The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Colloquium Archive

Kimberly Gunter

Name: Kimberly Gunter, the Center for Writing Studies and the Department of English.

Presentation Title: "The Study of My Familiar: An Insider Looking In?"

Date: March 6, 1997


When researching within the community one also identifies with, how does a researcher enter the field? Further, how do assumptions and expectations, partly based on one's own past experiences and also on one's current concerns, influence findings? What unique ethical concerns arise when one studies one's peers? Is a researcher who studies within the group with which she self-identifies in a privileged position? Moreover, how does one make not the strange familiar but the familiar strange when conducting such research? This paper will seek to answer some of these questions by commenting on my on-going study of "the lesbian community" and the obstacles that I have encountered (some of which I've overcome) in conducting that study.