Autoethnography Methods: A PhD course in June 2021

Interested in learning more about autoethnographic methods? RMIT’s Digital Ethnography Research Centre and Roskilde University in Denmark are collaborating to offer a PhD symposium and course in June 2021.

This course introduces autoethnography as both mindset and method. Autoethnography highlights the complexity of the researcher’s voices, roles and relations with others in the research field, as well as provide perspectives on power and ethical, affective, bodily, cultural, social and historical dimensions. The course introduces and gives practical workshop style activities to help researchers build a fully or partially autoethnographic approach. Foundation material considers the ontological, epistemological and ethical premises of autoethngoraphy within the umbrella of an ethic of care, interpretive sociology, and anthropology.

The course includes lectures and workshop time for autoethnographic text production (text in the expanded sense). The event is facilitated by Professor Annette Markham (RMIT University) and Associate Professor Lisbeth Frølunde, Roskilde University.

This annual event is well regarded in the Nordic context and this year, we branch out to Australia with a hybrid version. Annette Markham will kick off the event with an opening keynote on building affective solidarity around COVID-19 through autoethnographic memesis, based on the Massive and Microscopic Sensemaking project of 2020. Markham will also lead other exercises and discussions. Lisbeth Frølunde, the primary coordinator and facilitator, will present a lecture on the ongoing autoethnographic research in the Dancing with Parkinson’s collaborative project:

Learn more below and if you want to apply, go to the Roskilde University portal:

Annette Markham Self Portrait
Annette Markham, Self Portrait
Lisbeth Frølunde, Self Portrait

Workshops and Seminars will cover issues such as:

  • How can the different autoethnographic approaches help build the researcher’s reflections and reflexivity?
  • What ethical challenges become more salient when engaging in autoethnography practice?
  • How can the researcher become clear about his or her own involvement in creating, feeling, sensing and understanding research and knowledge processes using autoethnography?
  • How can one use and defend autoethnographic approaches in more traditional academic disciplines and why might this be an important step to take in one’s own field?
  • What is the spectrum of theoretical traditions related to autoethnographic methods?
  • How can autoethnographic genres and media be applied by the individual course participant / researcher in a PhD thesis?

Schedule will look something like this (2021):

  • All sessions will be held in Zoom with potential in-person participation in Roskilde or Melbourne.
  • June 7th, 9th, 11th: Three half-day intensive sessions via video conferencing 0800-1230 daily
  • June 8, 10: self-guided exercises, alone or with your small team in ambient connection sessions. 0900-1200
  • June 12-September 2: independent work
  • September 3: Submit your piece to the team for responses, feedback
  • September 9: Performative presentation of participant work with plenary session
  • September 10: Brief followup discussion of methods, ethics, possible publications, and next steps (0900-1100)
  • Students are expected to read the course literature in advance of the course. Required readings includes 2 books and 16 articles. Get a sense of the possibilities by browsing the list below!
  • Students are expected to read the proposals of all participants before the course begins and attend/present at the September showcase.

Course Reference List and Required Reading

The reading list includes some basic and classic pieces on autoethnography as well as focusing on current research specific project by the lecturers. The list contains far too much for a 3-day course, but is meant to give you an overview of autoethnography and inspiration for further readings.

Note that all texts are strongly recommended but only the texts with an * asterisk are primary and required readings. In the “required” mix are 2 books and 16 articles. The primary texts will be available online. Other texts that are challenging to find may be available on request.

Gaining an overview.

How autoethnographic do you want to be?

During the course, these readings provide a “mainstay” to ground the various approaches and mindsets. This selection provides introduction to the field so that you as PhD student can find your voice among many choices, such as the evocative, critical, and reflexive, within the larger umbrella of ethics of impact and ethics of care.

Notably, autoethnography overlaps significantly with interpretive sociological methods, generally, help develop thinking about how autoethnography fits with other approaches. Classic helpful pieces are by Bochner and Ellis, by Markham, and others. Many refer to the group represented at the ICQI and ECQI.

Adams, Tony E, and Stacy Holman Jones. “The Art of Autoethnography.” In Handbook of Arts Based Research, edited by Patricia Leavy, 141–63. Guilford Press, 2018.

Bochner, A. P. (2016). Notes toward an ethics of memory. In N. K. Denzin & M. D. Giardina (Eds.), Ethical futures in qualitative research : decolonizing the politics of knowledge (195–208). Routledge.

*Bochner, A. P. (2018). Unfurling Rigor: On Continuity and Change in Qualitative Inquiry. Qualitative Inquiry, 24(6), 359–368.

*Bochner, A. P., & Ellis, C. (2016). The ICQI and the Rise of Autoethnography: Solidarity Through Community. International Review of Qualitative Research, 9(2), 208–217.

Bochner, Arthur, and Carolyn Ellis. Evocative Autoethnography : Writing Lives and Telling Stories. Routledge, 2016.

*Ellis, Carolyn. “Manifesting Compassionate Autoethnographic Research.” International Review of Qualitative Research, 2017.

*Ellis, C., Adams, T. E., & Bochner, A. P. (2011). Autoethnography: An Overview. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(1). Retrieved from

Ellis, C., & Bochner, A. P. (2000). Autoethnography, personal narrative, reflexivity. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research (pp. 733–768). SAGE Publications (UK and US).

Holman Jones, Stacy “Ordinary Objects, or the Importance of Making Implicit Things Matter.” Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, 2019.

Holman Jones, Stacy. “Living Bodies of Thought: The ‘Critical’ in Critical Autoethnography.” Qualitative Inquiry, 2016.

*Markham, Annette. “Reflexivity: Some Techniques for Interpretive Researchers – Future Making Research Consortium,” 2017.

Markham, Annette N., Katrin Tiidenberg, and Andrew Herman. “Ethics as Methods: Doing Ethics in the Era of Big Data Research—Introduction.” Social Media and Society, 2018.

Markham, Annette. “The Limits of the Imaginary: Challenges to Intervening in Future Speculations of Memory, Data, and Algorithms.” New Media and Society, 2020.

Markham, Annette N. “Fieldwork in Social Media What Would Malinowski Do ?” Qualitative Communication Research 2, no. 4 (2013): 434–46.

Style as theory: Evocative renderings, using fragmented narrative or layered accounts.

* Maanen, John Van. Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography. Second Edition. University of Chicago Press, 2013.

*Markham, Annette N. “‘Go Ugly Early’: Fragmented Narrative and Bricolage as Interpretive Method.” Qualitative Inquiry, 2005.

[Trigger warning]: Ronai, Carol R. “Multiple reflections of child sex abuse.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 23, no. 4 (January 25, 1995): 395–426.

[Trigger warning]: Tillmann, Lisa M. “Body and Bulimia Revisited: Reflections on ‘A Secret Life.’” Journal of Applied Communication Research 37, no. 1 (February 2009): 98–112.

Wolf, Margery. A Thrice Told Tale: Feminism, Postmodernism & Ethnographic Responsibility. Stanford University Press, 1992.

Evocative renderings about COVID.

Examples of different voices taken in recent autoethnography works from Massive Micro project on COVID in spring 2020 led by Markham and Harris. This includes articles by researchers in Denmark. These are a small selection of 21 articles of this special issue, all focusing through autoethnography on the lived experience of COVID-19 lockdowns. All are marked with * as required reading, but they could be skimmed to compare styles, depth, use of images, interweaving of theory, etc. Reading the entire issue of 21 papers is like listening to a whole album on vinyl.

*Chemi, Tatiana. “It Is Impossible: The Teacher’s Creative Response to the Covid-19 Emergency and Digitalized Teaching Strategies.” Qualitative Inquiry, Sept. 2020,

*Harris, Anne, and Stacy Holman Jones. “Massive and Microscopic: Autoethnographic Affects in the Time of COVID.” Qualitative Inquiry, Oct. 2020, https://doi:10.1177/1077800420965570

*Irwin, Clair. “Catching a Break: Accessibility, Empathy, and COVID-19”. Qualitative Inquiry. 2020.

*Markham, Annette N. “Pattern Recognition: Using Rocks, Wind, Water, Anxiety, and Doom Scrolling in a Slow Apocalypse (to Learn More About Methods for Changing the World).” Qualitative Inquiry, Oct. 2020,

*Markham, Annette, and Anne Harris. “Prompts for Making Sense of a Pandemic: The 21-Day Autoethnography Challenge.” Qualitative Inquiry, November 6, 2020, 1–14.

* Thorndahl, Kathrine Liedtke, and Lasse Nørgaard Frandsen. “Logged in While Locked Down: Exploring the Influence of Digital Technologies in the Time of Corona.” Qualitative Inquiry, Sept. 2020,

*Tosca, Susana. “Replaying the Endless Loop.” Qualitative Inquiry, October 30, 2020.

Interpretive and Reflexive ethnography that looks (mostly) identical to autoethnography

You’ll learn there’s a close connection between multiple approaches that use autoethnographic approaches. Here we reference a small selection of interpretive qualitative inquiry where the authors discuss getting toward the obscure, mundane, hidden, tacit, or liminal qualities of subject/object.

Ellingson, Laura. “Five: Bringing It All Together: Integrated Crystallization.” In Engaging Crystallization in Qualitative Research, 97–123. SAGE Publications, Inc., 2012.

*Goodall, H.L. Writing the New Ethnography. AltaMira Press, 2000.

Kazubowski-Houston, Magdalena. “Quiet Theater: The Radical Politics of Silence.” Cultural Studies – Critical Methodologies, 2018.

The importance (ethic, power, politic) of reorienting the Gaze.

 These are not texts by autoethnographers, per se, but they focus on many of the same politics, such as: Looking forward instead of backward and resisting the baggage of “method” or “discipline”; dismantling the privilege of text, orality, linear thinking, singular authors; and dismantling the white, colonial, western understanding of “what counts” as data, as quality, as inquiry, as science.

Chávez, Minerva. (2012). Autoethnography, a Chicana’s Methodological Research Tool: The Role of Storytelling for Those Who Have No Choice but to do Critical Race Theory. Equity & Excellence in Education. 45. 334-348. 10.1080/10665684.2012.669196.

de Freitas, E., & Paton, J. (2009). (De)facing the Self. Qualitative Inquiry, 15(3), 483–498.

Markham, Annette. “Fabrication as Ethical Practice.” Information, Communication & Society 15, no. 3 (April 2012): 334–53.

Markham, Annette. “Remix as a Literacy for Future Anthropology Practice.” In Anthropologies and Futures : Researching Emerging and Uncertain Worlds. Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.

MiyarrkaMedia. Phone & Spear: A Yuta Anthropology. The MIT Press, 2019.

Salazar, Juan Francisco. “Speculative fabulation: Researching Worlds to Come in Antarctica.”  In Anthropologies and Futures: Resesarching emerging and uncertain worlds. Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.

Wolf, Margery. A Thrice Told Tale: Feminism, Postmodernism & Ethnographic Responsibility. Stanford University Press, 1992.

Writing through the body, embodied knowing and arts-based research.

These readings revolve around arts-based research, critical disability, graphic/narrative medicine, participatory health care research and ethics through the lens of autoethnography.

The two required readings are works-in-progress articles made available to the class – please do not distribute. (The lecture by Lisbeth Frølunde draws on these texts and refers to a current collaborative research project at RUC (with Louise Phillips and Maria Bee Christensen-Strynø) called Dancing with Parkinson:

Christensen-Strynø, M.B., Phillips, L. and Frølunde, L. (accepted/in press 2021). Disability as dialogue: Engaging with disability as an embodied way of knowing in Parkinson’s dance research. In J. Hughes & M. Bartesaghi (eds.), Disability in Dialogue. Amsterdam: John Benjamin.

Cole, Ardra L. and McIntyre, Maura, (December 2004). Research As Aesthetic Contemplation: The Role Of The Audience In Research Interpretation Educational Insights, 9(1). [Available:]

*Ellingson, Laura L. “Embodied Knowledge: Writing Researchers’ Bodies into Qualitative Health Research.” Qualitative Health Research, 2006.

Frank, Arthur W. “An Illness of One’s Own: Memoir as Art Form and Research as Witness.” Edited by Susan Cox. Cogent Arts & Humanities 4, no. 1 (June 25, 2017): 1343654.

*Frølunde, L. and Christensen-Strynø, M. B. (abstract accepted 2021, article in progress). Crip empathography: Co-creating a graphic novel about Parkinson’s dance experiences. Special number on Cripping Graphic Medicine: Approaching Comics from a Disability Studies Perspective, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies.

Frølunde, L., Christensen-Strynø, M.B., Phillips, L. (Graphic novel book in progress, to be published in Danish and English). As we move along: A co-created graphic novel about dancing with Parkinson’s.

*Phillips, L., Frølunde, L. and Christensen-Strynø, M.B. (article in review at Qualitative Research (QRJ)). Thinking with autoethnography in collaborative research: a critical, reflexive approach to relational ethics.

Phillips, L., Frølunde, L. and Christensen-Strynø, M.B. (accepted/in press 2021). Confronting the complexities of “co-production” in participatory health research: a critical, reflexive approach to power dynamics in a collaborative project on Parkinson’s dance. Qualitative Health Research.

Phillips, L., Frølunde, L. and Christensen-Strynø, M.B. (accepted/in press 2021). Harnessing creative ways of knowing in co-production: in the tension between process and product in story-telling workshops in participatory health research, Theme: “Creativity & Coproduction”. Evidence & Policy.

Lammer, Christina. “Empathographies: Using Body Art Related Video Approaches in the Environment of an Austrian Teaching Hospital.” International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches 3, no. 3 (2009): 264–75.

Leavy, P. (2017). Introduction to Arts-Based Research. In P. Leavy (Ed.), Handbook of Arts-Based Research (pp. 4-21). Guilford Publications.

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