Theses Doctoral

From Narrated Pathways to "Pastiche": Complexities in Interpreting and Representing Conversations with Italian American Teachers

Paolucci, Lisa

This dissertation study focuses on the stories that five Italian American teachers tell about their pathways to the teaching profession. The overarching question of this study is: What happens when the researcher attempts to construct interpretations of how Italian American teachers in New York City describe their pathways to becoming teachers? This question is supplemented by the following related questions and subquestions: How, if at all, do the study participants describe their choices to become teachers within the framing concept of “pathways”? What other ways, if any, do the participants speak of their chosen careers? What framing concepts do they employ, if any, other than “pathways” toward their careers as teachers? How, if at all, do participants describe their “identities” as Italian American teachers within both the confines and the possibilities offered by the concept of pathways? What assumptions and biases does the researcher bring into this study that focuses on Italian American teachers’ descriptions and understandings of their career choices?

To interrogate, interrupt, and ultimately respond to these research questions in this multicase study, the researcher conducted open-ended interviews with five Italian American teachers who have taught or currently teach in New York City schools, aiming to explore both personal and culturally relevant histories of these specific Italian American teachers. Using Laurel Richardson’s (2005) creative analytic practices, the researcher aimed to present representations of her own interpretations of the “stories” that these teachers would tell about their specific “pathways” to teaching as Italian American teachers in New York City. The researcher attempted to convey a sense of the multitude of factors that could influence one’s interpretation of “story” by (re)presenting data in the format of pastiche, with textual layers of various voices intertwined.

The researcher’s “non-conclusions” included a furthered wondering of her own motivation in choosing to be a creator of a collage-like work, as well as a questioning of her reliance on the metaphor of “pathway” and the original research focus, especially in light of the conversations that ultimately took place. The researcher continues to seek to re-inscribe the focus of this work as a wondering about how to disturb, disrupt, and/or unsettle the category of “Italian American teacher.”

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Miller, Janet
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 13, 2020