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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 4. Settling In


← 44 | 45 →



Oh, I Forgot! You’re Luis Leal’s Academic Granddaughter!

I finally get my Ph.D. application completed, submitted, and accepted. I am enrolled in three courses this semester, which is considered fulltime. At the same time, I teach the four courses at the two universities, but I am so exhilarated at being back in a university setting that I can ignore the exhaustion that hounds me on a daily basis. I finally managed to decipher the course offerings, and I chose one Spanish and two education courses. My journey has officially begun.

I have the option of taking courses in Spanish since my degree will be in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Foreign Language Education. Since the foreign language department only offers an undergraduate degree in Spanish, and an interdisciplinary master’s degree, graduate level literature and language courses aren’t abundant. One course I have never taken is offered, and I sign up. I quickly learn that Jackie Bixler, the professor for the Spanish class, is known all over the Spanish-speaking world for her extensive work on Emilio Carballido, a Mexican playwright with whom she has collaborated for many years. The course reflects her interest in theatre as it presents ← 45 | 46 → the history of Mexico through theatre and narrative. I sit in class, mesmerized by the professor, the content and the language. I have come home.

The Present Becomes the Past

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