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Troubling Method

Narrative Research as Being

Petra Munro Hendry, Roland Mitchell and Paul Eaton

Troubling Method seeks to extract narrative inquiry from method. The shift to a post-humanist, post-qualitative moment is not just another stage in modernism that seeks to "improve" knowledge production, but is a shift to understanding research as an ontology, a way of being in the world, rather than a mode of production. Fundamental assumptions of research: method, data, analysis, and findings are deconstructed and reconfigured as a mode of relational intra-action.

Troubling Method is constructed as a dialogue between the three authors, focusing on their work as qualitative, narrative researchers. The authors revisit six previously published works in which they grapple with the contradictions and ironies of engaging in pragmatist, critical, and feminist qualitative research. After a lengthy introduction which problematizes "method," the book is divided into three sections, each with two chapters that are bracketed by an introduction to the issues discussed in the chapters and then a "dialogue interlude" in which the authors deliberate what makes possible the questions they are raising about method and narrative research. The three sections attend to the central premises of "narrative research as being": 1) relationships, 2) listening, and 3) unknowing.

Troubling Method is ideal for introductory or advanced courses in qualitative research, narrative inquiry, educational research, and those aimed at employing critical theories in qualitative and narrative inquiry.

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1. The Future of Narrative (Petra Munro Hendry)


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The Future of Narrative


“Getting Stuck”

My relationship to narrative is an ambiguous one. I have always loved stories. I never tired of listening to the stories my mother told of her homeland, Germany. My favorite story was of my “Opa” who broke with family tradition by leaving the family windmill behind and striking out on his own and of my “Omi” who left the security of her parents’ farm to marry a young idealist. And, of course there were the stories of the war. How my “Opa” was taken by the Nazis, how my mother’s two older sisters barely came back from Holland after the war, and how my mother was terrified when the American tanks roared through her village at the end of the war: her story of fear and sacrifice always overshadowing the larger landscape of Nazi politics. Growing up, I lived between the world constructed by my fantasies of Germany and how of course life would be different there than in the northern suburbs of Chicago. The narratives of displacement and yearning were the yet unarticulated feelings that underpinned my desire to hear these stories.

Later I studied German literature in high school and college. I read Hesse’s Siddhartha, Kafka’s Metamorphosis, and Bertolt Brecht’s Three Penny Opera. The themes of discontent (personal and societal), searching, and transformation ← 51 | 52 → provided the narratives of reassurance that yes...

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