Partially Remembered Stories
This chapter is about methodologies. Empirically, the bulk of the book comprises stories of everyday fathers, men whose lives I have followed off and on for over a decade. I try to give meaning to those stories by elaborating – theoretically and empirically – fathering as an emotional work. The book is also about the stories I am told (and that I tell myself) about the institution of fatherhood through newspapers, movies, academic research, and in the coffee shop. These larger stories reside beside stories of everyday fathering in the sense that Eve Sedgwick (2003, 8) means when she talks of a “spatial positioning” that is not about understanding what is beneath or beyond. The larger stories – the institutional discourses, the coffee shop discussions and the imaginaries of filmmakers – are important in the ways I co-construct fathering identities. They resonate with the emotional practices of everyday fathering in complex ways. To elaborate these complexities, I employ a variety of experimental textual and visual methods to render a quirky and elusive image of fatherhood and to give fathers a voice. I’ll get to the methodological importance of the visual narratives in a later chapter. In what follows, I elaborate the ways I engage the collective experiences of fathers and the emotional work of fathering through ethnopoetry, dialogue and differentiated stories.