WRTG 3030 Autoethnography

Working on an autoethnography research assignment? -there are many many points of entry, but here's some starting points.

3 step program for autoethnographic fun

Image: self-portraits of; Luigi Serena, Frida Kahlo,
unknown, Joe Conzo, Childish Gambino.


Are you a transfer student?
Librarians at SLCC and the UofU
​created a guide -with the help of
a transfer students- for you!

Identity is a wildly complex idea to research and the library has many different directions to choose from.  Below are Dale's favorite samples, but this isn't a comprehensive list. Along with a librarian class visit, this guide will help you mitigate anxiety and give you strategies to negotiate library research with confidence (really!)

Please do contact me for an appointment or just e-mail questions -I'll even entertain a group of you, it is my work to help you with yours!- at dale.larsen@utah.edu.

Step One: Major Studies
search to try: 
(identity OR cultur* OR ethnogr*) AND keyword
Large assembled works & studies can be found in books -a huge advantage is that you miight find a comprehensive source that answers many questions for you.  Keep notes handy (google docs, OneNote, EverNote) on how the people who self-identify in a community/culture describe themselves -those are the best keywords of all:
Usearch: (Advanced Search) [setting: material type > books]
HathiTrust (full text of historic books -full text searching online for things out of copyright)

WEB to try -if you find something here, look for the title in our Usearch catalog (above)
Google Books (sometimes good, sometimes annoying interface)
Amazon.com (heavily biased towards new books still in print)
Google NGrams (search for trends in your keywords over time)


Step Two: Mid-level Research 
(note: these are a mix of scholarly and non-scholarly -take care)

search to try: (writing OR rhetoric) AND keyword

Newspapers (local and national zeitgeist)
US Newsstream (use a search keyword -but then sort through the facets/options to look for trends in dates/timelines, locations/cities, and people/names)
NYTimes Historic | LA Times Historic | SF Chronicle Historic | Utah Historic

Good mix of disciplines (generic)
Academic Search Premier (big mash of everything)
JSTOR (classic and mostly scholarly)

Discipline Specific (focused on a particular field of study)
Sociological Abstracts (sociology & social work -one of my favorites)
PsycINFO (psychology, but with many applications in social sciences)
Education Full Text & ERIC (education, public policy)
GenderWatch (women's and gender studies)
Ethnic Newswatch (newspapers and journal articles)
Project MUSE (writing, literature, humanities/social sciences)
Modern Language Association (MLA) International Bibliography (literature, language, folklore...)

Communication + Mass Media Complete (Comm sciences)

Step Three: Literature Review Tools
(note: these are typically the high-end of academic scholarship)

Scopus  AND Web of Science -Amazing/Awesome databases, all scholarly:
            tip 1: select "social sciences & humanities" at the search page (unchecking the others).
            tip 2: Do a search and in the results, click "cited by" as the sorting option (right-hand side).  The most cited, most influential articles will now appear at the top.

Google Scholar (fun discovery too, not always complete, but a worthwhile additional place to use)


The Buddha once told the story of the blind men and the elephant. A former king of the town of Sa ¯vatthi, he related, ordered all his blind subjects to be assembled and divided into groups. Each group was then taken to an elephant and introduced to a different part of the animal – the head, trunk, legs, tail, and so forth. Afterwards, the king asked each group to describe the nature of the beast. Those who had made contact with the head described an elephant as a water-pot; those familiar with the ears likened the animal to a winnowing-basket; those who had touched a leg said an elephant was like a post, and those who had felt a tusk insisted an elephant was shaped like a peg. The groups then fell to arguing amongst themselves each insisting its definition was correct and all the others were wrong. 

...The first lesson the story of the blind men teaches us, then, is that Buddhism is a large and complex subject, and we should be wary of generalizations made on the basis of familiarity with any single part. In particular, statements which begin ‘Buddhists believe . . .’ or ‘Buddhism teaches . . .’ must be treated with circumspection. We need to qualify them by asking which Buddhists are being referred to, which tradition of Buddhism they follow, which school or sect they belong to, and so forth, before these statements can be of much value.

Keown, D. (2000). Buddhism: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Marriott Library Eccles Library Quinney Law Library