Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography, Second Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)

For more than twenty years, John Van Maanen’s Tales of the Field has been a definitive reference and guide for students, scholars, and practitioners of ethnography and beyond. Originally published in 1988, it was the one of the first works to detail and critically analyze the various styles and narrative conventions associated with written representations of culture. This is a book about the deskwork of fieldwork and the various ways culture is put forth in print. The core of the work is an extended discussion and illustration of three forms or genres of cultural representation—realist tales, confessional tales, and impressionist tales. The novel issues raised in Tales concern authorial voice, style, truth, objectivity, and point-of-view. Over the years, the work has both reflected and shaped changes in the field of ethnography.

In this second edition, Van Maanen’s substantial new Epilogue charts and illuminates changes in the field since the book’s first publication. Refreshingly humorous and accessible, Tales of the Field remains an invaluable introduction to novices learning the trade of fieldwork and a cornerstone of reference for veteran ethnographers.  

Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor

Write Publish Promote at Cowgirlheart Media
Write, Publish, Promote. Words I am learning to live by. Want this to be your motto too? Join me and together we'll navigate the path to publishing success.

Latest posts by Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor (see all)

About Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor 2429 Articles
Write, Publish, Promote. Words I am learning to live by. Want this to be your motto too? Join me and together we'll navigate the path to publishing success.

3 Comments

  1. If you have to read a book on writing ethnography – read this one! Why? Well, most of us don’t read this type of book for pleasure – we read these books because we have to DO it, and are looking for details to make our own work more authentic and rigorous. But in this case, you can read it for both. Van Maanen has a really digestible writing style that gets the information across. “Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down in the most delightful way!”

  2. Working on that qualitative dissertation? John Van Maanen’s work speaks of various kinds of narrative writing for ethnographic research write up. Recommended along with Wolcott’s excellent text, Writing Up Qualitative Research (Qualitative Research Methods) (1990).

  3. Good book that teaches how to write an ethnography. I thought this book gave a unique perspective on how to write an ethnography. Although, in practice, I found that the only way to truly write an ethnography is to just do it.

Leave a Reply