Title page for ETD etd-03082006-153046

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Jewett, Laura Marshall
URN etd-03082006-153046
Title A Delicate Dance: Autoethnography, Curriculum, and the Semblance of Intimacy
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Curriculum & Instruction
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
William Doll Committee Co-Chair
William F Pinar Committee Co-Chair
Helen Regis Committee Member
Nina Asher Committee Member
Petra Munro Hendry Committee Member
Daniel Novak Dean's Representative
  • autoethnography
  • curriculum theory
  • multicultural education
  • qualitative research
Date of Defense 2005-11-24
Availability unrestricted
Have you ever had a dream that you shared an intimate moment—grew close—with someone who in your waking life you barely knew; or that you knew a language that outside of your dream you did not understand? Or if you are a teacher, have you ever dreamt that you connected with a student—actually taught them something? If upon waking you have felt the residual yet potent ephemeral as-ifness of such closeness, you have experienced what is the focus of this study: the semblance of intimacy.

This dissertation, via autoethnography, couples experiences teaching multicultural education and learning to zydeco dance in order to explore semblances of intimacy across self and other; also, to consider the implications of such semblances in terms of thinking about curriculum and research. I use the term “semblance” to suggest that the intimacy at work in the embodied virtual worlds of zydeco, autoethnography, and curriculum can be a powerful as-ifness, or what Jerome Bruner (1985) might describe as a “truth likeness” (p. 97).

Thrift (1997) explores dance as “as an example of play; a kind of exaggeration of everyday embodied joint action which contains within it the capacity to hint at different experiential frames, ‘elsewheres’ which are here” (p. 150). Thrift (1997) calls these hints to elsewhere “semblances,” which he describes as an embodied meaning that is “not taken for real, but it is enacted as if it were” (p. 145). In what follows, I borrow Thrift’s (1997) notion of semblance to look specifically at semblances of intimacy embodied on the dance floor, and the implications such intimacy might have for thinking about curriculum and autoethnographic research.

What might it mean to envision curriculum as an embodied locale much like zydeco dancing: where the play of epistemological forces replaces technocratic force, and where students experience the relative weight of desire, fear, and knowledge; the reciprocal touch of self and other; and the mysterious momentum of the semblance of intimacy?

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