The art of listening for voices within narrative research is a positive endeavour that has specific value within research design and subsequent approaches to analysis. This paper details an investigation into the dialogic nature of voices among gifted young adolescents who engaged in the co-construction of email-generated self-narratives. Data are drawn from a study involving ten adolescents, aged between ten and fourteen years, diagnosed as gifted according to Australian guidelines. Individual participants were asked to produce self-managed journal entries written and sent as asynchronous emails to the researcher who was the sole recipient and respondent. Within this approach, specific techniques of listening were used to examine a series of multi-vocal narratives generated over a period of six months. This paper proposes that an adaptation of the everyday convenience of email with the traditional journal format as a self-report mechanism creates a synergy that fosters self-disclosure. Individual excerpts are presented to show that the harnessing of personal narratives within an email context has potential to yield valuable insights into the emotions, personal realities and experiences of gifted young adolescents. Furthermore, the co-construction of self-expressive and explanatory narratives supported by a facilitative adult listener appeared to promote healthy self-awareness amongst participants. This paper contributes to narrative exploration in two distinct ways: first, in using online methods for gaining access to the everyday, emotional realities of participants; and, second, in demonstrating the value of listening as a narrative technique for uncovering layers of voices across a body of texts produced over time. These methods represent an innovative attempt to move beyond face-to-face approaches and away from a focus on content and coding techniques that might oversimplify complex emotions.
Recommended CitationDillon, Lisette, Gimmelife: Listening for dialogic voices in the email self-narratives of gifted young adolescents, Current Narratives, 2, 2010, 104-118.