Writing with Phineas: How a fictional character from A. S. Byatt helped me turn my ethnographic data into research texts

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Abstract

This article describes a collaborative writing strategy when you are alone. It is the story of how I came to bring Phineas, the protagonist in A. S. Byatt’s The Biographer’s Tale, into my writing process as a third voice in my dialogue with my data. It is a self-reflective text that shows how co-writers are always present, even when you might feel that you are writing all alone. In The Biographer’s Tale, the academic Phineas renounces his post-structural dissertation project in literature to search for “things” and “facts.” He decides to write a biography. However, Phineas discovers that “facts” are slippery and not easily “pieced together.” Phineas writes about his struggles, and so do I. Through co-writing with Phineas, I gradually found a voice of experience, which helped me to transforming my ethnographic data into research texts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCultural Studies - Critical Methodologies
Volume14
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)351-360
Number of pages10
ISSN1532-7086
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • co-writing
  • literature
  • ethnography
  • categorization
  • researcher voice

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