Teaching Autoethnography: Personal Writing in the Classroom

(5 reviews)


Melissa Tombro, The Fashion Institute of Technology

Pub Date: 2016

ISBN 13: 978-1-9423412-8-4

Publisher: Open SUNY

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Reviewed by Joni Schwartz, Associate Professor, City University of New York - LaGuardia, on 2/2/2018.

Very comprehensive - beginning with ideas and suggestions for the first day of meeting with writing students to a well-thought out progression of … read more



Reviewed by Priya Kapoor, Associate Professor, Portland State University, on 2/16/2017.

Teaching Autoethnography is a comprehensive book. The author is very familiar with extant and historical debates in the field of pedagogy (of … read more



Reviewed by Molly Gray, Instructor, Portland State University, on 2/9/2017.

Overall, this textbook offers much utility in its approach to teaching thoughtful autoethnography in college-level writing. The author's approach … read more



Reviewed by Deborah Thompson, Associate Professor, Colorado State University, on 12/6/2016.

The text's primary aim is to serve as a guide for instructors teaching "autoethnography" or "personal writing" in the (composition) classroom. In a … read more



Reviewed by Jill Zarestky, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University, on 12/6/2016.

This text is comprehensive in the sense that it includes everything an instructor would need to know to implement student autoethnographic writing in … read more


Table of Contents

Teaching Autoethnography

1. Understanding our Students’ Relationship to “I”
2. Getting Started in the Classroom
3. Writing Essays for Class: The First Steps
4. Workshop and Peer Review Process
5. Memory/Character Essays
6. Writing about Spaces and Events
7. The Autoethnography Project
8. Choosing Topics for the Autoethnography
9. The Interview Process
10. Conducting Observations
11. Putting It All Together
12. Challenges of Personal Writing
13. Concluding Thoughts
14. Sample Class Schedule
15. Additional Readings on Autoethnography

About the Book

Teaching Autoethnography: Personal Writing in the Classroom is dedicated to the practice of immersive ethnographic and autoethnographic writing that encourages authors to participate in the communities about which they write. This book draws not only on critical qualitative inquiry methods such as interview and observation, but also on theories and sensibilities from creative writing and performance studies, which encourage self-reflection and narrative composition. Concepts from qualitative inquiry studies, which examine everyday life, are combined with approaches to the creation of character and scene to help writers develop engaging narratives that examine chosen subcultures and the author’s position in relation to her research subjects. The book brings together a brief history of first-person qualitative research and writing from the past forty years, examining the evolution of nonfiction and qualitative approaches in relation to the personal essay. A selection of recent student writing in the genre as well as reflective student essays on the experience of conducting research in the classroom is presented in the context of exercises for coursework and beyond. Also explored in detail are guidelines for interviewing and identifying subjects and techniques for creating informed sketches and images that engage the reader. This book provides approaches anyone can use to explore their communities and write about them first-hand. The methods presented can be used for a single assignment in a larger course or to guide an entire semester through many levels and varieties of informed personal writing.

About the Contributors


Melissa Tombro is an Associate Professor of English at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She is the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for her work on a wide range of courses from Creative Nonfiction to Theatre Arts. Her research interests include autoethnography, ethnography, personal writing, creative writing and performance studies. Outside of FIT she runs volunteer writing workshops for at-risk and underserved populations through the New York Writers Coalition. In her writing, teaching and volunteer work, she encourages other writers to use self-reflection and community engagement as a way to create meaningful, informed, and inspiring prose.