Using Biographical and Life History Approaches in the Study of Adult and Lifelong Learning: European Perspectives
Edited By Linden West, Peter Alheit, Anders Siig Anderson and Barbara Merrill
9 Developing an Auto/biographical Imagination
Nod Miller This chapter is about the theoretical and methodological approach to research in adult education and l ifelong learning on which I have been working over the last twenty years, in collaboration and conversation with colleagues across a wide range of disciplines. When I was asked to contribute a chapter to this book on the topic of "an autolbiographical imagination", I struggled to find a clear focus and a way into this text. Although I know I have sometimes used this term in the context of describing my preferred orientation towards l ife history and biographical research, I have mostly avoiding defining it with any precision. For the time being, I shall define an autolbiographical imagination as a set of ideas, skiIls, metaphors and multi-disciplinary perspectives focused on making sense of personal, social and psychological experience through narrative life history. I have used the present continuous verb ' developing' in my title in order to indicate that my intellectual, personal and professional journey is incomplete. To the extent that I see the attainment of an auto/biographical imagination as the object of a l ifelong learning quest, that quest is far from finished, and I am not entirely sure what it will feel like when I reach a conclusion. I am working on my auto/biographical imagination as I create this text, weaving together strands of theory and practice, stories of my past and present selves, and perspectives drawn from a variety of academic disciplines. I describe and analyse what I...
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