Into the labyrinth: Persephone's journey as metaphor and method for research

Jones, Janice K. (2013) Into the labyrinth: Persephone's journey as metaphor and method for research. In: Metaphors for, in and of education research. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom, pp. 66-90. ISBN 978-1-4438-4398-0


The hero's journey (Campbell, Cousineau, & Brown, 2003, p. 29) offers a rich metaphor for the doctoral research experience, with its call to action, its focus on a parallel world where challenges are met with the support of mentors, and where the hero returns with special knowledge. The labyrinth is a traditional metaphor for the heroic path, and Theseus is acknowledged in book and film as the hero who craftily negotiates the underground maze in order to slay a half-human beast and claim rewards of wealth, and power. This chapter re-situates the labyrinth metaphor as a framing device for the less-told and more ancient narrative of Kore-Persephone-Demeter: a fertility rite and seasonal transition of the female principle involving sacrifice, transformation and rebirth. The author contends that metaphors of immersion, sacrifice and transformation, rather than metaphors of strategy and force have a greater capacity to reveal the complex and multiple truths of the doctoral research journey. Eschewing metaphors of research as a maze wherein the binaries of evil and good, light and darkness contend, the writer re-frames the doctoral journey as a sacrificial experience where constructs of self-and-the-world and self-in-the world are disrupted and transformed, leading to greater agency. The unicursal labyrinth is applied as a metaphor by which the seasonal trajectory of Kore-Persephone-Demeter through death to resurrection and new life may be understood as a representation of the doctoral journey: a metaphor within a metaphor. The metaphor and myth are frameworks against which tales of the field (van Maanen, 1988) in the form of vignettes extracted from a bricolage of data gathered during a six-year doctoral journey in education are used to illuminate the researcher’s growing awareness of the reflective and transformative power of writing. Sacrificed, transformed, and wisened, the researcher emerges from the immersive experience as an empowering force for others’ research journeys.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2013 by Warren Midgley, Karen Trimmer and Andy Davies and contributors. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Chapter 5.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 23 May 2013 04:26
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2017 23:40
Uncontrolled Keywords: transformation; transformative practice; professional identity; researcher identity; reflective practice; bricolage; writing as research; narrative methods; autoethnography; labyrinth; metaphor; transitions; resurrection; feminism; rites of passage; Persephone
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1903 Journalism and Professional Writing > 190302 Professional Writing
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2201 Applied Ethics > 220107 Professional Ethics (incl. police and research ethics)
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390303 Higher education
36 CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 3602 Creative and professional writing > 360203 Professional writing and journalism practice
50 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 5001 Applied ethics > 500107 Professional ethics
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education

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