Conceptualising writing and identity

Eyres, Ian (2016). Conceptualising writing and identity. In: Cremin, Teresa and Locke, Terry eds. Writer Identity and the Teaching and Learning of Writing. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 3–18.



This chapter uses relevant recent literature and, where appropriate, interview data giving the reflections of writers and teachers to explore the relationship between writing, writing pedagogy and identity. It begins by exploring the ways in which personal identities are constructed and enacted by individuals acting in social and cultural contexts. The complementary phenomena of subjectivity, the personal sense of self and personal agency, and situated performance and the accumulation of social relations and personal narratives are considered in order to illuminate the ways in which individuals arrive at identities which are fluid and multiple. The role of narrative, language and personal agency in this process is explored. This account provides a basis for a review of the place of identity in life.

The chapter moves on to consider what it means to assume a literate identity. Here literacy is seen not simply as a cognitive task to be mastered, but rather as an activity which is always rooted in social and cultural interactions, which in turn are played out in a wider ideological context. Literacy events and literacy practices, which both draw on and help form literate identities will be shown to be central to the understanding of literacy itself. The positive and negative impacts of literacy on personal identity will be considered, as well as the especially strong link between writing and identity.Finally, the ways in which writers may assume and enact identities related to the practice of writing are examined in detail.

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