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Boundary Bay : a novel as educational research Dunlop, Rishma

Abstract

Boundary Bay is a novel that explores important areas of investigation linked to education. These fields of inquiry include: literary study and the teaching of literature, aesthetics and artistic production. The novel also investigates the nature of teachers' lives in school and university settings, the nature of institutional education, societal issues affecting intellectual and creative life, the roles of the woman poet and teacher, the social structures and conventions of marriage and contemporary women, the conflicts and paradoxes of motherhood, the issues of teen suicide and homosexuality, and the transformative power of literature and artistic forms of seeing the world. As an example of arts-based qualitative research, the "art of fiction" is envisioned as an extension of human experience. The novel or literary narrative as a viable mode of representation for research is envisioned in light of the perception that ideas can be reflectively addressed through the arts in order to enlarge human understandings. Boundary Bay explores the vital roles literary fictions play in our everyday lives and in educational processes. Fictions are not the unreal side of reality or the opposite of reality: they are conditions that enable the production of possible worlds. In this sense, fiction can become a premise for epistemological positionings. The writing of Boundary Bay is informed by narratives of beginning secondary school teachers as well as the narratives of Ph.D. candidates and university educators. Boundary Bay is a novel that forms a response to the debate at the 1996 Annual American Educational Researcher's Association Meeting (AERA) between Elliot Eisner and Howard Gardner recorded in "Should a Novel Count as a Dissertation in Education?" (Saks, 1996; Donmoyer, 1996). The debate between Eisner and Gardner continued as Boundary Bay was presented at a symposium titled "Shaking the Ivory Tower: Writing, Advising and Critiquing the Postmodern Dissertation" at AERA 1999 in Montreal. The manuscript of poetry interwoven through Boundary Bay was short-listed for the 1998 CBC Canada Council Literary Awards. Boundary Bay was a semifinalist for the 1999 Robertson Davies Prize for fiction.

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