Disrupting the MA English Thesis: Autoethnography in Advanced Literary Studies

Many student researchers approach the MA English thesis with an expectation to recapitulate an author-evacuated, pseudo-objective, literary analysis. We argue that while such an approach is key to the development of literary scholars and the hallmark of our field, introduction of additional methodologies, in this case autoethnography, can stimulate innovative work while supporting significant transdisciplinary and critical self awareness. In this presentation, we will explore why and how an MA thesis director introduces autoethnography as an alternative research discourse to MA English thesis students, and examine student responses. Pedagogical implications, teaching resources, and thesis examples will be presented in order to highlight the myriad creative possibilities for using autoethnography to both celebrate and interrogate literature, literacy, and language.

Submitted for presentation to the IAANI 2022 Conference. Co-researchers include Jay Meadows, Odessa Ogo, and Shanita Mitchell.