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Performative Listening

Hearing Others in Qualitative Research

Chris McRae

Performative Listening: Hearing Others in Qualitative Research offers an alternative theory of listening – as a performative act, or as a relational stance and performance in which listeners ethically engage in an act of learning from others across difference. This theory emerges from an interdisciplinary approach to performance studies, communication, musicology, and critical pedagogy in order to present a nuanced theory of listening as performance that is always linked to questions of context, individual experiences, and cultural expectations. Working from examples of the music and autobiography of Miles Davis, this book offers a clear and practical guide for applying performative listening in the contexts of qualitative, narrative, and arts-based approaches to research and inquiry. By emphasizing the embodied, relational, and creative functions of the highly contextual and cultural performance of listening, Performative Listening presents a theory and method that can be used to rethink the ways scholars and students engage with others in a wide variety of qualitative research and educational contexts.
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I believe we are always shaped by the people we encounter. Their words, stories, and presence influence the ways we speak, perform, and move through the world. In music, the impact of others often becomes audible through deliberate cultivation and citation of styles and practices. You can hear the musical influences of others on a particular musician in her or his performances. Sometimes these citations are direct and obvious and other times these citations are indirect. The same is true for works of writing, such as this book. Any attempt at acknowledging the numerous influences that inform my writing will always be incomplete. However, it is important that I recognize the ways my writing of this book functions as a cultivation of the influence of the lessons and support of so many important others. This acknowledgment is not only a way to draw attention to the important roles these people play in shaping this project, but it is also a demonstration of my gratitude for their influence.

I am particularly appreciative of my academic mentors and teachers for encouraging me to listen in ways that are complex and challenging. I am grateful for my mentor and friend Stacy Holman Jones who continues to teach, shape, and support me. I am thankful for my dissertation advisor, Ron Pelias. His generous and incisive teaching style informs the ways I strive to move through ← ix | x → the world. I am especially honored to acknowledge that John Warren was a...

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