1st Edition

Writing Feminist Autoethnography In Love With Theory, Words, and the Language of Women Writers

By Elizabeth Mackinlay Copyright 2022
    266 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    266 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Writing Feminist Autoethnography explores the personal-is-political relationship between autoethnography and feminist theory and practice.

    Each chapter introduces the lives and works of a range of feminist thinkers and writers and considers the ways in which their thinking and writing might come to be in relation with our own personal-is-political thinking and writing work as feminist autoethnographers. The book begins with an acknowledgement of the author’s positionality as a white-settler-colonial-woman in relation with Yanyuwa, Garrwa, Mara and Kudanji Aboriginal women. This positionality has continued to resonate deeply with the responses and sensibilities the author holds as a feminist autoethnographer to move beyond coloniality. She explores the writing of Virginia Woolf, Simone Weil, Simone de Beauvoir, Hélène Cixous, Kathleen Stewart, bell hooks and Ruth Behar, with critical affect to embrace, embody and engage with feminist thinking, wondering and feeling. The book creatively and performatively explores what it means to live a feminist life as an autoethnographer.

    This book will define and conceptualize feminist autoethnography for all qualitative researchers, especially those interested in critical autoethnography, and scholars in gender studies and communication.

    List of Figures



    1. In acknowledgement: Writing in relationality with Yanyuwa, Garrwa, Mara and Kudanji women
    2. Becoming a broken-hearted feminist autoethnographer with Ruth Behar
    3. A-way to love: Feminist autoethnographic lessons from bell hooks
    4. Becoming feminist autoethnography: Becoming some-thing with Kathleen Stewart
    5. Hush, the ethics of paying attention: Wording and worlding feminist autoethnography with Simone Weil
    6. What kind of world do you want to word? Crafting feminist autoethnography with Ursula K. Le Guin
    7. Writing feminist autoethnography with Simone de Beauvoir: Fourteen villanelles
    8. With love from I-to-you, Hélène Cixous: A play script


    Elizabeth Mackinlay is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of Queensland, Australia, where she teaches Research Methods, Gender Studies and Arts Education. She has worked in higher education for over 25 years as a feminist academic, activist and autoethnographer.

    "I plonked myself down to read ‘Writing Feminist Autoethnography’ with a bad attitude. 5 mins into the text and I had put my feet up; 15 mins in and I was slowing down, savouring the words and the craft; 2 hours in and I was curled up and immersed, shooing away offers of lunch and basking in the poetry and the care. Next came tears of recognition and shared rage, never replacing laughter and the bitter sweet taste of words, though. And then the startling weaving together of genres that worked on my body and incanted me to calm. It’s been a long time since I read a feminist book where its author opened themselves up so generously and where I was so moved in turn. Thank you Liz for reminding me why feminist writing and embodiment is so important in the world and for taking the risks that you have: it’s a tour de force. Do I need to tell you to read this book?"

    Clare Hemmings, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

    "A feminist tour de force. The chapters on Beauvoir and Cixous alone offer the reader a world of writing; an invitation to read, write, and be re-written. Liz Mackinlay’s dialogues with a diverse range of women writers are at the forefront of feminist autoethnography, a feminist virtuoso."

    Michelle Boulous Walker, The University of Queensland, Australia

    "Elizabeth Mackinlay begins her beautiful and evocative book on feminist autoethnography with love –for women’s theory, words and language. The compelling epistolary approach that Mackinlay uses to thread these chapters together is its own form of autoethnographic homage. The book thinks with the author’s love of women writers and the women in her family and the particular wisdom that has emerged from these nurturing relationships. The book ultimately becomes a kind of meditation on the nature of love itself. It explores the range of kinds of love as co-existing and interdependent, including romantic, passionate love, unconditional, familial love and empathetic, universal love. Mackinlay also acknowledges the hard-to-love as a core part of the human experience. She is intent on addressing non-woman others, narrates hard experiences, and she calls on men to do better. But she needn’t worry: this book makes feminist autoethnography accessible and relevant to all through "knowledge grounded in a relationality of love." Finally, this book is a love letter to her readers as well. She invites us to come along and fall in love. And to that invitation, our answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’."

    Dan Harris, RMIT University, Australia and Stacy Holman Jones, Monash University, Australia

    "Writing Feminist Autoethnography is full of love: it’s in ‘love with theory, words, and the language of women writers'. I love that Mackinlay's text is so full of love; other readers will be swept up in/by it too. They will be carried on this wave of deep, smart, fluent, uncompromising engagement by a writer in love with craft, subject(s), and process. This is autoethnography at its finest: scholarly, lyrical, poetic, critical."

    Jonathan Wyatt, University of Edinburgh, UK