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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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Advance Praise for Re-Assembly Required



Re-Assembly Required

“This is a painful, powerful, empowering story. Using evocative autoethnography, Gresilda A. Tilley-Lubbs, a returning, mature student, shows how she survived a doctoral program and then the grueling tenure process at a research one university. This work speaks to all of those doctoral students and their faculty who struggle to find a subversive way to make the academy work for them as critical pedagogues and critical researchers. This is a story we can all learn from.”

—Norman K. Denzin, University of Illinois

“Gresilda A. Tilley-Lubbs has written an autoethnography of her transformation as she earned a Ph.D. as a mature woman, established a successful career with tenure, and finally returned to spiritual and physical health. Through sharing her vulnerable experience, Tilley-Lubbs tells a bold and hopeful story and provides a benchmark for how we might make the neoliberal university work better for all of us. What a superb demonstration of the value of autoethnography and meta-autoethnography as evocative, critical, practical, and spiritual genres.”

—Carolyn Ellis, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Communication, University of South Florida

“The road to success in academic life is always an arduous one, but to make that move later in life can be Herculean! As if pursuing a Ph.D. weren’t grueling enough, it is followed by six laborious and exhausting years chasing the ‘Holy Grail’ of tenure. Add to that the compelling saga of a researcher attempting to write...

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