Literary folkloristics: using literary theories to read life stories

Williams, Jane, and Holmes, Colin (2005) Literary folkloristics: using literary theories to read life stories. Qualitative Research Journal, 5 (2). pp. 151-167.

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Reading life stories in the context of qualitative research is a complex task. The reading must enable a clear picture to emerge from the story, while recognising that social, cultural and historical environments influence the storyteller's perceptions and experiences. Furthermore, the researcher as listener also brings ideas, beliefs and values that are coloured by experience, knowledge, and wider societal myths, ideologies and rules. Based on the theoretical framework of social constructionism, this paper outlines how a metasynthesis of two methodologies, interpretive biography (Denzin, 1989) and literary folkloristics (Stahl, 1985, 1989), provided a comprehensive interpretive framework for the reading of stories told by mothers whose children were not diagnosed with developmental problems until school attendance. Interpretive biography focuses on personal epiphanies that shape life history stories. These epiphanies are helpful in unravelling the complex interplay between social and personal narratives, and between the universal and the particular. Literary folkloristics emphasises the importance of the relationship between the personal stories and cultural traditions within a particular social or cultural environment. This paper explores how the combination of interpretive biography and literary folkloristics can generate a method by which life stories can be collected, read and interpreted.

Item ID: 7084
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-0980
Keywords: folkloristics; life stories; literary theories; qualitative research
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2010 02:37
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111707 Family Care @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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