Finding a home: Harnessing biographical narrative in teaching and learning in cultural geography

Bill Boyd, Denise Rall, Peter Ashley, Wendy Laird, David Lloyd


This paper describes the use of reflective biographical narrative, in postgraduate research supervision, in helping students develop their sense of place – an intellectual place – within the scholarly landscape. The example provided centres on the work of students who have found an intellectual home in cultural geography. Using planned and semi-formal conversation, a device emerging from the authors’ supervisory practices, this activity draws on the emerging tradition of reflective biographical narrative, in which biographical reflection is not merely reflection on knowledge, but a practical methodological approach to working with knowledge. We conclude that our approach provided positive learning outcomes for the students, all of who were better able to frame their research, using reflective biographical narrative, within a conscious sense of scholarly place, and to adopt such reflection as a key analytical tool in their respective research projects.


biography; reflective practice; postgraduate learning; cultural geography; autobiography; narrative; scholarly landscape; intellectual place

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