, i.e. the writing of a modern dissertation, in times of post-modern inquiry and writing. The discussion is informed by the experience of travel and journey which took place between the interviewees' travel narratives and my own (in the form of a dissertation writing); between "field" and "office"; between positivist and interpretive paradigms; between proposal and dissertation, between paternal and maternal sources of writing, and between academic/scientific and poetic expression. The essay offers contributions to the inquiry into reflexivity and subjectivity within the growing paradigm of qualitative methodology, to the inquiry of rites-of-passage into communities and institutions, and it problematizes the possibility that narrative can contain and convey the post-modern, overwhelmed and fractured self.

Original languageEnglish
JournalForum Qualitative Sozialforschung
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2003


  • Autoethnography
  • Dissertation
  • Identity
  • Modern
  • Narrative
  • Post-modern
  • Rite-of-passage
  • Writing


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