Eleventh International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign May 20-23 2015. (http://icqi.org)

This is considered the conference for Qualitative Inquiry and Auto-Ethnography, all the names associated with and who have published around this body of research present there. I had heard it talked about with excitement by members of the collaborative writing group I belong to and encouraged to attend by Dr Jane Speedy. Emeritus Professor at Univ of Bristol. Thus I was especially honoured to have papers accepted as part of sessions crafted by members of the collaborative writing group.

It is the most intense experience – three days of workshops, back-to-back papers, presentations, films, music with the option of 27 sessions to choose from at any given moment on days two and three. Planning and deciding what to attend had occupied my attention on the flight from Bristol to Chicago, interspersed with a bit of movie watching.

I attended Art Bochner and Carolyn Elis’ workshop on Writing Auto-ethnography and Narrative in Qualitative Research, on Thursday. This was especially relevant as I grapple with getting the first draft of my thesis ready for July and decide how much personal information to reveal within my auto-ethnographic and narrative writings and how to frame them within the larger thesis.

Friday at 8am I presented Red inquiring/inquiring into red with three other members of the collaborative writing group, an edited version of a multi-authored paper published in Humanities Online (http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0787/2/2/253), the presentation was well received and the post-presentation audience discussion was rich, playful and generous.

I also presented a paper as part of the Friendship and methodology, methodology as friendship panel, on Saturday, organised by Dr Ken Gale, with additional presentations by Ken, Lisa Tillman and William K Rawlins.

My paper was well received; having Art Bochner say he wants to read my thesis and Ron Pelias tell me how moved he was by the images and the words was very validating.


Highlights of the sessions I attended over the two days were –

Patrick Lewis who gave a masterful demonstration of oral storytelling as he paced the room with a lyrical repetitive tale of death.

Debbie Hubec’s paper in the Auto-ethnography SIG on Memory session, her quiet controlled delivery, the beautiful crafting of repetition and pacing and the spaces of what was not said gave her story such power I wept.

John Marc’s paper on the love and loss of his dog and Joyce Hocker on writing as analysis a decade of mourning, both providing salient comments about love, loss and ‘an unweaving of the soul’ that will help with my own writing on these subjects.

Sophie Tamas’ session on mapping the ethical terrain of personal narrative drew together Carolyn Ellis, Anne Harris, Stacey Holman Jones, Christopher Poulas, Derek Bolan, Ron Pelias and Sandy Peneneay-Conway for a far reaching discussion that was pertinent to my own concerns around writing auto-ethnographic texts in my thesis.

I met academics with whom I would like to collaborate with in the future and received guidance on potential external examiners I could approach.

More of my writing in depth about the conference and that of fellow travelers from University of Edinburgh can be found on this blog-


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