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The Art and Science of Portraiture


reviewed by Martin Bickman — 2003

coverTitle: The Art and Science of Portraiture
Author(s): Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot and Jessica Hoffman Davis
Publisher: Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco
ISBN: 0787962422, Pages: 293, Year: 2002 (paperback)
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One way to describe this book is as a thick description of thick description.  Sara Lawrence Lightfoot and Jessica Hoffman Davis give a detailed methodology with extended examples of a technique they call “portraiture,” which “creates a narrative that is at once complex, provocative, and inviting, that attempts to be holistic, revealing the dynamic interaction of values, personality structure, and history” (p. 11).  As the title suggests—“Art and Science”—a keynote is the integration and harmony of seemingly opposing elements: the particular and the general, subjectivity and objectivity, the individual and the social context.  The authors say that portraiture differs from more standard ethnography “in its explicit effort to combine empirical and aesthetic description, in its focus on the convergence of narrative and analysis, in its goal of speaking to broader audiences beyond the academy (thus linking inquiry to public discourse and social transformation), and in its explicit recognition of the use of the self as the primary research instrument” (p. 14). For the sake of exposition, the authors break the... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 105 Number 7, 2003, p. 1327-1330
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11067, Date Accessed: 10/16/2017 11:54:55 PM

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About the Author
  • Martin Bickman
    University of Colorado
    E-mail Author
    MARTIN BICKMAN is Professor of English and President’s Teaching Scholar at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has published books and articles on literature, teaching, and intellectual history, including Minding American Education: Reclaiming the Tradition of Active Learning, forthcoming in April from Teachers College Press.
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