A subject that has consistently interested me throughout the course of our readings is that of authenticity. Specifically, I’m interested in how authenticity manifests in writing. What denotes it? What facilitates it? More, how can it be identified? Questions like these fuel my fascination. And, I’m not as invested in finding answers to these questions as I am with how exploring what writers and writing researchers think about the subject. I am led to believe it can be rather contentious in academic arenas. This, I think, is because issues of identity and of voice tend to enter the conversation–two topics that are controversial in and of themselves outside of the writing studies scope. It is through the particular lenses of identity and of voice that I would like to analyze authenticity, though. How an individual identifies or defines themselves is going to have an inevitable and invariable impact on how they write just as much as the voice they assume will. It is important to note that many external factors can affect identity and voice, though. In contrast, one’s authentic self is typically characterized as being integral, internal, and insular. There is a dissonance here that I would like to explore.
In the course of my part of this research, I am hoping to develop a fuller understanding of the complexity of realizing/defining/owning one’s authenticity in writing through exploring the interplay of an individual’s identities. According to research conducted by Michelle Gibson, Martha Marinara, and Deborah Meem (“Bi, Butch and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality”), every one of us is constructed of multiple identities that sometimes contradict with each other but, ultimately, cannot be disconnected. Writing instruction that excludes exploration of identity can therefore have an immense impact on authenticity. Can we see that? More, according to research by Suresh Canagarajah (“The Place of World Englishes in Composition: Pluralization Continued”), an individual’s written voice is shaped and circumscribed largely by sociocultural norms and expectations. Can we hear that?
I’m not yet sure exactly how I would like to conduct this exploration. Possibly through a collection of writing samples? On a volunteer basis? (Even though I’m concerned that’ll skew the samples towards Writing Studies or English majors of which I am and of which I’m sure will be more willing to submit work.) I’d appreciate discussing it more in class with everyone else.
~Till next time~