mashup of techniques including polyvocality, performance, and repositioning the personal.
Why do we embrace this scientific distancing and authoritative all-knowing stance? Laurel
Richardson offers one view:
In scientific writing, authority has been accomplished through the ‘effacement of the
speaking and experiencing scientists’ (Pratt 1986, 32). Neither ‘I’ nor ‘we’ are used.
With no apparent narrator, an illusion of objectivity is created. The implied narrator
is godlike, an all-knowing voice from afar and above, stripped of all human
subjectivity and fallibility. But in fact, science does have a human narrator, the
camouflaged first-person, hiding in the bramble of the passive voice. Omniscience
is imaginary, possible only in fiction. (Richardson, 1997, p. 18)
Laurel Richardson, in an article Getting Personal: Writing Stories, suggests that researchers
are always writing about their lives and then shrouding it in the omniscient voice of science
and yet it breaks through: “In the social sciences, try as writers do to suppress their
humanity, thankfully it keeps erupting I their choice of metaphors, topics, and discourses”
(Richardson, 2001). Richardson acknowledges the social construction of research and
states, “Language is a constitutive force, creating a particular view of reality and the Self.
No textual staging is ever innocent (including this one). Styles of writing are neither fixed nor
neutral but reflect the historically shifting domination of particular schools of paradigms”
(Richardson, 2000). Would I be writing in this personal style if not in a doctoral program that
embraces the emergence of an academic voice that values relational knowledge?
In the Taos/Tilburg doctoral program, I was at home discovering an academic writing style
that suited my first person, present tense narrative approach and where my adviser
engaged and validated an intuitive, creative expression. In fact, she suggested reading A
Woman’s Way of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind where there is a
recognizable shift “away from an earlier assumption of ‘truth from above’ to a belief in
multiple personal truths” (Belenky et al., 1986 p. 66). This positioning changes the tone
from a strident scientific stance stating, “this is my conclusion” to a chorus voicing, “this is
our experience.”
The humanizing idea of narrative as a relational performance and inviting in multiple voices
and viewpoints was emerging through my reading (Gergen, 2009). With qualitative writing, I
discovered a wide variety of narrative styles and that allowed for a participatory and
relational realignment a place where the “I” and “we” were invited back into the story
along with interdisciplinary commentary that made the process personal, professional,
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