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Ethnographic writing, the Avant-Garde and a failure of nerve

Atkinson, Paul Anthony 2013. Ethnographic writing, the Avant-Garde and a failure of nerve. International Review of Qualitative Research 6 (1) , pp. 19-35. 10.1525/irqr.2013.6.1.19

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The paper reminds us that there has been a long history of mutual influence between ethnography and aesthetics. There is nothing new or recent in textual or graphic experimentation inspired by anthropological or sociological fieldwork. We have not had to wait for the so-called crisis of representation to acknowledge this. Anthropology was among the direct sources and inspirations for modernist aesthetics and textual practice. I go on to suggest that too many contemporary forms of textual experimentation are in fact lacking in truly experimental, avant-garde, force. We need collectively to revisit the values and practices of modernism. I suggest that too many contemporary texts display sentimental realism, a preoccupation with feelings and personal experiences, grounded in realist forms of biographical or autobiographical writing. This represents, I shall suggest, a collective failure of nerve. I call for more disciplined forms of experimentation that are more relevant to a modernist sensibility as well as more faithfully ethnographic.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Uncontrolled Keywords: ethnography, aesthetics, modernism, sentimental realism, autoethnography
Additional Information: Pdf uploaded in accordance with publisher's policy at (accessed 10/03/2014).
Publisher: University of California Press
ISSN: 1940-8447
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:18

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