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Contribution to Book
Critical Memoir and Identity Formation: Being, Belonging, Becoming
Critical Expressivism: Theory and Practice in the Composition Classroom (2014)
  • Nancy G. Mack, Wright State University - Main Campus
Critique can function as more than a scholarly pursuit; it can become a valued skill for surviving as an outsider within an academic context. Because universities are complex, largely reproductive systems, being a hard worker and following the rules does not necessarily lead to reward or even much notice. Increasing demands and multiple layers of political machinations foster disillusionment and alienation. Participating in programs, grants, and other initiatives only increases the perils, not to mention running the gauntlet of publishing and tenure. As egotistical as I may be, it is best to remember that the academic universe is not the only place fraught with crushing hegemonic pressures. Being a parent, teenager, or restaurant server all necessitate the ability to analyze the forces that impose limitations and subvert one’s agency to author ethical, answerable acts. Fortunately, critique has long been expressed through many productive means such as music, cartoons, jokes, parodies, postings on social media, clothes, hair styles, body art, gestures, and of course, various types of composing and writing.

This chapter forwards memoir as a writing assignment that can be informed by a critical notion of subject formation. The heuristic activities that I describe were developed for courses on different levels: first year composition, English education writing pedagogy, and several graduate seminars. Recently, I incorporated a few of these generative strategies into an online graduate course about critical memoir. After commenting on the constraints of theoretical taxonomies, a series of heuristic strategies are outlined to increase awareness of identity as a conflicted representation that is always open to revision through writing.
  • memoir,
  • writing,
  • teaching,
  • education,
  • pedagogy,
  • critical theory,
  • expressivism
Publication Date
Winter December 1, 2014
Roseanne Gatto and Tara Roeder
Parlour Press
Citation Information
Nancy G. Mack. "Critical Memoir and Identity Formation: Being, Belonging, Becoming" Fort Collins, ColoradoCritical Expressivism: Theory and Practice in the Composition Classroom (2014) p. 55 - 68
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Creative Commons License
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons CC_BY-NC-ND International License.