The first thing I remember learning about being an “author” is write what you know. So how is this done? There are many theories; research, experience, etc. But, it doesn’t matter how much you want to write about what you know. Before pen is put to paper, it must be decided which identity to use.
Every person has several different identities. It is what we show our family versus who we are at work versus the side we show our friends. However, no matter which side of ourselves we are showing to other people, it is critical that we are still genuine in who we are. Identity is a huge piece of our writing genre.
This tells us if we are going to be writing romance, science fiction or even legal drama. However, many pieces have recently been released as mash-ups, where one type of writing has been added to another, such as a classic. But, even with this, the original is re-worked with the new author’s identity so that his/her voice comes through.
Identity is formed by ideology, and it is important to remember “that there is no ideology-free observation or thought” (48). Who and what we identify with is the basis of our ideology, which is ultimately the basis of our identity. However, is it our jobs as teachers to think about “What sort of social group do I intend to apprentice the learner into?” (48) While identity and ideology are important factors to one’s writing voice, it would be irresponsible of us to attempt to impose a particular voice onto a student. College students “enact that identity based on their reading of the expected and acceptable social norms” (49).
Since we as humans are using writing to facilitate conversations, no writing is isolated and alone” (54). Whether we are writing to entertain, to inform, to persuade, to change the world, or just to satisfy an assignment, we still use our identity and ideology to complete the task. This is especially true when writing in discipline-specific language, since “Identity formation is interwoven with learning the writing conventions, practices, habits, and approaches of their discipline” (56). It is so important that all conventions be followed in this type of writing that it is extremely easy for an individual to lose their own identity when writing the briefs or lab reports that are an essential part of these careers. Therefore, discipline-specific writing threatens their sense of self because these ways of thinking and writing are so distinct from other more familiar reading and writing practices” (56).
Because of this, many writing programs are attempting to come up with new ways of adding context and abstract conventions so these students are “learning how to be within a group with social conventions, norms, and expectations” (56) and hopefully learn how to keep their own identities and ideologies. It will be interesting to watch how these contexts and abstracts are developed over the next few years.
Estrem, Heidi. “Disciplinary and Professional Identities are Constructed Through Writing.” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Classroom Edition. Ed. Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle, Utah State University Press, 2016, 56.
Lunsford, Andrea A. “Writing is Informed by Prior Experience.” Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Classroom Edition. Ed. Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle, Utah State University Press, 2016, 54.
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, 48-49.
Anderson, Lynne. and Elizabeth Graver.“Routes and Roots: Writing Identity, Migration, and Culture” YouTube, October 12, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxfV1fceh9U Accessed 16 September 2019.
4 thoughts on “Identities and Ideologies”
“While identity and ideology are important factors to one’s writing voice, it would be irresponsible of us to attempt to impose a particular voice onto a student. ”
While I understand your point here, I do want to pose the question: “Is it possible to have a completely unbiased classroom? I feel that it would be difficult to not subject the students to some sort of ideology, so would it not be important to then take into consideration what your subconscious may even reflect?
I definitely agree with your point of people having different identities in relation to who they are and where they are with!
It is my feeling that it is impossible for 2 or more people to be in a room, especially for an extended period of time such as a semester, and not have your own ideologies “rub off” on others. That is part of the who you are with equation of identities. Anyone who says they or the area they are in is completely unbiased is completely lying. Everyone has bias’ and prejudices, of course, but hopefully they will not be on blatant display in the classroom.
As someone who tries to remain as neutral as possible, your blog and Peyton’s comment really made me think about how to set up the most productive classroom. In terms of ideology and identity, I really like what Dr. Haimes-Korn says: make your students uncomfortable. This doesn’t mean in a threatening or physical way, of course. I feel that ideological discomfort is one of the only ways that writers are able to grow and begin to think more complex ideas. Overall, I tend to think Peyton’s question has some validity; ideologies (even though I want to remain neutral) will inevitably influence a classroom.
While I do agree that identity is interwoven into writing, I would argue that what Estrem is saying about discipline-specific writing is that it can seem stifling to a writer’s sense of identity because of the need to stick to conventions within the discipline. Do you think that aligning oneself with generic or discipline-specific conventions prevents a writer from truly incorporating identity into their work?