A Coming of Age: Exploring Themes of Adolescent Identity Through Autoethnography




Schulte, Emily

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This paper emerges from a growing field of self-reflective and arts based qualitative research methods that are inadequately represented in the exploration of adolescent identity and the themes that function as moving parts in the continued creation of that identity from childhood. Research in this experimental form has the ability to provide a critical understanding of macro-sociological and psychological concepts by looking at small-scale and personal accounts, those of which are often overlooked and left out of social science reports entirely. Our own experiences and reflections -drawn from the same adolescence we seek understanding of- are not to be overlooked in their aptness in providing concrete, and oftentimes more accessible, data. In this paper, the exploration of my own adolescence provides the groundwork for an auto-ethnographic enquiry realized through a series of poems, short stories, and mixed media work. The paper first explores the visual/sensory ethnographic process of collecting and connecting memories to objects, which gives life and understanding to the narratives that are shown in the art itself. It then argues the usefulness and uniqueness of arts based and self-reflective research in growing academic fieldwork. Lastly, the paper uses scholarly literature to provide information on each overarching theme of adolescence being discussed in each chapter before introducing the particular art medium for that theme.



adolescence, sociology, teen, arts-based research, poetry, autoethnography, fiction, Honors College


Schulte, E. (2019). A coming of age: Exploring themes of adolescent identity through autoethnography (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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