Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Arthur Bochner, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Lori Roscoe, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carolyn Ellis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Heather Sellers, Ph.D.


autoethnography, caregiving, health communication, narrative therapy, mental illness, narrative inquiry


This dissertation documents the joys and terrors of caring for my father throughout my twenties and early thirties. The story is autoethnographic and demonstrates the value of narrative research in fostering understandings of self, other, and the world around us. I call this reflexive practice of writing narrative education because as I engaged in it, I learned what it means to care, and how mental health and illness factor into the ways in which care is expressed and provided in my own relationships and beyond. In addition, throughout the story I was a member of the academic community, which makes caring more than an act or behavior, but a concept to unpack, an ideograph. This dissertation begins with the goal to write my story and learn from it so others might learn from it as well. While the narrative portion of my dissertation focuses on story and the craft of creative nonfiction, the final chapters present a discussion of narrative ethics and the writing process. I also delve into concepts of care, family, and community to shed light on the narrative and create a space for reflection.