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Define/state/claim your core components.

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Purpose: To explore your position within an in-group, to broaden your audience’s understanding of the community, and to address challenges that you and your community may face. Additionally, you will seek to interrogate the societal implications of your findings, that is, what is revealed about this culture and what is revealed in others’ perceptions of it.
Audience: Your peers or other novice social scientists who are not familiar with the practices or intersubjective understandings or your in-group.
Length: 2,500 words (7-10 pages, not counting Works Cited)
Overview of the Assignment
Autoethnography is a genre of writing that explores the researcher’s personal experience and connects this autobiographical story to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings through qualitative research. Though this assignment is very personal and reflective in nature, you will need to do more than simply tell your audience about yourself and your in-group. An autoethnography is not merely a personal narrative or story. It must be thoroughly researched and penetrating in its insight. The personal elements can be an entrance point, a frame, a lens, but the substance of a good paper will consist of scholarship, not anecdotes.
You will use a combination of scholarly and popular source material. You need at least five sources in total, at least three of which must be recent (not much more than ten years old) scholarly articles from peer-reviewed journals. The remaining two sources may be scholarly or popular (articles, books, documentaries, published narratives), but at least one must be an interview you personally conduct with another member of your in-group.
The sources you include should demonstrate or analyze aspects of your group and bring perspective to your own experiences and reflections. You are welcome to include more than five sources if you so desire.
The Research Phase of the Project
The culture you investigate here does not have to mean ethnicity or socio-economic status or degree of knowledge of the high arts, although it could if you so choose.
Think about your own self-definition. Define/state/claim your core components. How do you describe yourself? What defines you? Of the many wonderful and less than wonderful qualities you have, which are significant? Think broadly as well as idiosyncratically. List as many descriptions and definitions of your self as you can. Go back to the ones that intrigue you and develop them further. Describe specific memories you have where this core component or culture was challenged, exposed, buttressed, etc.
You can pull from a variety of different fields of research to support this paper. Be sure to browse the Databases page of the library’s website and choose sources that have some level of cohesion with the main thrust of your claim. If you are writing about the discipline instilled by being an athlete an article on sports medicine, while connected to athletes, probably won’t serve you particularly well.
Organization and Development of the Paper
There is no one “right” way to organize an autoethnography; these can be very creative texts that weave together different genres of writing. You may choose to follow a “traditional” thesis-driven essay or go with a more creative approach. No matter what organizational strategy you choose or the genre you decide to write in, you should have an identifiable central claim somewhere in the paper regarding your group’s impact on yourself and society, and society’s perception of it.
In your personal narrative sections you’ll tell your reader the story of your social group. Is there a particular moment that defines why you relate to this group? Is there a memory that always reminds you why you choose to define yourself as a member of this group?
The analysis portions of the paper will seek to understand the connections between you, your group, and society as a whole. You will integrate your own experiences with the findings of scholars who have studied your in-group. You will be looking at how your involvement has affected you and the way you interact with society, or how your identity adheres to or diverges from the perceived conventions of your in-group.
It’s important to remember that this is not simply an exploration of your self and your history, though that is certainly part of it. You are approaching this as a social scientist; you can use your personal experiences but they are only a part of what you should be looking at.
Style and Technical Matters
Unlike the other papers you’ve written so far, you will necessarily be present in the text, so the use of “I” is acceptable. Indeed, it would be tricky to describe your experiences without using it. This is not a license for informality, however. Second person pronouns remain impermissible. You must strive to be scholarly, even in discussing your personal experiences; you should take the same analytical approach with your own history that you do with your supporting documents.
You will use MLA documentation, which we covered earlier in the semester. The one wrinkle will be your personal interview, so make sure to note the proper way to cite it. Consult TAW or your style guide for the details.

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