Publication details [#54475]

Dillon, Lisette. 2011. Writing the self: The emergence of a dialogic space. Narrative Inquiry 21 (2) : 213–237.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


While much narrative inquiry is concerned with issues of self and identity, doing study on the processes (the how) of self-making offers ongoing challenges to methodology. This article explores the creation of a dialogic space that assisted young adolescents to write about themselves and their daily lives using email journals as an alternative to face-to-face interviews. With the researcher acting as a listener-responder, and in the absence of researcher-designed questions, a dynamic field was opened up for participant-led self-making to emerge over a six month period of self-reflective written expression. The article describes a shared email relationship based on a dialogic pattern of thinking, writing, listening and response intended to foster participants' voices as ontological narratives of self. Findings show the use of email journals created a synergy for self-disclosure and a safe space for self-expression where the willingness of participants to be themselves was encouraged. The self-representations of a specific group of gifted young adolescents thus emerged as written versions of “who“ they are — offering data that differs from interview approaches and contributing to discussion of the value of ontology narratives.