Imaginal Resonance: Imagery and Creative Expression in Qualitative Research


This case exemplifies the role of imagery and creative expression in qualitative research. Imaginal resonance is a method of gathering and interpreting data through mental imaging, creative expression, and embodied writing. The method was developed as part of the design of an Intuitive Inquiry. In response to a recitation of mystical poetry, participants were asked to mentally image the poem, create an artwork, and write about their experience with attention to subtle body sensations and feelings, as a way of describing their felt response to the poem's imagery rather than their rational analysis of it. In addition to traditional Thematic Content Analysis, I sought to mirror the procedures undertaken by the participants in their interpretive response to their creative expression. Imaginal resonance can be applied under several overarching phenomenological and hermeneutic methods in the social sciences, where human experience is explored on conscious and subconscious levels. Imaginal resonance is particularly appropriate in the analysis of nonverbal data (e.g. visual artwork, music, dance), responding in the imaginal language of the data, yet in a structured and systematic manner that unifies the researcher's intuitive and imaginative interpretation.

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