Although writing plays a huge role in working through identity, identity can exist without writing; however, writing cannot exist without identity. Nonetheless, writing is a way that people can express and sort through their identities. In addition, having varying identities leads to versatile writers. Roozen states, “Through writing, writers come to develop and perform identities in relation to the interests, beliefs, and values of the communities they engage with” (50). With every new experience, people’s identities transform, as identity is fluid. Roozen goes on to say, “Our identities are the ongoing, continually under-construction product of our participation (51). Writing gives people a chance to grow into and reflect on these new aspects of their identity. Writers have been utilizing writing as a way to discuss fluidity in identity for years. Walt Whitman touches on identity in Leaves of Grass, specifically section 4 of “Song of Myself.” Whitman writes, ” These come to me days and nights and go from me again, / But they are not the Me myself” (194). This line emphasizes how there can be various versions or identities of him, but who he is displaying may not be who he truly is. Utilizing writing as form of working through identity is one of the most fascinating and underrated (in my opinion) about writing. It has the power to allow other people to see other sides of you, as well as allow you to grasp a better understanding of who you are.
Identity in writing is something that I plan on incorporating into the classroom. Just as prior blog posts have discussed the importance of understanding audience, it is important to understand who you are as a writer and the identity that you would like to incorporate into specific pieces of writing. It is important to remember that “each writer is a combination of the collective set of different dimensions and traits and features that make us human” (Yancey 52). Keeping the viewpoints of others is crucial when writing certain types of papers. Villanueva argues that “all writing is inflected by power dynamics shaped by ideologies, writers must become aware of the how and those identities and ideologies are represented in their writing (57). Not everyone agrees on topics, especially sensitive topics that argumentative papers are often written about. Although it is not necessary to censor yourself as a writer to please everyone, keeping in mind that not everyone agrees with your viewpoints is vital, especially as a professor. Scott discuses some tensions that could take place. Some of these”ideological tensions” include saying “climate change or global warming,” and “‘illegals’ or ‘undocumented'” (Scott 49). Additionally, varying viewpoints can be difficult to decipher because “there is a risk in identity politics of reducing cultures, races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, or class relations to their ‘natures'” (Villanueva 57). In my World Literature class, we discussed books that had controversial subjects. One of these conversations led us to the topic of abortion. Needless to say, not everyone in the classroom agreed upon this topic, so there was a discussion. It was a way to get everyone communicating, rather than arguing. I have also had the opportunity to discuss controversial topics in my Literary Criticism class, or as everyone called it, “Lit Crit.” Through the various theories and frameworks, we covered topics in the classroom that not everyone was as comfortable discussing, such as queer theory. This turned into a learning opportunity and another chance for people to have an informed discussion. It is important to be considerate when writing in a way that involves identity types. “Why We Need Controversy in our Classrooms” by Rebecca Recco discusses the importance of covering uncomfortable topics with students.
Some of the greatest pieces of writing make people uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable while reading a text means that you are learning more and thinking beyond what you are use to. It is important as both readers and writers to challenge yourself. While keeping the audience in mind is important, is important to have an aspect of the audience and yourself in your writing. It doesn’t matter if you are writing about a personal topic or a common, controversial debate, stepping out of your comfort zone is a way to evoke a response and results in effective writing. Keith Horton discusses the importance of writing out of the comfort zone in his article, “Writing from a Place of Discomfort.” This type of writing also allows the writer to grow into who they are as a writer, person, and a multitude of other identities. Identity clearly plays a huge role in writing, from shaping who the person is, affecting how arguments are stated, and helping a person figure out their multitude of identities. While a person can have an identity without writing, writing plays a fundamental role in recognizing identity, and writing cannot exist without identity.
- Fleckstein, Wyatt. and Button Poetry.“Labels (CUPSI 2014)” YouTube, 24 June 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWsId7od794 Accessed 12 September 2019.
- Horton, Keith. “Writing from a Place of Discomfort.” The Writing Cooperative, 12 March 2019, https://writingcooperative.com/writing-from-a-place-of-discomfort-f96c170c3871.
- Mambrol, Nasrullah. “Queer Theory.” Literary Criticism and Theory, 4 March 2019, https://literariness.org/2019/03/04/queer-theory/
- Recco, Rebecca. “Why We Need Controversy in Our Classrooms” EdSurge, 17 January 2018, https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-01-17-why-we-need-controversy-in-our-classrooms.
- Roozen, Kevin. “Writing is Linked to Identity.” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Classroom Edition. Ed. Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle, Utah State University Press, 2016, 50-52.
- Scott, Tony. “Writing Enacts and Creates Identities and Ideologies” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Classroom Edition. Ed. Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle, Utah State University Press, 2016, 52-54.
- Villanueva, Victor. “Writing Provides a Representation of Ideologies and Identities” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Classroom Edition. Ed. Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle, Utah State University Press, 2016, 57-58
- Whitman, Walt. “Song of Myself.” Leaves of Grass, First and “Death Bed” Editions. Ed. George Stade and Karen Karbinger, Barnes and Noble Classics, 2004, 190-251.
- Yancey, Kathleen Blake. “Writers’ histories, Processes, and Identities Vary” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Classroom Edition. Ed. Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle, Utah State University Press, 2016, 35-37.