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Re-Assembly Required

Critical Autoethnography and Spiritual Discovery


Gresilda A. Tilley-Lubbs

Entering the academy as an older woman, the author had not foreseen the challenges that awaited her when she left behind a successful career as a public school Spanish teacher/department head to pursue a Ph.D. She took for granted her position of power and privilege in an educational setting, not at all prepared for the rapid demotion of respect, self-confidence, and salary that she soon faced as an older Ph.D. student/Spanish adjunct faculty member at a research university that would serve as her academic, and later professional, career home for the rest of her working years. In this critical autoethnography, she troubles her journey through the Ph.D. and the tenure process, as well as in her position as a tenured professor. She describes a process that led her into/through the murky waters and mire of academic machinations into the light of spiritual discovery to affirm wholeness and celebration of Self. What sets this book apart is the author’s refreshing willingness to critically interrogate her Self throughout the process.

Re-Assembly Required: Critical Autoethnography and Spiritual Discovery can be used in graduate and undergraduate courses in arts-based research writing, advancements in qualitative inquiry, autoethnography writing, creative non-fiction writing, women’s studies, and critical pedagogy. This book provides a methodological explanation of critical autoethnography and serves as an exemplar for how autoethnography can be combined with critical pedagogy to perform writing that examines the university as institution through the lens of personal narrative. This compelling creative non-fiction narrative is appropriate for both academic and non-academic audiences.

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Chapter 2. Navigating Through the Academy with Critical Autoethnography


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Telling and Theorizing the Stories

One of my friends from the time I was an undergraduate at the University of Illinois friended me last year on Facebook. Stewart asked what I had been up to. I told him about the book, and when he expressed interest in it, I asked if he would like to read some chapters. He said to send them on. Before long, he wrote:

I finished Chapter 1 I feel that you may have taken my suggestion and started the book at the end of your story. The Chapter is great and altho I do not know you anymore… [as you stated you change when you get a Doctorate], I am looking forward to reading about who you are now… I’m going to start reading Chapter 2

I didn’t hear back for some time, and when he replied, I realized why it had taken so long—he had found the chapter boring and hard to read. His reply sent me to Dan for advice.

“Dan, I need your help. You know how I have been struggling with chapter two? Well, Stewart asked me to send him chapters to read, and he liked ← 17 | 18 → what he read, but said he isn’t smart enough to understand chapter two. I told Stewart that I probably just need to omit the chapter, but he said...

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