This essay explores issues of marginality and representation in research, which emerged during life history interviews with Tammi, an "ordinary" woman living in Appalachia. I examine how my research practices, namely my thirst for drama and marginality, nearly silenced the preferred stories of the woman who shared her life with me. I contrast Tammi's unique yet quotidian accounts with streams of literature reflecting a tendency to neglect the commonplace by representing residents of Appalachia through tragic or heroic extremes. This essay pairs Tammi's stories with a reflection on what may have become of them had I followed my first impulse to sacrifice the ordinary at the altar of the marginal.


Representation, Marginality, Life History, Appalachia


The author would like to thank Devika Chawla, Eimi Lev and the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments.

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