Emmanuel Levinas's philosophy of ipseity and alterity has permeated Western thought for more than forty years. In the social sciences and the humanities, the recognition of the Other and focus on difference, alterity, has influenced the way we ethically approach peoples and arts from different cultures. Because focus on the ego, ipseity, limits our ethical obligations, focusing on the Other does, according to Levinas, bring us closer to an ethical life. Furthermore, the self maintains responsibility for the Other and must work within Levinas's ethical system to become truly responsible. Therefore, the interaction between self and Other is Levinas's principal concern as we move toward the New Humanism. The traditional Western autobiography has been centered in the self, the ego, which may prevent the ethical interaction on the part of the writer because the writer often portrays himself or herself as exemplary or unique rather than as an individual within a culture who is responsible for others. Nevertheless, life writing has expanded as writers strive to represent themselves and their cultures responsibly. One form that has emerged is the literary autoethnography, a memoir that considers ancestry, culture, history, and spiritual inheritance amidst personal reflection. In particular, Native American conceptions of the self within story have inspired conventions of literary autoethnography. This project explores the way Native American worldviews have influenced the autoethnography by looking at four Native American authors: Janet Campbell Hale, N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Carter Revard. Through research, family stories, interviews, and returns to ancestral spaces, autoethnographers can bring themselves and their readers closer to cultural consciousness. By investigating standards in autoethnographic works, this project will illustrate the ethical intentionality of autoethnography.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Wilkes, Nicole, "Standing in the Center of the World: The Ethical Intentionality of Autoethnography" (2009). Theses and Dissertations. 1874.
Autoethnography, Emmanuel Levinas, Ethics, Native American Literatures, Janet Campbell Hale