Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Communication

Major Professor

Carolyn Ellis, Ph.D.

Keywords

African American communication, Storytelling, Autoethnography, Poetry, Rural communities

Abstract

Focusing on the lived experiences of ten rural black women in a familial community in central North Carolina, this project documents the mundane and extraordinary events of their lives and how they create meaningful lives through storytelling. Theoretically grounded in black feminist thought, intersectionality theory and muted group theory the investigation calls for the use of storytelling and poetry to understand how rural black women experience, live, and communicate their lives. Merging the experiences of participants with the researcher, the study also considers the ethical implications of being an insider-outsider and offers suggestions for engaging in creative scholarship. The author uses a combination of various qualitative methods, including ethnography, participant observation, interactive interviewing and autoethnography, to better understand her experiences as a rural black woman. The author combines archival research about the community, personal reflections, field notes and interview transcripts, translating the data into stories about rural black women's lives. The study shows how the stories rural black women share, the secrets they hold, and the activities of their daily lives offer a window for understanding concrete lived experiences as communication experiences.

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